How to Facilitate Cooperation between Humanities Researchers and Cultural Heritage Institutions
By Eliza Papaki | News | April 8, 2019
Natalie Harrower (Digital Repository of Ireland), Mark Sweetnam (Trinity College Dublin), David Brown (Trinity College Dublin) and Marcin Werla (Poznań Supercomputing and Networking Center) are few of the authors of the newly published How to Facilitate Cooperation between Humanities Researchers and Cultural Heritage Institutions. Guidelines. This report, edited by Maciej Maryl and Klaudia Grabowska (Digital Humanities Centre at the Institute of Literary Research of the Polish Academy of Sciences), is the outcome of a hands-on workshop organised in the context of the project ‘Facilitating Cooperation Between Humanities Researchers and Cultural Heritage Institutions’, jointly proposed by the Institute of Literary Research of the Polish Academy of Sciences, Trinity College Dublin and Creative Commons Polska and awarded funding by the DARIAH Theme Grant 2017.
The hands-on workshop took place at the Digital Humanities Centre at the Institute of Literary Research of the Polish Academy of Sciences in Warsaw (Poland) on 19–20 June 2018. Participants were invited experts of the European academic community and heritage professionals who are working to share their collections online in order to promote digital methods and the academic reuse of heritage content. Also, twelve participants were recruited through an open call for contributors, humanities researchers who expressed an interest in exploring digitised cultural resources and heritage professionals who create internal institutional policies for providing access and sharing resources online.
The workshop participants explored the main problems associated with heritage reuse in the context of their expertise and later translated those discussions into this document through a ‘book-sprint,’ which was facilitated by Kamil Śliwowski.
The overall objective of this report is to support collaboration between humanities researchers (literary and cultural studies, history, arts) on the one hand, and Cultural Heritage Institutions (CHIs) on the other, by raising awareness on the possibilities for reusing heritage resources in academic settings and increasing the visibility of online heritage collections. This publication aims to provide both cultural heritage institutions and researchers with know-how, examples of good practice which will enable and strengthen collaboration between both sides, and enable a greater circulation and reuse of heritage resources within the academic field.
Cooperation between Humanities Researchers and CHI
Cooperation may be beneficial for both sides.
- In the case of CHIs, it may generate more interest in their resources, which often translates into new funding or opportunities for cooperation. Moreover, tangible proof of the reuse of a CHI’s resources may be an asset for the institution as a documented example of the CHI’s impact, which is often crucial for reports or funding applications. Reuse of the resources also contributes to their sustainability as they become available in other contexts, projects and databases.
- In the case of researchers, their work (e.g. the data they have prepared) can be given to CHIs, showcased and later be reused by the scholarly community. It is quite common for researchers to turn to CHI staff for help with finding material they are working on, but it also works the other way around. Researchers may also support CHI staff using their expertise on certain resources, for example, by targeting materials which should be prioritised for digitisation and advising on the formats to be used.
- Another opportunity arises when an institution holds some resources which have not been standardised or catalogued, and the researchers can perform this much needed work while conducting their own projects. The mutually beneficial outcome would be that the institution may have its resources standardised and made accessible, while the researcher is able to publish the results of this archival work.
- Finally, such cooperation may result in a synergy which makes it easier to influence strategic priorities and policymakers to commit funding and staff to facilitate the work required within CHIs, as the staff on the ground (archivists, curators, registrars, documentation officers etc.) are not the people who decide what resources are committed to digital projects.
The EU is increasingly moving towards open data sharing, and structuring open data for better reuse. These policies affect all researchers and CHIs in the long term, hence these recommendations also aim to create an awareness of changes in the policy landscape. For further reading, look into the EU’s activities in the areas of Open Science and Reuse of Public Sector Information. The recommendations and examples in this report acknowledge these changes and provide recommendations that support their adoption.
The report is available here.