On March 22nd, Bethany Nowviskie, incoming Dean of Libraries at James Madison University, delivered a keynote speech at the RLUK Conference 2019 in London
A video recording of the talk titled, “Digital Humanities at the Grass Roots” is now available online and embedded below.
Hand in hand with the communities we study and serve, scholars, students, and librarians are entering a new era of collective power-building, political action, and thoughtful resistance — a socio-technical scene of deep civic engagement and creative flourishing. How can models for mutual aid and frameworks for grassroots community organising challenge established relationships, economies, and understandings in and around the academic library? How might they enhance scholarly research agendas, open doors to more authentic library partnerships, and chart paths forward for the ragtag, inter-professional field of the digital humanities?
From charters and toolkits for equitable group formation and decision-making to guerrilla efforts at digital curation, data journalism, and project design — and from obstacles to labor organising within established professional organisations to the conscious and unconscious management of dissent by the “nonprofit industrial complex” — this talk builds on a growing understanding in libraries that to claim neutrality is to side with the oppressor, and on a scholarly recognition that a DH divorced from down-and-dirty, active, and collectively-defined ethics of care is a cluster of methods without purchase on the most crucial structures and challenges of our day.
Bethany Nowviskie is the incoming Dean of Libraries at James Madison University, a post she will take up full-time, along with an appointment to the faculty of JMU’s Department of English, in July of 2019. Meanwhile, she serves as Distinguished Presidential Fellow at the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR), Senior Advisor to the Digital Library Federation (DLF), and Research Associate Professor of Digital Humanities in the Department of English at the University of Virginia. As director of the DLF from 2015-2019, she collaborated with leadership of the HBCU Library Alliance on opportunities for digital library staff from historically black colleges and universities and with international partners on the Digital Library of the Middle East, and established the organisation as host to the National Digital Stewardship Alliance and code4lib, as well as the home of vibrant working groups, inclusivity initiatives, and conferences and events. DLF is an international nonprofit consortium of nearly 200 libraries, archives, museums, labs, government agencies, and institutions of higher education, dedicated to advancing research, learning, social justice, and the common good through the creative design and wise application of cultural heritage and information technology.