NEWS RELEASE: For immediate release: September 26, 2005
REPORT EXAMINES HOW DIGITAL TECHNOLOGY IS CHANGING STUDY OF AMERICAN
Contacts: David Seaman -- [log in to unmask] 202-939-4762
Kathlin Smith-- [log in to unmask] 202-939-4754
Washington, D.C. Digital technologies are transforming how scholars of
American literature do their research and how students learn. In a new
report from the Digital Library Federation and the Council on Library and
Information Resources, "A Kaleidoscope of Digital American Literature,"
author Martha Brogan examines how digital scholarship is enriching the study of literature, and what challenges it has created for the field <http://www.diglib.org/pubs/brogan0505/>.
Most of the report - more than 100 pages - is devoted to an extensive review
of digital resources and projects in American literature. They are organized
into six categories: quality-controlled subject gateways, author studies,
e-book collections and alternative publishing models, reference resources
and full-text collections, collections built around a particular area of
interest, and teaching applications. The proliferation of these sites
attests to the value of electronic resources to a field that is firmly
rooted in print-based sources.
But, the author notes, the pioneers in digital scholarship are looking
beyond mere scope, convenience, or speed to find value in electronic
resources. They are asking questions about how the new technology is
affecting analysis, editing, and publication. In interviews with more than
40 scholars, librarians, and practitioners, Brogan sought to learn how well
digital resources are serving scholars of American literature and what is
most needed to advance digital scholarship. Interviewees identified a range of factors that have muted technology's effect on the discipline. The factors include many scholars' resistance to changing traditional approaches
to and forms of scholarship; a need for stronger leadership from scholarly and professional organizations in American literature; the fragmentation of the field and lack of 'communities of practice'; a paucity of mainstream
digital tools to facilitate literary scholarship; insufficient peer-review
processes for digital scholarship; concerns about the preservation of
electronic resources; intellectual property rights restrictions; a need for
sustainable business models; and a dearth of specialists who combine
disciplinary expertise with a knowledge of new technologies. Brogan
discusses each of these factors and gives examples of current efforts to
overcome the barriers they pose.
"A Kaleidoscope of Digital American Literature" is copublished by the
Digital Library Federation and Council on Library and Information Resources
(CLIR). Daphnée Rentfrow, CLIR Postdoctoral Fellow in Scholarly and
Information Resources for Humanists (2004-05), assisted Brogan in writing
the report. It is available as a PDF file from http://www.clir.org/pubs/abstract/pub132abst.html, as an HTML document from http://purl.oclc.org/DLF/brogan0505, and print copies are available for ordering at either address for $30 per copy plus shipping and handling.
The Digital Library Federation, founded in 1995, is a partnership
organization of academic libraries and related organizations that are
pioneering the use of electronic-information technologies to extend their
collections and services. Through its strategic partners, the DLF provides
leadership for libraries by identifying standards and best practices for
digital collections and network access; coordinating research and
development in the libraries¹ use of technology; and incubating projects and
services that libraries need but cannot develop individually.
The Council on Library and Information Resources is an independent,
nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the management of information
for research, teaching, and learning. CLIR works to expand access to
information, however recorded and preserved, as a public good.
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