Sustaining Digital Humanities Collections: Challenges and Community-Centred Strategies


Since the advent of digital scholarship in the humanities, decades of extensive, distributed scholarly efforts have produced a digital scholarly record that is increasingly scattered, heterogeneous, and independent of curatorial institutions. Digital scholarship produces collections with unique scholarly and cultural value—collections that serve as hubs for collaboration and communication, engage broad audiences, and support new research. Yet, lacking systematic support for digital scholarship in libraries, digital humanities collections are facing a widespread crisis of sustainability. This paper provides outcomes of a multimodal study of sustainability challenges confronting digital collections in the humanities, characterizing institutional and community-oriented strategies for sustaining collections. Strategies that prioritize community engagement with collections and the maintenance of sociotechnical workflows suggest possibilities for novel approaches to collaborative, community-centred sustainability for digital humanities collections.

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