Communities, Innovation, and Critical Mass: Understanding the Impact of Digitization on Scholarship in the Humanities Through the Case of Tibetan and Himalayan Studies
345 Pages Posted: 27 Feb 2011
Date Written: November 1, 2010
The dominant discourse surrounding academic research libraries today is one of change and scholarship in the humanities has seen a similar revolution in practice. Yet, most of the documented changes in either have been ascribed to the availability of online journal materials. Despite the accessibility of millions of rare, digitized primary resources freely available on the web, little has been done to understand the impact of these materials on either the practice of scholarship or on libraries. The research described in this proposal is an investigation into digitization projects involving rare and closely guarded materials and the effects of these projects on humanities scholarship. This thesis uses both qualitative and quantitative measures to:
1. Assess the impact of digitized primary resources on the work of humanities scholars; 2. To construct a model based on the findings that explains current use of digitized primary sources; and 3. To discuss the implications of these findings for academic research libraries.
The research questions are answered through a detailed analysis of the role of digitization in the field of Tibetan and Himalayan studies. The author presents detailed evidence of how digitization is changing the inputs, practice, and outputs of scholarship in this field, as well as the characteristics of digitization that have led to these changes. Importantly, these findings separate out the success of individual projects from the success of digitization across the field as a whole. Support for community and innovation as well as the presence of critical mass across the field are stressed as the three most significant factors.
Finally, the implications of these findings are assessed within a newly proposed model of academic libraries. This “scholar-centric” model is intended to provide both a theoretical framework for the research findings as well as a normative provocation for structuring future research and discussions about the role of academic libraries and their presence online.
Keywords: Internet research, Library & information science, Shaping the Internet, Internet and science and learning, Himalayan, Buddhism
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