Changes in research practices and scholarly communication are creating new faculty needs for expert consultation and training in technologies such as visualization and research data management, the best use of new publication and dissemination venues for their scholarship, and intellectual property issues. The source of these demands is shifting from early adopters to the faculty at large. Libraries and IT organizations are hiring or training new types of staff with the skills to support faculty in their digital scholarship and e-research activities. Many institutional programs are still in early or pilot stages and may reach a limited number of faculty and departments. Institutions are experimenting with new organizational structures as well. Assisting institutions in understanding how to develop services at scale will continue to be a programmatic focus in the coming year.
For several years, we have been highlighting digital scholarship centers as an emerging area of interest in both research and college libraries. Typically, these centers provide high-end technologies, in-depth consultation for faculty, graduate students, and upper-level undergraduates working on capstone projects, and a suite of spaces. They represent an institutional response to the need for services to support new kinds of scholarship. In spring 2014 we hosted a specialized workshop that explored digital scholarship centers in the humanities and other disciplinary areas. CNI issued a report encouraging better understanding of the rationale and mission for a center, suggestions for good practice, and models of staffing, funding, and provision of services and supplemented the report with related materials on our website.
One of the topics that engendered the most spirited discussion during the workshop was drawing distinctions between centers supporting digital scholarship in libraries or other units serving the entire campus versus centers which are faculty-sponsored and limited to specific research activities of digital scholarship. In spring 2015 we convened a workshop to further discuss the continuum of types of institutes, centers, labs, and similar organizations that provide mechanisms to support digital scholarship to help provide clarity on what the purposes of various types of centers are and their configurations of expertise, programs, and support and published a report on our findings. In spring 2016 we will offer a conference, co-sponsored by ARL, to assist those institutions that want to develop a digital scholarship center with their planning; the agenda will include information on such topics as staff expertise, physical space and technologies, funding models, and partnering with faculty on research, teaching, and learning.