10 Digital Humanities Tools that Librarians Should Know About

Though the field of the digital humanities has been steadily growing in popularity in the past decade or so, it still has a bit of an ambiguous definition—the intersection between the humanities and technology. One of the best ways to learn about the field is to explore examples of digital humanities projects, as well as the programs and technologies that can be used for digital curation, digital publishing, textual analysis, data visualization, mapping, and more. 

Especially if you’re interested in academic librarianship, or more specifically becoming a digital scholarship or digital humanities librarian, it’s important to be familiar with all of the digital tools that humanities scholars may need assistance with. After all, behind most digital humanities projects is a librarian who helped students and scholars learn and utilize these technologies for their research.

1. WordPress

The simplest of digital humanities projects can really just be a blog for sharing scholarship digitally. WordPress is a well-known and common content management system that can be used to set up a personal or academic blog or website to start your DH journey.

2. Omeka

A simple, open-source digital curation program, Omeka makes publishing digitized resources to create an online archive or exhibitions as simple as setting up a WordPress blog. Omeka.net is free to use up to a certain amount of storage space on Omeka’s servers, or institutions can integrate Omeka Classic or Omeka S into their existing website hosting.

3. Scalar

An open-source tool for digital publishing by the Alliance for Networking Visual Culture, Scalar is a great option for students and scholars to publish thesis and articles online, as well as integrate and annotate digital media like images, videos, audio directly from your computer, other websites, or digital library collections.

4. Voyant 

Voyant is a popular open source resource for data visualizations for text analysis. You can copy text from public domain works from Project Gutenberg and paste into Voyant’s website and view the data it analyzes in a variety of formats like word clouds, charts, and more.

5. KnightLab’s TimelineJS & StoryMapJS

KnightLab, out of Northwestern University, makes a variety of digital storytelling tools, with two popular options being TimelineJS and StoryMapJS. These tools allow for interactive maps and timelines that tell stories and histories through digital media like images and videos, and they can easily be embedded into websites, blogs, or other online exhibits.

6. Tableau

Though it’s made for business reporting, Tableau is a visual analytics platform that can synthesize data for all kinds of purposes to view in charts, maps, and other formats. 

7. Google My Maps

Geographic mapping is a really common method of data visualization to assist with digital humanities projects, but you don’t need to be a GIS specialist to create your own maps. Google My Maps makes it easy to plot points on a map to create a custom map that you can share with others or embed on websites.

8.  The R Project for Statistical Computing

The R Project offers free software for statistics, so if your digital humanities project involves analyzing large amounts of data or text mining, it might be a useful software to learn.

9. QGIS

A step up from Google My Maps and StoryMapJS, QGIS is a free, open-source geographic information system that allows for more opportunities when creating maps, such as the ability to georeference historical maps onto contemporary ones.

10. TEI

Less of a tool and more of a set of guidelines, the Text Encoding Initiative (TEI) uses XML to encode machine-readable text, which has been used for digital humanities projects since the 1980s. Some examples of DH projects that use TEI include the Women Writers Project, the Oxford Text Archive, and the Perseus Digital Library

Paige Szmodis is an online, second-year MLIS student at Simmons University in the Cultural Heritage Informatics concentration. You can find her on Twitter and LinkedIn.

Featured image created with Voyant Tools.

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