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Preserve the Humanities! Special Collections as Liberal Arts Laboratory

The conference will feature three plenary panels around the theme of the role of special collections libraries in the context of larger trends in the humanities and higher education. Speakers will focus on collaborative partnerships forged amongst archivists, librarians, researchers, and teaching faculty and position libraries as laboratories for the liberal arts and sciences. We believe that, despite claims of the so-called crisis in or demise of the humanities, higher education in the liberal arts and sciences remains as sought after as ever. As stewards of cultural heritage and guardians of the historical artifacts that lie at the center of humanistic research, special collections librarians can and should play an important role in shaping liberal arts teaching and research. In addition to the plenaries, there will be many varied formats and smaller sessions in which this theme will be explored as well.

PLENARY 1: The Big Picture

The opening plenary will present broad issues in the humanities in conjunction with recent trends in higher education. It will consider how forces in both arenas affect special collections librarianship and, in particular, how they provide opportunities for special collections to shape the future of liberal arts education. Speakers will approach special collections as the raw materials of the liberal arts and sciences. They will consider the meaning and impact of special collections as they are made available in physical spaces designed to foster formal collaboration and informal exchange, and also when technological resources are leveraged to create virtual research environments where students and scholars interact with these raw materials to inform humanistic inquiry.

PLENARY 2: Special Collections Libraries as Liberal Arts Laboratories

The second plenary will take a more in-depth look at special collections as liberal arts laboratories, and special collections librarians as collaborators in humanistic scholarship. Speakers who have created wide ranging digital humanities projects and tools that rest squarely on a special collections foundation will participate in a conversation about the ways our work-and the traditional and virtual spaces we create-can enable researchers to interact with special collections as a basis for experimentation with new research methods, new lines of inquiry, and new ways of meaningfully engaging with scholarly and public audiences.

PLENARY 3: Building And Leveraging Collections to Support and Shape the Humanities

The final plenary will explore the ways we can develop collections and work collaboratively to shape humanistic inquiry. Speakers who are creating special collections outside the traditional bounds of the academic library will engage in a discussion about new and emerging partnerships and ways of building, maintaining, and providing access to special collections as a means of creating and supporting communities. With this foundation, participants will map practical, meaningful connections amongst our collections, constituencies, and service missions.

 

PLENARY ONE: THE BIG PICTURE

Speakers:

Janice Radway

Janice Radway

Walter Dill Scott Professor of Communication Studies and Director, Gender and Sexuality Program, Northwestern University

Elaine Tennant

Elaine Tennant

James D. Hart Director of The Bancroft Library and Professor of German, University of California, Berkeley

 

Discussant:

Neil Safier

Neil Safier

Director and Librarian, John Carter Brown Library and Associate Professor of History, Brown University

PLENARY TWO: SPECIAL COLLECTIONS LIBRARIES AS LIBERAL ARTS LABORATORIES

Speakers:

Rachel Sagner Buurma

Rachel Sagner Buurma

Associate Professor, Department of English Literature, Swarthmore College and Project Lead, Early Novels Database

Kimberly Christen Withey

Kimberly Christen Withey

Co-Director, Center for Digital Scholarship and Curation, Director of Digital Projects, Plateau Center, Native American Programs Associate Director, Digital Technology and Culture Program, Washington State University

 

Discussant:

Sarah Werner

Sarah Werner

Digital Media Strategist, Folger Shakespeare Library

PLENARY THREE: BUILDING AND LEVERAGING COLLECTIONS TO SUPPORT AND SHAPE THE HUMANITIES

Speakers:

Rick Prelinger

Rick Prelinger

Co-Founder, Prelinger Library and Prelinger Archives, and Associate Professor, Film & Digital Media, University of California, Santa Cruz

Gordon H. Chang

Gordon H. Chang

Professor of History and Olive H. Palmer Professor in Humanities, Stanford University

 

Discussant:

Chris Bourg

Chris Bourg

Associate University Librarian for Public Services, Stanford University Libraries