NEH awards Digital Humanities Start-up Grant

August 19, 2010

For Immediate Release

NEH awards Digital Humanities Start-up Grant to Improve Interdisciplinary Discovery and Analysis in the Humanities

Boston University Libraries are pleased to announce an award from the National NEH Logo Horizontal_RGBEndowment for the Humanities Office of Digital Humanities to support a project to design strategies and tools to enhance subject tagging of full-text resources to improve interdisciplinary discoverability and analysis. The “Evolutionary Subject Tagging in the Humanities” (ESTH) project will develop strategies and tools to enable libraries to enhance subject tagging of full-text resources. Traditional models for subject analysis are often too broad to be helpful, represent a single disciplinary perspective, and are constrained by limited staff resources. Interdisciplinary research in the humanities requires indexing that represents multiple disciplinary perspectives, and enables iterative analysis. Libraries need a viable solution that lowers the cost and investment of staff time to enhance discoverability and facilitates emerging models for humanities research using digital tools.

The project posits that extant, print-based models of subject analysis do not serve humanistic researchers’ needs in working with digital content. The ESTH project will gather a group of scholars with expertise in the humanities, computational analysis of texts, and library and information science, to design an approach to building a scalable prototype of an automatic subject indexing tool.  Such a tool would enable libraries to improve discoverability and usability of full-text corpora for interdisciplinary humanities scholars.

The newly created Office of Digital Initiatives and Open Access, home to the digital humanities project, represents the Libraries’ recognition that digitizing, curating and preserving digital content must be supported by the development of tools and systems for information discovery and analysis that support digital scholarship. The Libraries have always  been an intentionally multidisciplinary meeting ground for scholarly engagement. In developing a “cyberinfrastructure” to support digital scholarship,  the Libraries are poised to play a pivotal role in creating both physical and virtual spaces that support learning and knowledge creation across the University and across the humanistic disciplines.

Principal Investigators

Jack Ammerman,
Associate University Librarian for Digital Initiatives and Open Access
Boston University Libraries

Dan Benedetti
Bibliographer/Librarian, Selector for Philosophy and Religion
Mugar Memorial Library
Boston University

Garth Green
Assistant Professor of Philosophy of Religion
School of Theology
Boston University

Vika Zafrin
Digital Collections Librarian
Theology Library
Boston University