• Campers

    Meg Meiman

    • University of Delaware

    I currently coordinate the Undergraduate Research Program at the University of Delaware, and am also a part-time graduate student in the Ph.D program in English. My background includes teaching in the trenches of college writing programs (learning how to squelch clichés and grade papers in record time), and reveling in the work of a reference librarian in the humanities for six years, where I helped prepare materials for digitization and exhibition, researched copyright information for materials, taught library instruction sessions, and participated in every known form of reference (personal, virtual, and everything in between). Engaged in the usual scholarly pursuits—I've given several conference presentations about the history of reading and have taught a class on the social history of the book—I enjoy anything about Jane Austen, the thrill of the hunt in research, and conveying this thrill to others.

    My Posts

    Digital collections and the User

    Sunday, March 14th, 2010 | meiman

    Hi, everyone.  Here was my original submission:

    “I’m deeply interested in how researchers (undergrads, grad students, independent scholars, adjuncts, faculty, you name it) access and use resources within the digital humanities (e.g., NINES, Victorian Women Writers Project), and what the implications are for libraries, in terms of organizing and making these resources more accessible, as well as the implications for researchers and their work.  What affect will the digital humanities have on the nature, medium, and reception of future scholars’ work?”

    Updated post:

    While I am still keenly interested in exploring the questions above, for purposes of time and my sanity, I’m directing my questions toward college and university researchers–undergraduates, graduates, and faculty–within the field of English literature.  The reasons for my focus are my educational background (I have master’s degrees in English and library science), the existing multitude of free digital resources in English literature, and the fact that I have a ready/semi-captive audience (I coordinate the undergraduate research program at my institution and am currently a part-time doctoral student in English).  Ultimately, however, I’m interested in extending my questions about usage to researchers in other areas of the humanities as well.

    The actual questions I’m interested in are as follows:

    1. how do researchers within the field of humanities (esp. English literature) find and use free digital collections (e.g., Victorian Women’s Writers Project, Google Books, Wikipedia)?
    2. what do they use these collections and websites for? (e.g., for background research, teaching preparation, as sources in final papers)?
    3. what implications does this usage have for teaching and for scholarly communication? As websites and digital collections become a greater part of teaching and learning, to what extent are they migrating into the arena of scholarly communication?  What is the relation (if any) between the pedagogical and scholarly use of digital collections?  Are these online collections good enough for undergraduate students to use, but still largely unacceptable in the ‘higher’ circles of academia?
    4. and finally — coming at this from the other direction — how much usage (i.e., website hits and comments) do free digital collections currently receive?  What implications does this usage have for usability studies pertaining to those digital collections?

    In addition to consulting case studies, I’ve surveyed approximately 30 undergraduates, graduate students, and faculty (thus far), asking them questions 1 and 2 above.  (Since I’m still in the beginning stages of this study, I haven’t gathered as much for  questions 3 and 4.)  At my talk I will happily share both my survey and my preliminary data, and am very willing to collaborate with anyone whose interests/sessions dovetail with mine.