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What is Digital Humanities?: Home

This guide aims to provide you with a brief overview of what Digital Humanities is all about and how libraries can help in digital humanities initiatives.


Though the term Digital Humanities (DH) has been a talk of the town since 2000s, a single, exact definition of this term has been quite difficult to specify. Given that this is a broad and evolving field of research, here are some of the working definitions that can be used to define the term:

  • DH is a term to describe an emerging field of humanities scholarship, teaching, and service which is grounded in digital sources, methodologies, tools, and platforms. Incorporating a range of computational and data-driven approaches, DH work can involve methods such as data mining, text mining, geospatial analysis, information visualization, text encoding, digital scholarly editing, digital archives and preservation, digital forensics, and computational linguistics, among others (The John Hopkins Guide to Digital Media, 2014). 
  • DH is a new mode of scholarship and institutional units for collaborative, transdisciplinary and computationally engaged research, teaching, and publication. It is defined by the opportunities and challenges that arises from the conjunction of the term digital and with the term humanities to form a new collective singular (Burdick et al., 2012).
  • DH focuses both on the application of computing technology to humanistic inquiries and on humanistic reflections on the significance of that technology (Sula, 2013).

Digital Humanities and Libraries

In response to the needs of the emerging field of Digital Humanities, libraries have been repositioning itself to create new roles to support digital humanities and scholarships. As such, various innovations and strategies have been introduced to foster digital scholarship. To further point out the connection between libraries and digital humanities, the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR) has commissioned a survey on DH centers that provides a greater understanding on managing DH centers (Zorich, 2008). Likewise, the Association of Research Libraries (ARL) has published SPEC Kit 326: Digital Humanities Assessment in 2011 that provides snapshots of the DH experiences of ARL member libraries. Sula (2013) also pointed out the connection of DH and libraries and even created a conceptual model to stress out the key roles of libraries in support of diverse DH activities. NU Library, just like any other academic libraries, supports DH-related activities. 

Library collections plays a vital role in carrying out the function of digital humanities. NU Library has a wide selection of print and digital collections that the academic university can use in support of academic, scholarly and informational needs. 

Institutional Repositories also help in digital preservation. Established in 2015. NU Repository stores, accumulates and provides storage and reliable long-term access to scientific research results and intellectual products of Nazarbayev University academic community. 

Library spaces and equipment also plays a significant parts in DH-related initiatives. Visualization room, video recording studio, and media room are some of the spaces that can be used to create DH-related projects and programs. 

Services and support are always been essential in carrying out DH initiatives. Such initiatives are also made possible by leveling up the role of librarians (Labangon & Manabat, 2019). Organizing some information literacy sessions in collaboration with faculty, creating LibGuides to help students and other library clients, and advocating Open Educational Resources are some of the new responsibilities that the librarians are taking now. Promoting diversity and inclusion through assistive technologies is also part of DH-related initiatives. In addition, organizing DH-related programs and projects such as Human Library and Week of Women (WOW) that promotes dialogue and understanding are also included in the plans. 

Related Libguides


Bryson, T., Posner, M., St. Pierre, A., & Varner, S. (2011). SPEC Kit 326: Digital Humanities.

Burdick, A., Drucker, J., Lunenfeld, P., Presner, T., & Jeffrey, S. (2012). Digital humanities. ProQuest Ebook Central

Ryan, M. L., Emerson, L., & Robertson, B. J. (Eds.).(2012). The Johns Hopkins guide to digital media. John Hopkins University Press.

Sula, C.A. (2013). Digital humanities and libraries: a conceptual model. Journal of Library Administration 53(1), 10-26.

Zorich, D. M. (2008). A survey of digital humanities center in the United States. Washington, D.C.: Council on Library and Information Resources A Survey of Digital Humanities Centers in the United States. Retrieved from

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