Thomas Stäcker on “The central Role of the Library”

Julia Rehfeldt —  October 15, 2014 — Leave a comment

Dr. Thomas Stäcker is deputy director of the Herzog August library in Wolfenbüttel and head of the new media department. His fields of expertise cover new media, the digitalization of literary inheritance, digital editions as well as library and book history. He is also a member of the steering committee of “Digital Humanities im deutschsprachigen Raum ( DHd)”.

Hybrid Publishing Lab: As a librarian you not only deal with books and search engines for literature; what recent changes do you see in scholarly communication and production, and how do they relate to the role of the library?

Thomas Stäcker: The most important change is the digital turn in scholarly communication and production. The library will be a place where not only digitized texts of our cultural heritage will be published, but where in virtual environments research can be conducted that takes advantage of new methods of the digital humanities. The library can provide support for publishing open access under creative commons licenses or editions based on the TEI. It is a place where research data and scholarly documents can be saved, downloaded, and worked upon. It provides cataloguing and indexing services so as to offer high quality research resources enhanced by in-depth metadata and annotations that can be used without restrictions ensuring free access to everyone.

HPL: Web 2.0 introduced big changes for writing, publishing and researching information. From your perspective as a librarian, what technologies and tools, or which developments, in this context are the most important for academic knowledge?

Stäcker: Web 2.0 is a rather vague term and generally indicates that people interact and collaborate via the internet. Today, it is quite common that scholars use Google Docs or even Facebook to share their data or work together on documents. The most important change in that respect might be that there are much more ways of publishing ideas, drafts and outcomes of current research allowing for a broader audience to contribute. Academic knowledge benefits from email exchange, blogs, and easy accessible databases with full text. Machine readable texts and images have a great impact on the kind of research we are doing today and are going to change the way we pose our research questions
e.g. in investigating big data or creating digital editions. In that respect, the electronic document has much more to offer than traditional books.

HPL: Which book will you always have as an analogue copy on your bookshelf?

Stäcker: Which bookshelf ;-)

HPL: Are there any specific topics you are currently concerned with in your work that relate to our conference on post-digital scholarship?

Stäcker: We are working on new ways of publishing scholarly articles in an e-journal beyond providing just PDF as a kind of digital incunabula. Another important issue is how digital humanities methods impact on the kind of services a library provides: what does it mean to offer electronic texts to our patrons, how can we transform our cultural heritage most effectively into a digital form, and in which ways is it beneficial for research purposes? What kind of structure and encoding is required to make these texts a fully-fledged digital resource? What kind of indexing should be applied to combine searches on metadata and full text at the same time? How can long term archival be ensured? Another focus of our current research is on digital editions of mediaeval and early modern manuscripts and imprints and how they may be able to incorporate the idea of Shillingburg’s “knowledge site”.

Our upcoming Conference on Publishing between Open Access, Piracy and Public Spheres is up for registration now. You can read all Interviews here.

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