• What: DH and Libraries THATCamp will focus on Digital Humanities & Libraries. It is organized as a DLF Forum 2012 pre-conference event.
  • When: November 3, 2012, 9:00 AM-5:00 PM (schedule)
  • Where: Downtown Westin, Denver, CO — Room Continental C
  • Fee: a fee of $25 will be collected at the door on Nov. 3 (cash or check)
  • Twitter hashtags: “#thatcamp #dhlib2012” (please use both tags together)

What is this about?

Academic libraries– their staff, content, and services– have a long history of supporting digital humanities (DH) initiatives. Often these initiatives are concerned with digital representation of content, discovery, preservation, and analysis — activities that are essential to a library’s mission. The DH and Libraries THATCamp will provide a venue to further explore on-going conversations about strategic partnerships and services libraries are uniquely situated to offer to the digital humanities arena, moving away from a support model to a truly collaborative framework in which librarians foster and contribute to DH as experts and scholars in their own right. It is our hope that by better defining and promoting our unique roles: valuable services will emerge; administrative and organizational support can be secured; and outreach endeavors will shape the community in sustainable ways.

The program for the day is up to the participants, but possible formats for sessions could include:

  • Demos and working sessions pertaining to specific digital humanities tools and resources
  • Lightening talks to raise awareness of all things DH and libraries: projects, tools, promotional tactics, workflows, programs/labs
  • Discussions about partnerships between librarians and digital humanities initiatives that can include pedagogy, emerging trends, critical skills
  • Strategizing sessions aimed at exploring organizational models and service frameworks
  • Workshops aimed at sharing skills with other participants

Who should attend?

THATCamp DH and Libraries is open to anyone interested in the intersection of libraries and digital humanities work. This can include librarians and library staff, IT professionals, and administrators, as well as faculty and graduate students in the humanities. If your library supports digital humanities or is interested in doing so, we encourage you to come and engage with us. We have much to learn from each other!


  • Angela Courtney, Head of Arts & Humanities, Indiana University
  • Michelle Dalmau, Digital Projects & Usability Librarian, Indiana University
  • Amanda French, THATCamp Coordinator & Facilitator of the DH and Libraries THATCamp
  • Delphine Khanna, Head of Digital Library Initiatives, Temple University
  • Monica McCormick, Program Officer for Digital Scholarly Publishing, New York University
  • Dot Porter, Associate Director for Content and Services, Indiana University
  • Michele Reilly, Head of Digital Service, University of Houston
  • Melanie Schlosser, Digital Publishing Librarian, Ohio State University
  • Jena Winberry, Program Associate, Digital Library Federation

What is a THATCamp?

THATCamp stands for “The Humanities and Technology Camp.” It is an unconference: an open, inexpensive meeting where humanists and technologists of all skill levels learn and build together in sessions proposed on the spot. Here are the key characteristics of a THATCamp:

  • It’s collaborative: there are no spectators at a THATCamp. Everyone participates, including in the task of setting an agenda or program.
  • It’s informal: there are no lengthy proposals, papers, presentations, or product demos. The emphasis is on productive, collegial work or free-form discussion.
  • It’s spontaneous and timely, with the agenda / schedule / program being mostly or entirely created by all the participants during the first session of the first day, rather than weeks or months beforehand by a program committee.
  • It’s productive: participants are encouraged to use session time to create, build, write, hack, and solve problems.
  • It’s lightweight and inexpensive to organize: we generally estimate that a THATCamp takes about 100 hours over the course of six months and about $4000 to organize.
  • It’s not-for-profit and either free or inexpensive (under $30) to attend: it’s funded by small sponsorships, donations of space and labor, and by passing the hat around to the participants.
  • It’s small, having anywhere from 25 or 50 to about 150 participants: most THATCamps aim for about 75 participants.
  • It’s non-hierarchical and non-disciplinary and inter-professional: THATCamps welcome graduate students, scholars, librarians, archivists, museum professionals, developers and programmers, K-12 teachers, administrators, managers, and funders as well as people from the non-profit sector, people from the for-profit sector, and interested amateurs. The topic “the humanities and technology” contains multitudes.
  • It’s open and online: participants make sure to share their notes, documents, pictures, and other materials from THATCamp discussions before and after the event on the web and via social media.
  • It’s fun, intellectually engaging, and a little exhausting.

For more information about THATCamp in general, see the central THATCamp website at thatcamp.org and/or write the central THATCamp Coordinator at.

What is an “unconference”?

The shortest answer is this: an unconference is a highly informal conference. Two differences are particularly notable. First, at an unconference, the program isn’t set beforehand: it’s created on the first day with the help of all the participants rather than beforehand by a program committee. Second, at an unconference, there are no presentations — all participants in an unconference are expected to talk and work with fellow participants in every session. An unconference is to a conference what a seminar is to a lecture; going to an unconference is like being a member of an improv troupe where going to a conference is (mostly) like being a member of an audience. Unconferences are also free or cheap and open to all. For more information, see Wikipedia’s entry on the unconference.

Some say that the first unconference was BarCamp, which is the model for THATCamp. Read more about BarCamp at barcamp.org,radar.oreilly.com/2005/08/bar-camp.html, and en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BarCamp.

What are “the humanities”?

Good question. Turns out there’s a legal definition! As the National Endowment for the Humanities puts it: “According to the 1965 National Foundation on the Arts and the Humanities Act, ‘The term “humanities” includes, but is not limited to, the study of the following: language, both modern and classical; linguistics; literature; history; jurisprudence; philosophy; archaeology; comparative religion; ethics; the history, criticism and theory of the arts; those aspects of social sciences which have humanistic content and employ humanistic methods; and the study and application of the humanities to the human environment with particular attention to reflecting our diverse heritage, traditions, and history and to the relevance of the humanities to the current conditions of national life.’ ”

What is “technology”?

We suggest you read this brilliant article by Professor Leo Marx, American cultural historian at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology: “Technology: The Emergence of a Hazardous Concept.” (Side note: those who love technology should be those who are most aware of its hazards.)

What should I propose?

Sessions at THATCamp will range from software demos to training sessions to discussions of research findings to half-baked rants (but please no full-blown papers; we’re not here to read or be read to). See the list of sample sessions at thatcamp.org/proposals/ for ideas, or come up with a creative idea of your own for a session genre or topic. You should come to THATCamp with something in mind, and on the first day, all THATCamp participants will figure out together what goes on the schedule.


4 Responses to About

  1. Deb Morley says:

    How does one register for the THATCamp preconference at DLF 2012? I don’t see it listed with the other preconferences on the DLF online registration site>

    Deb Morley
    MIT Libraries

  2. Dot Porter says:

    Hi Deb. The THATCamp is listed with the other preconferences on the DLF registration page: www.diglib.org/forums/2012forum/2012-dlf-forum-registration/, we’re the fourth one listed under “Affiliated Events.” Following that link will bring you to our registration page: dhlib2012.thatcamp.org/register/. Hope this helps!

  3. Jennifer Vinopal says:

    I was going to add some links to relevant readings, but the comments on that page aren’t open. Can you enable comments?

  4. Jennifer, you couldn’t leave a comment because the comment period for new posts was set to 60 days. I extended it to 100, so you should be able to now.

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