Archives de catégorie : Research articles

Symposium on Nathalie Heinich’s Sociology of Values

Cultural Sociology, 14 (3)
“Symposium on Nathalie Heinich’s
Sociology of Values”
Béatrice Fleury & Jacques Walter (eds)
The present issue includes all six articles that composed the symposium about Heinich’s book Des Valeurs. Une approche sociologique, which appeared across the 31st to 33rd issues of Questions de Communication. The first paper, by Heinich, is an excerpt from her book organised in the form of 10 extracts. The following article by Béatrice Fleury and Jacques Walter (Crem, University of Lorraine) provides an overview of the editorial exchanges and places them in context. Then come the responses by Laurence Kaufmann and Philippe Gonzalez (University of Lausanne), Louis Quéré (EHESS, CNRS), and Danilo Martuccelli (Millennium Nucleus Centre Authority and Power Asymmetries – Université de Paris – Universidad Diego Portales, Chile). The final paper is Heinich’s rejoinder to the critical commentaries.

Les articles originaux en français sont disponibles en accès libre dans la rubrique « Échanges » des livraisons 31 à 33 de la revue Questions de communication :

To the publisher’s website: :

Why You Need Soft and Non-Technical Skills for Successful Data Librarianship

This article was originally published in the “Journal of eScience Librarianship” by Margaret Henderson :

Henderson M. Why You Need Soft and Non-Technical Skills for Successful Data Librarianship. Journal of eScience Librarianship 2020;9(1): e1183. Retrieved from
Margaret Henderson is Health Sciences Librarian, and chair of the research data management (RDM) team, at San Diego State University. She presented her research on the development of  team-based, case-based, critical pedagogy for one-shot classes at MLA and EAHIL in 2019. Margaret is the author of Data Management: A Practical Guide for Librarians (Rowman & Littlefield, 2016). She was a teacher, mentor, and content creator for the Biomedical and Health Research Data Management Training for Librarians offered by the National Training Center of the National Network of Libraries of Medicine. She was the RDM director at Virginia Commonwealth University Libraries, and has had over 30 years experience as a biomedical librarian.


There is more to providing research data services (RDS) than the technical skills necessary for data management. Reviews of job advertisements for data librarians show that there are many other skills listed.

Eclevia et al. (2019) did a study of 104 job advertisements and found that interpersonal and communication skills, and the ability to work independently and collaboratively, occurred in job advertisements more often than knowledge of research data curation and management. Kahn and Du (2018) in a similar study of job advertisements, found the skills of research assistance and critical thinking/problem solving were in more job advertisements than knowledge of data sources or a statistical software package.

Federer (2018) conducted a survey of librarians doing data related work, and found that communication skills, the ability to develop relationships with researchers, and other “soft skills”, were especially relevant to their work.

“Soft skills”, or interpersonal skills, and other non-technical skills, are very important when setting up research data management services, and continue to be important to the sustainability of services. Reference skills, relationship building, collaboration, listening, and facilitating access to de-centralized resources, are all important to the success of a service.

Combining these skills with an understanding of the data life cycle, metadata, and some coding and statistics, will place librarians and libraries in a good position to support research at their institution.

If you want to work with data, you will need to be an administrator and an entrepreneur, as well as a reference and instruction librarian, so data science knowledge is only a part of the job.

Continuer la lecture de Why You Need Soft and Non-Technical Skills for Successful Data Librarianship

Enssib Research Seminar “Time and Data” – 11 July

Agnieszka Tona, PhD in Communication and Information Sciences – Professor at the French National School of Library and Information Science (Enssib) associated with the Université de Lyon. Member of ELICO.

The main purpose of the research seminar series « Les données à mille temps » is to explore and analyse the relation between time and data.

Indeed, it is commonplace to say that data – whether it is a question of Open, Big, Research or Personal Data, etc., – has become in recent years a very hot topic. As a proof of that, let us think about the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), a quite recent European law which went into effect in the European Union in May 2018. It aims at enhancing and modernising the existing data protection rules and rights of individuals and at facilitating the free flow of personal data in the European Union.

Data – like other informational or cultural objects – are deeply rooted in time. Every piece of data occurs through time, and it is often only meaningful within the context of time. The term “data” has been variously defined, but many of its definitions focus on the temporal nature of data.  Let us take as an example this definition of data, given by the International Organization for Standardisation, which is as follows: Data: a calendar representation of a point in time.

The main purpose of this seminar series is to explore and clarify this relation between time and data. It aims at assessing the current practical and theoretical state of understanding of this topic by bringing together Library and Information Science professionals and academic and researchers from different fields (ranging from Library and Information Science, History, Sociology, Epistemology to – why not – Computer Sciences).

The first research session is scheduled on July 11, 2019.

Its title is “Data: carte blanche” and it is packed with 4 insightful presentations by:

  • Jerôme Denis, professor of sociology of innovation, at the École des Mines de Paris
  • Marie Deprès-Lonnet, professor of Information and Communication sciences at University of Lyon 2
  • Céline Gyuon, president of the Association of French Archivists.
  • Valérie Schafer, professor of history at University of Luxembourg

You are all very welcome to attend.

For any information related to this seminar please contact its scientific coordinator: Agnieszka Tona,

« Repenser les humanités numériques / Thinking the Digital Humanities Anew » – 25 au 27 octobre 2018, Université de Montréal

À l’occasion de la semaine mondiale de l’accès libre 2018, le Centre de recherche interuniversitaire sur les humanités numériques fêtera ses cinq ans avec son premier colloque international bilingue sur le thème « Repenser les humanités numériques / Thinking the Digital Humanities Anew ».

Plenary speakers / Conférenciers pléniers:
Eric Gidal (University of Iowa, USA); Anatoliy Gruzd (Canada Research Chair in Social Media Data Stewardship, Ryerson University, Canada); Fatiha Idmhand (Université de Poitiers, France); Elika Ortega (Northeastern University, USA); Marcello Vitali-Rosati (Chaire de recherche du Canada sur les écritures numériques, Université de Montréal, Canada)

Depuis 2013, le CRIHN réfléchit à travers divers projets aux deux objectifs suivants qui motivent ce premier colloque international :
– Au plan des pratiques : dresser un état des lieux des expériences existantes en inventoriant les points forts et les points faibles des outils et des plateformes ; expérimenter l’utilisation d’outils de fouille et de visualisation ; intégrer ces outils dans des projets en cours et en développement ;
– Au plan théorique : cerner l’impact du numérique sur le processus de production et de circulation du savoir ; définir de nouveaux modèles de lecture / écriture pour les sciences humaines ; déployer de nouveaux dispositifs de validation de contenus et nourrir de nouveaux rapports entre chercheurs, communautés scientifiques et société.

Continuer la lecture de « Repenser les humanités numériques / Thinking the Digital Humanities Anew » – 25 au 27 octobre 2018, Université de Montréal


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The roles of libraries in digital humanities

Kirsty Lingstadt is Head of Digital Library at the University of Edinburgh. She plays a key role in delivering digital services within the library, with a key focus on Discovery of Collections online.

This article was published online by Liber, The Association of European Research Libraries, on March 8, 2018.

A Digital Humanities Reading List: Part 4 – The role of libraries

LIBER’s Digital Humanities & Digital Cultural Heritage Working Group is gathering literature for libraries with an interest in digital humanities.

Four teams, each with a specific focus, have assembled a list of must-read papers, articles and reports. The recommendations in this article (the fourth and last in the series) have been assembled by the team looking at the roles of libraries in digital humanities and awareness raising in academic libraries. The team is led by Kirsty Lingstadt of the University of Edinburgh and, for these recommendations, Sarah Ames of the University of Edinburgh has lent additional support.

The Fourth Theme: The Role of Libraries

This theme examines a challenging question: what is the role of libraries in digital humanities? Is it to provide advice and guidance, to provide services that support these activities or to be a fully-fledged partner in digital humanities activities?

The answer is as varied as the different types of research libraries, and the literature highlights some of these tensions. It is clear, however, that libraries have a key place within digital humanities because of the collections which they hold. These collections often form the starting point of digital humanities projects and — when it comes to the outputs — libraries have a role in publishing, preserving and making these accessible.

In particular, libraries hold detailed knowledge about audiences and their different needs. As articulated in Melissa Terras’ forthcoming article[1], usability and reuse are often not considered by digital humanities projects. These factors are, however, critical if the outputs are to have value for wider audiences. The librarian can offer unique insight and partnership to ensure that DH projects have a life beyond the project and add value to the collections held by the library.

Underpinning this is a need to raise awareness of digital humanities at all levels of the library. The role of librarian as advocate is a critical one, and to do this we need to work with the academic communities and researchers: building and developing skills and, above all, deciding what the role of digital humanities will be in our libraries. We then need to showcase our findings, so that others see and understand where this will take us. As Captain Kirk would say ‘To boldly go…..’

We hope that this list, in combination with the previous lists, will help provide some thoughts on the path which we should boldly follow.

  1. Digital Humanities In the Library/Of the Library. Caitlin Christian-Lamb, Sarah Potvin and Thomas Padilla.
    This special issue of dh+lib contains a number of case studies of libraries working in digital humanities areas, often leading to a reassessment of the role of the library, the services it provides and the skills of the librarian.
  2. The Role of Research Libraries in the creation, archiving, curation, and preservation of tools for the Digital Humanities. Christina Kamposiori.
    The recent RLUK report examines the role of research libraries in digital scholarship, through survey responses from RLUK member libraries. The report demonstrates the ways in which libraries engage in digital humanities projects and how and what support they provide, as well as examining the changing role of librarians and the skillsets needed to actively contribute to this area. RLUK advocate knowledge exchange between institutions on how best to engage and work with researchers, despite the issue that there is no single solution for all.
  3. Developing Digital Scholarship: Emerging practices in academic libraries. Alison Mackenzie and Lindsey Martin.
    This publication contains a number of different approaches and case studies of how librarians are working with digital humanities. The text looks not just at what new technologies support research and development in this area but also at the partnerships that libraries can develop.
  4. Supporting Digital Scholarship. SPEC Kit 350. Rikk Mulligan.
    The SPEC Kits 350 surveys a number of American institutions about their digital scholarship provisions, and looks to specific examples of services provided by libraries, as well as projects they support.
  5. Digital humanities in the library isn’t a service. Trevor Muñoz. 
    This article is a reponse from Muñoz to a blog post from Miriam Posner, in which she writes about the challenges of ‘doing digital humanities’ in libraries. In his reply, Muñoz argues the case that research lead by librarians should be the central focus of digital humanities work in libraries. By focusing on service provision, rather encouraging librarians to lead their own experimental projects, we miss engagement opportunities and detract from the intellectual labour of library work in this area: ‘Framing digital humanities in libraries as a service to be provided and consequently centering the focus of the discussion on faculty members or others outside the library seem likely to stall rather than foster libraries engagement with digital humanities.’ Muñoz explains that this does not mean that library projects, tools or research may not grow into or improve services – but that these should stem from ideas, activities and partnerships formed within the library.
  6. No Half Measures: Overcoming Common Challenges to Doing Digital Humanities in the Library. Miriam Posner.
    Posner details the barriers to digital humanities work in the library, from lack of support and time, to the need for new skills and new relationships with academics, as well as proposing solutions. To successfully engage users with digital humanities in the library, libraries must ‘do a great deal more than add “digital scholarship” to an individual librarian’s long string of subject specialties’ (51), and instead look to space, culture (are librarians allowed to experiment? Do they have the support to do this?), technology and training for their staff.
  7. Evolving in Common: Creating Mutually Supportive Relationships Between Libraries and the Digital Humanities. Micah Vandegrift and Stewart Varner.
    This article suggests ways in which libraries can engage with digital humanities research, from practical advice for establishing partnerships and engaging with the research community, to keeping up-to-date with new developments in the field. Vandegrift and Varner propose that the role of the librarian should be adapted and reframed – from ‘servitude’ to collaborator – to ‘support the journey of research as a means in itself’ (73) and embed digital humanities successfully in the library.
  8. Laying the Foundation: Digital Humanities in Academic Libraries. John White and Heather Gilbert.
    White’s Preface states that this text is intended to be a ‘conversation starter among rank-and-file librarians about how and why librarians, archivists, and museum professionals should engage with digital humanists as full partners in both research and teaching’ (xii). The chapters that follow emphasise the scale of the role that libraries can and should play in digital scholarship research, and the ways in which skills and roles need to adapt to accommodate this.

To find out more about LIBER’s work in this area, see the Digital Humanities & Digital Cultural Heritage Working Group page.


[1] Greta Franzini, Melissa Terras et Simon Mahony. Forthcoming 2018. Expectations of Digital Editions of Text: Surveying User Requirements in the Digital Humanities. ACM J. Comput. Cult. Herit. (Accepted 2018, In Press).


Head of Digital Library and Deputy Director of Library and University Collections, University of Edinburgh. Kirsty is passionate about Collections of all types - library, archive or museums - and engaging users with them. She believes that discoverability is key for online collections. She leads on discovery, digitisation, digital preservation and tools to support Digital Scholarship work within the University of Edinburgh.

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AAC Conférence sur les bibliothèques et les archives à l’ère des humanités numériques – Paris 3, 4 et 05 octobre 2018 Conference Digital Tools and uses

Appel à communications : Conférence sur les bibliothèques et les archives à l’ère des humanités numériques. Paris 3, 4 et 05 octobre 2018 Conference Digital Tools and uses. Propositions des communications avant le 15 avril 2018.

About Digital Tools & Uses Congress

The first international Digital Tools & Uses Congress is a multidisciplinary conference devoted to study the uses and development of digital tools. It aims at assembling five interrelated symposia: 1) Web Studies, 2) Challenges of IoT, 3) Recommender systems, 4) Archives and social networks, and 5) Digital Frontiers. The intention of this consortium is to approach a common object of study from different perspectives in order to enrich the discussion and collaboration between participants.

Each one of the congresses afore mentioned has already taken place separately. The endeavor is now to consolidate relationships that bring together theory and practice, technics and humanities, human and artificial agents, sciences and arts. Scholars and practitioners will gather in one place and learn from each other within an inviting environment, blurring boundaries between disciplines and schools.

For this reason, each one of the five independent symposia is presented below as a track of the Digital Tools & Uses Congress and will take place simultaneously during the three days of the congress.

We are thankful to the amazing partners and international colleagues that have accepted to accompany us in this endeavor. We expect this first edition of the Digital Tools & Uses Congress to offer a wide variety of insights and scientific developments at the crossing point of sciences and humanities.

En savoir plus sur le site du congrès

Continuer la lecture de AAC Conférence sur les bibliothèques et les archives à l’ère des humanités numériques – Paris 3, 4 et 05 octobre 2018 Conference Digital Tools and uses


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Call for Chapters: The Complete Guide to Open Scholarship

Working Title: The Complete Guide to Open Scholarship
Editors: Darren Chase & Dana Haugh
Publisher : ALA Editions


Abstract submission deadline: December 1, 2017
Notification of acceptance/rejection: January 15, 2017


Abstracts should briefly describe your topic and how your chapter relates to open scholarship. Multiple submissions are welcome. If your submission is tentatively accepted, the editors may request modifications. Material cannot be previously published.

Final chapters will be in the 3,000-5,000 word range (some exceptions will be made for longer chapters). Chapters will be peer-reviewed.

Please direct any questions to Darren Chase ( or Dana Haugh (dana.haugh@stonybrook).

Submit your abstract :


This peer-reviewed collection will bring together a dynamic set of librarians, scholars, practitioners, policy makers and thinkers in order to take measure of the open access movement.

Continuer la lecture de Call for Chapters: The Complete Guide to Open Scholarship

What is the 21st Century Academic Library? Qu’est-ce qu’une bibliothèque de recherche au 21è siècle ?

Karen Dias is the Interim Dean of Libraries at West Virginia University and has been a librarian for 30 years.

A phrase being used with more frequency in higher education is the “21st century research library.” In fact, you often hear library leaders discussing how their goal is to help their organization become one.  What you often don’t get is a definition of what that means exactly. One reason for this is that the definition is still being discovered.  But even though we don’t have a complete definition, we certainly have the clear outlines of one. Here are elements of a 21st century research library that resonate with me:

Focus on the needs of the campus and changes in higher education

In the 20th century there was much effort on modernizing the systems of the library, but much of that work tended to be internally focused.  This work provided good results that are continuing to make access to our resources easier, thus bringing us to the place where we can now begin to look more outside of ourselves. We now need to be looking at what the challenges of our campuses are and leveraging our resources to support those new challenges. At WVU the big challenges set forth by our president include action on Education, Prosperity, and Health. In the libraries we are looking at new and innovative ways we are uniquely poised to support these.
Continuer la lecture de What is the 21st Century Academic Library? Qu’est-ce qu’une bibliothèque de recherche au 21è siècle ?

20e CIDE Document Électronique – Le Document ? Enssib 23-25 nov

20e Colloque International sur le Document Électronique


Le Document ?

Organisée par l’École nationale supérieure des sciences de l’information et des bibliothèques en partenariat avec les équipes de recherche : CiTu-Paragraphe de l’Université de Paris 8, GERiiCO, l’Université de Lille (SHS), ELICO de l’Université de Lyon, ICAR ENS de l’Université de Lyon 2, LIRIS de l’INSA de Lyon, et Magellan IAE de l’Université de Lyon 3, la vingtième édition du Colloque international sur le document numérique sera l’occasion de réinterroger les notions du « document ».
Depuis la première édition de CiDE, les métamorphoses du document ont été nombreuses : passage de l’analogique au numérique, phénomène de délocalisation/relocalisation sur les réseaux, polymorphie des espaces documentaires… Objet hétérogène, hybride, dont le rapport au temps et à l’espace est en constante évolution, le document suscite constamment de nouvelles interrogations.
Les colloques CiDE ont débuté à Rabat en 1998 avec le « document numérique », appréhendé dans sa version primaire c’est-à-dire une représentation numérique du document classique (fichier ou site web passif). Depuis cette date, 19 colloques ont successivement questionné la notion de « document » à travers les thèmes suivants :

Document dynamique ; Bibliothèques numériques ; Document et sciences cognitives ; Document pédagogique et mobile ; La pluri-modalité et le multimédia ; Approches sémantiques pour le document électronique ; Le Multilinguisme ; Le document électronique ; Le document numérique dans le monde de la science et de la recherche ; Interactions et usages autour du document numérique ; Patrimoine 3.0 ; Document numérique entre permanence et mutations ; Le “Document” à l’ère de la différenciation numérique ; Métiers de l’information, des bibliothèques et des archives à l’ère de la différentiation numérique ; Dispositifs numériques : contenus, interactivité et visualisation ; Livre post-numérique : historique, mutations et perspectives ; Documents et dispositifs à l’ère post-numérique ; Vers une épistémè numérique.

Cette année, à l’occasion de son vingtième anniversaire, CiDE’20 propose de revisiter ces thématiques dans une approche multidisciplinaire et en considérant le document dans ses acceptions et représentations les plus diverses : document textuel monolingue, document multilingue, document image, document multimédia, document structuré, document lié , document modifiable, etc.

Certaines questions nécessitent d’être précisées, notamment le cycle de vie du document, son caractère pérenne ou au contraire fugitif, éphémère, ses traitements, la transformation des formes éditoriales et de scénarisation, ses fonctions et ses usages… À l’heure des data (big data, smart data) et de l’analyse prédictive fondées sur des approches de deep learning, quel rôle peut encore jouer le document ? Quel impact le mouvement de l’open data peut-il avoir sur le document, sur sa fonction de médiation ? Depuis près de 20 ans, les nombreux programmes de numérisation ont permis la constitution de fonds documentaires volumineux, déplaçant ainsi l’enjeu vers l’accès à ces fonds et leur représentation (métadonnées, visualisation…).
Le colloque se penche, aussi, sur la place et le rôle du document produit et géré par les bibliothèques, les différents lieux de savoir (archives, centres de documentation, musées…) ainsi que les entreprises. Ces organisations comptent sur la puissance des technologies numériques pour donner sens à la masse de données en mouvance et en perpétuelle augmentation. Les organismes institutionnels (entreprises, bibliothèques, archives, ministères, laboratoires de recherche, etc.) sont amenés à produire et/ou à gérer des données dites ouvertes qui nécessitent des analyses et des évaluations car elles sont vues, comme étant des éléments fondamentaux d’appui à l’innovation. Avec le développement des données massives et hétérogènes illustrant l’évolution de la notion de document avec sa diversité et sa multiplication, le traitement du contenu de document numérique fait appel, également, à la pluridisciplinarité (sciences de l’information et de la communication, sciences cognitives, informatique, logique, traitement automatique des langues, statistiques, linguistique, etc.), permettant des analyses de corpus multimédias et multilingues avec des applications variées. Néanmoins, l’exploitation du document pose la question de la validité et la certification de son contenu. La prise en compte des aspects juridiques (problèmes de plagiat, falsification et propriété
intellectuelle) des documents numériques sont des aspects à réactualiser.

Continuer la lecture de 20e CIDE Document Électronique – Le Document ? Enssib 23-25 nov


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Appel à communications colloque Digital Humanities : “Accès/Access ” – Universités McGill et de Montréal 8/11 août 2017

    Le colloque annuel Digital Humanities de l’ADHO  co-organisé par McGill University et l’Université de Montréal se déroulera du 8 au 11 août 2017 à Montréal, sur le campus de l’université McGill, et aura pour thème ” Accès/Access”.

Une version francophone de l’appel à propositions, réalisée par Aurélien Berra pour Humanistica, est disponible.

La date limite pour les soumissions de propositions de posters, de présentations courtes, de présentations longues et de séances multiples est le 1er novembre 2016, à 23:59 GMT. Le délai est fixé au 17 février 2016, à 23:59 GMT, pour les propositions d’ateliers et de séances d’initiation (et le 16 décembre 2016 à 23:59 GMT pour les ateliers soutenus par un SIG).


Le thème du colloque de 2017 est « Accès/Access » : nous prêterons une attention particulière aux contributions centrées sur la mise en œuvre des savoirs (knowledge mobilization), les recherches tournées vers le public (public-facing scholarship), la collaboration entre chercheurs et communautés, le libre accès aux programmes, aux logiciels, à la recherche et à ses résultats, ainsi que les aspects de la recherche et de la publication en humanités numériques liés aux technologies de l’accessibilité. Le colloque se tiendra officiellement en deux langues, le français et l’anglais, puisque le Canada est un pays bilingue : nous encourageons donc particulièrement les propositions faites dans ces deux langues, mais acceptons aussi les propositions faites dans les autres langues officielles d’ADHO (allemand, italien, espagnol).

En savoir plus sur le site de l’événement

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Colloque international “La prescription culturelle en question” – Université Dijon 5/7 avril 2017

Le colloque international ” La prescription culturelle en question/Investigating Cultural Expertise “, co-organisé par les laboratoires Cimeos (Université de Bourgogne-Franche-Comté), Geriico (Université Lille 3) et le tout nouveau GEP (Groupe d’Études sur la Prescription) se tiendra à  l’université de Dijon du 5 au 7 avril 2017.

The Changing Roles of Programme Makers, Artistic Directors, Curators and Critics

Appel à communications pour le colloque international organisé par le / Call for papers for an international conference organised by the
Groupe d’Études sur la Prescription à la  MSH de Dijon les 5, 6 et 7 avril 2017.

With the support of / Avec le soutien de l’Université de Bourgogne-Franche-Comté (UBC) et des laboratoires CIMEOS et GERIICO (Lille 3).

Chercheur-es invité-es / Keynote speakers : Philip Schlesinger (University of Glasgow), Tia DeNora (University of Exeter, par visioconférence), Ghislaine Chartron (Conservatoire National des Arts et Métiers, Paris).

En savoir plus sur le site du SFSIC.

Un peu d’histoire(s) / A Little HiStory…

L’Europe des 17e et 18e siècles a été le théâtre de ce que l’on désigne usuellement par le terme de Révolution Scientifique, tout à la fois un nouveau régime de connaissance, d’organisation sociale et de rapport au monde. L’une des manifestations les plus significatives de cette cosmogonie s’est traduite par l’essor, la professionnalisation croissante de la sphère scientifique et son corollaire la disqualification des savoirs populaires. En parallèle, les différentes variantes de la philosophie des Lumières, qu’elles soient cartésiennes ou plus expérimentales, ont insisté sur l’importance de l’éducation, l’inéluctabilité du progrès et la fiabilité des savoirs scientifiques. Ce processus de constitution et de légitimation de corps d’experts professionnels s’est approfondi tout au long du 19e siècle et notamment dans ce qu’on appelle communément sphère culturelle ou encore art. Trouvant place dans l’espace public et dans des marchés dédiés, la production, la circulation et la consommation de biens culturels a coïncidé avec l’essor d’une multitude d’organismes (état, musées, bibliothèques, écoles, fondations, galeries, éditions musicales, presse, médias etc.) et de personnes (critiques, historien-n-e-s de l’art, libraires…) chargés de conseiller et de former le public (et les marchés) de l’art.
Une vaste galaxie qui doit être pensée comme un continuum où prennent place tant des prescripteurs que des consommateurs engagés dans des relations donnant lieu à d’incessantes reconfigurations. Tout au long du 20e siècle, tout du moins dans les pays qui avaient accès à ces ressources, l’essor de l’industrie des spectacles et de la musique, de la radio, du cinéma, de la télévision, de l’offre muséale et plus généralement des réseaux de communication a impliqué une forte diversification des modes de prescription culturelle et de leur circulation. Si ce mouvement a soutenu le développement de métiers et de réseaux de prescription, il a également été accompagné de formes profanes d’expertise, de modalités plus ou moins équipées de médiation du savoir et de la culture, d’une économie informelle du conseil entre pairs. De ce fait, les amateurs-consommateurs ont appris à élaborer et organiser leurs univers artistiques et à faire leurs choix en combinant des formes diverses de prescription – critiques professionnels, littérature académique, médias, participation à des formes collectives d’évaluation, fanzines, conseils d’amis etc. Le développement des dispositifs communicationnels propres à l’Internet et leurs usages ont reconfiguré, disséminé et multiplié les médiations et les formes de prescription. Tout ce faisceau de pratiques brouille ainsi les frontières traditionnelles entre pratiques professionnelles et amateures de la prescription.

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Putting the users into the digital library: reflections on a MOOC teaching experience

About Anna Maria Tammaro

PhD in Information Science from University of Northumbria.
Professor of the MOOC “Digital Library in Principle and Practice” at the EMMA platform.
Professor “Digital Publishing” (2002-2016) and “Digital Library” (2000- 2013) at the University of Parma.
Chair of the IFLA Section Library Theory and Research.
Board member of the Associazione Informatica Umanistica e Cultura Digitale.

From April to May 2016, I was the teacher of the MOOC “Digital Library in principle and practice“, delivered in the European platform EMMA. The European Multiple MOOC Aggregator, called EMMA for short, is a pilot action supported by the European Union. EMMA provides a system for the delivery of free, open, online courses in multiple languages from different European universities.

MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) have two characteristics:

  • The number of participants is greater than the number of Robin Dunbar (<150), however the workload of the staff (teachers and tutors) does not increase in proportion to the increase in participants;
  • The pedagogical models are 1) cMOOCs’ (broadly, a connectivist, social learning approach that focuses on communication among participants online), 2) xMOOCs (courses that focus more on content transmission and knowledge acquisition through repetition and testing.)

MOOCs are therefore to be understood as innovative educational experiences and not to be confused with a technology platform or an aggregator. I have decided to avoid a MOOC broadcast-based (video lecture and automated quiz) but to build a c-MOOC (with a connectivist didactic approach) stimulating an active participation of the participants. It was therefore a priority to build a learning community of the MOOC.

The MOOC learning community was primarily intended for:

  • K-12 teachers at all levels, including elementary, middle, and high school teachers;
  • Continuing education or in-service facilitators supporting teachers and faculty;
  • Educators interested in educational technology and/or online instruction;
  • Cultural heritage professionals wishing to be involved in participatory educational activities;
  • Anyone with an interest in digital libraries.

The MOOC participants have been more than 800, with a clear majority of teachers (46%) and other educators as “digital activists” and professional trainers (15%) in training companies. A small percentage (only 13%) was made up of professionals and students of LIS and cultural heritage. The rest of the participants were simply interested people in digital libraries.

How have I managed to put teachers and students “into” the digital library ? How to create a learning community with participants so heterogeneous ? How I have applied a connectivist teaching approach ? My choice has been to overturn some stereotypes of my previous teaching experience on digital library, addressed to university students and professionals.  I have had first to analyse the context of the digital library for learning and later adapting the prototype to the challenge of a heterogeneous learning community. In this post I share my evaluations and reflections on this experience, highlighting what I learned, what I would do differently.

Digital Library roles for learning

Digital resources are increasingly important in the curriculum of schools of all levels and teachers spend much of their time to retrieve the Internet resources that may be of interest to their course. Yet few teachers and students know and use digital libraries ! The MOOC gave me the opportunity to present to the participants the digital libraries, defined as organisations centred on learning. I have described three possible roles of the digital library for improving learning and continuous development of teachers :

  • for accessing curated digital resources,
  • as virtual spaces ouside of the class (flipped classroom),
  • as internal laboratories into the class (makerplaces).

In developing a digital library, there are two opposite philosophies : the first is collection centered and states : “build the collection (or the digital library) and then user will come”; the second is user centered and says “design the digital library centered on users” or “engage users into the digital library”. I have always adopted the second approach, user centered, introducing the module “User & usage of digital library” to the students of the International Master Digital Library learning DILL. The experience of the MOOC allowed me to realize that the solemn declarations to put users at the center are likely to remain “slogan” if you do not represent a real change of philosophy and practice. Putting users at the center could be confused with a kind of customization, a personalisation of the interface ! Instead the active participation of the users to the digital library in the creation of content and tools should start from the education and training.


We are all victims of stereotypes from which we risk not to go out : one of this for the teacher is to transmit concepts to those who are completely unaware of a topic, such as academic courses for students. Instead in the lifelong learning framework, a community of users has to understand how they could take advantage of tools such as a digital library. The challenge of preparing the MOOC for a heterogeneous mass of participants let me realize this fundamental difference of approach. Learning should not take place in a separate step, and in a separate place such as the classroom or a digital library, but must be integrated into the lives of people, allowing themselves to build solutions to their problems.

The first paradigm shift or “reversal” of the MOOC has been to start from users considered as active co-creators of digital content : the idea is such as the “prosumers” (producer consumer), how they were called the first time by Alvin Toffler (1981) in his book The Third Wave. Toffler defines the prosumer as people who produce some of the products and services they need, rather than simply consume the market offerings such as passive consumers. Jenkins (2006) took over the concept of “prosumer” describing the “participatory culture”, where learning is not limited to acquire “concepts” available to be accumulated in a shopping cart. The direct use of the new knowledge must be obvious to dramatically improve professionals problematic situations, because the time and effort invested in training are immediately useful for the task to be solved – not only for a certain investment that could be useful in the future.

This concept of prosumers has not yet been studied in educational literature, also if it is very close to the pedagogical connectivist approach. The concept of prosumer has been applied instead in the literature on digital library. In the MOOC I have included two Units: one on Digital reading and one on the Enrichment of metadata, where social aspect of reading and crowdsourcing have been applied.

The MOOC pedagogical approach has been inspired by the disciplinar needs of the digital library course and stimulated by the opportunities of the platform EMMA.

To create the MOOC prosumers community, I followed some trajectories from communication and pedagogical approaches.

Structure of the MOOC

From the communication point of view, the MOOC has tried to give the opportunity to each participant to build their own individual paths of learning and at the same time be part of a community. The structure of the MOOC has been built around some problematic situation : What are digital libraries ? How can I take advantage of them ? How can I become a creator ? How can I improve learning ?

First of all, all the possibilities of the EMMA platform have been instrumental in stimulating conversations, especially the blog and the forum at the end of each Unit. From the pedagogical point of view, I have tried to be a visible teacher with frequent input, which included daily blog posts and preparing a weekly newsletters synthesising the course activity and the conversations of the week. Each lesson is divided into UNIT that carry the content and put it into practice, doing the exercises. Many of the main contents have been proposed as a debate between opposite approaches, rather than as the lesson text.

The result has been a hypertextual and interactive content, in which each block of text can be used by participants for customization and annotation (participants can prepare their Coursebook, which remains in their space also when the MOOC has been closed). This characteristic is a change in the traditional way of academic lecture teacher centered which transmits content with video and power point presentations. Each lesson begins with a video (less than 7 minutes) summarizing the main concepts. I have tried to encourage participants to collaboratively build new resources (such as list of digital libraries, Web APP register for learning, etc.) consulted and usable over time.

For example we tried to understand the concept of digital library of the participants, while prospecting the most used definitions as a starting point. This choice proved to be suitable, because it allowed me then to summarize the responses from participants evidencing their knowledge of digital libraries and clarifying misinterpretations.

Social networks have also been used. I thought that the participants could enjoy the conversations with the international digital library community, from which everyone could learn something. In practice, I have tried to bring together the MOOC community with that of the DILLers, the alumni of the International Master Digital Library Learning to stimulate a conversation between digital library experts and experts in education.

The MOOC tutor has launched periodically polls or questions that would invite participants to share their significant experiences. It has been also prepared a Newsletter of the MOOC on a weekly basis. At first we thought of a sort of ‘Orientation message’ to sum up the activities of the past week, and introduce the following week. Then it became much more! Participants provided much of the content of the newsletter, and this encouraged them: it is important for participants to feel involved and receive confirmation of having brought a contribution to the community.

The idea of the Newsletter was connected to the objective of building the learning community involving the outside community of digital librarians. So in each Newsletter issue an external expert was involved, bringing the practical experience relevant to the topic of the week, indicated by the subtitle: Explorers, Researchers, Readers and creators, Digital librarians. We have also summarized each week the most interesting conversations (and more animated) of the week, trying to bring the results to the principles set out in the summary of the lesson.

The idea of the Newsletter was also born from the need to create a communication device, such as a weekly message, that would help the participants not to lose the thread of the course, stimulated them to follow the development of lectures and discussion. Participants instead of being overwhelmed by the volume of content and conversation, could comments on the content being generated and most of them participated in the discussion forums.

Assessment and certification

For the MOOC three alumni of DILL who completed their doctorate and are now teaching in foreign universities were involved as co-authors :

Getaneh Alemu, Southampton Solent University, UK

Liliana Melgar, Universidad Carlos III Madrid

Eric Boamah, Wellington University, New Zealand

In the Unit for the digital library and digital skills has been involved Alessia Zanin Yost Penn State University.

This choice of co-teaching has helped to increase the interest in the MOOC, widening the knowledge base that one teacher can bring and in the case of the MOOC Digital Library in Principle and Practice expanding the international horizon of participants from other continents. This choice has also strengthened ties with existing communities of DILLers.

EMMA platform has facilitated the evaluation of learning both formative (during the course) and summative (the end of the course) and qualitative (based upon the judgment of teachers and peers) and quantitative (through the quiz).

The peer assessment evaluation of learning has been the most innovative part of the MOOC experimentation. The peer review assessment is to consider itself a learning exercise. For the first time I experienced the peer review assessment to correct the mass of the home tasks that were performed at the end of each week. The peer review assessment of EMMA is based on the automatic procedure forming groups with two or three assessors who assess the work.

The teacher establishes the evaluation criteria. This has, however, resulted in the first three weeks in heterogeneity of the evaluation, with opposite judgement by different evaluators. In the final fourth week, to correct this inconsistency, the evaluation criteria were decided together with the participants, through conversation in the Forum. This has encouraged uniformity and standardization in the evaluation.

What participation in a MOOC actually means ? how it should be measured? and consequently, what metrics of success are appropriate for these massive courses ?

The profile of the MOOC participants were categorized into three levels:

Registered : they visited the educational material less than 70%

Observer: they have visited at least 70% the  teaching materials

Contributor : they have interacted with the content and co-created content

The notion that people might sign up for a course not intending to complete the assessments is one that is unfamiliar to fee-charging institutions, but it is extremely common in free courses.  To get the certificate of MOOC they must have completed 70% of the course. Also the certification process is automatic and is based on visits to pages on MOOC, interactive activities and teacher and peer assessment.

What I would like to do differently

In my opinion, the role of teacher and how he can be supported by the platform is of primary importance for the MOOC. The MOOC teacher is often necessary to perform multiple roles : teacher, designer, mentor, institutional marketing, etc. in a highly visible environment and therefore highly risky.

MOOC pedagogy is not something that has just incorporated the online platform but teaching in a MOOC is different from teaching in a classroom.

A role more important could have been given by me to participants in the evaluation criteria of the MOOC. I would like to have been established in a participatory way the evaluation criteria since the first lesson of the MOOC.