Academic libraries; Subject librarians; Digital humanities; Campus partnership; Geographical visualization; Social connection visualization; Chinese Studies


Digital humanities have transformed humanistic pedagogy and research by the application of a variety of computer technologies under the umbrella term of “digital.” As an essential campus hub to support the educational and research activities of their parent institutions, academic libraries naturally extend their services to support the digital humanities initiatives on campus with a partnership of faculty and students. However, not many cases and papers have been discovered to report details of subject librarians in the partnership. This paper presents an empirical study of a collaboration of a Chinese Studies Librarian with a faculty member and a Ph.D. student from the History Department, Washington University in Saint Louis, in a project of visualization of social connection and geographic movement of Xie Lansheng using Gephi and ArcGIS. This case study suggests that librarians can play an important role in the partnership, and the library science expertise and field knowledge of subject librarians, as well as that the connections with functional specialists as playing a liaison role, are very useful and essentially contributed to the success of this digital humanities initiative. The study also revealed the challenges the subject librarian faced to make the time commitment and to grasp digital tools fully. A holistic program with institutional and administrative factors, such as needs assessment, long-term strategies, permanent staffing, and institution-level motivations and training, need to be in place to ensure a sustainable and scalable partnership in digital humanities.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.