Digital Medieval Studies

How DH Has Helped Me Make Sense of My Field

Early in my graduate studies, when I took the Digital Humanities Colloquium at Boston College, the professor had us read a series of definitions of “the Digital Humanities” to introduce us to the scope of the work we might be doing. Many of these definitions rightly focused on interdisciplinarity, computational analysis, multimedia pedagogy and scholarship, and the need for an umbrella term to encourage institutional support and funding. One definition, however, continues to resonate with me as it is particularly germane to my own field of medieval studies: “[u]ltimately, what sets DH apart from many other humanities fields is its methodological commitment to building things as a way of knowing.” This emphasis on DH as primarily a methodology of building things clarifies what I can do with DH. When conceptualizing a new DH project, I begin by asking myself, “what am I hoping to build to help me know something new about this topic?”

Often, the answer to that question has something to do with the materiality of the topic. As a translator in medieval studies, I have spent untold hours poring over manuscripts and textual editions, navigating the webs of cramped handwriting spilling across pages and the matrices of the apparatus criticus. Text encoding, the DH work I have done with such manuscripts, has given me a deeper insight into the physicality of the scribal tradition and allows me to represent the complexity of the folios. Because DH prioritizes the creation of new material, I get to know the material culture of my field more closely than I might have otherwise.

This digital methodology of “building” gives me a different way of knowing the content and the context of the material I study. Both formats, manuscript and XML file, have their affordances for marking intertextual material, line breaks, section headers, etc., and the painstaking encoding process creates an intimacy with the text which more traditional humanistic scholarship may not allow. In many ways, the detailed encoding (done in an XML file) feels like the practice of copying a manuscript, and the final result visually complements the original folio.

DH methodologies ask me to think about the medieval world in a new way, demanding that I consider how to transfer the technology of the manuscript into digital technology. As I build a digital manuscript of my own, I can almost see through the lens of the scribes themselves, how they constantly referred back to their source text to produce a faithful copy. Digital humanities offers a new entry point to the field and literally allows me to continue the tradition I study, and it doesn’t hurt that the end result is really cool, too!

Manuscript viewer built from the XML file above through Edition Visualization Technology v. 1.3. This work-in-progress provides multiple nodes of engagement with both the manuscript and the text itself.

We’re Hiring: General Information

I am excited to see the applications coming in for the Digital Scholarship Group positions. I have put the following information together to help applicants, and those thinking about applying. Having been there many times myself, I know the laborious and nerve-racking nature of job seeking. Please know we are working on our end to consider your application with care and that we are doing our best to move swiftly. Thank you for your patience!

The Team We’re Building

Who are We?

  • We are a group of digital scholarship and data-minded professionals who pride ourselves on being librarians and facilitating DS/data-oriented research and curriculum.
  • We aim to be both responsive and proactive in developing DS and Data services.
  • We focus on the greater good of the BC community and the community beyond.

We are looking for librarians who are…

  • Able to hit the ground running by immediately applying their technical skills and methodological knowledge.
  • Have a balance of hard technical skills and soft skills that enable them to be highly collaborative and communicative.
  • Creative, flexible, and interested in learning new skills.
  • Kind and compassionate.

Over the next few years, we seek to…

  • Refine and refresh our current DS and data services by incorporating the ideas and skills of the new team.
  • Better institutionalize DS and data services and solidify the Libraries’ reputation as being the hub of DS on BC’s campus.
  • Work more closely with academic departments to develop programmatic undergraduate DS and data learning opportunities.
  • Support the DH Program Librarian’s endeavor to further institutionalize the DH Graduate Certificate program and initiate new DH programs.
  • Develop closer working relationships with the Center for Digital Innovation and Learning Research Services (among other research units on campus).


  • Are these positions brand new? No, but they have been reshaped a bit based on what we have learned over the past few years. 
  • What is BC’s work-at-home policy? Currently, we get one day a week to work from home.
  • When does the position start? The start date is flexible.
  • Is there financial support for professional development and conferences? Yes.

We’re Hiring: Digital Scholarship Librarian (Revised)

Boston College Libraries’ Digital Scholarship Group (DSG) seeks a Digital Scholarship Librarian to be part of our new and growing team. Having recently hired two stellar candidates for our Data Visualization and one of our DS positions, we are now seeking someone who brings complementary skills–namely, web development and programming–and an equal ability to hit the ground running as the DSG strives to facilitate and support faculty and student digital research projects and digital scholarship (and digital humanities) in undergraduate and graduate curricula.

The Digital Scholarship Librarian is responsible for facilitating and supporting faculty and student digital research projects, ranging from short and long-term consultations (e.g., helping to identify appropriate methods, tools, and training resources) to more intensive, hands-on assistance with technology, project design, and project management. For faculty, they offer a range of teaching support, from providing one-shot instruction sessions to teaching multiple sessions and collaborating on curriculum design. Additionally, our DS Librarians are responsible for managing the Digital Studio in collaboration with the department head and will heavily influence how the space functions and the direction a potential redesign will take.

As a member of the DSG, the DS Librarians collaborate on providing current DS services, designing and implementing new ones, and are a valued voice in DSG strategic planning and goal setting as the group strives to expand its role in BC Libraries and beyond. The collaborative nature of this position extends to working with staff across the Libraries (subject liaison librarians, in particular) and campus with units such as Research Services and the Center for Digital Innovation in Learning to meet faculty research and teaching needs.

Apply on BC’s employment site. Please email if you have any questions.


  • A Master’s degree in Library Science or Information Science, or an equivalent combination of a relevant advanced degree and library or digital scholarship experience;
  • Minimum 2 years of relevant experience, minimum 5 years for a senior position;
  • Demonstrated experience in a range of digital scholarship methods (e.g., text analysis, GIS/mapping, network analysis, digital exhibits, 3D/immersive technologies, etc.), tools, and skills;
  • The ability to engage with research across a variety of disciplines and work with and support faculty and students within those disciplines;
  • The ability to collaborate with faculty, librarians, and staff on research projects and teaching;
  • The ability and willingness to learn new technologies and methodologies;
  • Excellent written and oral communication skills


  • Experience working in academic libraries;
  • Experience providing DS skills training and classroom instruction;
  • Has knowledge of digital accessibility best practices;
  • Demonstrated knowledge of front-end web development using PHP, HTML, CSS, and/or JavaScript, and familiarity with content management systems such as Omeka and WordPressds

We’re Hiring: Data Services Librarian (Revised)

Boston College Libraries are seeking a Data Services Librarian to join our Digital Scholarship Group (DSG). The ideal candidate for this position will have advanced data skills that can be applied across disciplines and, equally so, will be an effective communicator who can work with a range of collaborators inside and outside of the Libraries.

The Data Services Librarian is primarily responsible for collaborations and services related to data gathering, manipulation, management, curation, documentation, and data skills training. Such activities include consulting on faculty and student data-driven projects; providing data skills training on data manipulation and management methods, best practices, and tools to faculty and staff; providing data skills instruction for undergraduate and graduate courses, and driving library-based curricula development (i.e., library instruction and modules) and resource creation/collection for data-centric and data science programs.

As a member of the DSG, the Data Services Librarian collaborates on designing and driving new initiatives and services and is a valued voice in DSG strategic planning as the group strives to expand its role in BC Libraries and the broader BC community. The collaborative nature of this position extends to working with staff across the Libraries, in particular, the Economics Librarian, the Business Librarian, and other subject liaison librarians, and outside campus units, including Research Services and the Schiller Institute for Integrated Science and Society. They will also work with the University’s emerging cross-disciplinary Data Science minor.

Apply on BC’s employment site. Please email if you have any questions.


  • A Master’s degree in Library Science or Information Science or a closely related, data-intensive research field, plus 2-3 years of relevant experience
  • Demonstrated experience in
    • Providing data curation, management, cleaning, and mining services;
    • Using data and related technologies to support teaching or research;
    • Working with numeric data in an academic, scientific, or corporate environments;
    • The ability to engage with research across a variety of disciplines and a range of audiences, from undergraduate and graduate students to faculty, instructors, and staff;
    • Excellent written and oral communication skills


  • Experience working in academic libraries;
  • Knowledge of data preservation strategies;
  • Demonstrated experience in
    • Working with data repository platforms (e.g., Dataverse);
    • Proving data skills training and classroom instruction (oral, written, and video tutorials, etc.);
    • Data/text mining and analysis using coding languages such as Python or R;
    • Data visualization;
    • Using statistical tools (e.g., SPSS, SAS, Stata)

What are Digital Scholarship and Digital Humanities?

To develop a complete mind: Study the science of art; Study the art of science. Learn how to see. Realize that everything connects to everything else.

Leonardo da Vinci

There shall be love between the poet and the man of demonstrable science. In the beauty of poems are henceforth the tuft and final applause of science.

Walt Whitman

Digital Scholarship (DS) and Digital Humanities (DH) create opportunities to blur the lines and make connections between the sciences, arts, and humanities through the use of digital methods, concepts, and tools. They are a way faculty, librarians, and students can engage with new areas of scholarship and engage with traditional scholarship in innovative ways.

DS and DH Defined

DS is the deeply considered and critical use of digital methods and tools to conduct and present research. DH falls under the umbrella of DS and incorporates humanities-specific practices and methodologies. DS and DH methods include data visualization, GIS mapping, and text analysis, among others, and projects widely range in complexity from simple digital timelines to large-scale databases. For DS and DH examples, check out these award-winning projects Freedom’s Ring, Poppy Field, Prison Pandemic, and Atlante Clavino, and view some of the work that has been done at BC.

DH has Jesuit Roots

Roberto Busa, S.J. at Yale University, 1956

Father Roberto Busa, S.J. (1913-2011) was one of the earliest digital humanities pioneers. In his 1946 doctoral dissertation, Busa announced the need for a machine-generated Thomas Aquinas concordance. Why machine-generated? Because Aquinas’ works contain over 9 million words. Cross-referencing those words, not to mention connecting them with the many works Aquinas refers to, would take many lifetimes. In 1949, Busa began working on the concordance, known as the Index Thomisticus, and by 1951 he had a proof of concept machine that used punchcards. Today, it exists online. The Index Thomisticus was a monumental undertaking not just because of what it took to create it but also because of what inspired it. Father Busa noticed Aquinas’ unique use of a particular word that he wanted to explore. The word was “in.”

Learn More

If you would like to learn more about DS and DH, visit our Digital Scholarship Handbook. (The DS Methods Overview section might be especially helpful.) To begin learning digital skills, check out DS Learn, which has several tutorials on topics ranging from 3D modeling to data visualization to digital exhibit creation. And, as always, contact us, the Digital Scholarship Group, with questions or to discuss project ideas.

How Open is Open?

A closer look at Transformative Agreements, Hybrid Journals, and OpenAPC

For approximately the past two decades, with a sharp increase over the past five years in particular, open access articles are becoming more and more commonplace. So much so, in fact, that notoriously large, subscription based publishers such as Elsevier and Springer, have started offering a different model for accessing journal articles that does provides more access for the extremely high cost of subscription. Now, these companies have begun to make available new contracts with universities that allow for broader access for all affiliated scholars, and discounts or removals on Article Processing Charges (APCs) that are required to help fund the publication of open access articles.

On the whole, these “Transformative Agreements” break down barriers for access to students and save money for institutions so that they can spend their collection budgets on one-time purchases, rather than having their budgets tied up in subscription costs each year. And many journals indeed have made the transition from a Transformative Journal to fully Open Access. However, most Transformative Agreements tend to stop short of being fully open access – particularly when published by a major, well-known, well-funded publisher. Many make use of the Hybrid Journal model – which sees some of the content of a journal open access, and some still subscription based. Additionally, these agreements sometimes limit the publishing accessibility to a particular population affiliated with an institution; while fully open access publications are readily available with an internet connection and a URL. Recently, Boston College has signed a Read and Publish Agreement with Cambridge University Press.

Costs of Open Access

The costs associated with publishing open access can vary a great deal as well. In 2020, Springer was under fire in the public eye for listing an APC at 11,000 USD, when the average is closer to 2,000 USD. First, this again presents a barrier to access – as only institutions with liberal publication budgets, or professors who don’t mind going very deep into their own pockets – are able to meet this. Additionally, as major publishers try to maintain their subscription model while promoting open access – smaller independent publishers who are committed to publishing scholarly fully open access are left out of the picture. Publication funds that are generally meant for developing open source repositories and communal methods of sharing are instead going back to the same publishers pushing their subscription models.

OpenAPC is a project to gather data about APCs being paid to different publishers by institutions all across the world. While it is not comprehensively used, this data shows different trends in APC payment data, and create a narrative about how effectively librarians and research institutions are using open access publishing funds create more accessible work via publishers that are working explicitly to create open models for publishing.

This Treemap from shows the breakdown of funds used to cover Article Processing Charges across different countries, publishers, and funding institutions.

Plan S

In 2018, cOAlition S was launched. Composed of different national research funding institutions throughout Europe, the coalition’s main principles focus on making open access publication a reality. This coalition centered around Plan S – which has the goal of making public all research and publications that are supported through grants by national research institutions; making published researched immediately accessible to everyone and anyone with an internet connection. This – and efforts like it – amount to building pressures on publishers to offer open, immediately published options for authors looking to publish their work, which in turn creates a wider, globally accessible portfolio of scholarly work.

Supporting Open Access at Boston College

At Boston College, we publish seventeen open access journals and provide funding to authors via an Open Access Publishing Fund. Our E-Journals are free to read all over the world and can be found at Additionally, scholarship that has been published open access via our publishing fund can be found on our Open Access Publishing Fund LibGuide. If you want to start an E-Journal or submit an article to an open access journal – get in touch with the Digital Scholarship Team here at the O’Neill Library!

New Digital Studio Equipment

This semester the Digital Studio (O’Neill Library, room 205) has been upgrading the equipment in the Podcasting Room and Sound Room, some of which is ready for use and some of which will be ready soon.

In the Podcasting Room, we now have:

Besides being higher quality than the Blue Yeti microphone (still available in the space), the Rode Procasters provide a more professional recording experience. Instructions on how to use the mics are available in our Multimedia Production Guide

We are also in the process of setting up a Padcaster Studio for use in the Podcasting Room. This easy to use video production system will allow the BC community to record things like interviews and presentations.  

In the Sound Room, we are currently installing new acoustic panels, which will improve recording quality. We are also going to be making a Logitech C922 Pro Stream Webcam available that will allow for higher quality video capture. We see this as being of particular value to faculty who want to record presentation videos for online or hybrid courses.

Please email us if you have any questions, including about equipment availability.

BCDS Faculty Summer Incubator

This summer BC Libraries’ Digital Scholarship Group is holding a week-long incubator that will guide twelve BC faculty members through an exploration of digital scholarship methods and tools from a conceptual and technical standpoint. Participants will receive a $200 stipend following fall project presentations.

  • When: June 6th-June 10th
  • Where: O’Neill Library (in-person unless COVID requires it to move online)
  • Application: Due February 25th (Go to the Application)


The incubator will cover a wide cross-section of digital scholarship methods (e.g., data visualization, mapping, digital exhibits) and tools (e.g., ArcGIS and Tableau). Broader topics will also be incorporated such as project evaluation, usability, and intellectual property. The incubator will culminate in the creation of faculty projects that will be presented early in the fall semester during which faculty will receive feedback from colleagues and librarians to help them further develop their work. A project may be a well-articulated plan for a researched-based DS project and a prototype that demonstrates aspects of how the project will work, or, it may be for a pedagogy-based endeavor that includes a lesson plan and a prototype that demonstrates the digital component(s) of the lesson. More information on projects will be provided at the beginning of the incubator. Throughout the summer, the DS Group will provide workshops that dive deeper into DS tools, consultations, and other types of support that will enable participants to complete their projects.  

Learning Outcomes

Through their participation, faculty will gain:  

  • Familiarity with the current DS landscape 
  • An understanding of how to identify DS methods and tools for specific research and/or pedagogical pursuits 
  • Foundational skills in common DS tools
  • Greater comfort with and confidence in incorporating DS methods and tools into their research and/or teaching 
  • The ability to conceptualize and evaluate DS projects

Questions? Contact Melanie Hubbard, DS librarian, at

New: On-Demand Workshops

In the past, the Digital Scholarship Group hosted a series of preprogrammed workshops every fall and spring semester. We have changed this approach to on-demand workshops offered per the request of BC faculty, students, and staff. To make the process easier, we have created the Digital Scholarship & Scholarly Communications Workshops and Information Sessions Menu, which lists out-of-the-box learning opportunities that can be requested on shorter notice. It may also help with brainstorming ideas for more customized workshops. The menu, currently in its first phase, will be further developed over time.

We welcome comments and questions about this new workshop initiative.

3D Models in the Classroom: Every Rock has a Story

In collaboration with CDIL, the DS team digitized a series of rock specimens utilized in Prof. Ethan Baxter’s Fall 2021 Earth and Environmental Sciences class, Every Rock has a Story, to be used in interactive videos and, eventually AR experiences. A total of approximately 35 rocks were digitized (see examples), a subsample of the more than 60 3D models that were created this year through a combination of photogrammetry and laser scanning (see our collection). (See the Digital Studio’s 3D technologies page.)