Behind the Scenes at the Sherman Centre: Read Our New Annual Report

Behind the Scenes at the Sherman Centre: Read Our New Annual Report

As many of you know, the past year saw unprecedented growth at the Sherman Centre for Digital Scholarship Our team more than doubled in size as we welcomed a fantastic group of new colleagues and collaborators: 7 staff members, 4 affiliates, 11 graduate residents, 9 research assistants, and 2 DASH Support Assistants. With this unprecedented growth, we were able to offer greatly expanded services, including enhanced communications, workshops, online content, consultations, teaching support, and more. The infographic below acts as a handy summary of the year’s highlights.

nfographic of SCDS Highlights:

- 30 workshops across 4 series
- 48 hours of presentations
- 1970 registrants
- 600% increase in registrants since 2019

- 30 new online modules
- 6400 views from 1600 users
- Views and users doubled since 2021
- 675+ visits to new

This infographic is only one of many visual elements in the Sherman Centre’s 2021-2022 Annual Report, which is now available to read on MacSphere, McMaster’s institutional repository. The 40-page report overviews our work over the last 12 months, interspersed with images, graphs, and links to several digital projects that the Centre supported in 2021-2022.

However, while the report primarily surveys the last year, we also hoped to demonstrate the Centre’s long-term impact by including testimonials from current collaborators and past graduate residents and postdoctoral fellows. We include this material in our 2021-2022 report because of 2022’s special significance for the Sherman Centre. The year marks a decade since SCDS first opened its doors in 2012.

For those looking for a high-level reflection on both the last year and the last decade at SCDS, we’re pleased to reproduce the very first section of the report. In “A Message from the Directors,” Dr. Jay Brodeur (Administrative Director of the Sherman Centre) and Dr. Andrea Zeffiro (Academic Director of the Sherman Centre) reflect on the Centre’s founding principles, present moment, and future goals.

“As the Lewis & Ruth Sherman Centre for Digital Scholarship approaches its 10th anniversary [1], we find ourselves reflecting on the past decade, while also considering the possible trajectories of the Centre over the next 10 years. It is an opportunity to revisit the original mission and goals of the Centre, think about how our approaches and priorities have evolved over time, and apply lessons learned as we shape its future.

Outlined in its initial planning document [2], the Centre aspired at its inception to “be a campus-wide resource that fosters library/faculty collaboration in interdisciplinary digital research and scholarship. By providing infrastructure, expertise, and opportunities for collaboration … [the Centre will] increase the capacity of McMaster researchers to engage in world-class innovative digital scholarship.”

The choice to be a centre for “digital scholarship” rather than “digital humanities” was significant and intentional: In contrast to many Digital Humanities centres that were being established around the specific interests of individual researchers or departments, the Sherman Centre was conceptualized as a catalyst of research across and between disciplines that would bring together researchers, librarians, archivists, technicians, collections, technologies, and services.

The Centre had mandates to a) facilitate “research networks through events, physical and virtual tools, and spaces that enable collaborative interdisciplinary research”, and b) provide “support for research that incorporates or studies the technologies, products, and implications of digital culture.” As explained in the 2014 Educause review [3] that featured it, the Sherman Centre was conceived as “something that traditional researchers might not fully embrace the day the ribbon was cut, but who would come to recognize the value proposition for in the future”.

The objectives articulated to realize this value included optimizing resource sharing, provisioning scalable IT infrastructure to support faculty and graduate student research projects in digital humanities/digital scholarship, technical support and consulting services for digital scholarship projects, promoting interdisciplinarity through shared physical spaces, projects, and events, and promoting and disseminating research.

And while our activities have evolved over time, the Centre’s inaugural vision and goals are still incredibly relevant to our present and future. Throughout 2021-2022, we continued to expand our offerings in response to the needs expressed within our communities, while exploring ways to engage and collaborate with new groups within and beyond the university.

Our notable activities include welcoming new staff members and affiliates, expanding our training and development offerings, revitalizing and expanding our outreach and communication activities, and a variety of collaborations that support digital and data justice initiatives in our communities. In this report, we document the activities of the Sherman Centre from May 2021 to May 2022 and attempt to connect them to meaningful outcomes for researchers, learners, instructors, and external community members.

To crystallize the Sherman Centre’s impact, testimonials from our collaborators have been distributed throughout this report. The long-term significance of our work is perhaps most clearly expressed in the words of our colleagues and community members.

Over the next year, we look forward to working closely with our new and expanded Sherman Centre team to revisit our Vision, Mission, and activities to better meet the ever-evolving needs of our communities and continue to be a catalyst of digital scholarship at McMaster, in Canada, and beyond.”

Learn more by reading the open-access report on MacSphere.

[1] Hemsworth, W. (2012). Digital scholarship centre will revolutionize research. McMaster Daily News.

[2] McMaster University (n.d.). The Lewis and Ruth Sherman Centre for Digital Scholarship. McMaster University.

[3] Lippincott, J.K., Hemmasi, H., & Lewis, V. (2014). Trends in Digital Scholarship Centers. EDUCAUSE Review.

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