Shawn Martin’s brief 2005 article, “Reaching Out: What do Scholars Want from Electronic Resources?,” still poses relevant questions for this community. Noting the varied responses received by the TCP (Text Creation Partnership) when they interviewed scholars about why digital tools were not more widely used, Martin suggests the following:
1. Consider examining and perhaps reshaping the interface of the database.
2. Encourage librarians and faculty to raise awareness about the existence of these tools in their college communities.
3. Generate grants, contests, or prizes designed to reward “innovative electronic publication and research.”
As Martin goes on to note, however, these suggestions only raise larger questions about the influence of electronic resources on the humanities, including how use can be maximized, how best to reach out to college communities, how we can identify which obstacles impede using these resources in the classroom or in scholarly research, or how we evaluate their impact on the humanities.
All of these questions are important, but the last one seems especially significant. As promising new platforms such as 18thConnect begin to take shape, we should be asking what we want from these new capabilities and potentials.