Exploring library loan data for modelling the reading culture: Project libDat
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CitationNeovius, M. Launis, K. Nurmi, O. (2018). Exploring library loan data for modelling the reading culture: Project libDat. 3rd Conference on Digital Humanities in the Nordic Countries, DHN 2018; Helsinki; Finland; 7 March 2018 through 9 March 2018, 2084, 386-393.
Reading is evidently a part of the cultural heritage. With respect to nourishing this, Finland is exceptional in the sense that it has a unique library system, used regularly by 80% of the population. The Finnish library system is publicly funded and free-of-charge. On this, the consortium “LibDat: Towards a More Advanced Loaning and Reading Culture and its Information Service” (2017–2021, Academy of Finland) sets out to explore the loaning and reading culture and its information service to the end that this project’s results would help officials to elaborate upon Finnish public library services. The project, as well as the data-analysis, has just started, so the paper contains more hypotheses than final results. The project is part of the constantly growing field of Digital Humanities, and its most important scientific benefit is to show how large “born digital “ material, new computational methods and literary-sociological research questions can be integrated into the study of contemporary literary culture. The project’s collaborator, Vantaa City Library, has collected daily loan data since July 27, 2016. This loan data is objective, crisp, and big. In this position paper, the main contribution is a discussion on the limitations that the data poses and the literary questions that may be explored by computational means. For this, we describe the data structure of a loan event and outline the dimensions of how to interpret the data.