2024 Windsor Lecture

Quinn Dombrowski

Quinn Dombrowski, academic technology specialist in the Division of Literatures, Cultures, and Languages, and in the Library, at Stanford University, will present "What Happens After the End? Crafting Sustainable Librarianship in an Age of AI."

Feel-good stories about library activism have a predictable narrative arc: a crisis hits, librarians come to the rescue, people walk away feeling inspired. Reality is always messier: initiatives rarely come to a clear end, and produce webs of relationships that can be difficult to disentangle oneself from, for good and for ill.

This Windsor Lecture will draw upon several projects and initiatives from the library and digital humanities spaces—including Saving Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Online, the Digital Humanities Role-Playing Game, and the Data-Sitters Club—to reflect on why we do this kind of work. It will grapple with what "ending" a project means, the relationship between endings and failure, and the specter of "sustainability" that looms over anything digital. Without falling under the sway of the vocational awe so well articulated by Fobazi Ettarh, it will argue for the value of librarianship, broadly defined, for sustaining people—while necessarily considering our own sustainability as part of the equation. Particularly in an era of AI hype with the potential to bring about societal changes we can't yet foresee, this talk advocates for hands-on creative play, as found in makerspaces and the personal crafting of many librarians, as a method for building networks that can help sustain us, that cross the physical/digital divide.

Speaker Bio:
Prior to coming to Stanford in 2018, Dombrowski’s many DH adventures included supporting the high-performance computing cluster at UC Berkeley, running the DiRT tool directory with support from the Mellon Foundation, writing books on Drupal for Humanists and University of Chicago library graffiti, and working on the program staff of Project Bamboo, a failed digital humanities cyberinfrastructure initiative. Dombrowski has a BA/MA in Slavic linguistics from the University of Chicago, and an MSLIS from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. Since coming to Stanford, Dombrowski has supported numerous non-English DH projects, taught courses on non-English DH, started a Textile Makerspace, developed a tabletop roleplaying game to teach DH project management, explored trends in multilingual Harry Potter fanfic, and started the Data-Sitters Club, a feminist DH pedagogy and research group focused on Ann M. Martin’s 90’s girls series “The Baby-Sitters Club.” Dombrowski is currently co-VP of the Association for Computers and the Humanities along with Roopika Risam, and advocates for better support for DH in languages other than English.

A reception will follow.