The 2016-2017 school year was my busiest year in academic libraries. My role saw a number of shifts; I added art history as a department, broadened my collaborations with the College’s art museum, and now lead the LITS WordPress Team. To make room for these new developments, I realized I had to step away from some projects and committees. Transitions are always an opportune moment for reflections and I realized over the last few weeks that the last few years prepared me for these new and challenging roles.
On May 11, 2017, I sent off my last email as the Review Editor of dh+lib. I sent out my first one nearly four years ago to the date. I’ve loved being a Review Editor on that team, but I realized during this school year that it was time for me to step into a new phase of the dh+lib project to create more space for my growing campus commitments. It was sad to sign off for the last time, but I also felt proud of the work I’ve accomplished in collaboration with the other editors over the last four years. My colleagues even wrote a VERY touching farewell post.
My work with dh+lib prepared me for my new projects at Mount Holyoke. Deeper engagement with WordPress and sustained consideration about the editorial process prepared me to move forward on eportfolio projects and WordPress governance on campus. Working on the review with colleagues via email and video conference taught me how to engage in a large scale project asynchronously; I gained experience with project management and blended learning. I channeled that experience into the blended learning projects I consulted on which helped me grow into my role as an instructional designer.
Above all, the relationships I cultivated through this project have been the greatest gift. I’ve learned so much from my fellow editors, the content the editors-at-large selected, and from the original content that the site publishes. I am grateful to remain a part of this project as a contributing editor and the remain connected to many wonderful colleagues.
Over the weekend, I celebrated my fourth workiversary at Mount Holyoke College. How the time flies! The last week or so felt like my first weeks on campus: quiet. The middle of May has a unique ‘here today, gone tomorrow feel’ as exams end; students haul their luggage towards cars and buses away from campus, and faculty decamp to their summer routines.
I remember anticipating the arrival of the class of 2017 in 2013 as I prepared for their orientation, their first M&Cs in the library, and in collaboration with colleagues from DAPS and Archives, a digital exhibition. New to Mount Holyoke myself, I read about the traditions, the history, and of course, the class colors and mascots. Quietly aligning myself with the class of 2017, I considered myself a Green Griffin, the mascot for that incoming class. After all, I was a first year, too.
Summer ended and fall began; the class of 2017 began their college careers and I met some of them in classes and one-on-one consultations. I grew to know some of them better. As the years passed, I enjoyed a certain amount of continuity in the student body; I never felt that before having moved jobs after two years in my previous positions. As I ended year three, I realized that I would watch the firsties I welcomed in 2013 blossom into seniors.
Over the last week, I’ve seen the seniors roving the empty campus. I smile at them, silently wishing them well.
For the students I developed a relationship with, it’s been a pleasure to learn about their future plans and congratulate them. And for the few I’ve known throughout the four years, it’s been remarkable to see them grow into themselves. I am lucky to have born witness to their transformations.
Last year, Digital Humanities in the Library: Challenges and Opportunities for Subject Specialists was published by ACRL Press. I was very proud to contribute a chapter of my own. It was the very first time I saw my published work in print; quite a humbling experience.
Now, I am pleased to share that my chapter is available through Mount Holyoke’s IR.
“Personalized virtual communities for teaching and research are primed to be one of the next big things for librarians and academia. It’s part of the transition we face from content providers to engagement developers.” -Brian Matthews
I thought about this post in the Chronicle excerpted above when I was organizing content for the J-Term course I co-taught this month with the awesome Shaun Trujillo.
Our course, Media Archaeology, Digital Humanities & The Archives, experimented with a humanities lab, a concept/practice I’ve long wanted to explore. As a libarchivist/instructional technologist, I work towards meaningful integration of technology into teaching contexts. Digital projects require skills and relationships not often available in traditional humanities seminars. This is not to say that the content embedded in digital projects isn’t essential; Shaun and I are not swept up by ‘pixel dust;’ we committed to thinking about media and artifacts both conceptually and practically.
The Humanities Lab is not new. In the introduction to the recently published book, Comparative Textual Media: Transforming the Humanities in the Postprint Era, Hayles and Pressman talk about “a major development in integrating a media framework into humanities disciplines is the advent of the Humanities Lab. Among the early pioneers was Jeffrey Schnapp. When he was at Stanford University, he envisioned the Humanities Lab as providing space for collaborative work on large project that he calls the ”Big Humanities“ (by analogy with ”Big Science“)…Humanities Labs also lead the way in offering new models of pedagogy.” (xvi)
There are many rewards and opportunities for these types of classroom experiences, extending the tradition lecture and seminar into hands-on-digital projects. Hayles and Pressman offer a wonderful example from Duke University art history course. In our case, we did hands on work appraising digital photos, took apart an iMac, used software from 2001, and ran programs on a C–64.
As librarians, working with digital forensics and new media, our role as content providers is given, but our role as engagement developers is an emerging one. In order for complex assignments and experiences to be scaled undergraduate classrooms, faculty, librarians, and technologists need to team up to make these projects sustainable realities. Librarians are primed to collaborate meaningfully in these teams not just as “content providers but as engagement developers.” I am excited to continue collaborating with Shaun as we refine and extend our work together on media archaeology and digital forensics in the future.