Fellow Reflection: Chris Day
VRA affiliate Chris Day is the Digital Services Librarian at the Flaxman Library of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.
He started at SAIC in 2008, managing the library’s first digital collection, the Joan Flasch Artists’ Books Collection. In 2011 he oversaw the the deaccession of the 35mm slide library and the start of a local repository, now featuring over 200,000 images, of digital art images for teaching. The past year saw the migration of 13 digital collections from ContentDM to Islandora, which now features 4 new collections and over 26,4000 digital objects.
Learning to Live DLF
I’ve been a librarian for over twelve years and am still developing my conference skills. Conferences are valuable events, but can be difficult when you struggle to find the balance between learning opportunities and self-care. Last year, at my first DLF Forum, I found a community and atmosphere that made it easier to find peace in the chaos. This sense of ease drove my desire to make the most of my time there and bring what I learned back to my job. As 2017 turned into 2018, I looked back on my time in Pittsburgh and saw that I had used just a small portion of what I’d been exposed to. I had a notebook full of ideas, but hadn’t given myself the chance to follow-through. My personal quest for DLF Forum 2018, declared just an hour into the start of Learn@DLF, was to absorb, process, and act on what I experienced. I want to learn to live DLF.
Forum 2018 started the same way Forum 2017 finished for me, with the excellent Metadata Analysis Workshop developed by the DLF Assessment and Metadata Working groups. I wasn’t repeating the workshop because I failed to learn, I simply wanted another opportunity to act on what I had learned. One digital collection migration and clean-up wiser, I returned refreshed and ready to absorb everything. OpenRefine, regular expressions, GREL, application profiles; I wanted all that wonderful techy metadata stuff. The rush of knowledge felt real good!
I wasn’t repeating the workshop because I failed to learn, I simply wanted another opportunity to act on what I had learned. One digital collection migration and clean-up wiser, I returned refreshed and ready to absorb everything.
I made a vow, that when I got back to Chicago I would turn my pages of notes into real tasks and real projects. I would try every tool, visit every collection, read every article, and archive my favorite presentations for future referral. I lost a few days to jet lag and con crud, but I have taken positive steps towards my goals. I started with a Google Doc full of raw notes, which I’ll now organize into direct actions (digitizing historic course catalogs? create a faculty name authority list like Jeremy Floyd at UNV Reno), research opportunities (get Hope Olson’s “The power to name”), email contacts to follow-up (tell me more about your Syllabrowser project, University of Utah), and random thoughts (did I leave the download link on when I left?).
Three weeks have passed since our time in Las Vegas. How am I doing so far? I’ve had a very good start, thank you for asking. I’ve reached out to colleagues and had helpful, substantive follow-up conversations. I used new tools and skills to normalize accession numbers in our Artists’ Book collection (this allowed us to better search, filter, and analyze those numbers; I squealed like a child on their birthday when I got that to work). This is just the beginning; I have so many new projects to try that I am freshly enthused for the coming year.
And what of the next year? Will I continue to operationalize my experiences from the 2018 Forum, or will entropy take control? Between now and next fall I intend to find out.
And what of the next year? Will I continue to operationalize my experiences from the 2018 Forum, or will entropy take control? Between now and next fall I intend to find out. I will track and analyze my successes and my failures, and hope to report back in Tampa. If this proves a success, I can add another goal for the 2019 DLF Forum: pacing my physical & mental energy and make it through the whole conference without exhaustion. I’ll be seeing you in the Meditation Room!
Want to know more about the DLF Forum Fellowship Program? Check out last year’s call for applications.
If you’d like to get involved with the scholarship committee for the 2019 Forum (October 13-16, 2019 in Tampa, FL), sign up to join the Planning Committee now! More information about 2019 fellowships will be posted in late spring.