Jane Kelly is an MSLIS Candidate in the iSchool at University of Illinois and Historical & Special Collections Assistant at Harvard Law School Library. Jane attended the 2017 Forum as a DLF Students & New Professionals Fellow.
After my first foray into the DLF community as a Student & New Professional Fellow, I was energized by the depth and breadth of presentations I had the privilege to attend. I came away from my time in Pittsburgh with continued and deepened admiration of my colleagues who came together to share their projects, tools, workflows, and advocacy efforts.
When I started flipping through the notes I took during the week, trying to pull together a coherent reflection, I realized that there was a common denominator throughout all the sessions I went to: collaboration and community. Not all of the sessions I attended highlighted collaboration in the presentations, but its value was implicit in each of them—from OSSArcFlow to Emily Drabinski’s call for us to talk with one another about labor issues; in presentations and discussions from post-custodial archives to born-digital access.
What’s most apparent to me—and most exciting about work that I hope to be a part of in the future—is that collaboration doesn’t just mean good communication. Collaboration isn’t only the ability to get along with your co-workers when you need to help each other out on a short-term project. It isn’t just having a collegial workplace. It’s about shared goals, a shared vision, equity, respect, and trust among partners.
The collaborative work that inspired me most at DLF was across institutions and often outside the network of large academic libraries. Our future partners aren’t necessarily to be found in the office next door (though that’s often a good place to start), but can be found in our local communities, across the country, or yes, even on Twitter.
Collaboration is something I think about a lot, both at home and at work, and I have many questions that I ask myself along the way: When do we need to collaborate? When do we go it alone? How do we build collaboration as a core value into our workplaces and relationships? What does it mean to approach collaboration as something we do and believe in, not just something we say?
Some of the most fulfilling and engaging work I do has to do with the people involved. It isn’t only that I like who I work with that I’m constantly energized and excited about what’s ahead. It’s because we share a common desire to see our work done in a certain way, for a certain purpose. My hope is that my future work will be infused with the spirit of collaboration I saw in so many projects at the DLF Forum.