Fellow Reflection: Mairelys Lemus-Rojas

Mairelys Lemus-RojasThis post was written by Mairelys Lemus-Rojas, who received an ARL+DLF Fellowship to attend this year’s Forum.

Mairelys is the Digital Initiatives Metadata Librarian at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI) University Library where she is responsible for the strategic coordination and management of metadata for all digital collections. She supports the development of open knowledge and works toward exposing curated library data and increasing the representation of women scholars and artists in Wikidata. She holds an MSLIS from Florida State University with a concentration in Web Design/Technology & Networking and graduate certificates in Museum Studies and Information Architecture.


The 2019 DLF Forum session entitled “Collections as Data: The Outtakes” provided me with an opportunity to learn more about the outcomes of the Collections as Data first cohort, which I’d been wanting to know more about. I was very interested in the topic because, as part of my current role, I contribute and provide access to open knowledge at my institution. Learning more about methods that facilitate the reuse of collections and provide greater access beyond the constrains of local content management systems was definitely appealing to me.

The idea behind the Collections as Data initiative is to help institutions/organizations think about how to prepare and make collections available for computational use, as well as to inspire them to adopt and implement this model. The panel, led by Amanda Henley from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, included representatives from the Carnegie Museum of Art, the University of Pittsburgh, and the Weeksville Heritage Center.

The panelists shared the scope of their projects, the challenges they have encountered throughout the process, and other ways they could have been approached. I found all the case studies to be interesting in their own ways, but the one that resonated with me the most was the University of Pittsburg’s effort to enrich their library collections and make them available for researchers to use. I appreciate that the presenter, Tyrica Kapral, discussed the project and how they troubleshot the issues encountered during the extraction and mapping of the data. I was particularly drawn to their commitment to showcase underrepresented subjects and communities as this is an area of much needed attention. Tyrica also talked about their collaboration with liaison librarians and scholars from their institution on certain areas of the project.

I found the discussions to be inspiring. They truly revealed the amount of time and hard work that goes into projects of this magnitude. The panelists were very transparent in sharing that the actual capacity and time commitment required for their projects went beyond what they had initially anticipated, which is something for future participants of the Collections as Data initiative to keep in mind. I’m now hoping that some of the new Collections as Data projects joining the initiative consider the Wikidata knowledge base as a viable venue for sharing their collections’ data. This would mean providing a presence for those collections’ items in Wikidata with reciprocal links to their local hosting solution in addition to making the data available for computational use.