Fellow Reflection: Monika Rhue


Monika Rhue is Board Chair of the HBCU Library Alliance and Director of the James B. Duke Memorial Library at Johnson C. Smith University, located in Charlotte, NC. Monika attended the 2017 Forum with support from an HBCU Fellowship. The following is a version of her remarks from the DLF Forum closing panel.



Sometimes when we think about collaboration, we think in terms of projects.  But this DLF conference has shown me that collaboration and partnership can simply mean, an invitation to listen and learn. This was my first time attending the DLF.  It was through collaboration that 24 Historically Black Colleges and Universities had the opportunity to listen, learn, and take notes on what could be possible at their institutions.

Digitization, Digital Preservation, Digital Platforms, Digital Scholarship, Pedagogy, and Advocacy were the themes of the DLF conference.

But what stood out, was the talk on the future, and not just thinking about the Future of Accessibility for the privileged, and well-resourced, but my mind is now racing on the digital divide that exist among higher education.  That this simple act of partnership between the HBCU Library Alliance and DLF funded by IMLS, provides 2 take aways:

  1. The Value of Professional Development—That You must be present to learn, and share, so that you can discover where you fit in and what piece you can share at your institution-For example the Digital Scholarship presentation by Lafayette College, Bucknell University and Gettysburg College is something I will take back and implement at my University.
  2. As the HBCUs Library Alliance Board Chair, this partnership solidifies the Alliance’s role in making sure we seek out opportunities and authentic partnerships in which our members can attend conferences like DLF to listen, learn, and share their unique voices, challenges, and contributions to this ever changing and growing profession.

Where do we go from here with DLF:

  • New structure of the HBCU Library Alliance will allow us to open up our membership to non-HBCUs which can provide opportunities for members of DLF and other organizations to participate in the Alliance October 2018 membership meeting.
  • Conversations about how to establish authentic collaborations and partnerships is needed and should be a future agenda item.
  • Some type of DLF Fellowship opportunities for early career librarians from HBCUs to attend DLF to be a part of the continuous discussions and trends in digitization will benefit HBCUs.

Lastly, exchange of ideas allows us to discover more similarities then differences, more opportunities to share in what we all care about, that is, preserving, sharing, and making accessible American History.

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