Fellow Reflection: Natasha Jenkins

 

This post was written by Natasha Jenkins, who received a DLF HBCU Fellowship to attend the 2018 Forum.

Natasha Jenkins is currently the Information Literacy Librarian at Alabama State University, where she is responsible for marketing and teaching library resources to members of the University community. Her varied interests include assessment, project management, mentoring, and succession planning.

 

Technology, social awareness, and opportunities to learn more about an area of librarianship that I only work with indirectly…I was obviously in the right place. My true introduction to the Digital Library Federation Forum did not occur at the opening plenary, or during registration, or even the first few sessions I attended. True, I had breakfast with a table full of people who looked nothing like me. I sat in sessions with people who had “Black Lives Matter” stickers on their backpacks and laptops. However, it wasn’t until  lunch on day one that I was introduced to the vision of the forum.

During the meal I met four ladies: the first was from a traveling New York social justice museum, and the remaining three were from various California academic libraries. We introduced ourselves to one another, each telling a little about our roles in the world of digital libraries and museums. The more we talked, the more the conversation drifted into the role of social awareness in our daily activities. We discussed many of the things Anasuya Sengupta mentioned during the opening plenary concerning incorporating native voices into Wikipedia, and decolonizing digital libraries. As the lone information literacy librarian at the table, I was challenged with questions like, “What do you tell students about Wikipedia?” and “What ways do you work with digital librarians to ensure they include language that students understand?” I also asked my own questions. For example, “At what point will current social justice issues be deemed an integral part of our digital collections?”

As the lone information literacy librarian at the table, I was challenged with questions like, “What do you tell students about Wikipedia?” and “What ways do you work with digital librarians to ensure they include language that students understand?” I also asked my own questions. For example, “At what point will current social justice issues be deemed an integral part of our digital collections?”

The issue of decolonization was very interesting. As an assertive African American woman I have always felt that I was responsible for telling my story- defining my story, creating and curating the things involved in my story. I do this via social media or born digital media. At the forum I learned that this is what decolonization is about. Unfortunately archived digital collections do not have the ability to do this. Anasuya Sengupta spoke about decolonizing for those collections that cannot speak for themselves. As a digital librarian, minority, woman, socially aware member of society, I am responsible for decolonizing certain collections.

Each discussion about the lack of representation of minorities in digital libraries, and the synchronization of the digital and physical library shaped my perception of the remainder of the forum.

Between the conversation during lunch on day one and the speaker’s presentation at the opening plenary, the tone was set for the duration of the forum. Each discussion about the lack of representation of minorities in digital libraries, and the synchronization of the digital and physical library shaped my perception of the remainder of the forum. Overall, I was excited to be in the midst of digital librarians who were socially conscious, that were committed to ensuring that the voices of all people be heard in decolonized collections, and who were interested in collaboration.

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), look for the Planning Committee sign-up form later this year. More information about 2019 fellowships will be posted in late spring.