Impressions from a DLF Newbie

George Apodaca

This Forum Update was provided by George Apodaca, Affiliate Assistant Librarian / Pauline A. Young Resident, University of Delaware Library.

The 2014 DLF Forum truly helped me put into perspective the sheer amount of opportunities and resources digital library collections and DH projects have available in spite of times of austerity and deficits. There were so many great presentations highlighting a project or software, and I was content answering Bethany Nowviskie’s question in the affirmative to all of them, “yes, these do work.” As an early-career archivist, attending these presentations also helped me familiarize myself with the slew of digital library/DAM technologies at our disposal. And as an honored 2014 ARL/DLF Forum Underrepresented Groups Fellow, I particularly sought to attend presentations that would lead me down new paths of discovery, with regards to connecting cultural heritage institutions’ assets to the culture or community they are attempting to provide access to.

Having worked in both an academic and federal research setting in my limited capacity, it was extremely refreshing to see some familiar technologies and software being implemented in the varied digital library/DAM environments represented at the conference. As a relatively new professional, my experience with digital libraries and humanities has been limited to institution-specific projects, methodologies, and workflows. As such, it was not surprising to see the beauty behind some of these projects be in the specificity involved in order for it to operate at their institutions. Never has that ever meant, however, that it cannot somehow be tailored to work at another’s institution.

The general feeling I had throughout the conference was due to what I was able to take away from the keynote address by Nowviskie. Her message left an impression of practicality and altruism in light of budget cuts and mass-corporatization. As she notes, our profession will be most fruitful when experts and generalists are able to find a way to integrate the different branches of their technological, scholarly and professional expertise into a cohesive unit. This, to me, means that when we approach the subject of adopting a new digital library platform or DAM, or really anything that fundamentally changes the way we normally operate at our institutions, we should strive for optimum efficiency by gathering all of our respective resources and asking ourselves one simple question: “Will it work?” Putting myself to the task, I approached a number of presentations with the same question, and found that all of the products being highlighted accomplished this desired effect.

I felt and continue to feel extremely fortunate to have been selected as part of this year’s 2014 DLF Forum’s Underrepresented Group cohort, and would like to extend my gratitude to the Association of Research Libraries and DLF for making this whole experience possible. Residing at the intersection of outreach and technology, I hope to be able to carry this experience and the knowledge gleaned from it forward into exciting new environments keen on providing culturally competent access to their communities and subaltern histories.

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