It’s Okay to Take Risks! Reflecting on 2014’s Digital Library Federation Forum

Dorothy Terry
Dorothy Terry

This Forum Update was provided by Dorothy Terry, Instruction and Digital Initiatives Librarian, Morgan State University.

When I was honored with the Association of Research Libraries/ DLF Forum Underrepresented Groups Fellowship to attend this year’s conference, being my first Forum, I didn’t really know what to expect. I was excited to gather with like-minded people and learn more about the active digital initiatives among the various institutions. I was also enthusiastic about what I could learn to bring back to my current and future institutions. How could I contribute to the field and eventually be a presenter in the future?

From the opening keynote by Bethany Nowviskie to the closing keynote by Bonnie Tijerina, the theme of the conference reaffirmed an idea I had recently discovered of letting go of perfection and expertise within the field and being willing to fail. Hitting upon the upsides of failure, and the connection between risk-takers and progression, DLF opened my eyes to a multitude of new things, including but not limited to the extreme importance and difficulty of project management, the awesome Digital Public History projects currently in place, and the HBCU Library Alliance.

In attending sessions on Professional Development and Project Management, I learned how important it is to have support from the administrative staff to get tasks accomplished, even if things don’t work out how we want them to. I would have to say that my favorite session was Perspectives on Supporting and Administering Maker Culture and Programs in Libraries! I have always been fascinated by what people can create and how they get the community involved. From this session, I most enjoyed the statement that makerspace should be for the librarian as well. With struggling budgets and small staff, we have an opportunity to create things ourselves that would be useful in our institutions. We can also be the makers! It makes me want to go try to build a printer or scanner.

Attending the Forum confirmed my current path. I realize how much I enjoy the ever-changing world of librarianship and technology, particularly when they work together to produce things like makerspaces and the Planning Atlanta project. I also realized that nothing ventured is nothing gained, and I cannot allow fear of failure or politics to completely hinder my creativity and need to do more. It was very evident that if I want to bring forth and implement new ideas, I have to be comfortable and accepting of failure so that I can learn and grow. I think the question for myself, after this Forum, is what’s next? What can I do or create, even in a small scale, to help my community and to further the field?

Again, a HUGE THANK YOU to ARL and DLF for giving me this opportunity! I can’t wait for the next Forum!