New Perspectives in a Familiar City

Eleanor Dickson
Eleanor Dickson

This Forum Report was provided by Eleanor Dickson, Research Library Fellow, Emory University & a 2013 DLF New Professionals Fellow.

Char Booth showed one slide in her keynote address that best sums up my DLF Forum experience, which I attended with the gracious support of the Digital Library Federation as a New Professional Fellow. The slide, juxtaposing vibrant green grass and a deep blue sky, was meant to evoke the necessary balance in the world of digital libraries between the day-to-day “in the weeds” perspective and forward-thinking optimism. Similarly my experience at the Forum was a balance of talks with big-picture perspectives and others more practice- or skills-oriented. One of my favorite sessions was led by Dr. Christine Madsen of Oxford University titled “Digital in Context.” During it the group discussed the necessary infrastructure for developing a true program for digital libraries, as opposed to one-off projects. I love these kinds of broad view approaches to the field, and the talk reignited excitement that had tempered somewhat as I have transitioned to the weedy-world of new professional. Additionally I heard about useful tools, platforms, and workflows that I look forward to sharing with my colleagues in Atlanta. In particular, I watched a demonstration of the cross-repository image viewer, Mirador, which created a noticeable buzz in the room when announced, and heard about a streamlined workflow using a custom-built track to digitize glass plate negatives from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. I also stayed Wednesday afternoon for a session titled “Collection Assessment in a Collaborative Environment,” and spent a little time with some very kind colleagues from UCLA learning how to create network graphs with Google Fusion tables, sparking a project idea I have started to explore since returning home.

The chance to learn from these fellow-attendees was just one opportunity to connect with friends old and new. During the Dine Around over tacos—I ate so many tacos that week—and the Birds of a Feather lunch, I met a number of new people working on interesting and exciting projects. I was impressed by their enthusiasm and their frankness, reflective of the special energy of the Forum that is unlike any conference I have attended. I left Austin (my old home) feeling both exhausted and renewed, and also already looking forward to DLF 2014 in Atlanta (my new home).