Reflections from a Cross-Pollinating Librarian

This Forum Update was provided by Kelsey Brett, Discovery Systems Librarian at University of Houston Libraries. 

I had the pleasure of attending to 2015 Digital Library Federation Forum as an Electronic Resources and Libraries (ER&L) Cross-Pollinator.  This was my first DLF Forum, and I am very grateful for the opportunity to attend as one of the travel award winners.  I have attended ER&L for the past four years. It has been a very relevant and important conference for me as the Discovery Systems Librarian at University of Houston Libraries. My primary responsibilities are managing the Libraries’ discovery system and providing access to our collections. Because our licensed electronic resources make up the majority of what is discoverable through our system, I spend a majority of my time configuring and improving access to them. I attended the DLF Forum hoping to deepen my understanding of discovery and access needs for other types of resources, particularly special collections and digital resources. I was struck by the similar challenges that both electronic resources and digital collections librarians face: incomplete and inconsistent metadata, system limitations, and making decisions about what to make available and how. I realize that there is a lot that electronic resources and digital collections librarians can learn from each other, and I am motivated pursue opportunities to collaborate with librarians who manage digital collections at my institution.   

The DLF Forum was also very valuable in helping me understand, conceptually, some of the big initiatives going on at my library right now. There are groups within my library working on data management and digital scholarship services, both of which I gained a greater understanding of through my attendance at the Forum. Additionally, it helped me better understand the ways in which these new initiatives have impacted those of us who manage electronic resources. New, innovative research methods are emerging which has resulted in a demand for new resource types that do not fit our traditional definition of electronic resource. We are experiencing an increased demand in datasets, streaming media collections, and other specialized resources. These new media types come with unique purchasing and access models that we have not dealt with before, and as a result, we have to come up with innovative solutions to provide access to the materials that our patrons want and need. Learning more about the needs and challenges behind providing these new services can help those of us who are purchasing and providing access to resources that support them to do so more effectively.  

I think DLF and ER&L recognize the potential for collaboration among electronic resources and digital collections librarians, and I appreciate the development of a cross-pollinator travel award for each conference. I am grateful for the opportunity to attend the DLF Forum; I normally would not since it is not directly related to my primary job duties. I left the DLF Forum with a greater understanding of issues related to digital libraries, institutional repositories, data management, and digital scholarship-all of which are major initiatives at the University of Houston Libraries. I am motivated to find avenues to work towards these initiatives and identify opportunities for greater collaborations between the electronic resources unit and other areas of the library. I have to thank DLF and ER&L for the generous travel award that has allowed me to expand my knowledge and understanding of so many important issues that face academic libraries.