DLF

Three Questions with Yasmeen Shorish and Kevin Hegg

Yasmeen Shorish is Data Services Coordinator and Associate Professor at James Madison University. She is also a newly appointed DLF Advisory Committee member. Kevin Hegg is Director of Digital Projects, Innovation Services, at James Madison University.

 

What must change in our field?

Our reluctance to change existing infrastructure or workflows. A lot of the work that was done in libraries to bring materials online was costly in terms of time and energy. It can be hard to see those systems lose relevance or utility as scholarship changes, but we must recognize when it is time to revise our existing procedures or infrastructures. Allowing more flexibility and experimentation in our partnerships with students and faculty is one way to fully leverage the technologies that libraries use to support creativity and scholarship.

What should endure?

The library often serves as a community hub – collecting and providing access to the intellectual and cultural output of that community. While we must be willing to modify or discard rigid and outdated structures, we should do so while embracing the foundation of stewardship, equity, and access that we believe the library represents. Experimentation and innovation are not excuses to abandon thoughtful and representative selection, nor should they be divorced from the critical thinking and evaluation work that is central to many library services. Too often, shiny new technologies create a period of enchantment where we risk losing focus on the meaningful application of technology in learning and research.

What are you or your colleagues geeking out on lately?

Yasmeen: I want to see more intentional work to enfranchise historically underrepresented groups in the work of digital collections and archives. I think this requires much more engagement with the technologists in the library, to have the conversations about how to facilitate representation and, because of various historical structures, this can be a challenge for people to maintain as a primary consideration. So, I guess I am geeking out on systemic challenges?

Kevin: I am currently engaged in research projects that incorporate technologies with higher barriers to entry, such as larger datasets stored in relational databases that feed into interactive and dynamic charts, graphs, and layered maps. I am having fun this semester with CartoDb, ArcGIS Online, Tableau, various JavaScript charting libraries, and Google Apps Script.