VoS at ATALM 2015

The Valuing Our Scans team was happy to present findings and receive feedback from Native American librarians and archivists at the 2015 meeting of the Association for Tribal Archives, Libraries, and Museums. We presented “Understanding the Impact of Digitized Ethnographic Collections” at a session on Saturday, September 12. At the session, Ricky Punzalan (University of Maryland, Diana Marsh (University of British Columbia), and Robert Leopold (Smithsonian Institution) described our ongoing research. We described the ways in which we are working to articulate, in respectful and meaningful ways, the value of providing access to digitized ethnographic collections for both cultural heritage institutions and Indigenous source communities.

We were honored to receive feedback from tribal LAM professionals and Native American
community members who helped to improve our understandings of the practical applications of the study. We facilitated feedback through a focus group discussion, which treated various questions, including: What are the meaningful impacts of digitization that matter to tribal LAM professionals? How do we document and assess these impacts?

Our goal was to encourage open and honest discussions on how to appropriately design the necessary tools and methods for capturing meaningful and impactful outcomes of digitization. We learned as well about potential negative impacts of digitization that may not have been previously considered, documented, or expressed.

The complete ATALM 2015 program is available here.

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Valuing Our Scans Update

We were happy to hold a workshop to discuss approaches to study the impact of digitization projects in ethnographic archives. The workshop was titled “Valuing Our Scans” and held at the University of Maryland. Some information about the events is available on our site, vos.umd.edu.

I previously presented initial findings of the Valuing Our Scans project with Brian Butler, a University of Maryland colleague, at the 2014 Museums and the Web conference.

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Digital Curation Fellowships

UMD College of Information StudiesAfter negotiations between the staff of the National Agricultural Library (NAL) and the archives and digital curation faculty at the University of Maryland iSchool, we are very pleased to announce the creation of a fellowship program in digital curation. The program will fund graduate students at the iSchool to aid the NAL in setting up new programs to manage, preserve, and access the NAL’s extensive agricultural data holdings.

The faculty of the iSchool is looking forward to this new partnership. Information about the program will be available from the iSchool. Fellows will be announced in January 2014.

Related: NAL press release on increasing access to digital collections (September 2012)
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Valuing Our Scans

The UMD and Smithsonian seed grant program aims to solidify and support research collaboration between the two institutions. My spring application to the program was successful, and starting this fall, I will be carrying out collaborative research with Brian Butler, Associate Professor and director of the MIM program at the Maryland iSchool, and Robert Leopold, director of the Smithsonian Consortium for World Cultures.

The project is titled “Valuing Our Scans: Towards a Metric for Assessing the Impact, Value, and Use of Digitization and Digital Surrogacy for Ethnographic Collections.” We will develop a general framework for assessing the impact of digitized ethnographic collections. To achieve this goal, we will document and analyze the how key stakeholders articulate the value and perceived uses of existing digitized anthropological collections. Our research benefits from the insights and perspectives gathered from a diverse group of individuals currently involved in the preservation and access of heritage collections. These stakeholders include the heritage professionals and administrators working within institutions that house ethnographic collections, the source communities from which the artifacts originated, and the various target users of these digitized materials.

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Moving to Maryland

UMD College of Information Studies
I officially join the faculty of the College of Information Studies at the University of Maryland as an Assistant Professor this January! It’s exciting and a privilege to be joining the distinguished faculty of the school. Fear the turtle!
Fear the turtle!

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