Tell us a little bit about your professional background and areas of focus.
I have been a faculty member at Kent State University’s School of Information since 2007. My graduate education, including my MLIS and PhD degrees, were earned at UCLA’s Department of Information Studies. It’s been over twenty years since I was a working archivist, but my professional experiences include short stints at the Bancroft Library at UC Berkeley, and at the UCLA Film and Television Archive, where I worked in preservation focusing on the Hearst Metrotone Newsreel Collections. My focus in teaching is in digital preservation, digital curation, archival description, and audiovisual archiving. Soon, I will be offering a new course in digital humanities and computational archival science.
Describe recent projects or research that you’ve been working on.
I have a number of current projects that are ongoing. Here is a brief description of a few:
- “Mobile Digitization for Community Memory Projects in Northeast Ohio:” promote community memory archiving in small and rural Northeast Ohio libraries via mobile digitization. Recent IMLS-sponsored studies indicate that smaller and rural institutions lack the human and technological resources for community memory and local history work. This project aims to provide assistance to fill these gaps in two ways: 1) providing institutions with access to digitization and digital capture technology through the implementation of a mobile digitization unit, and 2) human resources to kickstart community memory activities, in the form of trained MLIS students and local volunteers who can assist with digitization projects and local history archiving events such as scan days and oral history capture. To achieve these objectives, project staff and institutional partners will develop curricular materials needed to educate MLIS graduate students and local volunteers in the use of mobile digitization equipment, provide hands-on training opportunities in digitization and digital capture activities, and work with institutional staff to organize digitization projects and host community memory events.
- “Crafting History: Using a Linked Data Approach to Support the Development of Historical Narratives of Critical Events.” The problem addressed by this project is how historians and other humanities scholars can most effectively access and use the data hidden in the silos of digital archival collections to craft narratives about significant developments and critical junctures in historical events. This project has two objectives: 1) to investigate the efficacy of an event-based model of description that will facilitate search across archival inventories and textual documents found in archival collections, and, 2) to develop and test a software tool that will allow scholars to more easily discover and use these hidden nuggets of information about events, and facilitate the construction of explanatory narratives about historical phenomena.
- Developing a pedagogical framework for audiovisual archiving education. A few years ago, I founded a working group composed of educators interested in audiovisual archiving education. This group aims to develop a set of competencies for audiovisual archiving education programs, including:
- Graduate level programs, specializations, and certificates;
- Continuing education offerings for professionals already in the field and archivists who wish to enhance their skill set to include audiovisual materials.
- We may also consider potential skills needed by nonprofessionals, such as high school students, undergraduates, media studies researchers, volunteers, and laypeople with interests in this area, people working in cultural heritage environments, etc.
- Developing knowledge management strategies for moving image archivists.
I serve as a consultant for a multi-institutional international research project on knowledge sharing in the moving image archiving communities (participants include representatives of archives in Europe, Africa, and North America). I lend my expertise in qualitative research methods (particularly ethnographic methods), and will be working with them as they gather and analyze data via surveys, interviews, and observation. The goal is to create a set of standards and best practices for documenting moving image archiving work so that knowledge can be transferred from one generation of archivists to the next.
What is your favorite part of teaching?
I love it when I see students have that “aha!” moment where a difficult or confusing concept becomes clearer to them. The key is to provide lots of different ways of approaching the concepts, because learning happens in a lot of different ways.
Do you have a favorite teaching moment?
I see myself as an advocate for the preservation and access to audiovisual materials, so it’s a real pleasure to introduce students to this specialty and raise their consciences about the plight of these materials, which often languish within institutional collections when no one with the right expertise is there to care for them. Everyone who takes my introduction to audiovisual archiving course comes away with newfound appreciation for the cultural and historical values of these materials.
How have your professional experiences influenced your teaching?
They are so important for making abstract concepts more tangible and accessible to students. When they see how something works in practice, that’s when everything crystallizes for them and becomes relevant to what they want to do. So, I love to weave in stories of my own experiences where I can, and encourage my students to do so via our online interactions as a class.
What issues related to information interest you most?
It won’t surprise anyone to know that preservation is near and dear to my heart as it is what first drew me to the LIS profession. I also have interests in learning about how people are capturing and preserving intangible knowledge and culture, whether it be the documentation of folkways or the performing arts like dance, music, and theater or other types of “knowledge in the body” that people tend to learn about by doing the work or movements (think about things like knitting–there’s only so much you can learn by reading a book about it or watching a video!)
In addition to preservation, I’m very interested in certain policy issues like intellectual property, most likely because it has such an influence over how people access material that has been preserved through digital means.
Are there any websites, apps, podcasts or other resources you’d recommend students explore?
It’s hard to know where to begin, since there are so many great resources out there, but here are a few that come to mind related to preservation:
- Preserve This Podcast! (http://preservethispodcast.org), a Mellon Foundation-funded project that provides a lot of excellent information about digital preservation of audiovisual content.
- Graphics Atlas (http://www.graphicsatlas.org). This is a cool website developed by the Image Permanence Institute to help cultural heritage professionals identify photographic processes of historic photographs and prints.
- Library Carpentry (https://librarycarpentry.org). For anybody interested in upgrading their technology and data skill sets, this website gathers a lot of very user-friendly introductions to things like OpenRefine, SQL, Python, and web scraping. Anybody interested in data mining and analysis, digital preservation, or digital humanities should check this site out!
If you had one superpower:
I’d love to have the ability to stop time for everyone except myself, so that I could catch up on my work and get some extra sleep! When I was kid, way back in 1980, I saw a TV movie called The Girl, the Gold Watch, and Everything, and in this movie the hero had a watch that could stop time. I never forgot that movie, and always wanted that special watch 🙂 It would be one hundred times better than a smart watch!
How do you like to spend time outside of work?
I spend a lot of time with my dog Pippa. She’s a cairn terrier mix, so she’s very high spirited and loves to spend time outside. Snow doesn’t faze her, so we are out and about in all weather. I also volunteer with a national Cairn terrier rescue group called Col. Potter Cairn Rescue Network, for which I help with the planning of transports. Col. Potter rescues dogs from all over the country and they often rely on a network of volunteer drivers to get the dogs to foster or forever homes. It’s nice to be able to play a small part in helping these dogs get to a better place, and I also get to use my research skills and love of geography to plan the best routes.
Do you have any advice for students?
This is a difficult time for everyone and it has disrupted so many people’s plans and lives, so please remember to be kind to yourself and ask for extra assistance if you need it.
The School wants everyone to succeed and we often see students taking on more than they can handle. So, it’s important to be honest with yourself about what you are capable of doing in your current situation. Maybe this means that you take it a little slower with the number of courses you register for, or maybe you will need to ask for more assistance from your instructor than you would normally need. We are here to help, so ask your advisor and instructors if you are starting to get in over your head.
What class(es) are you teaching next semester for Kent’s iSchool?
In the fall semester, I’ll be teaching LIS 60050, Research Methods in LIS, and LIS 60631, Introduction to Digital Preservation. I look forward to working with iSchool students again after the summer break!