New year, new gig (kinda): Digital Scholarship Fellow

23 Aug

Okay, so it’s really an additional gig, but who am I to deny the lure of parallelism?

First things first: it’s new student welcome day here at Cornell, so campus is something of a zoo. (Well, that’s unfair: zoo denizens generally know where they’re supposed to be.) As chaotic as this day can be, I love it: so many folks on the threshold of new knowledge, connections, and perspectives. My general cynicism about universities’ conversion into worker mills is forced to recede in the face of today’s breathless enthusiasm. This institution still holds the power to be transformative, and I love being a part of that, and love seeing new members of our community engage with it.

Also, as I’ve said before: some of these folks will fall in love with Ithaca and never want to leave, and I know how that tune goes.

Now onto the new, additional gig.

As of September, I will be one of three newly-minted Digital Scholarship Fellows here at the Cornell University Library. My peers are the awesome Dianne Dietrich and Erin Eldermire, whose work to date leaves me humble, whose Fellowship goals get me excited, and whose names make me oddly jealous with regards to alliteration.

My Fellowship is a one-year term, taking up 25% of my time. In that time, I’m going to work with folks from within the Digital Scholarship and Preservation Services (DSPS) unit and around CUL to take a look at how digital repositories are handled around campus and try to forge a coherent policy on issues like software, staffing and workflows, collection development, and sustainability. Truth be told, I’m not sure how much will get done in a year, but the situation on campus demands this kind of analysis and the Fellowship should give me access to the resources and very smart people necessary to at least make a dent in this thing.

Of course, I’ll still be doing at least 75% of my current job; I have to give up my ref desk shifts, tough, which I’m actually quite sad about. I’m always apprehensive about digital projects folks getting silo’d away from their community, and so I’ve tried to protect my public services responsibilities. But there was no way around the fact that they’d be the first to go if the Fellowship came through, so I’ll deal. I’ll likely get to come back to them in a year’s time.

I say “likely” because there’s another bit of parallelism to all this: with all the potential for change and new ideas in the way CUL deals with repositories, it’s quite possible that this next year will be transformative for me and my career, too. The job I’m doing a year from now may not have all that much in common with the one I’m doing today. One of the reasons I went for this Fellowship is to make sure I had a voice in how that plays out, but even so the amount that’s unknown is scary and exciting.

As a great philosopher once said, bring on next year.

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