Next Things

My first job at FSU Libraries was 8 hours a week sitting at the desk at Florida State’s study center in Florence, Italy where I was studying abroad. The librarian at the time was a masters student from FSU’s iSchool, and I could care less about anything he was interested in. I was 20 years old and living in Italy, you know.

Several years later, I took a 10 hours/week position as the program coordinator for the Florida Book Awards, which also meant watching the desk/phones in Strozier Library’s admin office as other folks took lunch breaks. A few days a week between classes, research, and teaching a course on Underground Music in America (1980 – early 2000’s, natch), I would grab a $5 footlong and process submissions, create/update the book awards social media accounts, and say hello to lots of smart looking and important people. One day Julia Zimmerman, the Dean of the Library, mentioned that I should check out this new reading group about “digital scholars” headed up by this scrappy young assistant professor named Paul Fyfe. I dove in headfirst.

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The DigiNoles are born. Richard Urban, Katie McCormick, Paul Fyfe and yours truly at THATCamp SE, Athens, GA, 2013.

I returned to FSU Libraries on a hope and a dream, after a stint at the Brooklyn Public Library, because Paul emailed me out of the blue and said the library was going to be hiring a project manager for something called “scholarly communication” that I would be perfect for, if only I were still in Tallahassee. I spent 10 hours googling, mainlined the ACRL Scholarly Communication Toolkit and SPARC’s website, and nailed the interview. After 8 months hustling that part time gig, FSU Libraries saw fit to offer me the honor of serving as their first scholarly communication librarian. The rest, as they say, is on my CV.

 

I’ve lived in Tallahassee for almost all of my post-high school life. I can’t go anywhere without knowing or recognizing at least 1 person. It feels more like home than my hometown. FSU Libraries gave me incredible freedom for a brand new librarian, and with that freedom I built a reputation and a voice. It took me a while to realize, but I think I’ve been ready for some time to lend that voice to a new organization. For the style of librarian that I have become, I couldn’t imagine a better place to go than the “library of the future.”

hIbkn8ncSOWZBqsO7KXYvgI’ll be joining new colleagues and old friends at North Carolina State Libraries as the Open Knowledge Librarian. My role will entail developing programs, advocacy tools, and partnerships that facilitate and promote open and publicly engaged scholarship, and many other things I’m sure! I am overjoyed to join Will Cross and Erica Hayes at the Copyright and Digital Scholarship Center, folks I already have a ton of respect for. I look forward to getting involved in the multitude of activities NCSU Libraries host, and also to joining a regional network of colleagues and institutional neighbors who have constantly inspired me throughout my short career. I haven’t been new somewhere in a LOOOONG time, so I’m nervously excited to forget peoples names, bumble through a few projects early on, and learn a new University from the inside out. I’m eager to get to work, and so pumped about aligning my skills with a stellar group of folks in a forward-thinking library.

I’ll miss FSU like hell. And Tallahassee will always be the place where I started college, a career, and a family. But, I am ready for next things. And, I owe Paul a 7 year debt of gratitude for allowing me to sit under his Digital Humanities tutelage as a wee grad student, sending that email that called me back to Tallahassee, and then for hyping me to NCSU as the best digital thing since e-science.

Forever a DigiNole, about to be a DigiWolf? A Pack-nologist? Either way, I’m ready to take on the Triangle.

So, lets eat some Gaines Street Pies / Tan’s Asian Cafe and drink some Proof Brewing Company/ Lucky Goat Coffee. Lets guzzle tupelo honey, and chomp Bradley’s sausage. Lets morn the Miracle 5, Beta Bar, and Vinyl Fever. Lets lambast the legislature, snowbirds, and “Florida Man”. Lets swim in sink holes, swat mosquitoes, and surf the Space Coast. Lets wrestle gators, roll with manatees, and caw with seagulls. Give me key lime pie, gulf oysters, Hammakockers BBQ, Sweetgrass Dairy cheese, and all the juicy, pulpy, fresh picked oranges in the whole G-D state. Give me the Dry Tortugas, Everglades Nat’l Park, and St. Augustine.

But most of all, give me sunshine in my blood, salt water in my soul, and limestone in my heart.

 

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Less Make, More Build

The 15 minutes a day when I skim Facebook, I usually only catch the titles of things that look vaguely interesting before scrolling on. A recent title stuck with me, so I finally made the effort to go back and read the article. Debbie Chachra’s Why I Am Not a Maker is worth a read, although my current state of mind took her ideas in a different direction.

I’ve been doing some professional soul-searching lately, which is a good practice generally I think, and I came to a realization – there is a unnamed third category in the work mode of the contemporary digital scholar. The Hack/Yack binary precludes those of us who aren’t particularly interested in (or good at) the deep intellectualization of digital academic work, and/or aren’t particularly skilled in (or have aptitude for) codestuffs and programmar syntaxes. The thread of Chachra’s piece that unspooled my desire to blog is simple: those that don’t make, build, and should be recognized as imminently as valuable. What she calls education and caregiving, I’ll call Buildability.

 The thing I like about “building” as my mode of work is that it doesn’t need to drill down to the microsope or zoom out to the mesosphere; building can be always, also the plan, the structure itself, and the process in between. You can build a brand, character, and consensus all at once.

Community engagement. Program development. Initiative coordinator. Implementer-in-residence. I have finally realized I care more about facilitating the physical and mental space and organizational “vibez” for a discussion than about the philosophical addressability of texts.* I will go to town evaluating, testing and playing with digital research tools, if in the end it means that a sense of enjoyment and fun stays with those who showed up. I’ll rouse every rabble on a listserv, if one or two people are inspired to reimagine how librarians should “publish.” I’d always rather grab a bite with a professor or grad student than “assess their information needs.” I am a builder of: teams, spirits, communities, organizational culture, workflows, independence, good times, realities, project plans, innovative outreach, modules, models, #digischolbandnames, #n00brarians, #foodtei, collegiality, and more.

“Isn’t this just semantic mumbo jumbo?” “Aren’t you just poking fun at an age-old debate in credentialing and credit?” Y’all, this is a weird, tough time where we are exploring new ways of working, and that means interrogating/problemitizing our “labor” from every angle. (See what I did there, with the academicese? Yeah, I survived grad school in a humanities discipline.) I hope to see more discussion on the dangerous? line we’re walking by exchanging the monograph (product) for the website (product) without duly examining, acknowledging, and evaluating the Buildability (process) and the effort (people). There is a whole lotta building going on that facilitates all the hacking and ALLLLLLLLLL the yacking. As we all dig deep to understand the valuation of multifaceted digital work, lets remember that Rome wasn’t built in a day… but it sure as shit was built.

*This is not to disparage or devalue either hacking or yacking, just to acknowledge that I’m not particularly good at it, I appreciate and respect those that are, and I hope we are moving toward an academe that appreciates and respects the solid middle of these two extremes.

 

 

Um … about that American Libraries article we wrote

Its a bummer to see this happening, but I am so pleased that Stewart and Patricia decided to share openly about it. I dont think I’ve ever reblogged someone elses work on my own blog, but this is important.

Stewart Varner

As a professional rule, I try to keep things positive. I like to be a cheerleader for all the great people out there and avoid boosting the signal on a bunch of negativity.

However, situations compel me to devote this one post to something totally crappy.

TL;DR: Patricia Hswe and I wrote an article for American Libraries and the editors added some quotes from a vendor talking about their products without telling us. We asked them to fix it and they said no.

Because American Libraries refused to clarify what happened, we decided to clarify it ourselves. What follows is our second (and hopefully happier) attempt at collaborative writing. This little blog does not have quite the reach of that big glossy magazine so please feel free to share as widely as you want. As always, let me know if you have any questions!

svarner@email.unc.edu  ||  @stewartvarner

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HILT2015, iSchools+DH, and deconstructive/critical digital pedagogy.

I’m at HILT right now, and supposed to be involved in a discussion group on pedagogical methods and tools. Instead, I’m racking my brain over the current state of LIS education. Guess you really can’t teach a new dog old tricks. Or whatever.

A while back I heard about this great project, iSchools+DH, which aimed to “develop a robust and sustainable program for placing interns within digital humanities centers.” As far as I can tell, the program was a success, but it continues to haunt me. What’s the point of placing interns in DH centers? Are DH centers still a thing? What is the sustainability/model of this program that could be more broadly applied? And, returning to my age old mantra, are LIS schools actually preparing students for the work that we in libraries are doing or preparing to do?

One outcome that iSchools+DH proposed was to “Generate a syllabus for a digital humanities LIS course that will be taught by one or more of the iSchool faculty participating in the grant in the third year of the program and released widely under a Creative Commons license.” Thus far, I haven’t been able to discover that CC licensed syllabus, and I want to know why. Further, what “opportunities for collaborative research and scholarship” came out of the program?

So, in the spirit of all this critical digital pedagogy I’m imbibing, I decided to turn the micro/macroscope back on LIS programs. How are DH courses being taught in LIS programs and iSchools? Is there any continuity or curricular similarities across programs? Are DH courses at different programs teaching on similar topics? Are we all reading the same things, learning the same tools, gaining the same skills?

I pulled together a quick Zotero library of DH/LIS syllabi (Add more if you got ’em!). Now, I’m not sure where to go next. Did a quick Voyant of the Course Descriptions, but eh… Topic model all the text of the syllabi? Rip the text as data, clean it, then look for patterns? I’d also like to see how courses develop over time… John Walsh at IU might be a good example since a lot of his syllabi are online.

I’d like to argue that if libraries were collaborating more deeply with their iSchools, and vice versa, some of that training could happen practically, hands-on. Especially at schools where there is an iSchool, some DH curriculum in different departments and a library with some experts or expertise in the area. So, I’m probably going to wrangle some colleagues, write a grant proposal, and re-ignite the iSchool+DH+Lib integration project. You want in?

Modeling contributorship with TaDiRAH

Very, very excited to be a participant in this year’s Scholarly Communication Institute. Read more about the project I’ll be involved in.

trianglesci.org

This is the fourth in a series of posts about each of the teams that will be attending SCI 2015, and their projects. This one was submitted by Micah Vandegrift.

The goal of our project, codename TaDiRize, is to examine the expanding model of contributorship in the humanities, especially as digital work becomes more broadly recognized. Digital projects often require a team of scholars, and the mounting diversity of team members involved in the production of digital scholarship has prompted a diverse set of questions surrounding the challenges of assigning credit and authorship. We feel that this aligns perfectly with the goals of the Institute this year by focusing on the valuation of digital scholarship.

We plan to address this topic by developing a model for applying the Taxonomy of Digital Research Activities in the Humanities (TaDiRAH) to contributor activities and outputs as a first step toward better assessment of…

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