Digital projects at Duke University Libraries are created and maintained by staff from throughout the Libraries. One of the many departments supporting this work is Assessment and User Experience (AUX). We currently have a staff of five.
Position: Head of Assessment & User Experience; Librarian for Education
Length of time at Duke: 8 years
What I do at the Library: As Librarian for Education, I help staff the Perkins Help Desk, lead library instruction sessions, teach a half-credit course for the Program in Education, and provide support for students and faculty across the university who are engaging in education-related research. As Head of AUX, I help lead and coordinate DUL staff members’ efforts to assess the effectiveness of our library collections, services and our physical and virtual spaces, and then attempt to improve our services and resources based on our researchers’ feedback. I do this in close collaboration with my talented colleagues Tom, Joyce, Ian and Jeremy. I also serve as a pre-major advisor for 6 first-year students or sophomores.
I think Assessment and User Experience matters in the life of the Duke community because DUL staff provide a range of services and resources to a large group of researchers whose needs are varied and continuously evolving. We work to understand what our users need to conduct their research as effectively and, in many cases, as efficiently as possible. We evolve our services, spaces and resources to meet their changing needs. That, and on a selfish note, it’s really fun and engaging to talk with students and faculty who care deeply about their research.
On the most unexpected trip I ever took I handed in my resume at the public library in Casper, Wyoming. Three weeks later and with virtually no work experience in libraries, I started as Natrona County Public Library’s first full-time Teen Services Librarian (or “Specialist,” since I didn’t yet have an MSLS). I thought I’d be at the library for a year and then return to teaching high school English — I was just waiting for a position to become available. It’s been 11 years since I submitted that resume, and in that time, I’ve worked as a public librarian, school librarian and academic librarian.
If I could take a month to intensively learn one new thing it would be human development with an emphasis on early childhood development, education policy, or web design/development — it’s too hard to pick just one thing to study, which is one reason I became a librarian.
Something memorable that I never expected to see at Duke was college seniors in black graduation gowns walking the quad and stopping periodically to put their hands over the heads and chant. I know now it’s linked to a secret society of some sort, but that’s the extent of my knowledge, and I’m okay with leaving it that way.
What I am currently reading for pleasure: Americanah, by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.
Another tidbit about me (related to the pic) is that one of my guilty pleasures is ice cream, and I’m proud to say I’ve passed on my weakness for it to my sons, 5 ½ year-old Philip and 2-year-old Patrick.
Position: AUX Student Assistant
What I do at Duke and at the Library: I am a graduate student in the MALS program and at the library I have mostly been working on updating signage and usability studies.
How long have you been at Duke? Just over one year as a student and 5 months at Perkins.
I think Assessment and User Experience matters in the life of the Duke community because it provides us with evidence that we can use to better improve the library for all of the members of the Duke community.
On the most unexpected trip I ever took, I was living in Scotland as an exchange student and I decided to take a trip to the highlands. I got off the bus in Loch Ness to go to the hostel I booked before I left. I walked up to the hostel as the bus was pulling away and when I got to the door, they had a sign up saying they were closed for the season. I stood outside (in the rain of course) for 3 hours until I hitched my way 20 miles north to Inverness and found a cheap hotel for the night.
If I could take a month to intensively learn one new thing it would be a second language, I took French for 9 years growing up in Canada, but I can’t speak a lick of it, so maybe something else.
Position: Undergraduate Assessment and User Experience Assistant
What I do at Duke and at the Library: I am currently an undergraduate student studying Electrical and Computer Engineering and Economics. In the library I help conduct research and produce both qualitative and quantitative data on many facets of the library. I also help develop and edit the main library website.
I think Assessment and User Experience matters in the life of the Duke community because it is important to streamline processes for students and researchers conducting research or working on their daily homework.
If I could take a month to intensively learn one new thing it would be how to produce electronic music.
What I am currently reading for pleasure: Understanding Wall Street, by Jeffrey Little.
Position: Assessment Coordinator
Length of time at Duke: 3 ½ weeks
What I do at the Library: Still figuring it out The plan is to collect, analyze, and document data useful for evaluating library operations and understanding user needs; support data management, analysis, and reporting needs across the Libraries; and coordinate and deliver training on evaluation, data, and reporting tools. I’m here to help you, so get in touch!
I think Assessment and User Experience matters in the life of the Duke community because they help us to continuously monitor the Libraries’ impact and effectiveness, provide an ongoing basis to improve resources and services, and support data-informed management and decision making.
On the most unexpected trip I ever took, I was living in Germany as an exchange student in April 2005. A friend and I found cheap tickets to Rome and decided to take a vacation. The day after we bought our tickets Pope John Paul II passed away. We ended up in Rome during the Pope’s funeral, along with tens of thousands of pilgrims from all over the world. It was a really unexpected and interesting experience!
If I could take a month to intensively learn one new thing it would be wilderness survival skills, just in case (zombie apocalypse, etc.).
What I am currently reading for pleasure: The Broken Eye, by Brent Weeks and Our Separate Ways: Women and the Black Freedom Movement in Durham, North Carolina, by Christina Greene.
Position: Assessment and User Experience Project Manager
Length of time at Duke: a little over ten years, depending on how you count.
What I do at the Library:
- I plan and manage projects to create and renovate websites at Duke University Libraries.
- I lead project teams and also work as a web developer.
- I participate in assessments of how our community uses our websites, paying special attention to places where our patrons encounter difficulty in using our sites.
- As a member of our Web Experience Team (WebX), I foster discussions about our vision, strategy and priorities for meeting patron needs through our online presence.
I think Assessment and User Experience matters in the life of the Duke community because we are well positioned to take a collaborative approach in identifying and eliminating pain points that hinder our research community’s ability to use the many tools and services provided through Duke Libraries.
On the most unexpected trip I ever took, I walked a dog from Germany to France, but there and back again only took 45 minutes. I was a high school exchange student in Germany, and the family I stayed with lived near the border with France, which was only two farm fields away from their house. When we got to the border, one of the men staffing the border crossing filled a bowl of water for the dog whom they already seemed to be well acquainted with.
If I could take a month to intensively learn one new thing it would be something hands-on and creative like painting or drawing.
Something memorable that I never expected to see at Duke was a little cabin high-up within the bell tower at Duke Chapel from which Sam Hammond plays the carillon, a manually operated, 50-bell instrument. I worked at the Chapel at that time and had access to parts of it that aren’t normally open to the public. I appreciated Sam’s graciousness in letting me take a peek at this rarely viewed, but oft heard part of our University. A recent Duke Chronicle article provides a further glimpse via an interview with Mr. Hammond and a photo gallery. There is also a recording of “God rest ye merry, gentlemen” played on the carillon.
What I am currently reading for pleasure: Guards! Guards! which is part of the satire-filled Discworld series by Terry Pratchett.
BACK TO SCHOOL SPECIAL!
This week find out what Will does at Duke and Mike’s favorite quote is plus lots more! We hope you enjoy reading our blog.
Information Technology Services
Duke University Libraries
Meet our staff
Digital Projects and Production Services
DPPS works with partners in the library to develop and maintain web services. We also provide oversight, digitization services, and development for the library’s digital collections program.
Name: Will Sexton
Position: Head of Digital Projects and Production Services
Years at Duke: 12
What I do at Duke: I lead a team that includes web developers and the Digital Production Center. We work with others, including the WebX group, to develop and maintain web services for the library. We also provide oversight, digitization services, and development for the library’s digital collections program.
If I had $5 million, I would: I’d probably start by building a house.
My first ever job: Lot boy at a used car & mobile home dealer on Bragg Boulevard in Fayetteville, NC.
My dream job: Something similar to what I do now, but with the national defense budget.
If someone wanted to start a conversation with me they should ask me about: Cooking usually works.
The best advice I ever received: Time your swing to meet the ball before it crosses the plate. Changed everything.
What I love about Duke: Nothing’s easy but most of it’s fun.
When I’m not at work, I like to: Cook, write, play video games, get silly with my family.
If I could have one superpower, it would be: Wave my hands and poof! Money is gone from politics.
A Movie I like: I rather enjoyed Guardians of the Galaxy.
Something most people don’t know about me: I lived in Tokyo, 1990-1993.
A unique thing in my office: Folders and binders full of notes and research I did for the book I never finished writing while library fellow for the Franklin Humanities seminar in 2004-5.
An interesting/memorable day at work for me: The day we moved into Bostock.
Name: Sean Aery
Position: Digital Projects Developer
Years at Duke: 12 or so.
What I do at Duke: I create web interfaces to library resources. I’m part designer, part programmer, part consultant. I work a lot with digitized special collections, and many other library web projects. I think a lot about how people interact with information and technology.
If I had $5 million, I would: Probably still not retire.
My first ever job: I washed dishes at a restaurant in rural upstate NY. I am still good at it.
My dream job: I’m not positive, but I believe I already have it.
If someone wanted to start a conversation with me they should ask me about: Music or sports.
The best advice I ever received: Always place family first.
What I love about Duke: It’s a dynamic place with a diverse range of bright, energetic people everywhere you look. It’s impossible to be bored here and I learn something interesting every single day. It’s also a gorgeous campus.
When I’m not at work, I like to: Spend time with my family. Work on art projects, play games, do puzzles, make music, and laugh until it hurts.
If I could have one superpower, it would be: To jump really, really high. Because full flight would just be too easy.
A Movie I like: Word Wars (a Scrabble documentary).
Something most people don’t know about me:I occasionally play competitive Scrabble, in tournaments.
A unique thing in my office: A sliver of a window.
An interesting/memorable day at work for me: Early in my career, I played some music with a group of staff at the library holiday party. The experience was fun: it helped me connect with folks I otherwise wouldn’t have, and helped me appreciate the hidden talents people have beyond what they typically do at the office.
Name: Michael Daul
Position: Digital Projects Developer
Years at Duke: 3
What I do at Duke: In general I don’t do well working on the same thing day after day, so I’m fortunate in that I’m able work on a wide variety of projects in the library. As a member of Digital Projects and Production Services, most of my time involves working on interfaces that enable access to resources at the library. Primarily I work on building, enhancing, and maintaining the web properties that the Library owns. Most recently I’ve been working on developing a drupal module to display ‘bento’ search results across several different search silos. I also get to work on digital exhibits, both online and physical kiosks. I particularly enjoy working on exhibits.
A quarter of my time is dedicated to working with Duke CIT (center for instructional technology). I mostly do similar things there, working on their web properties and the like. CIT also tends to do the occasional print or multimedia project, so I get to exercise my design and multimedia production muscles from time to time.
If I had $5 million, I would:Pay off debt, invest/save a good chunk, help out family and friends, start some sort of foundation that could help people.
My first ever job: I got a job bagging groceries at Harris Teeter when I was 15. My mom drove me to work. And I had to wear a tie. Whenever I go to the grocery store I feel the urge to pitch in with bagging.
If someone wanted to start a conversation with me they should ask me about: I love music – I play a bunch of different instruments and have a well-stocked home studio. I love art (I was a fine art / philosophy double major in undergrad). I love animals – I have four cats at home. I also enjoy cars, comic books, basketball, movies, and all sorts of other things.
A Movie I like:I used to dedicate much more time to watching movies, especially in the theater, but for the past few years I’ve mostly reduced my consumption to what I can get for ‘free’ on netflix or amazon prime. That being said, I love movies. It’s hard to pick a single favorite, and this list would most likely be different next week, but I’ll throw out five off the top of my head:
- Old Boy (the Chan Wook Park version, not the terrible 2013 remake)
- Godfather Part II
- The station agent
Name: Molly Bragg
Position: Digital Collections Program Manager
Years at Duke: 4 (includes an internship in University Archives and my time as move coordinator for the Rubenstein Library)
What I do at Duke: Spin Plates!I manage the Digital Collections Program which includes the Digital Production Center and all the digital collections projects that come through our door from idea to implementation.
My first ever job:
Part time: in high school I worked at The Imaginarium, a fancy toystore at the local mall.
Full time: I worked at a Hostelling International Youth Hostel in downtown San Francisco while “taking a break” from college.
If someone wanted to start a conversation with me they should ask me about: Big Poodle
What I love about Duke: The people and the projects – I feel so lucky to work with such an exciting range of people and projects throughout the library. The variety is never boring!
When I’m not at work, I like to: I enjoy live music, running, putzing around my new home, visiting with friends and yoga. I wish I had more time for reading, cycling and gardening (I have no idea what I’m doing when it comes to gardening).
Something most people don’t know about me: I was almost in a Kip Winger video in the mid/late 90s when I was in college in New Mexico. He was still going strong even in the 90s!
A unique thing in my office: My ceramic lucky cat is a silly trinket. Soon after I started working at Internet Archive (2003) a new colleague (who later became a good friend) gave it to me for my birthday. Lucky cat has been on my work desk (whereever that may be) ever since.
Name: Mike Adamo
Position: Digital Production Specialist – Still Image
Years at Duke: 9
What I do at Duke: Assess Library collections for digitization. Create high-end digital content for the preservation and access using specialized capture equipment.
My first ever job: My Dad owned a construction company so I was shoveling gravel and cleaning up job sites by the time I was 7. After that I moved up to being a cook at Long John Silvers and the rest, they say, is history.
My dream job: Helicopter pilot. Theoretical Physicist.
Favorite quote from my Grandfather: My grandfather was always cold. Sometimes he would even start a fire in the summertime. I always thought it was funny that he would walk into the living room with the fire blazing in the middle of the summer and ask “is it hot in here?. Everyone would say it feels fine… then slowly migrate to the backyard where it was much cooler.
Something most people don’t know about me: I have 2 brothers and 3 sisters who were all born in a 7 year span. My older sister and I were born in the same year. I also have 2 foster brothers and a foster sister. I grew up living on the same street as my Grandparents and an Aunt and Uncle who had 5 kids of their own. Needless to say there was always lots of family around.
Name: Alex Marsh
Position: Digital Production Specialist – Video
Years at Duke: 5
What I do at Duke: I digitize obsolete audio & video formats, and do high-resolution photography of still image materials for long-term preservation and online access.
My first ever job: Delivering Ad-Pak newspapers door-to-door when I was 14-yrs-old.
The best advice I ever received: “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”
What I love about Duke: It’s such a beautiful campus: the gothic architecture, giant oak trees, expansive gardens and the big chapel. It sure beats working in a corporate office park.
Something most people don’t know about me: My grandfather played basketball for Duke in 1921, back when it was called Trinity College. No one camped out for tickets.
A unique thing in my office: Two giant racks housing obsolete videotape playback decks, such as U-matic, Betacam, Hi-8 and VHS. These are worthless relics to most people, but crucial to the library’s goals for moving image preservation and access.
An interesting/memorable day at work for me: One morning, I was asked to digitize a box of materials from our Rubenstein Library. I opened a plain white box to find original printings of some of the most sought-after comic books in the history of the genre: Batman #1 (1940), Amazing Fantasy #15 (Spider-Man’s debut), Avengers #4 (Captain America’s return), X-Men #1, and many more. These historic titles are part of Duke’s Edwin and Terry Murray Comic Book Collection.
Position: Digital Production Specialist – Audio
Years at Duke: 6
What I do at Duke: Create high-quality digital versions of analog media for preservation and access
If I had $5 million, I would: Build and maintain an arts commune/retreat, support organizations that help North Carolinians in need, travel the globe and beyond
My first ever job: breakdancing for tips at a kiln opening
My dream job: banjo builder / basketball coach
If someone wanted to start a conversation with me they should ask me about: what I’m reading, what I’m listening to
Something most people don’t know about me: I grew up in a wood-heated geodesic dome
A unique thing in my office: Otari MX-5050 Reel-to-Reel
Welcome to Bitstreams!
News, pictures and digital projects know-how served weekly!
Be sure to also visit Duke Digital Collections.
- Meet staff from Assessment and User Experience
- Meet Information Technology Services: Digital Projects and Production Services
- Anatomy of an Exhibit Kiosk
- Comparing Photographic Views of the Civil War in Duke’s Newest Digital Collection
- Meet Information Technology Services: Data and Visualization Services
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