Last Fall, this blog featured brief profiles of all your favorite Duke Library Information Technology Services staff, including our digitization specialists. This week on the blog we thought we would shine the spotlight even closer on our still image digitization expert, Mike and learn more about his unique contribution to Duke University Libraries.
Favorite thing about your job:
While there are a number of things I enjoy about my job I would have to say that working on the Digital Collections Implementation Team consistently rises to the top. We are a small agile group that is tasked with publishing a wide variety of digital content created within the library and without for publication on the Library’s Digital Collections website. Each member of the team has a different vantage point when working with digital collections but we have the same goal in mind. We all strive to publish high quality digital collections in an efficient, consistent and innovative way. Everyone on the team is constantly trying to expand our capabilities whether it be an enhancement to the interface, normalization of metadata, adding new digitization equipment, streamlining the proposal process or the overarching goal to fold all of our workflows and systems together. It is rewarding to be on such an innovative, hard–working team.
What is the most noteworthy/most exciting/biggest change in your 10 years at Duke:
I would say that the Digital Production Center is always changing. The DPC has been in 4 different locations. I think we have had over 10 department heads all with different priorities, communication styles and approaches to the work. Our department has been under Conservation and IT (twice). We have a steady flow of students to keep us on our toes.
Favorite collection/project you have worked on:
I’ve had a few favorite collections over the years but the one that rise to the top is the Jane Goodall Archive. The Goodall Research papers was an interesting project to work on because it is such a large collection and it spanned many years. The logistics of pulling this off were pretty complex with a lot of moving parts. The highlight was that I (along with other members of the team) got to meet Jane Goodall. She has an open, quiet strength and was very friendly. Who knows if I’ll ever meet another legend in my lifetime?
Most challenging aspect of your work:
Just like many of us in the Library, the demands on my time are spread across many areas. Our main focus in the DPC is to “create(s) digital captures of unique, valuable, or compelling primary resources for the purpose of preservation, access, and publication.” This involves analyzing collections for digitization, developing project plans, consulting Conservation, providing supporting documentation for each project, training and monitoring students, color calibrating and profiling the environment, digitization of collections, quality control of collections, moving and posting of thousands upon thousands of images. To make it more fun, we always have multiple projects going at one time.
But just like most of us in the Library, in addition to my main job I have where many hats. Some of them are: Normalization and ingest of legacy collections into the repository; test and make recommendations for new technology for use in the DPC and elsewhere in the Library; maintain existing technology; troubleshoot our own equipment and work with our vendors to resolve mechanical, software and enterprise issues; consult with faculty and staff in the Library and across campus on their digitization projects; train Library staff on digital imaging standards and equipment; monitor and maintain 7 servers used for production and storage of archival digital images; and field all manner of random questions related to still image capture. So, balancing all of these things is probably the most challenging thing about my job. I think many, if not all of us, in the Library deal with this and do a pretty good job of keeping up with everything.
This is not on Duke Digital Collections, but we digitized it and it was displayed at the Nasher Museum. For me, this picture personifies the severity of the struggle and sacrifice that is the Civil Rights Movement.