All posts by asc47

Behind the Scenes of Documenting the Patron Request Workflow

This post was authored by  Behind the Veil/Digital Collections intern Kristina Zapfe.

From the outside, viewing digitized items or requesting one yourself is a straightforward activity. Browsing images in the Duke Digital Repository produces instantaneous access to images from the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book and Manuscript Library’s collections, and requesting an item for digitization means that they appear in your email in as little as a few weeks. But what happens between placing that request and receiving your digital copies is a well-mechanized feat, a testament to the hard work and dedication put forth by the many staff members who have a hand in digitizing special collections.

I began at Duke Libraries in July 2022 as the Digital Collections Intern, learning about the workflows and pivots that were made in order to prioritize public access to Rubenstein’s collections during pandemic-era uncertainty. While learning to apply metadata and scan special collection materials, I sketched out an understanding of how digital library systems function together, crafted by the knowledge and skills of library staff who maintain and improve them. This established an appreciation of the collaborative and adaptive nature of the many departments and systems that account for every detail of digitizing items, providing patrons access to Rubenstein’s special collections from afar.

I have filmed short videos before, but none that required the amount of coordination and planning that this one did. Once the concept was formed, I began researching Duke University Libraries’ digital platforms and how they work together in order to overlay where the patron request process dipped into these platforms and when. After some email coordination, virtual meetings, and hundreds of questions, a storyboard was born and filming could begin. I tried out some camera equipment and determined that shooting on my iPhone 13 Pro with a gimbal attachment was a sufficient balance of quality and dexterity. Multiple trips to Rubenstein, Bostock, and Perkins libraries and Smith Warehouse resulted in about 500 video clips, about 35 of which appear in the final video.

Throughout this process, I learned that not everything goes as the storyboard plans, and I enjoyed leaving space for my own creativity as well as input from staff members whose insights about their daily work made for compelling shots and storytelling opportunities. The intent of this video is to tell the story of this process to everyone who uses and appreciates Duke Libraries’ resources and say “thank you” to the library staff who work together to make digital collections available.

Special thanks to all staff who appeared in this video and enthusiastically volunteered their time and Maggie Dickson, who supervised and helped coordinate this project.

Looking Back at Summer Camp 2023

Written by Will Shaw on behalf of the Library Summer Camp organizing committee. 

From June to August, most students may be off campus, but summer is still a busy time at Duke Libraries. Between attending conferences, preparing for fall semester, and tackling those projects we couldn’t quite fit into the academic year, Libraries staff have plenty to do. At the same time, summer also means a lull in many regular meetings — as well as remote or hybrid work schedules for many of us. Face-to-face time with our colleagues can be hard to come by. Lucky for all of us, July is when Libraries Summer Camp rolls around.

What is Summer Camp?

Summer Camp began in 2019 with two major goals: to foster peer-to-peer teaching and learning among Libraries staff, and to help build connections across the many units in our organization. Our staff have wide-ranging areas of expertise that deserve a showcase, and we could use a little time together in the summer. Why not try it out?

The first Summer Camp was narrowly focused on digital scholarship and publishing, and we solicited sessions from staff who we knew would already have instructional materials in hand. The response from both instructors and participants was enthusiastic; we ultimately brought staff together for 21 workshops over the course of a week in late summer.
The pandemic scuttled plans for 2020 and 2021 Summer Camps, but we relaunched in 2022 with the theme “Refresh!”—a conscious attempt to help us reconnect (in person, when possible!) after months of physical distance. Across the 2019, 2022, and 2023 iterations, Libraries Summer Camp has brought over 60 workshops to hundreds of attendees.

What did we learn this year?

Professional development workshops are still at the core of Summer Camp. But over the years, Camp has evolved to include a wider range of personal enrichment topics. The evolution has helped us find the right tone: learning together, as always, but having fun and focusing on personal growth, too.

For example, participants in this year’s Summer Camp could learn how to crochet or play the recorder, explore native plants, create memes, or practice ​​Koru meditation. In parallel with those sessions, we had opportunities to discover the essentials of data visualization, try out platforms such as AirTable, discuss ChatGPT in libraries, learn fundraising basics, and improve our group discussions and decision-making, to name just a few.

Like any good Summer Camp, we wrapped things up with a closing circle. We shared our lessons learned, favorite moments, and hopes for future camps over Monuts and coffee.

One group of people having a conversation at a circular table and one group of people having a conversation while standing.
Photo by Janelle Hutchinson, Lead Designer and Photographer, Duke University Libraries.
A large group of people having a conversation while one person stands around the group.
Libraries staff reflect on Summer Camp 2023 over snacks and coffee. Photo by Janelle Hutchinson, Lead Designer and Photographer, Duke University Libraries

What’s next?

After its third iteration, Summer Camp is starting to feel like a Duke Libraries tradition. Over 100 Libraries staff came together to teach with and learn from each other in 25 sessions this year. Based on both attendance and participant feedback, that’s a success, and it’s one we’d like to sustain. It’s hard not to feel excited for Summer Camp 2024.

As we look ahead, the organizing committee—Angela Zoss, Arianne Hartsell-Gundy, Kate Collins, Liz Milewicz, and Will Shaw—will be actively seeking new members, ideas for Summer Camp sessions, and volunteers to help out with planning. We encourage all Libraries staff to reach out and let us know what you’d like to see next time around!