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Fellow Reflection: Haiying Qian Li

  This post was written by Haiying Qian Li, who received a DLF HBCU Fellowship to attend the 2018 Forum. Haiying Sarah Qian Li has more than 10 years of experiences working with varies digital projects. She is currently the Director of Library Services at Inman E. Page Library of Lincoln University in Missouri. Mrs. Li first joined the library staff as the Institutional Repository Coordinator in 2014. She helped to build and promote Lincoln University’s digital repository Blue Tiger Commons. In 2016 Mrs. Li received a Digital Imaging Grant to digitize the University Archives’ photographs and documents, which greatly expanded the amount of resources available online about Lincoln University’s history. Mrs. Li understands deeply the innovations, opportunities and challenges that technology brings to academic libraries today. She is passionate about bringing 21st century library services to the Lincoln University campus and making Page Library the center of teaching, learning, scholarship and dissemination of knowledge. Having worked many years in the digital library field, I had always wanted to attend the DLF Forum, one of the best conferences of its kind. That is why I was very excited and honored to have been selected as one of the HBCU Fellows to attend this year’s DLF Forum in Las Vegas. At the fellow’s breakfast, I got to meet and experienced a great sense of community with many other DLF fellows, both the young and experienced, all full of energy, excitement, and commitment. The conference truly amplified the mission of the Digital Library Federation for advancing research, learning, social justice and the public good through the creative design and wise application of digital library technology. The opening speaker Anasuya Sengupta’s talk, “Decolonizing Knowledge, Decolonizing the Internet: an agenda for collective action,” truly set the stage for community action and collaboration from a social justice perspective. We have to think hard about what a “decolonized digital library” looks like. Who defines this vision? Who creates and curates it? What does “success” look like and to whom? Anasuya’s work focused on helping marginalized communities in India and across the global south, in the US and internationally, to amplify their voices in virtual and physical worlds.  One of the panelist’s comments really struck me when she said: “For marginalized communities, if we don’t have unfettered access to history, we cannot fight for our future.” As a woman, as an Asian American who also works at a HBCU (historically black colleges and universities), I feel a strong sense of social responsibility for contributing to a “decolonized internet.” As Anasuya described, a decolonized internet allows us to talk openly, so untold stories can be heard, different faces seen, and a diverse body of ideas protected and amplified. We have to change the internet by making conscious decisions in design and architecture, diversifying the sources of information used and providing ample and inclusive metadata for all audiences. It is everyone’s responsibility, especially those of us who are working in the digital library field and create and curate these types of content. I attended many other great sessions on building communities and promoting diversity and inclusion through digital collections, digital scholarship, etc. I was also able to join the Inclusive Metadata Task Force at the working luncheon to start working on providing equitable and inclusive metadata from policy to implementation. It is great to see so many IT professionals working on improving open source platforms, lowering the barriers for smaller institutions to implement too. As a digital library practitioner and librarian, I plan on taking these ideas back to our daily work spaces and building more equitable and inclusive digital collections.  For those who are not working on the cutting edge solutions, contributions can still be made by providing more content types, languages, and ample captions to videos, as well as by including more inclusive metadata for indexing and retrieving. We have to take action, no matter how small it might be. Progress begins with a single step. Want to know more about the DLF Forum Fellowship Program? Check out last year’s call for applications. If you’d like to get involved with the scholarship committee for the 2019 Forum (October 13-16, 2019 in Tampa, FL), sign up to join the Planning Committee now! More information about 2019 fellowships will be posted in late spring.

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Fellow Reflection: Josh Hogan

  This post was written by Josh Hogan, who received a DLF HBCU Fellowship to attend the 2018 Forum. Josh Hogan is the Assistant Head of the Digital Services Department at the Atlanta University Center Robert W. Woodruff Library.  His primary responsibilities include taking a leadership role in a variety of digital curation activities, including digitization, metadata creation, repository management, and digital preservation. Prior to assuming this role, he was the Metadata & Digital Resources Librarian at AUC Woodruff Library and spent several years as a manuscript archivist at the Atlanta History Center.  Josh is strongly interested in digital scholarship/humanities research as well as the potential uses of open source software in digital preservation workflows. “This neat separation, keeping your nose to the professional grindstone and leaving politics to your left-over moments, assumes that your profession is not inherently political. It is neutral. Teachers are objective and unbiased. Textbooks are eclectic and fair. The historian is even-handed and factual. The archivist keeps records, a scrupulously neutral job.” –Howard Zinn In reflecting on my first experience at the DLF Forum, I am sure I’m not the first or only person to liken the experience to drinking from a fire hose.  The many and varied experiences I had while in Las Vegas could fill several reflection pieces and would, perhaps, make for disjointed reading for those not living in my brain.  After giving it some thought, I decided that the most important facet of my experience was finding an organization to which I could wholeheartedly and enthusiastically contribute. I’ve chosen the quote above from Howard Zinn as an illustration of what I mean.  As information professionals – librarians, archivists, etc.—we are often encouraged to make neutrality a central tenet of our ethical lives.  I am not so sure that that approach is very healthy for us as well-rounded human beings. I have no beef with objectivity, i.e., a willingness to base our conclusions on the facts or evidence as those are presented to us, but I agree with Zinn that standing by neutrally only perpetuates the status quo. In other words, you can’t really be neutral on a moving train.  I say all of this because I believe that the community encouraged by DLF is one that doesn’t demand a limp neutrality but an informed engagement. This was evident across many of the sessions I attended, from Anasuya Sengupta’s excellent and thought-provoking plenary, “Decolonizing Knowledge, Decolonizing the Internet,” to the many engaging and important sessions put together by the Labor Working Group members.  The work of DLF’s practitioners is grounded in reality and facts, but it is also engaged passionately with the issues and concerns of the broader communities that we serve. As part of my experience, I had an opportunity to serve as a moderator to a couple of excellent sessions. The first was a session organized by the Labor Working Group on “Organizing for Change, Organizing for Power” to address ways to change one’s work place, community, etc. for the better.  The presenters were so well organized that I had only to be there as a backup and was able to participate in the discussion. I also (lightly) moderated a powerful session on Citizen Scholarship which aimed to “discuss how we are building communities, supporting engaged pedagogies, and transforming institutional cultures through collaborative and situated knowledge-making work.”  These activities both inspire me and remind me why I wanted to pursue work as a librarian/archivist in the first place. Finally, attending DLF gave me a great opportunity to get plugged into the emerging Digital Scholarship Working Group, formerly known as the “Miracle Workers.”  I was struck by the diversity of backgrounds and interests of people working on Digital Humanities and Digital Scholarship issues, and I am excited to contribute to their activities as the group grows. In short, being a Fellow was an excellent experience that introduced me to an organization I really believe in.  I plan to be a contributor for years to come. Want to know more about the DLF Forum Fellowship Program? Check out last year’s call for applications. If you’d like to get involved with the scholarship committee for the 2019 Forum (October 13-16, 2019 in Tampa, FL), sign up to join the Planning Committee now! More information about 2019 fellowships will be posted in late spring.

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Fellow Reflection: Rachael Winter Durant

  This post was written by Rachael Winter Durant, who received a GLAM Cross-Pollinator Registration Award to attend the DLF Forum. MCN affiliate Rachael Winter Durant is the Digital Assets Manager at the Portland Art Museum, where she implements the workflows and determines the long-term strategies for digital delivery and preservation of cultural heritage information. She places deep value in utilizing standards and procedures that allow people and institutions to engage digitally with cultural objects and preserve these assets for the future. To promote this engagement, she has chosen three primary areas to focus her early career professional development: digital accessibility, the description of visual resources, and digital preservation. As a member of the Museum Computer Network (MCN), she’s excited about the opportunity to attend DLF Forum 2018 and NDSA Digital Preservation 2018 and to engage with colleagues outside of the museum field who are also active practitioners working and innovating around these issues, specifically through the lens of librarianship. As I prepared to attend DLF Forum 2018 — my first DLF Forum, which I would be attending as the Museum Computer Network (MCN) affiliate through a GLAM Cross-Pollinator Fellowship — I read the code of conduct, combed through the schedule, and attended museum cohort visioning sessions. I felt energized by the focus on social justice and ethics in our profession, but in many ways preparing for the Forum did not feel dissimilar from a courting ritual between two organizations. I found myself a little anxious, gauging what my institution and DLF could offer each other and how we could help each other grow and be supported. Coming from a mid-size art museum that functions as 501c3 nonprofit, I was determined to bring knowledge and ideas back to my institution that I could put into action, even though my department doesn’t have the team of open-source software developers that many of the DLF member institutions appear to have in their libraries. When I arrived at the Forum, what I found was a community of deeply thoughtful librarian technologists examining the very core of digital librarianship; the power structures, cultural contexts, and unacknowledged invisible labor in our profession — and their unique repercussions in the digital sphere. These foundational contexts to how knowledge repositories have developed and been sustained throughout history are as critical at the smallest institutions as they are at the largest. In a recent New York Times article titled “The Newest Jim Crow” by Michelle Alexander, the author quotes data scientist Cathy O’Neil saying, “It’s tempting to believe that computers will be neutral and objective, but algorithms are nothing more than opinions embedded in mathematics.” This dangerous assumption of fairness and neutrality was one of the critical issues that DLF Forum 2018 tackled, and my biggest takeaways from the week centered around strategies to combat it. Discussions about colonialism, ethics, and power in digital libraries happened in both explicit and implicit ways throughout the Forum. But the presentation I have revisited again and again since the Forum is Rafia Mirza’s and Brett D. Currier’s “Towards a Praxis of Library Documentation.” Admittedly, having taken an early career detour as a technical writer, I am predisposed towards calls for good documentation. Yet, I had not considered the deep-seated ethical implications and power dynamics of thoughtful documentation, or a lack thereof. As Mirza and Currier explain, “Documentation is a fixation of everyone’s common understanding upon a decision in written form.” And the implications of ethical documentation are much deeper than just increased productivity. When we take the time to examine the power dynamics of how documentation is created (if it is created), who has access to it, and who uses it, it has the ability to build trust and even support ethical labor practices. A praxis of documentation should push us to examine where unethical practices are introduced into our processes. By making expectations explicit, labor becomes more visible, laborers feel empowered and even respected. In the weeks since the Forum, I have returned to the Museum and reflected on my notes from the sessions. How am I showing up in my work for my colleagues? Student workers? Under-represented communities? Where do gaps in documentation exist for my projects, and what problems could be solved if good documentation existed? Mirza and Currier point out that “along a long enough timeline, everything becomes collaborative.”  With this in mind, I pull up my wiki and begin writing. Want to know more about the DLF Forum Fellowship Program? Check out last year’s call for applications. If you’d like to get involved with the scholarship committee for the 2019 Forum (October 13-16, 2019 in Tampa, FL), sign up to join the Planning Committee now! More information about 2019 fellowships will be posted in late spring.

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Fellow Reflection: Margo Padilla

  This post was written by Margo Padilla (@margo_padilla), who received an ARL+DLF Fellowship to attend the 2018 Forum. Margo Padilla manages services, programs, and initiatives related to archiving and born-digital stewardship for the Metropolitan New York Library Council (METRO). She serves as the primary contact with archives in the METRO region and designs and implements archives-related services in Studio599. Before joining METRO in 2014, she was a resident in the inaugural cohort of the National Digital Stewardship Residency program. Prior to that, she worked at The Bancroft Library at the University of California, Berkeley on digital projects and initiatives. Margo received her MLIS with a concentration in Management, Digitization, and Preservation of Cultural Heritage and Records from San Jose State University and her undergraduate degree from the University of California, Berkeley. As a first-time attendee at the DLF Forum, I was immediately struck by the diverse group of individuals that were pulled together and the welcoming environment that was created by organizers. It felt like a space where everyone could be their authentic self and speak honestly about their experiences. This provided an opportunity to engage in impactful conversations and generated an elevated awareness on a number of different topics. It felt like a particularly critical time to be in such an environment, when long-held professional practices, methods for representation in memory organizations, and workplace and labor issues are being challenged and beginning to shift. The sessions that drew my interest were those focused on community archives. Through my own work with independent memory projects, I have observed a rejection of mainstream archival institutions and practices. Traditional archives are, in most cases, perceived as being part of the ivory tower of academia and inaccessible to marginalized groups, a place where their stories are interpreted through the lens of white culture. In the Community Archives: New Theories of Time, Access, Community, and Agency session, panelists explained that community archives are creating a space where individuals can document their own histories and ensure collections are given the right context. While there is the desire to increase representation in traditional archival collections, the panel encouraged the audience to respect the autonomy of community archives and instead seek ways to empower independent memory workers through equitable partnerships. The support, collaboration, and autonomy fostered in digital scholarship labs is one potential model for how we can transform use of traditional archival reading rooms, changing them to learning environments where memory workers are invited to develop skills to steward their own collections. Two notable projects in this area are the Community Archives Lab at UCLA and the Southern Historical Collection’s Community-Driven Archives. I reflected further on the perception of institutional archives during Jennifer Ferretti’s talk on the Building Community and Solidarity: Disrupting Exploitative Labor Practices in Libraries and Archives panel. In addition to pointing out the lack of POC in management and leadership roles, Ferretti called for an end to “fit culture” within LAMs which, as she pointed out, implicitly expects POC to leave their culture at the door in order to fit within the dominant white culture of the profession. As we explore issues of representation in our collections and how we might collaborate with community-based archives, we must also continue to do the work and take action to address representation within our own profession. Independent memory workers’ mistrust of traditional archives and their perception of themselves as outsiders may correlate with the absence of representation on LAM staff, an issue that may be compounded by perceiving those few POC that are in administrative roles as having to modify their identities in order to be the “right fit” for the organization. Attending the DLF Forum was a distinct conference experience and I am so grateful for the generous support that enabled me to attend a conference where involuted issues like these could be candidly discussed. I’m particularly grateful that the DLF recognizes the need to support mid-career professionals as we continue to expand our knowledge and develop our careers. Want to know more about the DLF Forum Fellowship Program? Check out last year’s call for applications. If you’d like to get involved with the scholarship committee for the 2019 Forum (October 13-16, 2019 in Tampa, FL), sign up to join the Planning Committee now! More information about 2019 fellowships will be posted in late spring.

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Fellow Reflection: Chris Day

  This post was written by Chris Day (@chrisday71), who received a GLAM Cross-Pollinator Registration Award to attend the DLF Forum. VRA affiliate Chris Day is the Digital Services Librarian at the Flaxman Library of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. He started at SAIC in 2008, managing the library’s first digital collection, the Joan Flasch Artists’ Books Collection. In 2011 he oversaw the the deaccession of the 35mm slide library and the start of a local repository, now featuring over 200,000 images, of digital art images for teaching. The past year saw the migration of 13 digital collections from ContentDM to Islandora, which now features 4 new collections and over 26,4000 digital objects. Learning to Live DLF I’ve been a librarian for over twelve years and am still developing my conference skills. Conferences are valuable events, but can be difficult when you struggle to find the balance between learning opportunities and self-care. Last year, at my first DLF Forum, I found a community and atmosphere that made it easier to find peace in the chaos. This sense of ease drove my desire to make the most of my time there and bring what I learned back to my job. As 2017 turned into 2018, I looked back on my time in Pittsburgh and saw that I had used just a small portion of what I’d been exposed to. I had a notebook full of ideas, but hadn’t given myself the chance to follow-through. My personal quest for DLF Forum 2018, declared just an hour into the start of Learn@DLF, was to absorb, process, and act on what I experienced. I want to learn to live DLF. Forum 2018 started the same way Forum 2017 finished for me, with the excellent Metadata Analysis Workshop developed by the DLF Assessment and Metadata Working groups. I wasn’t repeating the workshop because I failed to learn, I simply wanted another opportunity to act on what I had learned. One digital collection migration and clean-up wiser, I returned refreshed and ready to absorb everything. OpenRefine, regular expressions, GREL, application profiles; I wanted all that wonderful techy metadata stuff. The rush of knowledge felt real good! I made a vow, that when I got back to Chicago I would turn my pages of notes into real tasks and real projects. I would try every tool, visit every collection, read every article, and archive my favorite presentations for future referral. I lost a few days to jet lag and con crud, but I have taken positive steps towards my goals. I started with a Google Doc full of raw notes, which I’ll now organize into direct actions (digitizing historic course catalogs? create a faculty name authority list like Jeremy Floyd at UNV Reno), research opportunities (get Hope Olson’s “The power to name”), email contacts to follow-up (tell me more about your Syllabrowser project, University of Utah), and random thoughts (did I leave the download link on when I left?). Three weeks have passed since our time in Las Vegas. How am I doing so far? I’ve had a very good start, thank you for asking. I’ve reached out to colleagues and had helpful, substantive follow-up conversations. I used new tools and skills to normalize accession numbers in our Artists’ Book collection (this allowed us to better search, filter, and analyze those numbers; I squealed like a child on their birthday when I got that to work). This is just the beginning; I have so many new projects to try that I am freshly enthused for the coming year. And what of the next year? Will I continue to operationalize my experiences from the 2018 Forum, or will entropy take control? Between now and next fall I intend to find out. I will track and analyze my successes and my failures, and hope to report back in Tampa. If this proves a success, I can add another goal for the 2019 DLF Forum: pacing my physical & mental energy and make it through the whole conference without exhaustion. I’ll be seeing you in the Meditation Room! Want to know more about the DLF Forum Fellowship Program? Check out last year’s call for applications. If you’d like to get involved with the scholarship committee for the 2019 Forum (October 13-16, 2019 in Tampa, FL), sign up to join the Planning Committee now! More information about 2019 fellowships will be posted in late spring.

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Fellow Reflection: Jay L. Colbert

  This post was written by Jay Colbert (@spookycolbert), who received a DLF Students & New Professionals Fellowship to attend the 2018 Forum.  Jay Colbert (@SpookyColbert) is the current Resident Librarian at the University of Utah’s J. Willard Marriott Library. Their responsibilities include subject liaison work, reference, and library instruction along with metadata and cataloging duties, primarily for the digital library and digital exhibits. Their research investigates the relationship between language and power in libraries, particularly in subject access and descriptive cataloging. Jay received their MSLIS from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and their BA in English from the College of William & Mary. They are also active within the ALCTS CaMMS division and GLBT Round Table of ALA, and OLAC. In their free time, they watch too many movies, practice Buddhism and yoga, and hang out with their bearded dragon. This year, I was selected as one of the DLF New Professionals Fellows. I was beyond thrilled to be accepted and to attend the DLF Forum. Although I focused my graduate coursework on metadata, it was more geared toward traditional bibliographic description as opposed to online resources. In my current position, I work a lot with our digital library services, I thought it would be prudent to expand my knowledge on digital libraries. I am glad to have attended the DLF Forum to aid in this. I attended many types of sessions on varying topics, from system migrations to linked data to privacy. One theme through most of the sessions that I wish to highlight is that of recognizing our power as librarians over our patrons and even our coworkers. Most sessions I attended mentioned this theme, either at their focus or implied. Metadata librarians of all types have a long history of trying to fix the way we describe items so that the language does not replicate oppressive structures. However, simply trying to correct our practices is not enough. As the presentation on indigenous visual culture and subject access in the Decolonizing Vocabularies session stressed, we must work alongside communities and/or consult them when developing our vocabularies and describing items. Through this, we shift our power to those communities. We do not just hold power over communities. Indeed, as the session on Disrupting Exploitative Labor demonstrated, most of our entry-level positions put new-career librarians at a power disadvantage. This session pointed out how unpaid internships and temporary contracts exploit the labor of those in those positions and contribute to a workplace culture which devalues labor, especially labor done by early-career librarians. I often see job postings for digitization and description that are project based, meaning they end when the project ends. In digital libraries, as this session emphasized, we need to create permanent positions, question and oppose temporary positions, and create workplace atmospheres where new librarians, especially those who belong to marginalized groups, feel welcome. I feel that the keynote speaker, Anasuya Sengupta, tied this theme of power in digital libraries together. In her keynote, she spoke of the unifying power of digital libraries and how they can empower marginalized peoples. However, they can also reinforce hegemonies; most of the internet (including Wikipedia) is in English. As digital library workers, it is our job to help make the internet and the information in it accessible to all people. At the 2018 DLF Forum, many sessions stressed this aspect of our job, challenging us to be better. Although our field is a highly technical one, the sessions at the DLF Forum reminded us that we do this for people, and that our work therefore does not exist in a vacuum made of ones and zeros. Want to know more about the DLF Forum Fellowship Program? Check out last year’s call for applications. If you’d like to get involved with the scholarship committee for the 2019 Forum (October 13-16, 2019 in Tampa, FL), sign up to join the Planning Committee now! More information about 2019 fellowships will be posted in late spring.

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Fellow Reflection: Danielle Terrell

  This post was written by Danielle Terrell, who received a DLF HBCU Fellowship to attend the 2018 Forum. Danielle A. Terrell received her M.L.I.S. in Library and Information Science from Clark Atlanta University in 1999. Currently, she is an Assistant Professor of Library Services and Government Documents Librarian at Alcorn State University. She serves as a mentor to all new library employees. She is dedicated to the field of library science and is always accepting of whatever task she is given. She wears many hats within the J. D. Boyd Library, such as, librarian, chair of the Friends of the J. D. Boyd Library and project manager for Alcorn archives digitization. No matter what her main goal is always to be a mentor to students, faculty and staff. Danielle is a 2009 Summer Fellows of Vanderbilt University’s Peabody College of Education and Human Development/Academic Librarianship Institute. Sometimes we get caught up in the daily routine of the same ole same ole, even our local conference can sometimes become stale. That’s why I attended the 2018 DLF Forum. It was worth the experience. Who would not jump at the chance to go to Las Vegas, Nevada, especially for a conference, right? Well, I jumped through several hoops, like convincing my university to let me go was one thing, but being there, was another. I want to thank the DLF and the HBCU Alliance for allowing me to be an HBCU Fellow to attend the 2018 DLF Forum. From the time I walked up to the registration desk, I felt welcome and at home. The DLF provided me with a mentor and I also served as a mentor. Unfortunately, my mentee was unable to attend but my mentor was very inspiring. From our introduction my mentor was very encouraging, inspiring and a world traveler. She encouraged me to embrace the conference and meet new people and try to create partnerships. I enjoyed the sessions from born digital boot-camp to the museum cohort. All the sessions gave a first-hand account of how to use and access open source materials and how to move metadata from the finding aids to primary sources.  The Opening Plenary speaker Ms. Sengupta was great, she spoke about inclusion by bringing people to the table and creating “Wiki” editing parties. With the editing parties one can help edit the Wikipedia and other sites with the help of native people from various cultures.  Also, the class on “Zoom Reflex’ was very interesting because it focused on creating partnerships for such things as creating new software, grant-funding and research collaborations. By working with someone outside of your library, museum or archive you tend to think outside of the box and want to make the project more successful. This conference had so many things to offer, that I am still trying to process it all. The Fellows Breakfast allowed me to meet other Fellows as well. The meals throughout the event were very good. One of the most impressive things about this conference was the lightning rounds, where twelve presenters spoke for ninety seconds. It seemed very fun and informative. I do not know if could do that. As I close, I would to encourage anyone on the fence about attending this conference next year. Even if you do not know anything about digitization, open source, or preservation, this conference is worth the journey. Want to know more about the DLF Forum Fellowship Program? Check out last year’s call for applications. If you’d like to get involved with the scholarship committee for the 2019 Forum (October 13-16, 2019 in Tampa, FL), sign up to join the Planning Committee now! More information about 2019 fellowships will be posted in late spring.

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Fellow Reflection: Bryan Dosono

  This post was written by Bryan Dosono (@bdosono), who received a DLF Students & New Professionals Fellowship to attend the 2018 Forum. It can also be found as a Medium post from the author. Bryan Dosono is a PhD Candidate at the Syracuse University School of Information Studies. He employs social network analysis with qualitative research methods to explore, interpret, and visualize large collections of social media data. He seeks to understand how Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPIs) construct and express their identity in online communities and his dissertation research uncovers the ways in which AAPIs negotiate collective action in the context of online identity work. Learn more about his research at www.bdosono.com/. In my first Digital Library Federation Forum, I had the honor of attending as a recipient of the Students & New Professionals Fellowship. The conference took place in Las Vegas, Nevada, situated on the lands of the Southern Paiute people. The conference opened with an inspirational keynote address from Anasuya Sengupta, a prominent digital activist who works to center the knowledge of different marginalized communities on the Internet. Sengupta shared that while the breadth of humanity’ knowledge is oral and experiential, we tend to give more authority to the textual knowledge that has been published in books and related forms of printed publication. Alarmingly, she shared that only around 20% of public knowledge (inclusive of domain name registration, Wikipedia edits, GitHub commits) is produced on or by people from the Global South (i.e., Africa, Latin America, Asia, and the Pacific Islands). Upon realizing the colonial thrusts of her own education, she began her personal journey of decolonizing her sense of self-worth through deliberate choices she has made in reading books from non-Western authors and actively practicing the spoken languages (what she references as her superpowers) passed down by her parents. Listening to Sengupta’s intentional acts of self-decolonization also made reminded me of the critical need to decolonize myself and the research I am conducting for my doctoral dissertation. I am largely interested in studying online identity work within Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) communities. The keynote led me to question why some narratives mainstream and others marginalized. I have now been inspired to add a component of decolonization to my research studies. Reflexively, how can I play my part to ensure AAPI narratives are accessible and inclusive? Knowledge, from the beginning, has and always will be a political construct. Imperial, hegemonic structures dictate what type of content gets published and what does not. Colonization is problematic because the colonized are conditioned to believe they are different and, therefore, inferior. For instance, identity conflict distances the colonized from their authentic heritage. Since I was born and raised in a rural area of Washington State where AAPIs comprised of less than 1% of the county’s demographics, questions like “am I Filipino enough?” or “what are you?” became a recurring thought as I began to reflect upon my racial identity during my K-12 years. The biggest takeaway I received from the conference was to look beyond Anglo-centric productions of knowledge as the only valid form of arriving at a truth. The beauty of decolonization is that it diversifies perspectives by affirming different ways and systems of knowing. Perhaps the academy should encourage more efforts to decolonize how we educate the minds of the next generation. Per Sengupta, if we do not have unfettered access to our history, we cannot fight to improve our future. Want to know more about the DLF Forum Fellowship Program? Check out last year’s call for applications. If you’d like to get involved with the scholarship committee for the 2019 Forum (October 13-16, 2019 in Tampa, FL), look for the Planning Committee sign-up form later this year. More information about 2019 fellowships will be posted in late spring.

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Fellow Reflection: Adrienne Canino

  This post was written by Adrienne Canino (@LibraryAdrienne), who received a DLF Students & New Professionals Fellowship to attend the 2018 Forum. Adrienne is currently a Science and Data Outreach Librarian at University of Rochester River Campus LIbraries. She has a B.S. and an M.S. in Environmental Studies, and worked in environmental conservation and education before returning to school for her MSLIS. She enjoys joining her love for science education and outreach with information literacy, and is fascinated by how data is changing the science and educational landscape. She likes to hike with her dog, has planted hundreds of trees, and of course enjoys reading. I was honored and grateful to be chosen as an Early Career Professional Forum Fellow at DLF 2018 in Las Vegas. Not only was the warmth of the sun most welcome to my northern bones, but the warmth of the welcome into this engaging and widespread community of professionals was truly delightful. I am a new librarian, and a new data librarian, and so I have been building my skills in our digital tools and links between them. Looking back on the conference, and everything that stood out to me about it, I see how this community – we –  have an inspiring focus on human connections. The thoughtful consideration to be as inclusive as possible for all was all the evidence I needed to know it can be done, and I can help make it happen where I go next. From gender inclusive bathrooms to a childcare fund to a call for tipping the housekeeping staff, I feel that in addition to our enthusiasm for the technical we have also done much to embrace the human. I am grateful for the opportunity to ‘soak’ these practices into my early career frame of mind. One of my goals in attending this conference was to explore how the connection from human student to digital tool can be made better. DLF Forum provided me ample opportunity to learn, and I relished the variety of approaches presented on, discussed, or cited.  I’m now happy to report that I have many more ideas of how to bring digital library tools into the classroom discussion alongside educational goals and keep the human perspective in place. These range from inspiration in de-colonizing the internet, as the keynote speaker called for, to keeping a discussion of citizenship alive during a digital project. The human to human relationships, too, were emphasized and celebrated throughout the conference. Although it may be tempting to consider digital library work an endeavor that takes place at a desk to the side end of any workspace, DLF2018 was alive with relationships. This includes stories and new ideas for how to connect people to people in pursuit of a project greater than the sum of its parts and the old relationships between long-time conference goers. I feel like everywhere I turned at DLF, I saw examples of human connections thriving, either the strength of old relationships or the energy of new partnerships. With this in mind, I have come away from DLF with a sparkle in my eye to the future. I feel like this conference has not only presented a wealth of professional development and networking to me, but also empowerment to all the attendees. The takeaways from presentations are valuable, but it was also valuable to discuss metadata standards and their influence, labor practices and associated shortfalls, and the real reactions we could each take in the future. It is a place where this important work was discussed and that space will continue to be vital to the profession’s future. So again I have to say, as an early career librarian, thank you for that opportunity. Want to know more about the DLF Forum Fellowship Program? Check out last year’s call for applications. If you’d like to get involved with the scholarship committee for the 2019 Forum (October 13-16, 2019 in Tampa, FL), look for the Planning Committee sign-up form later this year. More information about 2019 fellowships will be posted in late spring.

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Fellow Reflection: Elizabeth Jean Brumfield

  This post was written by Elizabeth Jean Brumfield, who received a DLF HBCU Fellowship to attend the 2018 Forum. Elizabeth Jean Brumfield is the distance services librarian and doctoral candidate in the College of Education at Prairie View A&M University. Her research interest focus on the intersection of emerging technologies and information seeking behavior. Brumfield is published in several peer  reviewed journals, including: Journal of Library and Information Service for Distance Learning; Journal of Library Administration and Management; Journal of Librarianship and Information Science. Brumfield is also an accomplished seamstress and designer and combines her talent with library programming during Women’s History month when students gather to make  20 minute pencil skirts.  The interaction with the students encourages them to think of libraries as more than places to find books. When thinking about my experience at the Digital Library Federation Forum, I remember the final steps taken getting into the shuttle bus to go back to the airport heading home.  I thought, what a great conference. Everything was so well thought out and planned with intricate details in mind. From the shuttle to the basket collecting the hygiene products to give to the homeless, there was thoughtful consideration put into the planning of the conference. I am a person that likes to get everything I can out of every moment.  If there is something new to learn I will explore it, if there are networking opportunities I will seek out people, if it is different food I will try it.   The conference did not disappoint in those areas. The presentations varied from being educational, instructional and even inspirational. Because the word limit is restricted, I won’t go into detail about all the sessions. However, I would like to let the presenters know I truly appreciate their sharing information about their projects and educating us on various software applications, cybersecurity, preservation techniques, etc. Anasuya Sengupta as the Opening Plenary and Keynote speaker took command of the audience in a calm and unassuming factual presentation that was inspiriting while also convicting and condemning.  Her message inspired us to take collective actions to try to decolonize the internet by encouraging us to write and share our histories. She condemned the injustice of us not knowing each other as we should.  The injustice of not knowing others reflects in what we believe and how we make sense of the world. It is unjust to question or ignore the experiences of the marginalized, exploited and ignored. She challenged the lack of inclusion and representation found in Wikipedia and encouraged us to improve it.  Anasuya Sengupta encouraged librarians to lead the charge of a radical promise of freedom for all, where everyone’s story is shared, and access is provided freely. She stated that diversity, equity, and inclusion are mere words if they are not accompanied by action and an understanding of their impact. Coming from a university that was created in the 1800’s to educate freed slaves I understand that the work of writing, preserving and sharing everyone’s history and story is complicated.  The power systems that created division and unequaled distribution of resources may exist long after current generations are gone. However, we are encouraged to do our part as librarians and be allies for each other. The instructional presentations I attended were informative.  I may not be able to use currently because the software or equipment needed my university doesn’t have, but it was good to see what other libraries are doing.  I was glad that the conference included funders and financial resource representatives to assist many of us with limited funds. As a HBCU Library Alliance/ Digital Library Federation Fellow I was given the opportunity to participate in the mentor/mentee program.  I was teamed with a wonderful librarian from Mississippi and we found that the match was perfect. We hope to work together on projects, and I plan to visit her library, and she will visit mine.  Thank you all for a great conference. Want to know more about the DLF Forum Fellowship Program? Check out last year’s call for applications. If you’d like to get involved with the scholarship committee for the 2019 Forum (October 13-16, 2019 in Tampa, FL), look for the Planning Committee sign-up form later this year. More information about 2019 fellowships will be posted in late spring.

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