Digital Scholarship Outreach Librarian; Head, Digitization Services, Indiana University–Purdue University Indianapolis University Library
MLS, Indiana University–Purdue University Indianapolis, 2011
Photo courtesy of IUPUI
The Next Dimension
Digital scholarship outreach librarian Jennifer Johnson has worked with more than 40 cultural heritage organizations to create 80 digital collections since she arrived at Indiana University–Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI) in 2001. While working at the library, first as a GIS applications analyst and then as digital initiatives project coordinator, she also earned her library degree. In her current role since 2013, she and her small team scan historical documents, photographs, letters, scrapbooks, meeting minutes, and other artifacts and make the resulting collections freely available online to the public.
“One of my favorite projects has been our collaboration with the Indianapolis Motor Speedway,” she says. Billed as the “Greatest Spectacle in Racing,” the Indy 500 has a legacy dating back to 1909. Now IUPUI’s University Library hosts more than 21,000 images and 100 audio clips of Speedway historian Donald Davidson recounting 100 years of racing history. “This collection has become a model for other cultural heritage organizations to visualize the opportunities they have to preserve and provide access to collections,” Johnson says.
What’s especially notable is how she funded these projects: by raising nearly $500,000 through a slew of small grants, from $6,515 from the Central Indiana Community Foundation (the smallest grant) to $39,533 from the Library Services and Technology Act (the largest).
Setting a new benchmark—and teaching others how to meet it—is a specialty of Johnson’s. She’s made dozens of presentations and published multiple papers. “She has developed an expert-level reputation in academic library community engagement,” says nominator Kristi Palmer, associate dean for digital scholarship at the IUPUI library. An example of that leadership is Johnson’s role in Indiana becoming one of 21 service hubs of the Digital Public Library of America (DPLA), which brings together and makes freely available digitized and born-digital collections. As chair of the outreach committee for the Indiana service hub, Johnson helps to disseminate guidelines on digitizing collections.
Always with an “eye toward ‘what’s next,’ ” says Palmer, Johnson has also taken a lead on 3-D digitization for libraries and other cultural institutions, currently researching and refining digitization and metadata standards for 3-D scanning. Says Johnson, “As 3-D scanners become more affordable, the processing power of computers increases, and the interest in [3-D in] libraries and museums grows, [we]…need to figure out work flows and best practices for preserving and providing access to 3-D images.”