Jacob Heil is well versed in both the history of the book and the future of digital scholarship. After earning a PhD in English, with a focus on early modern drama and book history, Heil worked on Texas A&M’s Early Modern OCR Project (eMOP), developing optical character recognition training sets to help computers transform images of works printed from 1475 through the early 1800s into archivable, minable texts.
Before December 2014, when she stepped into the new role of San José Public Library’s (SJPL) technology and innovation project manager (now innovations manager), Erin Berman launched SJPL’s first Maker faire, which introduced 200 people to after-school STEM [science, technology, engineering, math] programs. She believes Making can empower her community and help close the digital divide. Statewide, 25 percent of Californians in 2014 lacked broadband Internet access at home, according to a Field Poll. “When someone walks into one of our libraries and says they want to learn something, we don’t just hand them a book; we hand them the tool and teach them how to use it,” Berman says.
As a new teen specialist at Meridian Library District in 2011, Nick Grove drew on a disengaged after-school crowd to grow program attendance by 233 percent in three years, partly by buying teen-relevant technology, such as six 3-D printers. Grove capitalized on those purchases: when he challenged a bored teen to read a chapter in a book, the teen read three and was rewarded with a 3-D version of the book’s logo. “We struggled for two months together,” says Grove, “to figure out how to print the logo; the teen became an advocate for library programs…and a bigger advocate for the book.”
Among patrons and peers at the Utah Valley University campus, outreach and patron services librarian Dustin Fife is known as “overwhelmingly passionate about service and mentorship, which shines through every interaction,” says colleague Mary Naylor. Fife is unafraid to step outside the library comfort zone to fulfill his role. His long list of accomplishments includes the creation of a mobile “Ask Me Anything!” cart, which brings reference services via an iPad and some manuals to the wider community, enabling students to access information and receive assistance outside the library.
All things being equal, the simplest interlibrary loan (ILL) process is usually the best. That’s the idea behind Occam’s Reader, a software add-on for the OCLC ILLiad work flow solution that makes it possible for academic libraries to “loan” ebooks electronically to one another for easy access by students and researchers.
Media librarian Jason Evans Groth builds bridges between traditional scholarship and multimedia projects to give North Carolina State University (NCSU) students and faculty the tools to grow their digital media literacy. As a result, they’ve been able to reach a larger audience beyond traditional research papers and journals. “If we attempt to harness the power of digital media, we can use it to make learning more interactive and impactful, teaching more interesting and engaging, and research sharing more applicable to our audiences,” Evans Groth says.
When Beth-Ann Ryan started at the State of Delaware’s Division of Libraries (DDL) in 2008, the Delaware Library Catalog included half the public libraries, a handful of academic libraries, and a couple of schools. Since then, it’s grown to a statewide single system that includes every public library, six academic libraries, seven school libraries, and 13 special libraries. As deputy director of DDL since September 2011, Ryan has been instrumental in making this connectivity happen.
It only takes about four seconds of talking to Rebecca Blakiston to get a glimpse of the passion that drives her and has made her so successful as user experience (UX) librarian at the University of Arizona (UA), Tucson. She has revolutionized how usability testing is carried out, created a role for a content strategist on her team, and still finds time to teach classes on usability testing, content strategy, and writing for the web. In addition to the many tasks she tackles daily, Blakiston develops goals and strategies for UA’s main website, which sees nearly three million visits per year.
Librarian by day and award-winning filmmaker by night, Ashley Maynor combines the skills of both professions to create transmedia projects that offer new perspectives on librarianship and storytelling. Her 2015 web documentary The Story of the Stuff explores the fate of thousands of letters, cards, teddy bears, and other items sent to Newtown, CT, following the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School mass shooting. The outpouring of mail and donations can easily overwhelm local resources, says Maynor, digital humanities librarian at the University of Tennessee (UT), Knoxville. Her experience living in Blacksburg, VA, during the 2007 Virginia Tech massacre informs her work as well. “I saw how few resources exist for those who are trying to archive in the aftermath of tragedies,” she says.
When only one student in a seventh and eighth grade assembly answered yes to having used an ereader, Jessica Bratt realized students in Grand Rapids faced a deep technological gap. “I asked what the schools needed and built interest in how the library could meet their needs,” she recalls. Leveraging her enthusiasm, flexibility, and improvisation skills, Bratt initiated DigiBridge, a formal partnership between Grand Rapids Public Library (GRPL) and Grand Rapids Public Schools (GRPS) that connects students and educators to the library’s online resources and technology.