February 17, 2018

Jacob Heil | Movers & Shakers 2016 – Tech Leaders

Jacob Heil


Mellon Digital Scholar, The Five Colleges
of Ohio, Wooster


PhD, English, Texas A&M University, 2009


@dr_heil (Twitter); digitalscholarship.ohio5.org; jacobheil.com

Photo by Chelsea Carlson

Winding the Machine

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.

Now, as Mellon Digital Scholar for the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation-funded Digital Scholarship program at the Five Colleges of Ohio (Wooster, Denison University, Kenyon, Oberlin, Ohio Wesleyan University), Heil is helping librarians, faculty, and students “redefine what it means to be a collaborator and multitasker in an age [in which] digital modes of scholarship are playing a much more meaningful role in the relationship between libraries and the academy,” says College of Wooster librarian and nominator Stephen X. Flynn, a 2012 LJ Mover & Shaker. Heil has, says Flynn, “shepherded dozens of college faculty minigrants” involving digital scholarship projects, leading faculty to recognize libraries’ roles as essential partners in digital scholarship research.

For Heil, “sitting around a table with a disparate group of experts, imagining possibilities, pinning those to realities, planning out actions, and winding the machine,” is one of the best parts of the job, he says. “I’m driven by the promise of helping faculty, librarians, and students try on different ways of creating new knowledge.”

This article was published in Library Journal. Subscribe today and save up to 35% off the regular subscription rate.