April 23, 2018

Twila Camp | Movers & Shakers 2018 – Digital Developers

Twila Camp


Director of Web Services, University of Oklahoma Libraries, Norman


MIS, University of Oklahoma, 2004; Masters of Liberal Studies, University of Denver, 2010


Galileo’s World (University Libraries of the University of Oklahoma)

Douglas Gritzmacher


Bringing History to Life

The University of Oklahoma (OU) Libraries are lucky enough to own all 12 of Galileo’s first editions, four of which contain the author’s own handwriting. They’re also fortunate to have as part of their team Twila Camp, whom the libraries’ associate dean of knowledge services and CTO Carl Grant calls a “talented collaborator, out-of-the-box thinker, and lifelong learner/librarian.” Camp, OU libraries director of web services, leads the technical team that helped create 2015’s Galileo’s World, a series of 20 exhibits at seven locations on three OU campuses.

Galileo’s World was an ambitious undertaking. The 12 first editions were only part of the exhibition—they were surrounded by more than 300 rare, related works that were digitized, loaded into a repository, and displayed on a website to showcase the content to the general public. “Everything that was on physical display also needed to be virtually represented on the website, [which] in many cases meant doing 3-D scans of artifacts to supplement the digitized works,” explains Grant. The effort paid off: the floor that housed the exhibition saw an 1,100 percent increase in visits per month during the exhibit, and over the course of 2016 the website drew more than 20,000 unique visits. During its three-year existence, it has become OU’s second highest visited website.

Handling Galileo’s works was not Camp’s first exposure to rare materials. As an undergraduate, she worked in the OU Western History Collections archive. “I remember holding the diary of a woman who lived in a sod house after her family had claimed a plot during the land runs…. Over a hundred years later, there I was holding something so intimate and private…in my hands,” she says. “That’s when I knew I wanted to go to library school.” Camp was inspired to work in archives but, “as fate would have it,” ended up taking an HTML class instead, she says. “It seems fortuitous that I would eventually get to bridge both worlds and bring the sheer wonder of special collection materials to life in a digital world.”

Camp emphasizes that Galileo’s World was a team effort, and the agile development process the team used, as well as the modular code team members developed, will have lasting benefits. “We have been able to create a template based on Galileo’s World that allows us to build similar sites in a fraction of the time,” Camp notes, “by reusing portions of the code and content structure.”

This article was published in Library Journal's March 15, 2018 issue. Subscribe today and save up to 35% off the regular subscription rate.

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