(Digital Collections) The Education of a Digitization Projects Group: A Dispatch from TCDL 2012

When the Digitization Projects Group isn’t busy saving the world (one scan at a time), we’re taking time to recharge our creative batteries and hone our technical skills at various conferences, symposia and workshops. This past week, half of the DPG (our Manager, Darryl Stuhr and myself) traveled to Austin for the Texas Conference on Digital Libraries.

This is the kind of group where library and IT types coexist in harmony, focused on the lofty goal of providing access to digital content, management of data, and the preservation of that data now and forevermore. Topics covered at TCDL included collaborative project workflows, data architecture, preservation systems, streaming video and much more. It’s the kind of group where a speaker may use the phrases “crowdsourcing,” “Internet 2” and “replicating server” in the same sentence with confidence that most people in the room will know what they’re talking about.

Darryl presented as part of a panel immediately following the opening session. His portion of the show covered the Browning Letters Project, specifically the challenges and rewards of working in collaboration with multiple parties to achieve a common goal. As outlined in this post, the Browning Letters Project is a major collaboration with Wellesley College focusing on the written correspondence of the poets Robert and Elizabeth Barrett Browning.

After a morning of presentations, nothing keeps things moving like a spicy “bowl of red” at the Texas Chili Parlor. We were joined by colleagues Tim Logan (Assistant Vice President for the Electronic Library) and Billie Peterson-Lugo (Director of Electronic Libraries Resources & Collection Management Services) for a lively round of conversation and traditional Texas chili.

Pictured: conference fuel

Presentations in the afternoon included information on streaming video for faculty use; crowdsourcing transcriptions of manuscript collections; and workflow/planning for collaborative projects. There was even an appearance by  Georgia Harper (University of Texas at Austin), a copyright expert who helped consult our group regarding the Black Gospel Music Restoration Project.

Georgia Harper: Copyright Rock Star

The day ended with a poster presentation session/reception where I presented a poster outlining what we’ve been up to in the realms of curation of digital assets and outreach to our respective publics.

Note the irony of presenting info about digital collections on a printed poster.

These conferences always generate lots of good ideas we can integrate into our work back in Waco. And while it can be easy to fall into the trap of “conference high” – where every idea you had seems like the most important thing in the world and must happen right now – there’s no doubt that taking advantage of opportunities like TCDL allows us to network with like-minded professionals, get exposed to new ideas and benefit from the critical mass that forms when lots of people interested in the same thing gather in one place for an extended time.

And did I mention the chili?

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