Partnering with Community Organizations to Support Digital Collections and Scholarship

A Digital Scholarship Outreach Librarian and Head of Digitization Services at Indiana University–Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI), Jennifer Johnson is an expert in community engagement—and has collaborated with more than 40 cultural heritage institutions to create 80 digital collections. In this interview, Johnson discusses her work in supporting digital scholarship.
By, Karen PhillipsKaren Phillips SVP Global Learning Resources SAGE Publishing In a series that celebrates innovators in libraries across the U.S., I have the privilege of diving deeper into the work of a segment of the 2017 Movers & Shakers announced by Library Journal. This week, I had the opportunity to catch up with Jennifer Johnson, a Digital Scholarship Outreach Librarian and the Head of Digitization Services at Indiana University–Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI).  An expert in community engagement, Jennifer has collaborated with more than 40 cultural heritage institutions to create 80 digital collections. Read her full interview below to learn more about her work in supporting digital scholarship. Jennifer Johnson You do quite a bit of work digitizing primary resource documents in your library. What does this entail and what inspired you? As the Digital Scholarship Outreach Librarian for the IUPUI University Library Center for Digital Scholarship, I work with community and cultural heritage institutions to digitize, provide access to, and preserve historical material. The center has built the technological infrastructure to support 2D and 3D objects and artifacts. I am inspired by the organizations that seek to capture their histories but don’t have the capacity to manage the services themselves. I love to work with organizations to bring their project ideas to reality. How do you work with partner organizations and the community in this effort? How do you get them inspired and get their support? I spend in incredible amount of time cultivating and building the relationships with community and cultural heritage institutions. Every relationship is unique to the services needed to complete a digital project. I think the inspiration lies with me-not the organization. I am driven to bring their needs and projects to reality. When hurdles occur, I am up for the challenge to overcome obstacles. What tips would you give to a librarian who wants to begin digitizing primary resource documents but doesn't know where to start? Vintage racing suit from Indianapolis 500 driver Peter Revson.

Vintage racing suit from Indianapolis 500 driver Peter Revson. This digital artifact is part of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway collection, hosted by IUPUI’s University Library.

Having full support from upper administration to invest in hardware, software, and staff with digitization expertise is key to providing digitization services. You've been a successful fundraiser for your library in these efforts. Can you share tips for success? IUPUI University Library has been supported by local and national grant funding agencies. While seeking grant funding, it is important to have a focused goal and to have the capacity or partners with the capacity to fulfill the requirements of the grant. Many funding agencies have a set amount of time to complete a project. Set realistic goal for what can be accomplished in that amount of time. What is your strategy for communicating your new resources across campus so they may be of use to new researchers and students? The library has used various communication methods to share new resources with potential users. These methods include: press releases, TV/radio media outlets, and events.  

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