Karmen is the Digital Projects Librarian in the Preservation & Digital Initiatives Department at the Ohio University Libraries. Read on to learn more about her work and personal interests from sharing cultural heritage materials to exploring our solar system and beyond!
What is your role(s) in academic libraries?
As a Digital Projects Librarian, I oversee the digitization of rare books, manuscripts, photographs, and other materials held by the Mahn Center for Archives and Special Collections. I then describe the resulting images using established metadata standards and upload to the Libraries’ digital content platform, CONTENTdm. Together, I and my colleague Janet Carleton supervise the work of 4-8 student workers producing tens of thousands of files a year.
What do you like most about academic library work?
I love that my job is to share cultural heritage materials with people who might not be able to visit the reading room in person. Part of my charge is doing outreach to promote our digital collections and I have lots of fun researching collections and designing activities and exhibits to encourage folks to come to their own conclusions about the content. The Subjective Stitch workshop was especially enjoyable to plan; I really wanted to take a historical collection and tease out enduring themes that still had relevance in the lives of participants, so we combined a pop-up exhibit with discussion sections where participants were invited to subjectively interpret the objects through the lens of their own experiences.
What are some interesting projects you’ve been involved with lately?
I’m currently working on a collection of materials relating to the Athens Asylum, later know as the Athens Mental Health Center. It has been very illuminating seeing the ephemeral traces of everyday life left by staff and patients over the past 150 years and gradually filling in the story of the institution through time.
Tell us a fun fact about yourself.
I’m obsessed with the Voyager space probes, which are currently cruising through the liminal zone at the edge of the solar system on their way to interstellar space.
What do you love about being an ALAO member?
ALAO is just the right size—not so large as to be cold and intimidating but not so small that you feel like you’re in an echo chamber. I enjoy getting the perspectives of colleagues across Ohio who are perhaps dealing with similar issues as my own and staying up-to-date on their projects and accomplishments.
-Katy Mathuews, Membership Chair, Ohio University