Firstly, I want to thank the folks at NPD Ireland for allowing me to share my story here. It’s always interesting to learn about and connect with information professionals and programs around the world.
As for me, I’m a nomadic American, with four years and an undergraduate degree from the University of St Andrews in Scotland and a semester abroad in Verona, Italy. Most recently, I completed my Master’s Degree in Library and Information Science with Book History and Print Culture at the University of Toronto (U of T) in 2012.
All this time spent abroad has not, however, cured me of my desire to live in new places and new cultures, and I hope to get back to Europe soon.
The U of T appealed to me because it has one of the few book history programs I found (in the world). My interest in book history stems from a lifelong fascination with both books and history. Best part about that program? In the Rare Books and Manuscripts class, we worked with manuscripts, incunabula, and other artifacts.
Learning about rare books and manuscripts, book history, and print culture alongside more current topics in the information professions led me to the intersection of both: digital preservation. Digital preservation, of born-digital, digitised, and physical objects, allows us to preserve our history and cultural heritage for future access and interpretation.
Since I graduated, I’ve walked the twisty career path with which many new professionals these days will be familiar: volunteering and working in libraries, working in non-information professions, and consulting on projects within the information professions.
Some of my most valuable experiences have come from volunteering. Currently, I volunteer as Archivist to the Washington, DC Chapter of the Special Libraries Association. As the Chair of the Archives Committee, I work with a few volunteer colleagues to build the foundations for collections management and digital preservation. So far, it has provided me with learning opportunities in digital preservation planning and archival collections management and assessment, as well as in team leadership, volunteer coordination, and collaboration. As we start to plan the Chapter’s upcoming 75th Anniversary, the committee will develop a digital exhibition to showcase some of our most treasured and historical artifacts.
While volunteering has so far given me the widest scope and opportunity for learning and growth, I learn more every day from information professionals of every stripe around the world. Digital preservation is a growing area of concern and innovation, and information professionals are leading the way in standards, best practices, strategies, and collaborative efforts. I’m so excited to be a part of the international information community making such efforts to preserve our cultural heritage.