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LL Chat: Cassandra Stokes November 13, 2008

Posted by cynhudson in Fun Stuff, Library Stuff, Local Librarians.

Recently, I sat down to talk with Cassandra Stokes, the Digital Projects Librarian at Washington University in St. Louis, to learn what digital projects the office is currently working on and what she does in a days’ time.

What is a typical day like for you?

Urban Books website created by Digital Library Services at Washington University

Urban Books website created by Digital Library Services at Washington University

My days are really varied and my focus shifts every couple of months from one area to another. There are always emails to answer, library related events to attend, and committee and collection work. Other than developing digital projects I serve on a number of library committees, mostly related to usability and increased access to electronic resources. One I’m currently working on is the Next Generation Catalog Overlay Committee in which we have been reviewing products such as Aquabrowser, Primo, and Endeca. We will be implementing one of these products shortly.

In my position I also have the opportunity to attend many non-library related conferences, such as Digital Humanities, TEI Members’ Meeting, and the Chicago Colloquium on Digital Humanities and Computer Science. I found the Digital Humanities conference to be especially good because it brings together librarians, faculty, and students involved in Humanities Computing projects.

What digital projects are you working on?

We have many projects under development, but one that I’ve been spending a lot of time on lately is the Urban Books project. We partnered with a faculty member at the Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts who teaches a course on Urban Books. They had previously received a grant to develop an artists’ books collection and we’ve been helping them create a digital version of the original books along with artist supplied tags or keywords. The digital collection includes graphic novels for the students to use in their study as well as student created books that are a final project of the course. The collection currently includes 187 items and growing.

What do you find to be the most interesting part of your job?

I like that the digital library field and consequently, my job is fluid. There’s so much to learn which can be daunting at times but very exciting. Though no digital collection is ever complete, because there are always improvements that can be made, we regularly work with the university and library community to develop new projects and promote standards.

What types of skills do you find necessary to work in your field?

It’s helpful if you are technically inclined, and since you are working with technology you must also be open to making mistakes. Instead of getting frustrated when things don’t work out the first time, be sure to learn from the experience and use it to your advantage by applying those lessons learned to future projects. The digital library field is still in its infancy, so there’s always some new and exciting technology that is being developed by the larger community that you in turn must be aware of to stay current.



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