Tuesday, June 11, 2013

AALCI Fellows meet with UTSA Librarians

Juli McLoone works with Fellows on digital collection
Research services librarian Tara Schmidt and special collections librarian Juli McLoone, both at UTSA, are two of our key and familiar contributors to the African American Literatures and Cultures Institute. They led library presentations for our Fellows in 2010, 2011, and 2012. They continued with the practice today by discussing the UTSA Libraries in general and also providing our group with information about digital collections.    

In particular, McLoone discussed what university archives must take into consideration concerning what level of access to grant the public for special collections and how to decide what materials hold "enduring value." Not all artifacts from personal collections hold equal worth, right? McLoone and Schmidt prompted us on thinking about those issues.

Tara Schmidt discusses library resources with students
I am now especially intrigued based on an exercise McLoone led where she asked the Fellows to name documents that they had produced over the last 48 hours. Folks named about 17 items, including facebook posts, text messages, grocery lists, and drafts of personal statements. The group was then asked to identify documents that had been produced about them by others, and students mentioned transcripts, recommendations, and medical records.

The first list was longer and easier to create than the second one. Given the recent coverage about the expanded and questionable capabilities of the U.S. intelligence community collecting "big data" and metadata on citizens and perceived threats around the globe, however, I might want to put more thought and consideration into the documents that are produced about people, and what that means.

Today's presentation has me thinking a little more too about my activities as a literary historian of contemporary writers, where I am constantly tracking and then producing documents about my subjects. New media and technologies have certainly expanded the possibilities for following the digital footprints of authors.      

AALCI 2013


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