League libraries expand digital management program to make learning more accessible

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Syracuse University Libraries’ Digital Library program expanded this summer with the creation of the new Department of Digital Management.

The department focuses on the technical aspects of digital scholarship and strives to use digital tools to make knowledge and learning more accessible on campus.

The digital stewardship program hopes to provide an organizational focus for the technical support needed to focus on its twin area of ​​digital scholarships, said D.éirdre Joyce, program manager.

The departments of digital stewardship and digital scholarship function as twin pillars, Joyce said, and both report to the digital library program, with digital stewardship managing the tools that underpin the curation of scholarly content. digital.

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So far, the department has hired Suzanne Preate, a digital initiatives librarian who manages digital production and collection development, and Sarah Pohley, a library technician for digitization who works with the technology used to create documents. digital. According to a League press release from August.

“We’re really focused on the awareness side of things and understanding how people use digital tools to create different ways of knowing and learning, and not just understanding that, but facilitating that.” Joyce said.

Technicians create “digital objects”: the products of visuals, audio and descriptions used to bring a physical object to the screen. The team then compiles these digital objects to create digital collections. The department is dedicated to the management, accessibility and production of these objects.

The department uses a digital imaging lab in the basement of Bird Library, as well as an audio lab in the Belfer Audio Archives next door, to produce digitized content. Once the metadata or descriptions are added, the content will be ready to be shared online. Part of that curation is to think of digital objects as physical objects, Joyce said.

Digital objects in the process of creation, if we don’t think about their physicality … we can take them for granted

Deirdre Joyce, League Digital Library Program Manager

“We also preserve these digital documents so that there is permanent access to them over time. Because the digital objects that are created, if we don’t think about their physicality, if we don’t think that they actually have a presence, we can take them for granted, ”Joyce said.

By creating digital content, the department is dedicated not only to creating a new information system generally available on campus, but also to ensuring its physical and educational accessibility for all students and faculty, including those with disabilities. visual, hearing and cognitive impairments.

“With our (audio-visual) materials and optical character recognition on objects, we make sure that, where possible, the documents we create are fully accessible for those who need screen readers and ( optical character recognition), ”Joyce said.

The scanned documents will be hosted online by a platform called Cortex, said Scott Warren, associate dean for research excellence.

“(The platform) isn’t public yet, but the infrastructure to hold the digital assets is a huge, huge decision. It’s not something you choose very often – it can be a once in a decade decision, ”Warren said. “After about a year of investigating this, we are restarting the migration and have a lot of content.”

As research and scholarship is increasingly based on the digital world, researchers and curators of collections have strived to meet a new standard of accessibility. During the pandemic, the demand for the availability and comprehensibility of online resources became inevitable, said Petrina Jackson, director of the Special Collections Research Center.

“It’s not like we’re entering a digital age, we’re in it. (With) COVID, we’re all in on this too. (Digitization) is not a niche thing. It’s essential to educating people, and our humanities collectibles are our data, ”Jackson said. “Gone are the days when it was optional. It is a legitimate and growing part of the business, and we must treat it as such.

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