Scholarship Winner Gives Insight on Evolving Technology in Libraries

kicklighteralaphoto Jaimie L. Kicklighter is the recipient of the 2016 Peter Lyman Memorial/SAGE Scholarship in New Media. Currently, Kicklighter works as a library technical specialist at Auburn University Special Collections & Archives. After earning her MLS, Kicklight wants to work with special collections utilizing technology to present materials in new ways to virtual users. Kicklighter states her appreciation for the well-earned reward, “my deepest thanks to you and to all of the people at SAGE who have made this scholarship possible.” We followed up with Jaimie with the questions below in order to get more insight on her career, how she got there, and her path forward in new media.

1)    What are some of your key tasks as a library technical specialist?

My primary duties as a library technical specialist include processing university and manuscript archival collections, assisting patrons and students with research, and building digital collections.

2)   You decided on a career in librarianship when, as an archival intern, you   came across W.E.B. DuBois’ dental x-rays. What was it about this resource that helped you make your decision?

When we discovered W. E. B. DuBois’ dental x-rays, I saw the ingenuity and creative thinking required to make unique resources available to the public as we determined how best to digitize and preserve these items. I also experienced the excitement of discovering new resources that librarians are fortunate enough to encounter every day in their work. These factors ultimately led to my decision to pursue a career in librarianship.

3)      Has your History degree impacted your work in a university library or    studies as a MLS student? If so, in what ways?

My history degree has led directly to my current work in the archives department of a university library where I am able to care for historic items of enduring value and make them available to patrons. The skills I learned as a history student help me research and describe the historic items in our collections. As an MLS student, my history background led directly to my interest in special collections studies and in the possibilities for utilizing new technologies to make unique resources available to the public.

4)    We read that after achieving your MLS, you’d like to work with special collections using new technologies to present material to users. What does this look like to you and how do you think it will benefit users?

New technology is so exciting to me because it is evolving quickly, so it is difficult to pinpoint exactly how I will use it in my work in the future. However, I anticipate finding and utilizing new tools for digitization and preservation of special collections materials. I also hope to create dynamic digital exhibits that include surrogate resources as well as audio, video, and interactive material. New technologies might also allow for increased communication with and among virtual users. In these ways, I imagine that new technologies will benefit users through increased discovery of and interaction with resources as well as the ability to share, use, and initiate discussion on the resources they find.

5)      What advice would you give to librarians looking to gain digital skills?

For librarians hoping to gain digital skills, I would suggest taking advantage of the many learning opportunities available whether it be a formal course, a one day webinar, or a conference session. I would also encourage them to reach out to colleagues and visit other institutions to learn about tools with which they might not be familiar and to observe how they work in practice. I think it is important that librarians not be intimidated by new technology and instead have fun experimenting with the many tools out there and imagining the possibilities for how these tools might benefit their institution.

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