The Library Technology Innovation Profile Series spotlights academic librarians who promote technological innovation in their community

IGI Global Profiles Aaron Collie, Digital Curation Librarian at Michigan State University

By IGI Global on Mar 7, 2016
In effort to support the advancement of library technologies and services, IGI Global has implemented the Librarian Profile Series as part of our Library Technology Innovation Program. This series features the profiles of today's leaders and specialists in knowledge management advancement and technologies. For our next several profiles, we are spotlighting some of the tech specialists at Michigan State University. Our first innovator is Digital Curation Librarian Aaron Collie.

IGI Global Profiles Aaron Collie, Digital Curation Librarian At Michigan State UniversityMichigan State University's Digital Curation Librarian Aaron CollieName: Aaron Collie
Position: Digital Curation Librarian
Library: Michigan State University

How do you consider yourself a technological innovator?

To me innovation is sort a rudimentary skill that we need to practice in our daily work. It’s not something that comes in one grand idea or new software — it is a byproduct of a good working environment where people and ideas are highly valued. In that sense, I work with people that I feel are using an innovative process every day. I like the Deming paraphrase: “Don’t just do the same thing better — find better things to do.”

What programs are you currently involved in?

I lead the development of our FOSS (free and open source) digital repository. It is an Islandora repository built with Drupal, Solr, and Fedora Commons. Recently we have begun to transition to Scrum based development, as we found that our past development practices already aligned closely with the Agile mindset. So we are trying out the Scrum framework. I am also a consultant for our Research Data Management Guidance team.

What areas of technological innovation do you consider the most exciting?

I’m really excited about improvements to OCR. We use it in our daily work and sometimes I think we forget that it is a bleeding-edge technology. It is an unsolved problem still taught in Computer Science classes. It’s not an area that I’m an expert in, but I’m very intrigued by the K-Nearest Neighbor technique and using Image Patterns for more accurate results in a kind of “optical word recognition” method. We were recently experimenting with automated transcription of audio files where the output of the transcription is always full-words rather than garbled characters. I asked: Is this better for accessibility and remediation of bad OCR? I don’t know the answer yet.

What technology-related projects do you see librarians implementing in the future?

I think for a while we’ve been playing catch-up from the “put your catalog online” days (OPAC). We’ve spent a lot of time reproducing traditional library services (copy-cataloging, harvesting metadata, online digital collections). I see a future where we’ve moved beyond supporting existing services and optimizing existing workflows in that future it’s our technology leaders who are shaping the course of libraries. I think by turning our attention to big problems like the digital divide, providing information to users, opening access to information, providing equal access to all of our patrons — in those problems is where we will start seeing innovation at an organizational and professional level.

What advice would you share with a librarian looking to become a leader in supporting technology advancements?

Collaboration. Take a reflective look at your individual work, and your team work. Which produced the greatest outcomes? Which was most fulfilling? Advocate for ways to award and support team-work in your library. It’s always good to learn new technology, but I think being a leader is more about the people and the environment. How can you empower people?

About Aaron Collie: Aaron is part of the Michigan State University Libraries Digital Curation Unit, which operates as a hub-and-spokes service that collaboratively supports a number of digital library projects and programs, including digital repository, digital scholarship, media preservation, and research data management.

Calling all innovators! Click here to participate in IGI Global's Library Technology Innovation Survey and share how your library strives to meet technology demands.

Related Newsroom Posts:
What Role do Librarians Play in Support of Technological Innovation?
IGI Global Profiles Michigan University Library Programmer Devin Higgins
IGI Global Profiles Raymond Pun Of California State University, Fresno
IGI Global Profiles Ms. Lia Hemphill, Director of Collection Development at Nova Southeastern University
IGI Global Profiles McGill University Research Commons Director, Sara Holder
IGI Global Profiles Technology Librarian Cindy Hart of Tidewater Community College
Browse for more posts in:
Knowledge ManagementLibrary and Information ScienceDigital LibrariesKnowledge DiscoveryKnowledge SocietyLibrary Information SystemsBooks & E-BooksEvents & CollaborationsInterviewLibrary Technology Innovation SeriesNorth AmericaAuthor NewsResources for InstructorsResources for LibrariansResources for Researchers

No comments Comments

Log in or sign up to comment.
Be the first to comment!