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UMD iSchool Fellows to Help Solve Digital Curation Problems at NAL

October 17, 2014

Mary Carroll-Mason, 301-405-1260

College Park, MD -- A new and innovative fellowship program between the University of Maryland's College of Information Studies, Maryland's iSchool, and U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Agricultural Library is providing iSchool students with invaluable experience in the burgeoning digital curation field. This 2014 project features iSchool assistant professor Ricky Punzalan and first-ever fellows, master of library science (MLS) students Erin Antognoli and Christian James, working collaboratively to help NAL develop various strategies to solve the library’s digital curation concerns.

In 2013, the iSchool established the Fellowship in Digital Curation at the National Agricultural Library (NAL) to provide an opportunity for students to engage in research and practice towards developing and implementing policies, strategies, and work plans to solve real-world digital curation problems. Fellows are given hands on experience and work closely with NAL staff as well as iSchool faculty to design and implement digital curation projects. NAL provides extensive infrastructure, staff expertise, collections and programs. In this setting, fellows are given a unique opportunity to design and implement projects.

As a fellow, Antognoli has been creating policy for the library’s newly formed aerial imagery collection. By collaborating with different divisions within the NAL as well as image submitters outside of NAL, she has established a strategic plan that can be used in other visual collections and digitization projects.  “My experience working as a NAL Digital Curation Fellow has been incredible. The fellowship provides a longer, more in-depth experience than a traditional internship,” she said, “I feel like I will be much better prepared to enter the digital curation field when I graduate as a result of this fellowship.”

James has been developing a Historical Dietary Guidance Digital Collection. His work is focused on establishing guidelines for selection and acquisition of content for digitization. “At the National Agricultural Library I have applied many of the concepts and skills that I picked up in the MLS core curriculum and the digital curation specialization, including reference, accessibility, cataloging, policy writing and more,” he said, “I have been honored to help contribute to the development of the National Agricultural Library Digital Collections and enhance public access to these valuable resources.”

Digital Curation Fellows

Fellowship advisor, Dr. Ricky Punzalan has been thrilled with the success of the program so far. “The fellowship is an excellent way for the iSchool to collaborate with a national institution,” he said, “this project benefits not only the faculty and the partner institution, but more importantly, the students. I think the fellows appreciate the opportunity to do collaborative research and create strategies to solve real-world institutional challenges.”

With a unique partnership with NAL, the Fellowship in Digital Curation is a prime example of a fruitful collaborative partnership between a repository with extensive digital collections and an academic program with a focus in digital curation. The iSchool is excited to continue with this partnership and offer students and NAL staff the opportunity for mutually beneficial learning and growth.

About Maryland’s iSchool

The College of Information Studies, Maryland's iSchool, empowers people, organizations and society to use information effectively through its research and graduate and professional programs. Maryland's iSchool enables students and faculty to create new ways for people to connect with information that will transform society and is ideally located in the information capital of the world- the Washington DC metro region. The iSchool is transforming itself as well, from a small college with a strong foundation in library and information studies programs to a fast-growing and groundbreaking center of expertise that will help people manage the information explosion from childhood to adulthood.

For more information, visit www.ischool.umd.edu.