Next in our series of interviews with Digital Library Program staff. Today, Noah Skogerboe, Media Collections and Preservation Librarian, answers questions about his work.
What does the Media Collections and Preservation Librarian do?
Part of my job is to be a member of the team operating the Jones Media Center, helping to circulate our media collections and audiovisual equipment and assist patrons with their media projects. It is also my responsibility to handle media preservation and conversion projects for patrons and also across library units, so if you have media collections that need preservation attention or enhanced access, you may find yourself working with me.
How did you get here? That is, what was your path to being the Media Collections and Preservation Librarian at the Dartmouth College Library?
Long before figuring out that I wanted to be a librarian, I was playing in bands and dabbling with recording, often choosing outmoded analog formats for projects. I moved back and forth between studies in history and technical training in audio engineering, working as a live mix engineer (sound person) in a theater. I decided that pursing audio visual archiving via library school would be a good way to bring my proclivities together. I did some work for Minnesota Public Radio digitizing analog tape reels and worked for years for the Minnesota Historical Society on mass digitization projects and preservation and access projects mostly involving newspaper collections. I feel very fortunate to have landed here working with the kinds of collections and projects that I love best.
What’s a notable (interesting, challenging, unusual) project that you’ve worked on recently (here or at a previous position)? Or, what are you looking forward to working on in your position at Dartmouth?
I recently took in some analog magnetic tape reels of field recordings made circa 1970 in Sierra Leone of rural folk musicians. The recordings come from an area subsequently devastated by civil war so it is a real treat to be able to hear them and work to preserve them and perhaps help to make them accessible for future research. Included are some recordings of children singing that are particularly beautiful.
What do you wish that more people knew about digital libraries?
How to access them! The tremendous benefit of our digital collections is their accessibility: that they can be searched and discovered remotely. We ought to strive to expose our digital collections!
Who are you when you’re not being the Media Collections and Preservation Librarian?
I’m probably exploring the Upper Valley countryside with my family (more like dragging them along) or maybe tinkering on a music project. I have many hobbies but little expertise.
What new tools are coming in the world of digital libraries? How are we preparing for changes in the field? (question from Kevin)
One thing I’m excited about is speech-to-text technology that can provide the full text searching benefits that we have come to rely upon for print formats (via optical character recognition) for audio formats such as oral histories. I think we need to continue our efforts to digitize and expose our hidden collections especially as researchers turn to new methods of mining and extracting data.
What question would you like another member of the Digital Library Program staff to answer?
What do you see as most valuable metadata strategy or philosophy for enhancing access to our digital collections?