Digital Collections Units as Learning Labs
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As Digital Humanities and Digital Scholarship (DH/DS) become increasingly popular in many academic departments, digital collections can be used as teaching tools and/or the basis of projects for both undergraduate and graduate courses. SMU’s Norwick Center for Digital Services (nCDS) has created a variety of educational opportunities that are linked to curricular needs, including an MLS practicum, DH/DS practicum, digitization tours, lab demonstrations, and graduate seminars. We have a long-standing practicum program with the two local library schools. Over the past six years, we have trained 31 MLS students and graduates how to digitize special collections, create metadata, and upload items into CUL Digital Collections. Several of them are now employed as digital librarians throughout the area. More recently, we added a Digital Humanities Practicum that is helping SMU and local graduate students and professors with their DH/DS career development. nCDS staff teach the students digitization, metadata creation, and digital collections development using CUL Digital Collections. Over the past seven years, nCDS has provided guided tours of our digital photography studio and digitization/metadata lab that include background overviews on CUL Digital Collections and the digital library profession. Tours are given to a wide range of audiences, including potential donors, writers, community organizations, scholars, staff, and myriad people who are interested in the digitization of special collections. More recently, we have added an educational component, which incorporates lab demonstrations that match specific course needs. Our 30-minute nCDS Digital Services Tour, divided into three stations, gives students an overview of digital photography, digitization/metadata creation, and digital collections. We have also conducted a three-hour graduate seminar, where students were taught concepts relating to copyright, digital collections development, digital photography/digitization, metadata creation, digital preservation, and information architecture. The practicums, tours, demonstrations, and seminars are a team effort, involving all members of the nCDS staff. The most important result we are achieving is a much closer relationship with the campus and local community. We see great potential to increase such activities in the future.