The University has taken a step toward organized digitization of its collections with the creation of a new Provost’s Office position.
Meg Bellinger, the associate university librarian for integrated access and technical services, has been named the first director of the Office of Digital Assets and Infrastructure, Provost Andrew Hamilton has announced. In this position, she will coordinate the digitization of resources across the University that have until now been largely decentralized.
Bellinger’s primary goals for her new post, which falls under the purview of the Provost’s Office, include preserving digital content that could in time become obsolete, creating a digital collection of Yale’s resources that might eventually be open to not only Yale community members but also the general public, and building an infrastructure for the development of new digital content, she said.
“I’m really excited about working across domains of practice because traditionally archivists, librarians and curators get to work very much in separate domains,” Bellinger said. “Our training is separate, our approach to information is separate, but the digital technologies have also created a convergence for us.”
In her new role, Bellinger said she will appoint, among other positions, a digital-information architect to coordinate how digital content from various sources across campus will come together and a director of usability and assessment to analyze the life-cycle management of acquired digital material and ensure it is “usable” for the intended audience.
The office was primarily born out of discussions with the Provost’s Committee on Digital Landscape, headed by Deputy Provost for the Arts Barbara Shailor, and the Digital Dissemination Task Force, headed by Vice President and University Secretary Linda Lorimer, Bellinger said. In her new role, Bellinger will work with an advisory committee including the Yale College Dean Peter Salovey, who will replace Hamilton as Provost in October, and the heads of organizations that deal with media and other content, including University Librarian Alice Prochaska and the director of the Yale Center for British Art, Amy Meyers. The committee will also feature two or more faculty members.
“The Provost’s Office is such an important administrative unit, and the placement of this initiative in that office signifies how seriously the University takes this program for the whole of Yale’s collections,” said Meyers, a member of the Committee on Digital Landscape.
Prochaska hired Bellinger five years ago. Before coming to Yale, Bellinger was vice president for digital and preservation resources at the Online Computer Library Center, a nonprofit online resource used by libraries to find, catalog and record materials. She was also on the board of the United Kingdom Digital Preservation Coalition and on the Strata Supervisory Board, a collaboration between OCLC and the Royal Library of the Netherlands.
“Bellinger’s years of experience in preservation and digitization will serve her well,” Bob Murphy, communications manager at OCLC, wrote in an e-mail.
Bellinger noted that she has primarily worked on the publishing and preservation of content throughout her career.
“All of that converges because I think what we are creating is infrastructure that is not just for an archive that will be little used, but it’s actually going to be a very active collective collection that will enable teaching, research, publications dissemination and reuse over time,” she said.
Yale has lagged compared to other universities in digitizing their resources in the past, Prochaska said. Library Communications Coordinator Geoffrey Little said digitization efforts in the library and other collections such as the Yale University Art Gallery and Peabody Museum have not been coordinated. Before the creation of Bellinger’s new office, Yale did not have a mechanism for preserving and accessing much of the material that they digitized, Bellinger said.
“We’re a little bit behind in digitization, but the establishment of this office is definitely ahead of the curve,” she said. “We’re one of the first universities that has had a central provost support for developing digital infrastructure, and I have been getting notes from colleagues across the country congratulating us.”
Bellinger said she believes other institutions will copy the model of the new office over time.
Prochaska said she is going to wait to see what Bellinger does in her position and what appointments are made in the office before advertising for a replacement in the library.