Library and Information Science Program Brings Digitization to the Community

Students in the Library and Information Science (LIS) program at the University of Denver Morgridge College of Education are bringing digitization to the community. With the guidance of Assistant Professor of Library and Information Science, Dr. Krystyna Matusiak, students engage in experiential learning opportunities that utilize cutting edge technology in the classroom and connect classroom projects to the community. Digitization is the process of creating digital representations of information resources (e.g. photographs and documents), extending access, and preserving fragile materials. Dr. Matusiak says, “it is not enough to simply learn digitization for the sake of learning.” Rather she impresses upon her students the importance of using their digital skills in a practical context.

A key aspect of Dr. Matusiak’s instruction is developing community partnerships. She empowers students to initiate projects with community organizations in order to share unheard stories, resurrect fading communal stories, aid older generations and volunteers in the digitization process, and to give back for the public good. The LIS program is at the forefront of contributing expertise to the local community with regard to practices and standards in digitization, and is gaining a reputation for their commitment to the community. Often, organizations reach out to the LIS program and Dr. Matusiak for student support. A few recent projects from LIS students include, a digital collection of artifacts from Laura Hershey for the Western History and Genealogy department of the Denver Public Library, a gathering of community stories and converted technology for the Jefferson County Public Library known as JeffCo Stories,  a digital assembly for the Rocky Mountain Philatelic Library, and a the digital exhibit Building the First Transcontinental Railroad for the Digital Public Library of America (DPLA).

The Laura Hershey Digital Collection consists of photographs, articles, conference materials and poetry from the late, Laura Hershey. Current and former LIS students, Allison Bailey, Alicia Cartwright, Maggy Hade, Caitlin Hunter, Jen LaBarbera, Kristin Rowley, Gina Schlesselman-Tarango, Monica Washenberger and Hana Zittel, contributed to the project with the goal of extending access to the collection. They state “The disability rights community is dispersed globally, and digitization of the collection will likely be the only way that many will be able to experience previously-unavailable pieces of Hershey’s life and work.” Another important aspect of the project was to ensure the preservation of the Hershey collection. The digital collection is now housed and preserved by the Denver Public Library.

This May, The (DPLA) introduced a new exhibit, Building the First Transcontinental Railroad. The exhibition, created by Dr. Matusiak’s students, Jenifer Fisher, Benjamin Hall, Nick Iwanicki, Cheyenne Jansdatter, Sarah McDonnell, Timothy Morris, and Allan Van Hoye, looks at the creation of the Transcontinental Railroad, from inception to its finale, the laying of the last golden spike at Promontory Summit in Utah, May 10, 1969. There are five themes in the exhibit, History, Human Impact, Changing the Landscape, A Nation Divided, and A Nation Transformed.

Dr. Matusiak’s classes continue to lead the way in digitization and provide historical insights to local and national communities.

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