Jasmine Clark was the Resident Librarian at the Temple University Libraries from August 2017 – August 2019. She is currently the Digital Scholarship Librarian at Temple University.
Tell me a little bit about your background. Where did you attend college? What degrees do you have? What programs (undergraduate or graduate) prepared you for your current position? Tell me about your position and what you do?
I actually attended Temple University for my undergraduate degrees (Art History, African American Studies double major) and worked in the library’s digitization department as a student worker. I completed my MLIS at Drexel University. I’ve always worked in special collections/archives/academic libraries, but really began to settle into digital during my MLIS. Drexel’s MLIS program is housed within its College of Computing and Informatics, so I took classes in systems management, database administration, and web design, all while working in paraprofessional positions in digital archives, data repositories, metadata, and other more digitally focused work.
During my residency, I chose three rotations in library administration, digital scholarship, and metadata and digitizations services. This resulted in me critically analyzing the administrative and workflow practices of digital scholarship, the newest of the three departments and functional areas more generally. I was permanently hired as the Digital Scholarship Librarian at the beginning of the third year of my residency. Within this capacity, I work within Temple University’s Loretta C. Duckworth Scholars Studio to help faculty figure out ways to integrate digital tools into their research and teaching. I also do research into the preservation, metadata, and accessibility (for disability) of the tools used in my department and do work to explore ways to integrate accessibility and diversity into the way digital scholarship spaces are managed.
What caught your interest about the residency that you were a part of?
Honestly, I had no idea what a resident was, a friend passed the position along to me and said they thought it’d be perfect for me. I’d been working as a paraprofessional in a number of different functional areas (communications and development, electronic resources and acquisitions, special collections, archives, reference, digitization, whatever would pay the bills) for seven years and wanted a way to solidify and unify my varied work experiences. I didn’t really know what I was getting into, but wanted a chance to work a singular job that would put professional experience on my CV.
Before you became a resident, what were you thinking about doing professionally or academically?
I was looking at digital archivist and database administrator positions. I’d seen other positions in different states, but many of the digital archivist positions didn’t have salaries high enough for me to feel comfortable applying and relocating. I did interview for a database administrator position, but felt Temple was a better fit.
How was the residency or job application process for you?
It was pretty smooth. It was my first time going through a full-day interview process. It was also my first time having to do a full presentation as part of the interview process. It helped that I was returning to a place I was pretty familiar with.
Do you have any comments or advice for current residents?
Try to situate challenges within the context of the institution. It can be easy to personalize challenges, but it’s important to tie the critique of problems into an analysis of larger institutional limitations. For example, institutions with limited staff and funding can often result in gaps in enforcement of policies. These gaps often disproportionately harm marginalized people. My rotations gave me enhanced insight into this. The ability to change departments allowed me to see that oftentimes, problems in one department were often similarly felt in another. It is important not to internalize these issues and to, instead, use them to determine the root of the dysfunction and decide how you will engage with that institution going forward. Otherwise, it can be easy to burn out. I highly recommend that residents, even those without rotations, try to gain broader institutional perspective.
How are you becoming or staying in involved with the wider profession?
I am currently the chair/co-chair of two Digital Library Federation groups (the DLF Committee for Equity and Inclusion and the DLF Digital Accessibility Working Group). I also attend and present at conferences, read publications relevant to my field, and follow other amazing information professionals on Twitter.