I'm thrilled and honoured to be the Smithsonian Libraries
' inaugural Research Associate, announced officially
on January 7 this year.
What's a Research Associate? Often reserved
for associations with the institution where a continuing relationship was desirable after academic qualifications were met, say around the study of a particular species - Research Associates maintain a consultative relationship with Smithsonian staff until the association ends.
Without being too declarative since we're still thinking through what we'd like to do together, we're generally hoping to work together to research the institution's bibliographic holdings, looking towards data exchange and general information sharing.
There's great potential for the Open Library
project to support and facilitate these endeavours too, which is particularly heartening. The opportunity for me to meet and collaborate with so many librarians and subject matter experts is sort of mind-boggling, so it's a good thing I'll have a few years to get around!
There are 20 libraries under the general banner, holding over 1.5 million volumes, thousands of journals, 40,000 rare books and more. (The History of Smithsonian Libraries
is an interesting read. That's where these numbers come from.) The technological landscape the Libraries find themselves in is closely bound to the work being done on "Smithsonian 2.0
", which I've also been involved in, as a speaker at various events, and contributor to discussions. The challenge of each museum or library within the Smithsonian being able to exchange information internally is a great first step to better exposing their impressive holdings to the wider world.
I'd just like to say a big thank you to Martin Kalfatovic, Assistant Director, Digital Services Division of SI Libraries, for considering me for this appointment, and to Nancy Gwinn, Director of SI Libraries, for trusting him.
By the way, this appointment does not affect my employment at the Internet Archive
. If anything, it will open new doors for collaboration, publication, and potential grant-making opportunities.