Emory Report
April 27, 2009
Volume 61, Number 29


Emory Report homepage  

April 27
, 2009
Libraries’ digital scholarship vision draws global attention

By Lea McLees

Naomi Nelson and Erika Farr of the Emory Libraries are carving a unique and historic niche in digital scholarship history for the University. The two were invited presenters at the British Library’s “First Digital Lives Research Conference: Personal Digital Archives for the 21st Century” conference in London earlier this year.

Nelson, interim director of the Manuscript, Archives, and Rare Book Library (MARBL), shared Emory Libraries’ vision for collecting, preserving and providing access to born-digital records — materials initially created using a computer instead of typing, writing or drawing on paper or other materials. Farr, the Libraries’ director of born-digital initiatives, spoke of practical experiences with digital archives.

“I described the progress we’ve made with the digital portions of Salman Rushdie’s archive, as well as our plans for future work with these records,” Farr says.

Emory Libraries’ digital archives work and planning is attracting global attention to Emory, Nelson says.
“Other libraries are very interested in what Emory is doing — both because the Rushdie files are the most complete high profile set of eManuscripts currently in a repository, and because they think our vision for the program is very exciting,” Nelson says.

Among the digital scholarship challenges Nelson, Farr and their Emory Libraries colleagues are tackling are the scope of digital records that an archive includes — and capturing the born-digital records that researchers create as they use Emory’s archives.

“Libraries must consider how they will preserve those new records, and how they will make them available for others,” Nelson notes.

Several staff members at the Emory Libraries are meeting individually with authors whose archives are housed at Emory to share plans for the new MARBL building, a Campaign Emory priority, says Emory Libraries Vice Provost and Director Rick Luce.

“We’re finding that authors are excited of being part of a university that plans to offer space and equipment for digital scholarship, and has staff members such as Naomi and Erika who are growing our expertise in that area,” Luce says. “They want to be part of Emory’s work in this area.”