As the digital humanities continue to expand and affirm digitally enabled forms of research, publication, and pedagogy, less orthodox scholarly pursuits—scholarship that is more than text and papers, including interactive, immersive, and multimodal formats—are finding increased legitimacy within the academy. With this in mind, how is the role of the media librarian and/or preservationist shifting, and what might these positions look like in the future?
For instance, Scott Spicer, Media Outreach and Learning Spaces Librarian at the University of Minnesota’s Twin City Campus, describes his responsibilities as a threefold system of support for audiovisual resources, media literacy, and perhaps less conventionally, media production.
"I was brought in primarily as a learning technologist. It’s a different approach than some other types of traditional media librarianship. Ostensibly, my responsibility is to help faculty integrate media into their classes, whether it is through audio, images, or video, or student produced media projects. [...] When I do a class visit, generally it’s in relation to student produced media. [...] And the really great thing is, [media production] is happening across disciplines. This is why I think we’re on the cusp of something important here. [...] These departments are not traditional media production departments, and what the faculty are telling me is that these students need to understand the role of video in their respective fields. Because it’s important that, when they graduate and go out into the workforce, they understand how to communicate in these new formats, [that] they know how to research in these new formats. And that’s kind of what the media librarian is evolving into today. And I represent both this new, emerging librarian, as well as of the more traditional media librarian who is preservation-, cataloging- and collection-oriented (which is, of course, a very, very dynamic expertise)."
Carleton Jackson, the Reference and Collection Management Librarian of Nonprint Media Services at the University of Maryland, suggests that librarians need to be familiar with the facets of media production in the same way that they are with the content and subject matter of the items in their collections.
"Of course, the next realm I think I need training in—because more and more people are asking questions about it—is [hands-on filmmaking]. In the same way that to know whether a book is good, it doesn’t hurt to know how to write, to understand if a film is good, it doesn’t hurt to know how to make one. So, that’s my next realm of learning—how to [make a film] start to finish ... Matter of fact, I think everybody should learn how to make a film."
What should we do now to prepare the next generation of librarians?