With Library service expanding deeper into the realm of digital scholarship – the new Digital Media Lab, open-source publishing, Digital Thoreau, etc. — could a matching librarian be far behind? Of course not, and he has arrived in the person of Joe Easterly, who became Milne’s first Electronic Resources and Digital Scholarship Librarian on October 24.
Joe is here to act as the primary human resource for faculty and students working on (or hoping to begin) scholarly projects with a digital focus. It’s what he’s been doing, more or less, at the University of Buffalo for the last four years where he was a media specialist and coordinator of the Media Resource Center, serving as the Visual Resources librarian to the university’s visual arts faculty. The skills he’s acquired through his coursework (he earned his master’s degree in library science in 2007, with an emphasis in digital media information systems and retrieval) and professional experience will serve him – or, more accurately, the Geneseo campus community – very well.
Among the projects Joe has been involved in is UBdigit, the University of Buffalo’s digital library collection. He managed and directed the Visual Resources Collection portion of that resource, from scanning the images to creating the metadata, working closely with faculty and supervising a team of student assistants. Joe is used to collaborating with faculty, having conducted workshops, developed image digitization standards, facilitated licensing and consignment of digital images, and helped write grants. He also has experience digitizing images for exhibitions and scholarly publication, and he’s done digital preservation consulting for UB Galleries and museum curators in the Buffalo-Niagara region. He was a charter member of UB’s Digital Humanities Initiative. Safe to say, Joe knows his way around the digital scholarship landscape and is prepared to lead others through it.
One of the first projects Joe has joined here at Geneseo is the Digital Thoreau Project, headed by English professor Paul Schacht and other faculty from the English department and Milne Library. Digital Thoreau aims to bring the works of Henry David Thoreau – beginning with a TEI-encoded scholarly edition of Walden – to scholars, students and general readers around the world.
Joe’s ease and expertise with digital technology and his commitment to librarianship are built on a solid humanities foundation. He received a BA in linguistics, has studied French extensively and is currently pursuing a second master’s degree in social anthropology. He is also a classically trained pianist. Lately, he says, he’s “really into” wine and photography, and when the weather’s fine he likes to go sailing.
The folks at Milne are very glad that Joe decided to join the faculty, and the feeling is mutual, he says. “I was really impressed by how committed and talented the library faculty and staff are … it was a big motivation for me to join.” Aesthetics played a (small) part, too, in his decision to come to Geneseo. “I was expecting the dreary early-70s late modernist architecture you sometimes see at [SUNY] campuses,” he says. “I had no idea how beautiful the town is, or the campus, until I came to visit.” Joe is not the only one who is optimistic about his future here at Geneseo, and about the future of digital scholarship.