Mikala Narlock

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    For the people: How we make online LAM collections more democratized
    (Journal of Electronic Resources Librarianship, 2024) Bertoldi, Hanna; Narlock, Mikala R.
    The article discusses how digitization in libraries, museums, and archives (LAM) can become more democratic. Digitization within LAM scholarship has been seen historically as a democratic act because it provides universal access to cultural heritage content, breaks down authoritative narratives, and enables participation from users. The article critiques the misconception that online collections democratize artifact information for public consumption and explores the ways in which LAM institutions fall short of living up to their democratic ideals when it comes to digital collections projects. Inspired by others with similar critiques, the authors discuss how LAM institutions can better fulfill the ideal of accessible and equitable access to their collections. The article emphasizes the importance of five areas of digital collections projects: system design, metadata practices, digitization selection and prioritization, labor, and user participation and engagement. The widespread misconception that digitization and digital collections are democratizing is a result of institutional biases that have masked undemocratic processes and systems which the authors strive to expose. “This is an original manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in the Journal of Electronic Resources Librarianship on April 5, 2024, available online: https://doi.org/10.1080/1941126X.2024.2306042.
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    Driving in the slow lane: Improving digital collections one quarter mile at a time
    (2023) Bertoldi, Hanna; Griesinger, Peggy; Narlock, Mikala R.
    Curators and metadata creators have immense power to shape collections: libraries, archives, and museums (LAM) invest significant resources in making accessible a wide variety of research materials by providing robust descriptions, developing and sustaining online repositories, and ensuring the long-term preservation of these materials. Recently, LAM institutions have begun to grapple with the biases in our systems and collections, with many institutions turning to increased efforts to make accessible materials that represent diverse and marginalized communities. Yet, when digital projects focus on the fallacy that more is better, and seek to digitize diverse collections under the guise of democratizing access, they fall short of achieving an equitable and inclusive sphere. Such work often uses the rhetoric of radical librarianship, but - consciously or unconsciously - sidesteps addressing the root of inequality in areas such as digitization, digital projects, metadata, and authority control.
    This presentation offers an alternative: slow down and make small improvements towards radical change. The presenters will discuss a number of practices to make this work more meaningful, including valuing maintenance work and workers, critically examining the use of linked data, changing how name authority records are created, and the use of dynamic digital collections. We will also discuss the Slow Movement in the context of both curation and cataloging, which prioritizes and values the time necessary to truly understand a collection, a dataset, and a collection as data. We will end with a call for reflection, not action, and encourage attendees to understand the boundaries they need to establish to protect the wellbeing of their communities and themselves. Presented at the ACRL / NY 2023 Symposium “Embracing Slow Librarianship." Dec. 1, 2023
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    Building the collections of tomorrow
    (2023) Knazook, Beth; Narlock, Mikala R.
    Position Statements for the international forum: Collections as Data: State of the field and future directions, a working event held April 25-26 in Vancouver, Canada. Cultural heritage curation and data curation are information specializations that are, and should be, increasingly intersecting, especially with the rapid growth of digital cultural heritage resources and tools created by ambitious digitization programs and the rise of complex, computation-driven research in the digital humanities and adjacent fields. Curators have immense power to shape collections – libraries, archives, and museums acquire, describe, interpret, digitize, preserve, and facilitate access to key government and business records, cultural heritage materials, and innumerable unique resources. Curation practice is moving beyond the FAIR6 principles into the CARE principles, which recognizes and empowers the humans and communities often at the center of data collection. This shared area of investment by curators, both of cultural heritage and research data, is a space in which we can support and learn from one another.
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    With great power comes great responsibility: Democratizing cultural heritage collections (or lack thereof)
    (ALA CORE Interest Groups, 2022-03-11) Bertoldi, Hanna; Griesinger, Peggy; Narlock, Mikala R.
    Libraries and museums are well-positioned to positively affect their users with the knowledge they produce, especially when publishing online collections. Through a process called “grooving,” the way knowledge is produced and how technology presents it affects the way we understand the world. Libraries and museums are in a position of power because of the trust the public gives them. GLAM institutions need to be aware that some collection items are more difficult to fit into these systems than others. These records with a “higher barrier of entry” require additional attention to make them more visible and findable in online collections beyond just the bare-minimum metadata. In this presentation, we will use the University of Notre Dame’s Marble (Museum, Archives, Rare Books, and Library Exploration platform) project as a case study to explore how linked open data can enhance discovery of GLAM collections, as well as some of the ethical concerns preventing access. As trusted cultural institutions, libraries and museums need to do better at involving local communities in the cataloging process and communicating the ambiguity, bias, nuance, and changeability of the metadata in their online catalogs to users. Catalogers need to be aware that the systems that we use can still prevent certain collections from being found, even if they are available online.
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    Liaison Librarianship in Shiny Packages: An Exploration of Product Ownership in Academic Libraries
    (International Information & Library Review, 2022) Narlock, Mikala; Robison, Mark
    This column investigates the emerging role of the product owner (PO) -- an individual tasked with ensuring that a specific service meets the needs of users -- in academic libraries. It explores the PO role at the intersections of functional specialization, public services, and technical services, as well as from critical perspectives on gendered labor in librarianship. By examining how our library used the PO model to address pressing problems with our library’s institutional repository (IR), we demonstrate the value that the PO approach can bring to improving library products, especially when the PO is appropriately positioned to advocate for user needs. We also interrogate the overlap in responsibilities between the PO and liaison librarian and argue that the role of the product owner is a rebranding of the liaison librarianship model in an effort to make the emotional and relationship labor more masculinized. By emphasizing traditionally masculine work such as technology and innovation, the PO model allows libraries to market these specialized liaison librarian roles in ways that are more prestigious and aligned with corporate culture, while also downplaying traditionally feminized library work, such as service. Note: this is a pre-print. As such, there may be errors in the text and/or citations.