Kelli Babcock

Welcome to The Library IT Crowd – a new column brought to you by the Ontario Library and Information Technology Association (OLITA). We want to showcase some of the great librarians and library workers who are currently working with technology, get to know them, and share their experiences! We hope we are able to inspire you, and shed some light onto what goes on behind the scenes with library tech workers!

Kelli Babcock

Kellie Babcock

Your name:  Kelli Babcock
Your title: Digital Initiatives Librarian
Where do you work: University of Toronto Libraries

Tell me a little bit about your role. What do you do at your library?

I work with the U of T Libraries Information Technology Services (UTL ITS) team to collaborate with archivists, librarians, and faculty in building digital collections and projects. On a day-to-day basis this means a lot of project planning and coordination as well as policy development, technical support, and instruction opportunities. Our team uses JIRA/Confluence integrated with Slack for project planning and communication. Most of the projects that we work on are built with Islandora/Drupal, but the department as a whole supports many platforms (DSpace, Omeka, Avalon, as well as running library websites and the catalog).

Is what you are currently doing different from what you initially envisioned when you applied for this job? If so, how?

It is different. Prior to joining UTL ITS in late 2013 I worked in a digital scholarship unit with three other librarians and very little developer or network services support. That environment provided great opportunities to research and try to resolve technical issues on my own. In my current role, I’m part of a large team with many information technology experts. My job is more focused on project management now but I’ve gained more technical expertise just by working on projects with my coworkers. They have introduced me to new ways of thinking about managing, implementing, and maintaining digital projects.

What projects over the past year are you most proud of?

One of the projects that I am most proud to be a part of is a university-wide initiative called Discover Archives. Back in 2014, the U of T Archives identified a need for an integrated system for archival descriptions. Other archives departments across U of T (and there are many!) had a similar need. UTL ITS and a group of archivists partnered to look at potential solutions. We eventually identified AtoM as the platform that met the group’s requirements.

A steering committee was formed to guide the implementation of AtoM and continues to meet monthly to work on policies and procedures for future development. The steering committee model was proposed by the archivists and it has been very successful. It is something I would like to try out with future digital initiatives.

Have you had a project that has failed miserably in the past year? If so, tell us about it!

There are bumps and learning experiences in any digital project. Here’s an Open Shelf article about some lessons learned that our team encountered while working with Islandora to support digital projects.

How do you keep up with library technology changes and trends?

This question made me laugh a bit because I’m currently on maternity leave until May 2017. Before my daughter was born I had planned on catching up on the acrldigitalhumanitiesig@ala.org listserv, taking a few Drupalize.me Drupal 8 courses, keeping on top of conference presentations, and finally finishing some personal projects I’ve been working on in Omeka. None of that has happened! If any parents working in library technology – or tech in general – have some tips for staying up to date, please let me know 🙂

Sarah Macintyre has been working in libraries for over 5 years, and has been at St. Thomas Public Library for half that time. In her position, Systems and Support Services Librarian, she has overseen many new digital initiatives, including the launch of the Creators’ Community services. She can be reached at smacintyre [at] stthomaspubliclibrary.ca.