DLIS Student Reflects on Recent Unique Opportunity

DLIS Student Tess Colwell

The METRO Innovative Internship program is meant to provide an opportunity for graduate students and recent graduates to obtain funding for otherwise unpaid internships at New York City libraries, archives and museums. The initiative began in the fall of 2013 to encourage innovation within METRO member institutions. One of the two recipients of the award this fall included St. John’s DLIS student, Tess Colwell. Colwell worked on a digital imaging project for the Center of Jewish History.

Colwell’s project, Capturing and Making Accessible User-Generated Digital Images of Special Collections Materials, was a multi-stage effort to introduce a new material sharing system between patrons and the Center to facilitate greater access to information. The project involves allowing researchers to borrow a Center-owned camera to photograph archival materials needed for his or her research. These photographs would then be stored on a cloud-based system such that both the Center staff and other patrons could access the files.

Colwell created multiple guides, workflows and templates for both patrons and staff to handle camera equipment, photographs and legal documentation to implement this project. As a result of her efforts, “the project provides researches with ready, electronic access to research materials, and allows the Center to share digital images of its materials with other researchers. The project also gives patrons the opportunity to contribute to the Center’s digitization of materials.” Colwell’s system, currently in use, has drawn great success and positive response.

The METRO Innovative Internship was indeed a unique experience for Colwell. The project, heavily reliant on user-submitted images, is a relatively new practice. As such, the project was like an experiment, Colwell says, with little to no similar work in the field to study in comparison. She further comments, “We had a goal in mind and I had to try to create a workflow and system that achieved that. It was really exciting to see patrons utilizing the system I created and the library benefiting from that.”

Click here to read Colwell’s full report submitted to METRO and find out more about the Innovative Internship Program.

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