Elliot Williams (he/him/his) joined Texas Digital Library staff as the coordinator of TDL’s new DPLA metadata aggregation service in October 2021. We are thrilled to introduce him to our members, partners, and friends. Read on to learn more about TDL’s newest staff member.
Where did you go to school?
I studied archaeology as an undergraduate at Willamette University in Salem, OR. Then I received an MA in history from the University of Miami and an MS in information studies from the University of Texas at Austin.
Where is your hometown?
These days, I consider Austin my hometown. But I grew up in Raton, in rural northeastern New Mexico.
What might someone be surprised to know about you?
Once, I dressed up as one of the aliens from Avatar as part of a chorus concert, for an audience of 300+ people.
How did you first get involved with the Digital Public Library of America?
At my last institution, I was part of establishing the Sunshine State Digital Network as the Florida hub for the Digital Public Library of America. I helped share my own library’s digital collections with DPLA, and worked with staff at other libraries to contribute their collections. I really fell in love with DPLA as a way to increase access to the amazing resources that libraries hold, and also as a way to build community around digital collections.
What has surprised you most about working with Texas Digital Library?
It’s not really a surprise, but I’ve just been blown away by how friendly everyone in the TDL community is! From my TDL coworkers, to folks I’ve met in user group meetings, to people I’ve only met over email so far – everyone has been so welcoming, and has immediately made me feel like I belong here.
What do you wish other people knew about the TDL’s new DPLA Service?
Sharing your institution’s digital cultural heritage materials with DPLA is a fantastic way to reach new users and expose your collections to new audiences. Being part of TxHub and DPLA means your collections will be searchable alongside materials from other repositories in Texas and around the country. It also means your collections can be included in projects like DPLA’s Black Women’s Suffrage Digital Collection.
The interest in making Texas collections discoverable in DPLA seems to be growing. Why do you think that is?
My short answer is that institutions in Texas hold a lot of really cool stuff, and want to share it with the world! My slightly longer answer is that a lot of institutions recognize that we can’t wait for users to find our collections on their own. The more pathways we can offer to our digital collections and the more ways we can make digital materials discoverable, the better the chances that people will find and use the incredible resources held by Texas institutions.
What would you tell someone who is thinking about using TDL’s new DPLA Service?
I’d say that we would love to talk with you about it! Myself, along with the rest of the TDL staff, are eager to discuss the service, answer any questions you have, and help you through the process. People sometimes feel like they can’t share their materials with DPLA unless they put a lot of effort into “fixing” their metadata, but that’s not true! While we’re happy to help suggest things that might make your collections more findable in DPLA, no one’s metadata is perfect.
What’s your personal philosophy on broadening access to digital collections?
I really believe in the power of archives and special collections to help us understand ourselves and our place in the world. I’ve found materials in archives that have made me laugh, and cry, and see the world around me in completely new ways. Broadening access, to me, means giving more people the chance to find those materials and build those connections. When libraries make materials available online, and make those materials easily findable, accessible, and usable, we’re inviting people to use our collections to create their own meanings and tell their own stories.
Contact Elliot if you are interested in learning more about Texas Digital Library’s new DPLA metadata aggregation service by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We hope to hear from you soon!
ABOUT the TDL
Texas Digital Library is a consortium of library and archives professionals that propels the Academy forward by maintaining our past and preparing for the future. Membership in TDL is open to any academic library. Find out more by visiting https://www.tdl.org/members/membership/ or email us at email@example.com.