Ima Oduok (she/her) joined TDL in September 2022 as the Digital Librarian and ACRL Diversity Resident.
Where did you go to school?
I got my BA in French at Trinity University in San Antonio. I’m currently pursuing my MLS at UNT and graduating this December (2022).
Where is your hometown?
In the famous words of Beyonce, “This is how they made me, Houston, Texas, baby”
What might (someone) be surprised to know about you?
I’ve tried to learn a lot of different languages over the years but French is the only one that stuck. My other attempts include Spanish (which I’m still trying), Japanese, Ibibio, Italian, and Arabic.
Tell me how you first got involved with the libraries/archives?
My work-study job in undergrad was in the access services department of the university library. I loved it. Working in the library felt like having access to a secret cache of knowledge that I got to share with people. I learned that libraries offer more services and items than books and that a lot of people didn’t know about them.
What was your first impression of Texas Digital Library?
I learned about TDL in a digital libraries class in my MLS program. I was impressed with the variety of services they offer. I was especially happy to learn about their dedication to digital preservation and open educational resources. TDL’s values and mission align with my goals as a librarian and I’m so excited to have the opportunity to work with this wonderful group of people!
What do you find most challenging about TDL’s Digital Librarian residency position?
I think the fact that this is a new position at TDL makes it challenging and also very exciting. I’m getting to create my own path. This residency is a great opportunity to learn about a variety of aspects of digital libraries as well as the needs of TDL’s member institutions. I hope I’m the first of many TDL residents.
What do you wish other people knew about the TDL?
That we work with all kinds of institutions! TDL is based in higher education and we also work with public library systems like Houston Public Library. We also offer services to smaller academic libraries such as those that may be part of community college systems.
Tell me about some of the people you’ve met while working with TDL?
Everyone I’ve met through TDL has been amazing and the experience has really affirmed that I’m in the right field. All the librarians and tech team members have been so welcoming and encouraging. I’ve only just started with TDL and I’m excited to get to know my colleagues better as we work on projects together.
What do you think will change about TDL/digital libraries/digital archives in five years?
The thing about the world of digital collections is that it is always changing because technology is always changing! It’s hard to forecast the future but personally, I would like to see digital collections appearing higher in search engine results. As a librarian, I know to search institutional sites for their collections but the average user likely uses popular search engines to find information. A lot of library collections do not appear in these results which means users aren’t finding all the information they want.
What’s your personal philosophy on broadening access?
I strongly believe in making public information accessible and free to as many people as possible. The pandemic brought digital access into the spotlight for many users. Services and resources had to move to virtual spaces as in-person gatherings were put on hold. This provided a convenience for some as it allowed people to attend events all over the world without leaving their home. For many others, not having access to the library’s physical space meant they lost access entirely. This digital divide will continue to be a big issue for information professionals as technology integrates into more aspects of our everyday life. Broadening access to digital collections starts with the foundation of digital access.