About Us

17th Annual Digital Commonwealth Conference

April 11, 2023, 9:00 AM – 4:00 PM ET

Welcoming Remarks

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Sonia Pacheco, Conference Host and Vice President, Digital Commonwealth Board of Directors
Dan Cohen, Vice Provost for Information Collaboration, Dean of the Libraries, and Professor of History at Northeastern University; Founding Executive Director for DPLA

Kate Boylan, President, Digital Commonwealth Board of Directors

Keynote Address: Standing the Test of Time: Building Resilient Digital Collections by Jamillah R. Gabriel

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Jamillah R. Gabriel is the Critical Pedagogy Research Librarian in the Graduate School of Education at Harvard University and a sixth-year PhD student in the School of Information Sciences at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. To better educate on the key components for collections to address issues of accessibility, diversity, and sustainability, Jamillah R. Gabriel will present "Standing the Test of Time: Building Resilient Collections."

Jamillah's professional experience includes 22 years in public and academic libraries as a librarian, archivist, and library paraprofessional. Her research focuses on issues at the nexus of information and race via a critical theorist lens and interrogates how hegemonic information systems and cultural heritage institutions impact Black people and communities.

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Doing the Work: Making Policy and Practice Align

Values lead to policy, but how do we reflect those in our work? Here our panelists will share insights into how they were able to change words into action.

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Link to Presentation Slides

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Inclusive Management and Hiring in Digital Production Services

Northeastern University Library staff members Sarah Sweeney (Head, Digital Production Services), Drew Facklam (Metadata and Digital Projects Supervisor), and Kimberly Kennedy (Digital Production Librarian) will discuss emerging practices in their new department, Digital Production Services, which is responsible for the Library’s digital repository, digitization, and metadata implementation efforts. 

The presentation will highlight hiring and professional development through the lens of DEIA principles. Specifically, how they augmented the hiring process for department staff by embracing inclusive hiring practices as well as their non-hierarchical view of management via the opportunities they offer to staff.

Sarah Sweeney (she/her) is the head of Digital Production Services at Northeastern University Library. Digital Production Services is responsible for digitizing physical materials, describing digital objects, and managing Northeastern’s digital repository, the Digital Repository Service. Sarah started off her professional career as a Metadata Librarian then transitioned into the role of Digital Repository Manager, both for Northeastern University Libraries. She has an MLIS from Simmons University.

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Drew Facklam (she/her) is the Metadata and Digital Projects Supervisor at Northeastern University. She received her MSLIS from Pratt Institute in 2018, and has been working as a metadata professional since. With a background in museums and cultural heritage, her previous work includes grant and project-based positions at the Morgan Library & Museum, Carnegie Hall, and the American Museum of Natural History. Her current position at Northeastern focuses on digital object description and project management, regularly collaborating with other members of her department, the library, and stakeholders across the university to describe and ingest new resources into the Northeastern’s digital repository.

Kimberly Kennedy (she/her) ki.kennedy@northeastern.edu is the Digital Production Librarian at the Northeastern University Library. Working collaboratively with her metadata and repository colleagues in Digital Production Services, she coordinates the digitization of collections, including work done in-house and by external partners. She previously worked as a Scanning and Document Delivery Associate at the MIT Libraries. She has an MSLIS from Simmons University, a certificate in Project Management from Northeastern University, and a B.A. from Tufts University.

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Restorative History: Toward Institutional Accountability and Redress

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Link to Restorative History Pamphlet [English] [Spanish]

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Restorative history is an approach to museum work that uses the power of history as a tool to redress the harms of exclusion from our national story in multi-pronged, transformative ways. This framework was developed and piloted by the Smithsonian’s Center for Restorative History. As a theoretical and methodological outgrowth of restorative justice, restorative history works in partnership with community members to collectively identify harms, needs, obligation, and root causes. Following an overview of restorative history, this presentation will discuss the work of the Undocumented Organizing Collecting Initiative as a case study to showcase these principles in action. In closing, the presentation will consider how restorative history can offer an adaptable framework that pushes museum and cultural heritage practitioners to expose silenced truths, redefine the notion of belonging, change our institutions to be more responsible, and move toward a path of redress.

Dr. Dani R. Merriman is a cultural anthropologist and curator working at the crossroads of public history, redress, and the politics of visibility. She is a founding staff member of the Center for Restorative History at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History, where she serves as the center’s Director of Projects and Redressive Practice. Her research spans the US and Latin America, collaborating with women’s cooperatives, farming associations, legal teams, and museums to examine the aftermath conflict and colonialism as experienced by communities fighting for justice. Her work elevates the untold stories and artistic expressions that challenge national narratives and enrich our collective memory. She received her BA in Anthropology/Sociology and Studio Art from Cornell College and her MA and Ph.D. in Anthropology from the University of Colorado, Boulder.

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Digital Commonwealth Repository Systems Update by Eben English

The annual Repository Systems Update provides an overview of new collections and features added to DigitalCommonwealth.org over the past year. This talk will cover usage statistics and technology trends (and analyze what they mean for digital collection development efforts), as well as a review of the previous year's most popular content. It will also feature a behind-the-scenes look at the work of the Boston Public Library's Digital Services team, including major digitization projects and the ongoing development of the open-source digital asset management system supporting access and preservation of vital historical materials.

DPLA’s Wikimedia Project: How You can Leverage Wikipedia for Access and Impact

by Dominic Byrd-McDevitt

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Dominic Byrd-McDevitt (Data Fellow)

Dominic is our data fellow. Dominic is working to integrate DPLA’s collections into Wikimedia projects and make them more readily accessible and reusable online. Most recently, Dominic worked at the National Archives and Records Administration where he was a digital content specialist, helping to design the catalog’s crowdsourcing features and launch the agency’s first catalog API, as well as being the world’s longest-serving Wikipedian in Residence. Dominic also served as Wikipedian in Residence at the Smithsonian Institution. Dominic currently serves as a cultural partnerships advisor at Wikimedia District of Columbia and has been an active Wikipedia editor since 2004. He has a B.A. from Reed College and has studied library science at Simmons College.

The Fight for the Right to Loan: Digital Access, Lending,

and Preservation in Crisis by Kyle K. Courtney

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License-only culture is out of control and presents a grave risk to the mission, vision, and values of libraires, archives, and cultural institutions now and in the future. New methods of digital lending, like controlled digital lending (CDL), which enables a library to use technology to perform traditional lending functions, are under attack in the courts. And despite the long history of libraires’ legal role in preserving the appropriate balance between the public benefit of lending and the protected interests of private copyright holders, libraires are under threat from restrictive licensing, price fixing, and sales embargoes. In the end, this jeopardizes the libraries’ greater role in society: providing open and non-discriminatory access to knowledge. Now that libraires have reconfigured and reprioritized access to their physical and digital collections in the COVID era and beyond, advocating for programs like CDL, digital first sale, and other cutting-edge methods of access has never been more critical. Join Kyle K. Courtney as he makes a case for using the law to recapture the significant legal and fiscal value in library collections ensuring the technology-positive future of libraries.    

Kyle K. Courtney is a lawyer and librarian serving as the Copyright Advisor for Harvard Library. His award-winning “Copyright First Responders” initiative is in its tenth year, and has spread beyond Harvard to reach libraries, archives, museums, and cultural institutions across the U.S. He is a published author and nationally recognized speaker on the topics of copyright, libraries, and the law.

He has a fellowship at NYU Law’s Engelberg Center on Innovation Law & Policy, is a member of the U.S. Supreme Court Bar, an Advisor to the American Law Institute's project on the Restatement of Copyright, and co-founder and Board Chair of Library Futures. His writing on copyright has appeared in Politico, The Hill, Library Journal, American Libraries and other publications. He co-authored the seminal work “A White Paper on Controlled Digital Lending (CDL).” He holds a J.D. with distinction in Intellectual Property Law and an MSLIS.   

At the Intersection of Race, Copyright, and Ethics: Phillis Wheatley,

Sojourner Truth, Prince – and Andy Warhol by Arnetta Girardeau

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A lawyer and librarian who advises on workflows and best practices in digitization will address
the distinct legal and ethical issues that the staff of cultural heritage institutions must navigate in
the stewardship of special collections by and about people of color. What ethical and legal
issues are at issue when acquiring, processing, digitizing, and providing access to these

Arnetta Girardeau (JD, MSLIS, MA) is a passionate expert at the intersection of law, ethics, and
cultural heritage. She provides consultative services to libraries and cultural heritage institutions, including managing the Digital Repository and Archive for an HBCU Law Library. She previously served as the Copyright and Information Policy Consultant in the Office of Copyright and Scholarly Communications at Duke University Libraries.

Arnetta earned an undergraduate degree from Harvard University, A Master of Arts in Cultural
Anthropology from Duke University, a Juris Doctor from the University of North Carolina School
of Law, and the Master in Library Science from Florida State University. Her experience includes
public librarianship, law librarianship, higher education law, corporate practice, and service as a
Judicial Staff Attorney in Florida. She is licensed to practice in Florida and North Carolina.

You can find Arnetta at https://www.linkedin.com/in/arnetta-copyright

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Digitization Now: Digitizing Hidden Collections at Holy Cross

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Archives and Distinctive Collections at the College of the Holy Cross is almost half-way through a two-year CLIR “Digitizing Hidden Collections” grant project to digitize key components of the Deaf Catholic Archives (DCA) in order to to make the content discoverable, accessible, and usable to the Deaf community as well as students, researchers and anyone interested in the material. The collection of newsletters, scrapbooks, periodicals, conference material, publications, photographs, ephemera, books, and audiovisual recordings was donated to Holy Cross in 1990. Many diocesan and religious order archives did not keep records of their work with Deaf people. This unique collection provides insight into Deaf culture, demonstrating how a marginalized subgroup, unable to fully participate, created a vibrant faith community within the greater Catholic Church that is both spiritually and socially fulfilling.

Abby Stambach (she/her), astambac@holycross.edu, Head of Archives and Distinctive Collections, Abby Stambach, Head of Archives & Distinctive Collections of the College of the Holy Cross, is responsible for the oversight of the College Archives, manuscript and rare book collections, and digital scholarship activities. Since her arrival in August 2019, she has been diligently working toward making the unique resources of the college readily accessible to students, faculty and others through robust digital collections. Abby received her M.S.I.S. from the University of Albany and her B.A. from Gettysburg College.

Lenora Robinson (she/her), lrobinso@holycross.edu, is the Project Archivist with the Deaf Catholic Archives at the College of the Holy Cross. She has experience researching, processing, digitizing, and making accessible archival and historical collections in a variety of libraries, archives, and museums. Since joining the Holy Cross Archives and Distinctive Collections in 2022, she has been making this unique collection accessible to the Deaf community, researchers, and students around the world. She received her M.S.L.S. from Clarion University, an M.P.A. and a B.A. from Clark University.

Lisa Villa (she/her), lvilla@holycross.edu, Digital Scholarship Librarian, Lisa M. Villa is the Digital Scholarship Librarian at the College of the Holy Cross. She manages CrossWorks, the institutional repository for Holy Cross, supports scholarly communication services and programs, and assists with efforts for outreach and engagement. Having held a variety of positions in the Holy Cross Libraries, she now works more closely with the Archives and Distinctive Collections department as their digital initiatives expand. Lisa received her M.L.I.S. from the University of Rhode Island, and her B.A. from the College of the Holy Cross.


9:00 - 9:05 AM      Host Welcome (Sonia Pacheco, Vice President)

9:05 - 9:15 AM      Digital Commonwealth President's Welcome (Kate Boylan)

9:15 - 9:20 AM      Words of Welcome From Dan Cohen

9:20 - 10:20 AM    Keynote: Jamillah Gabriel

10:20 - 10:35 AM  Sponsorship Block

10:35 - 10:45 AM  10-Minute Break

10:45 - 11:15 AM   Dominic Byrd-McDevitt from DPLA

11:15 - 11:55 AM   Kyle K. Courtney

11:55 - 12:35 AM   Lunch

12:35 - 1:05 PM     2023 Digital Commonwealth Repository Systems Update (Eben English)

1:05 - 2:05 PM       Panel Doing the Work: Making Policy and Practice Align

2:05 - 2:15 PM       10-Minute Break

2:15 - 2:55 PM       Arnetta Girardeau

2:55 - 3:55 PM       Panel Digitization Now: Digitizing Hidden Collections at Holy Cross

3:55 - 4:00 PM       Closing Remarks (Sonia Pacheco, Vice President)

About Digital Commonwealth

Digital Commonwealth is a non-profit collaborative organization that provides resources and services to support the creation, management, and dissemination of cultural heritage materials held by Massachusetts libraries, museums, historical societies, and archives. Digital Commonwealth currently has over 200 member institutions from across the state.

Digital Commonwealth’s mission is to provide access to thousands of images, documents, and sound recordings that have been digitized by member institutions so that they may be available to researchers, students, and the general public. Digital Commonwealth provides a single point of online access to digital assets hosted by Massachusetts cultural institutions. It also serves as a repository for hosting an institution’s content. Free digitization services are provided by the Boston Public Library as part of the Library for the Commonwealth program. Our member institutions include libraries, museums, historical societies, archives, research institutions, and other organizational repositories of our cultural heritage.  

Massachusetts Collections Online: digitalcommonwealth.org

Membership and Programming: digitalcommonwealth.wildapricot.org

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