About me

Jesse Johnston is Senior Research Development Officer at the University of Michigan, where he manages activities to catalyze research in the arts and humanities in all parts of the University. He was previously a Senior Librarian for digital content at the Library of Congress and an adjunct faculty member at the University of Maryland iSchool. He has also served as an Archives Specialist in the Ralph Rinzler Folklife Archives and Collections at the Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage and worked on metadata and digital description for archival audio collections. From 2013 to 2018, he was a Senior Program Officer for preservation and access and Acting Records Officer at the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). In addition to his professional service, he maintains research interests in user practices in archives, specifically on how digitization and digital preservation impact access to cultural heritage collections as well as user practices in audio and music archives.

As an administrator and federal program manager at the NEH and the Library of Congress, Johnston has extensive experience in advising and managing programs that support activity in the arts and humanities, analyzing and communicating funding priorities and policies, and managing large and complex digital collections. As a senior librarian for digital collections at the Library of Congress during 2018 and 2019, he served as the editor for a new compendium of policies that govern the Library’s digital collection management. While a program officer at NEH, he managed a program portfolio that awarded on average $1.5 million annually, and from 2015 to 2018, he also served as the project lead for NEH Common Heritage, the agency’s first and only community archiving program. In these capacities, Johnston has advised hundreds of digital projects on how to create long-lasting, usable, and valuable digital resources. He has also provided expert advice to researchers developing and presenting digital projects to funders, both federal and private, across the cultural sector.

Prior to his work as a librarian and archivist, Johnston taught musicology at Bowling Green State University and the University of Michigan–Dearborn. He maintains research interests in ethnomusicology and specifically the performance of Moravian traditional music. He has conducted field research in traditional and popular musics with communities in the Czech Republic, the Philippines, and Czech-Americans in the Upper Midwest. He holds a PhD in musicology and a Master of Science in Information, both from theUniversity of Michigan.

Research statement

I am a scholar and archivist who specializes in digital preservation, collection management, scholarly communications, and musics of Eastern Europe and Southeast Asia. My music research focuses on music cultures of Eastern Europe, Southeast Asia, and the United States centering on themes of performance studies, globalization, music and media, and digital and material cultures. In information studies, I have focused on user practices in sound archives, federal records management policy, and digital collections management. I have received numerous awards for my work. In 2005, I received a Fulbright Grant to complete my doctoral research; in 2008, I received the Louise Cuyler Award from the UM Department of Musicology; and in 2012, I received the Margaret Mann Award from the UM School of Information.

My research has been supported by a Fulbright Fellowship (U.S. Department of State/International Institute of Education), a Kohn Doctoral Fellowship (Masaryk University), a University of Michigan Regents Fellowship, a Rackham Humanities Dissertation Writing Fellowship, and twice by Foreign Language and Area Studies Fellowships (U.S. Department of Education) from the Centers for Russian and East European Studies and Southeast Asian Studies. At Michigan, I also received the Margaret Mann Award (2012) and the Louise E. Cuyler Award (2008).

I currently work in research administration at the University of Michigan and previously served at the Library of Congress, the iSchool at the University of Maryland, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage, at the George Mason University program in public history, on the music faculty of Bowling Green State University, and in the College of Arts, Sciences, and Letters at the University of Michigan–Dearborn. I also worked on the music library staff at the Interlochen Center for the Arts and the University of Michigan Bands. I hold an MSI in archives from the University of Michigan School of Information and a PhD in Musicology from the Rackham Graduate School (U. of Michigan).