I’m happy to announce that in the fall (September 2022) I’ll be joining the faculty of the University of Michigan School of Information (aka UMSI) as a Clinical Assistant Professor with a teaching focus on digital curation, digital preservation, and archives.

Old Academia, New Teaching Opportunities

It’s an exciting opportunity, and I’m looking forward to joining the work of advancing the innovative UMSI curriculum, which has already pioneered digital skills development for early-career librarians, archivists, and other information professionals. While I have some concerns about returning to academia in general—the inherent elitism and classism, as well as the overheated (and under-acknowledged) prestige economy don’t align well with my personal values—the opportunity to join UMSI specifically presents a chance to facilitate training for archivists and digital curators.

I have a longtime connection to the University of Michigan. It is my alma mater, and notwithstanding the shameful and disappointing sexual misconduct (to put it diplomatically) in the news recently, I remain optimistic that the university as a social institution still has potential to make the world better through education and knowledge production. I hope to be part of the effort to move the U and its culture in ethical, egalitarian, and inclusive directions.

I have a great regard for many of the positive social and cultural values that I see in the state universities of the Midwest, including educational breadth, increasing access to knowledge for more people, and sharing critical thought, culture, and knowledge through teaching. Aside from the problematic settler colonialism behind the Land-Grant College Acts, the fundamental focus of the state university on service to all people in the state appeals to me. That said, University of Michigan in fact predates the federal land grant legislation, having been envisioned through the 1817 Treaty of the Rapids with the Council of the Three Fires, which stipulated the university should educate the descendants of the land givers, the Anishinaabeg and Wyandot. Although the institution has not yet realized that potential (though land acknowledgments have become more frequent and respectful), I believe that we can build a more ethical institution that stewards and answers the call to serve, educate, and inform the community of all people in Michigan.

I remain an idealist at heart and will be working to serve the values that align with mine, which are very clearly at the heart of UMSI’s work. The school’s current mission is to “create and share knowledge so that people will use information—with technology—to build a better world.” Among UMSI’s list of core values, I hope I can particularly support:

  • Pursuit, integration, and respect of diverse intellectual perspectives
  • Being intellectually adventurous and creative
  • Public access to information
  • Civility and respect in public discourse
  • Public undergraduate and graduate education as a path for increased social and economic mobility, in particular for student populations historically underrepresented in higher education
  • Passion and engagement
  • Diversity, equity, and inclusion

Teaching in a program like the one at UMSI is a chance to create a digital archives and curation curriculum that allows students to build on the digital and technological foundations that UMSI has invested in through its curriculum over the last decade, and to apply those skills to work in archives, digital curation, libraries, and other cultural heritage spaces. This type of curriculum development is something to which I have already contributed in my teaching at the University of Maryland, where I began building a curriculum of curation skills and tools for digital collections, and in my work at the Library of Congress, where I began a Library Carpentry series. I look forward to expanding those learning opportunities in this new role at UMSI.