New Digital Scholarship Coordinator at UH Libraries

Taylor Davis-Van Atta is the new digital scholarship coordinator at UH Libraries.

Taylor Davis-Van Atta is the new digital scholarship coordinator at UH Libraries.

The University of Houston Libraries welcomes Taylor Davis-Van Atta, the new digital scholarship coordinator in Digital Research Services.

Please describe your role at UH Libraries and talk about some of your professional goals and/or research areas.

I’m very excited to be joining UH Libraries! Being a newly created position, my role will evolve over time, and one of the exciting opportunities during these early days is getting to know my colleagues, their areas of expertise, and the activities that are taking place in and through the Libraries so I can discover where my experience and skills might be most effectively applied. As the job title suggests, I’ll be collaborating widely with colleagues internally to organize and advance current research services while building and marketing new services, particularly around publishing, archiving, and making accessible research and scholarship created at UH. This will involve partnering with other offices and schools across campus as well as with the Texas Digital Library. Ultimately, I hope to serve as a resource for Libraries staff engaged with digital scholarship and, in turn, help promote the expertise and resources in the Libraries out to the broader UH community.

Naturally, these duties fall in line with many of my primary interests as a librarian. With new forms of research and scholarship gaining legitimacy and the potential existing for the acceleration of new research using digital platforms and tools, it’s a very exciting time to be in a position to help facilitate the global dissemination and open use of existing works. And for me, it’s equally as energizing to help establish good practices among everyone involved with the production of new work. While a graduate assistant in Syracuse University Libraries, I enjoyed working with researchers, particularly graduate students and early-career faculty, on issues relating to creator/author rights, open access and licenses, ORCID adoption, the discovery and vetting process of potential publication outlets, tracking and maximizing the impact of their work, and other aspects of scholarly communication. I enjoy playing around with the latest research tools as they pop up in DiRT Directory or the POWRR Tool Grid. I also have a secret fascination with persistent identifiers (maybe not so secret now) and have been closely following the early success stories and practices of those on the leading edge of open educational resource creation and adoption.

Please share a bit about your background and interests. How do these inspire and shape your approach as a librarian?

My first career was in independent publishing. I worked for Graywolf Press and Dalkey Archive Press, two houses whose mission it is to make modern literary masterpieces from around the world available in English. Out of that experience, as well as my education in world literature and classical music, I developed Music & Literature, a small literary and educational nonprofit that I’ve directed for the past five years. The project is a complete labor of love, and is made possible by the passion of our staff, who are based in New York City, New Haven, Montreal, London, Paris, and Berlin. We all work together almost daily (after work is over, the papers are graded, the kids are asleep, etc.) to build our online publishing platform, curate annual print volumes, and partner with other organizations and institutions to organize events celebrating the work of our featured artists and scholars.

My experience as an editor and publisher absolutely inspires and informs my approach as a librarian. In fact, I see nonprofit publishing and librarianship as two expressions of the same set of impulses, since they both share many of the same values and core missions, and they address common needs in terms of bridging all kinds of global divides. In a practical sense, too, there are many activities that are foundational to the daily operation of both professions (grant writing, database and web platform administration, etc.) as well as core aspects of copyright law that are integral to publishers and librarians alike. It makes all the sense in the world that these two pursuits would intersect and inform one another, and indications are that they will only become more entwined over the coming years.

Please describe your first impressions of the University of Houston.

I first came to campus in mid-March of this year and was immediately taken with the spacious campus, the magnolia trees, the insanely self-confident squirrels–and of course the gorgeous main library and its friendly and supportive staff. There was a warmth here, both inside and out (I was coming from Syracuse, New York, which was experiencing a blizzard that week!), that was unique in my job search.

What are some of your hobbies?

My partner, Rachel, and I are amateur mycologists. We’re more into the classification and description of mushrooms than we are into eating them, and it’s kind of fun being part of mycological clubs where we’re the youngest members by forty years. Anyway, it’ll be fun to explore totally new ecosystems in and around Houston. We also have twin 4-year-old boys, so I’m getting back into Lego building and learning about dinosaurs, at least when my kids deem me cool enough to let me play with them.

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Posted on June 23rd, 2017 by Esmeralda Fisher and filed under Announcements | Comments Off on New Digital Scholarship Coordinator at UH Libraries