Web Archiving Virtually In Residence: An Interview with Meghan Lyon
Meghan Lyon recently joined the Web Archiving Team in the Digital Content Management section as a Librarian in Residence. In support of developing the next generation of librarians and information professionals, the Librarians-in-Residence program (LIR) gives early-career librarians the opportunity to gain meaningful work experience at the Library of Congress. In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, Meghan has joined the team in our current all remote work mode. I’m thrilled to be able to share this interview with her as part of our occasional series where we learn more about the background, experience, and interests of the people that support the Library of Congress in providing enduring access to digital collections.
Trevor: Hi Meghan, we are so excited to have you on the team! Could you tell us a bit about what you found interesting about the Librarian-in-Residence program and specifically in working with the Web Archiving Team?
Meghan: Thank you, it’s an honor to be here!
While I was pursuing my MSLIS at Pratt Institute School of Information, I was interested in how content management systems worked, and in finding efficient ways to organize, preserve, and improve discoverability of digital information. I tried my hand at some programming in Python—shout out to Matt Miller’s class “Programming for Cultural Heritage”—and designed a MySQL database in Monica Macelli’s “Database Design” course. When I applied to the Librarian-in-Residence program, my first choice was in the core area of “Systems and Standards”, and there was no indication of that area corresponding specifically to the Digital Content Management Section. It was an extraordinary surprise when I saw your email address, and DCM-Section, in my inbox!
Specifically about the Web Archiving Team—I had been one of two New York Art Resources Consortium (NYARC) Fellows through Pratt’s fellowship program, and worked on web archiving at the Frick Art Reference Library (FARL). Sumitra Duncan, Head of the Web Archiving Program at the FARL, had mentioned LOC’s web archiving program and Digiboard previously. As professionals, we were very curious about how the LOC’s Web Archiving program was structured, how it operates on such an enormous scale, what the tools look like and how they work. I am so pleased that I have this incredible opportunity to work with the WAT as a Librarian-in-Residence.
Trevor: Could you tell us a bit about how this residency connects with your career goals?
Meghan: My fellowship at the FARL was my first experience working in a formal library. I had previously worked in small settings, such as artists’ foundations, and I most frequently worked alone or with one or two other professionals. Working in a large institution with a team of folks was an important step for me to take, and this residency is certainly fulfilling on that front! Moreover, I get to work at DCM, which I’ve heard referred to by a few non-DCM staff as the “heart of the library”—not only is DCM crafting policy about digital preservation and content management, but we get to work in tandem with all of the other divisions. So, the residency is hitting all of my personal goals: experiencing librarianship in a large-scale, interpersonal and collaborative skill building, working towards a greater digital comfort zone—as well feeding into broad career goals such as enabling digital stewardship and research, facilitating discovery and preservation, and providing the public with lasting and inspiring collections.
Trevor: In 2019 the team worked up a set of nine values that guide our work on Digital Content Management. Do any of those values resonate with you? If so which ones and why?
Meghan: As a new professional and a new member of the team, I very much appreciate Learning and Safety. Joining the Library in its all-remote work mode has been challenging, and I struggle to reconcile where I think my projects should be, or where I think I should be in the learning process, to where I am and realistically can be, if that makes sense? There is so much to learn, and it’s been incredibly helpful and meaningful to feel as though I can be transparent about my struggles with the support of my team members and the DCM crew. I have to say, I do feel “safe and supported” in my work.
Trevor: In keeping with that set of values, we are big believers in the importance of ongoing professional learning both as a team and as individuals. Are there any areas that you are hoping to focus on for professional growth over the course of the residency?
Meghan: Over the course of the residency, I want to try to absorb as much as possible from colleagues across the LOC. To this end, internal presentations such as the talks organized by the Digital Strategy and the Special Collections Directorates to share practices in processing collections, Fireside chats, one-off informational sessions, the LIR Enrichment Program events, and all of the meetings I’ve been invited to for ongoing projects of the WAT have all been helpful. I want to make the most of every opportunity to learn.
The Digital Strategy Directorate’s Digital Library of Congress Learning Groups have also been great. This month I am taking Exploring Python and the loc.gov API and Creative Exercises for Data Visualization. DCM management has been really encouraging and I want to thank Abbie Grotke for pulling me into discussions and encouraging me to participate in the Library’s courses.
Last, I’ll say, that during graduate school I became active in professional organizations. I recently presented on panels at the ARLIS/NA Virtual Conference, SAA Annual Meeting, and JCDL, and am looking for more ways to engage and contribute to the community.
Trevor: I realize that you are brand new to the team and that it’s a lot to take in. That said, I’m curious if you have any initial first impressions of the team that you want to share? In what ways is it what you expected or not?
Meghan: My first impression is that I am working with significantly competent and talented people who are humble and passionate, and also very funny. I’m pleased by everyone’s sense of humor and authenticity. Regarding expectations, during my interview process, I believe we spoke a bit about Scrum and Agile. The working style seemed intimidating at first, especially the idea of stand up, which is: we each stand up in front of everyone in the section and say what we did yesterday, today, and either: any blockers, or in the case of the bi-weekly DCM-Section WebEx stand up—one thing that is motivating us or making us smile. It’s really fun to hear what everyone else is excited about, and I appreciate the scrum masters’ enthusiasm. I’m not sure how the WAT & DCM’s Scrum and Agile approach differs from its implementation in other industries, but the way we do it here has been a positive experience for me.
I’m looking forward to continuing to get to know my team members on the WAT and in DCM as I advance in this residency.
Trevor: Aside from working with digital collections, what sorts of things are you passionate about? Do you have any hobbies or interests that you’re up for sharing out with folks?
Meghan: Since I somewhat recently emerged from the grad school hustle, I’ve been slowly re-learning what my interests and hobbies were. Before school I started learning German and would like to pick that up again. I am a horror genre fan. I’m usually in the middle of a Stephen King novel, and I’ve been watching horror movies from the 80’s and 90’s every weekend. I love the special effects (gruesome and cheesy alike), dark humor, and the synthesizer soundtracks. On a nice day you would probably find me out exploring DC bike paths, and since I’m new to the area, I’m all about recommendations for trails and paths for biking and hiking!
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