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Tuesday, March 23 • 10:00am - 11:00am
Adaptability, Ingenuity, and Opportunity: VR Professionals During a Pandemic

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In 2020, most if not all of us went from working in an office to working at home in the blink of an eye, forcing us to immediately pivot into new practices and approaches to our professional roles. From assisting faculty and students with the transition to online teaching to managing our collections from a distance, we all rose to the challenge of our new “normal,” transforming our day-to-day work in the process. And while some of these changes may be temporary, others will permanently impact how VR professionals approach their facilities, patrons, and practices. This roundtable discussion is designed to help us engage with and process these changes, with an eye to how we have met these challenges and thrived. Through a series of short, lightening round talks by speakers from a range of institutional roles and via lively discussion we will explore what has changed and what remains core to our work, addressing enhanced responsibilities; the use of new tools; innovative changes to our services; cultivating connections with patrons in a remote environment; safely transitioning back to the office; and what changes we anticipate to the profession and our professional lives moving forward based on the experience gleaned from working at home.       Endorsed by the VRA Education Committee

Andrea Degener, "Hidden Treasures: Managing Remote Staff to Enhance Image Accessibility" How do you collectively manage 30 library staff who have been tasked with cataloging an archival collection in JSTOR Forum? Being assigned to train staff, who have no experience with the interface or metadata standards, can be an extremely daunting ask. In March, we were asked to co-lead such a project. The sudden rise of COVID-19 also required us to set up the project and train staff in less than a week.         The JSTOR Forum project included 130,000 digital assets that required metadata enhancements. The collection, The Walt Reed Illustration Archive, is available in the Artstor Public Collections and was digitized as part of a CLIR Grant completed in 2018. Library staff were responsible for adding titles, dates, subject terms and descriptions to their assigned image sets. After working on the project for a month, over 3,000 records received metadata enhancements.        We were able to use the Walt Reed Illustration Archive digitized materials to create a robust project for library staff. This presentation is aimed to explore the challenges and triumphs of using digital collections as a way to create remote projects for staff. We will also explore the emotional labor involved in reimagining this project at a very challenging time. 


Betha Whitlow

Curator of Visual Resources, Washington University in Saint Louis

avatar for Skye Lacerte

Skye Lacerte

Modern Graphic History Library Curator, Washington University
avatar for Andrea Degener

Andrea Degener

Visual Materials Processing Archivist, Washington University in St. Louis

Tuesday March 23, 2021 10:00am - 11:00am CDT