Meg Brown-Sica returned to Colombia 27 years after her first visit. This time she brought a career’s worth of knowledge to share as a special guest of the Department of Library and Information Science at Pontificia Universidad Javeriana.
Brown-Sica, associate director for technology and digital initiatives at the Auraria Library, was one of two guests invited to speak at the 40th anniversary celebration of the master’s degree program in library and information science. The Colombian university, which is a Jesuit institution with documents dating back to the 1400s, sponsored the visits by Brown-Sica and a speaker from New Zealand.
She delivered four presentations to faculty, students and alumni on the subjects of digital humanities and open access publishing. “The professors were very sophisticated and we had some great conversations about scholarly publication and the digital humanities as tools for social change,” Brown-Sica said. She also mentioned that the program is very successful with “… 100 percent employment for their graduates this year.”
Brown-Sica spent a year as an exchange student in Colombia during high school. She hadn’t returned to the country until this recent opportunity. After corresponding with Universidad Javeriana about the library and information science curriculum, the department invited her to return to the county to deliver the lectures as part of the 40th anniversary lecture series for students, faculty and alumni. The university requested that she speak about digital humanities and open access publishing which are important trends in academic libraries and are related to her expertise in technology and libraries. An overview of scholarly information and open access publishing can be viewed here.
Digital humanities deal with new perspectives and modern approaches on access and manipulation of philsophy, history, literature and dozens of other nonscientific fields’ content (though the sciences are welcome, too, in digital humanities projects). “It’s kind of a new subject — it’s a way to investigate, manipulate and diesseminate information using technology,” Brown-Sica said. Open access literature is free of most copyright restrictions. It is a way for researchers to access research articles for free instead of libraries paying steadily increasing access fees.
Auraria Library is hoping to develop digital humanities projects, Brown-Sica said. The new hire of Matt Mariner last September, as head of Special Collections and Digital Initiatives, will increase campus capacity to take on such projects. One current project involves digitizing Auraria Library’s collection of material about the Granada Relocation Center, a Japanese internment camp in southeast Colorado.
These scholarly communications topics were of great interest to the Bogota university campus community. “They are really investing in modernizing the program by bringing in people to talk about things like this,” Brown-Sica said.
She enjoyed getting reacquainted with the people, language and culture in which she had become immersed in high school. “I’ve spoken at national conferences before, but I’d never been invited to give a talk outside the United States,” Brown-Sica said. Pairing her scholarship with her fondness for the country she once called home made for a memorable and meaningful experience.