Reflecting on 2022: Exploring, Growing, and Writing

As a year comes to a close I try to round up and reflect a bit on this unit of time. This year marks a milestone in that reflective practice itself, now being the 10th year I have written one of these posts. You can see my reflections at the end of 2021, 2020,  2019,  2018,   2017, 20152014, 2013, and 2012.

I’m a big fan of metacognition, so I get a lot out of taking time to round up, reflect, and try and synthesize things at least once a year.

Back into the world: Teaching, Working, and Exploring

At the start of 2022 I was still deep in what become my routine for living in the pandemic. After working and teaching from home for roughly two years, I started teaching my digital history seminar in person during the spring semester at American University and started venturing back into the office at the Library of Congress. It was disorientating at first. But it was great to get back in the classroom with my students and while it took some adjusting, I’m really enjoying being back in the office. At this point, I’m going in three days a week and teleworking two days a week. Personally, that feels like a great balance for me.

In the summer, I taught a week long intensive course called “Born Digital/Digital Collections” for California Rare Book School. Teaching a week long intensive class like that virtually was a bit intense, but it was also rewarding to have the chance to connect with bright and engaged current professionals working in libraries and archives.

New Adventures in the New Job

In the summer, I had the distinct honor of being appointed to a new job as the Director of Digital Services. I’m now about six months in this new role and I am deeply grateful for the chance to apply my knowledge and experience across a broader portfolio of areas of digital services. Back in 2017, when I came back to the Library of Congress from IMLS I was really excited about the idea of being able to help grow and support thoughtful and sustainable development of digital programs.

I’m grateful for the chance I had to help build up and support teams doing that creative but sustainable work in that role and I’m doing my best to think about how I can continue to provide that kind of support in my now broader role. So far I’m really pleased with how it’s going.

Getting out there and Exploring

After staying local for 2020 and 2021, this year ended up being a great chance to get back out into the world. If you’re curious, I tend to post a lot of photos of our adventures up on Instagram. In February we took a trip to St. Lucia, in April we went to Portugal, in May I had the chance to spend three weeks consulting on digital strategy at the National Library of Kosovo through the Fulbright program, while in Kosovo we also were able to visit Albania, and in December I tagged along on a work trip Marjee had to visit and explore around the Yucatan.

Each of those trips offered me chances to explore and connect with new cultures and histories. I think we visited more than two dozen cultural heritage sites and museums. Across those experiences, collectively, I think those experiences contribute to a more complex, interwoven, and connected understanding of cultures and communities and the key role that cultural memory work plays in advancing a more sustainable approach to envisioning and enacting a better future.

Getting more words out there

Along with work and travel this ended up being a good year for finishing off and getting a few pieces published that I’d been working on for a while. I had three articles come out each of which grew out of great collaborations. In Library Leadership & Management, Beyond Good Intentions: Developing and Operationalizing Values in the Structure of Digital Library Programs came out. I’m really proud of all the work that team members put in on this to draw out how the values we developed together have grown into key tools we use all the time in our work. Along with that, Ben Lee and I had a Grappling with the scale of born-digital government publications: Toward pipelines for processing and searching millions of PDFs come out in the International Journal of Digital Humanities and Jonah Estes and I had Slide Decks as Government Publications: Exploring Two Decades of PowerPoint Files Archived from U.S. Government Websites come out in Archival Science. It was also a good year for reading, if your curious about the 50 some books I read this year you can see them all on Goodreads.

My biggest writing project this year was getting the manuscript for my next book, After Disruption: A Future for Cultural Memory, completed and submitted. In January I shared out drafts of the first half of the book for comments. In July I shared out drafts of the second half of it. Huge thanks to everyone who gave me such right and thoughtful comments. I spent the fall revising the drafts based on all that great feedback and sent the full manuscript into the press in November. Early in the spring, I should get comments on the manuscript back from reviewers and then I will dive into any further work I need to do on it from there. This was a fun book to carry with me and be thinking about as I went on trips and worked through transitioning jobs. It’s a bit more personal than previous books I’ve written. In that respect, it represents my own memory work to make sense of my experiences in two decades of work at the intersection of digital technologies and cultural memory work. In any event, I’m excited to carry it with me into next year and hopefully we will see it come out and appear in the 2023 wrap up post on this blog.