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The Launch: Mellon Grant Project Marches Forward

Posted in DH Blog

In January 2018, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation awarded the University of Oregon a $300,000 grant to increase the “use of library/museum assets in research, teaching, and learning” between UO Libraries and Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art (JSMA). While we’ve mentioned this prestigious award on the DH@UO blog before, today we have an important update: the Mellon initiative is launching its first faculty project, The March, and the exciting collaborative scholarship this grant is supporting.

While UO Libraries and the JSMA are located near each other on campus, physical proximity doesn’t always equate to accessible collaborations among their staff or collections. To address this gap, the two institutions, led by Adriene Lim, Dean of UO Libraries and Jill Hartz,, Executive Director of the JSMA, applied for a Mellon grant to showcase their shared or complimentary collections. Their initiative, Leveraging GLAM Assets in Research, Teaching, and Learning: Faculty Fellowships to Advance Library-Museum Collaboration, was awarded $300,000 to support the creation of new faculty work that draws from their collections.

A picture of both the UO Library and the Schnitzer Art Musem
Image source: https://library.uoregon.edu/about/mellon-grant-call-for-proposals

The initiative supports six UO faculty grants, three awarded for the 2018-2019 academic year and another three for the 2019-2020 academic year. These faculty grants provide up to $11,000 to a faculty member whose research or teaching project makes use of the resources available at UO Libraries and JSMA.

For the 2018-2019 academic year, those three faculty grants were awarded to Ina Asim’s The Artful Fabric of Collecting: Silk Textiles in Gertrude Bass Warner’s Chinese Art Collection and Their Historical Context; David Frank’s Reconsidering James Blues’ 1963 Documentary The March: The Cold War, Civil Rights, and the Problem of American Apartheid; and Glynne Walley’s Japanese Votive Slips: Play and Plays. Applications are currently under review for the three 2019-2020 faculty grants.

Crucial to managing the six faculty grants and the overall Mellon initiative is Dr. Jenny Kreiger, Mellon Postdoctoral Scholar in Library-Museum Collaboration. Kreiger received her PhD in Classical Art and Archaeology and a Graduate Certificate in Museum Studies from the University of Michigan.

Jenny Kreiger stands smiling against a wall
Dr. Jenny R. Kreiger, Mellon Postdoctoral Scholar. Image source: https://library.uoregon.edu/about/mellon-postdoc-scholar

On a daily basis, Kreiger works as a project manager—leading meetings, handling communication, and connecting team members to resources. She also helps the faculty grant recipients build their digital projects. In addition to collaborating with the faculty awardees and staff in UO Libraries and the JSMA, Kreiger oversees two Graduate Employees, Tom Fischer and Liam Maher, who support the faculty projects by providing research and curating metadata, videos, digital exhibits, and webpages, to name just a few responsibilities. “Basically,” writes Kreiger, “it’s my goal to help each faculty fellow and project team produce a beautiful and useful project on time with the resources we have.”

Trained as a Roman archeologist, Kreiger at first wondered if her education had properly prepared for her role as a project manager. “I had a bit of a breakthrough,” she writes,” when I gave an interview about The March for Around the O. The interviewer (Jason Stone) asked me to describe my background and how I came to be in this position, and I drew a connection between my background and today by calling myself a ‘professional collaborator,’ a person whose job is to build bridges, translate across domains, and keep a team moving forward.”

While her knowledge of Latin and archeological data has been crucial in her training as an archeologist, Kreiger realized it was also those so-called “’soft’ skills” that were “the ones that would get me jobs after graduation; doctoral programs don’t tend to assign a lot of value to them, but they can be some of the most transferable ones a student can build.” Her advice for current graduate students? “I encourage graduate students who know that they might eventually work outside the professoriate to put some thought into the soft skills they have and the ones they might want to develop. Those skills can serve a person well no matter what kind of work they do.”

All of this teamwork has resulted in the successful launch of Professor David Frank’s website The March,  a digital exhibition that makes use of the James Blue papers held at UO Libraries’ Special Collections and University Archives. The March gets its title from James Blue’s 1964 film by the same name, which chronicled Civil Rights activists as they prepared for the historic 1963 march on Washington, during which Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. gave his “I Have A Dream” speech. Frank’s digital exhibit places the film in a “social and historical context.”

A screen shot of James Blue's opening film shot of the March showing a group of people clapping
Image Source: https://themarch.uoregon.edu/

Publication of The March is the first accomplishment in this multi-year initiative, which clearly supports the development of digital scholarship at UO. “We’re learning a lot about how to collaborate across institutions and disciplines,” writes Kreiger. “I’m especially excited that our collaborations lead to digital projects that many in our community (on-campus and off) can enjoy and use for years to come.”

Thank you to Jenny Kreiger for participating in this blog post. We look forward to launch of Ina Asim and Glynne Walley’s projects and the announcement of the 2019-2020 faculty awardees.

 

 

 

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