I’m thrilled to share that Mark Lopez has joined the Digital Content Management section as a new Digital Collections Specialist. To that end, I’m also excited to share this interview 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 Mark, we are so excited to have you on the team! Could you tell us a bit about what you found interesting about the Digital Collections Specialist role?
Mark: Hi Trevor, and thanks! I am very excited to be here and onboard with DCM! I think it would be almost easier to answer what I didn’t find interesting about this role – which is really nothing. Every aspect of the role sounds really interesting in its own way, each presenting its own set of challenges! My background is in metadata creation and management with print and electronic monographs, so that definitely resonated. However, I found most interesting the chance to work with digital content at every step of its lifecycle, and getting to play a larger role in acquiring and preserving content, as well as being able to review existing policy and creating new policy. That’s the beauty of digital content management in libraries – it’s rife with opportunities for advancement. Also, the fact that this all gets to happen at the Library of Congress, of all places, is a fun added bonus.
Trevor: Can you tell us a bit about your professional background and journey. In particular, what professional or educational experiences prepared you to work with digital collections?
Mark: Sure! I have been working in libraries since 2011 when I started as a part-time student worker with Florida State University Libraries while working on my bachelors in psychology. At that point, I was mainly working with Access Services doing check-ins, shelving, collection shifts, and occasional bouts with circulation. In 2014, I simultaneously began my MLIS program and transitioned up into a full-time staff position at the libraries working in authorities and catalog management. This is where I started to become familiar with cataloging and metadata work and eventually after enough hand-raising and training, I became the principal cataloger for our electronic resources. I graduated with my MLIS in late 2016, and at the start of 2018 I accepted a newly created role with FSU Libraries and became their Metadata Analyst Librarian. During my tenure as the Metadata Analyst, I further developed workflows and policy concerning the cataloging and catalog management of electronic resources in the ILS, including perpetual access ebooks, open access materials, and subscription-based streaming media. I was also able to work closely with the digital library and institutional repository team and developed a workflow for creating MODS records for digitized special collections materials while simultaneously enhancing existing MARC in the ILS and OCLC for the existing print versions. It was all of the experiences that solidified my interests in continuing work with digital collections and further expanding my skills and knowledge with their full lifecycles.
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?
Mark: They all definitely resonate with me, however, if I had to pick specific values that I find to be key, it would be a combination of safety, trust, and service. Safety and trust go a bit hand-in-hand in my mind. Safety is integral in any workplace, but with our work in DCM it is vital that everyone can proceed with a sense of experimentation that sometimes lead to failure. It’s in those moments of failure that colleagues should most support each other, and more often than not, those failures are what lead to new and highly innovative discoveries. By extension, maintaining that shared trust between ourselves and our colleagues across the libraries allows for us to proceed with that type of work, with the reward for that trust usually being successful completion of pilots, projects, and deliverables. I always have always valued service as a value in my work. In our field of work, public, customer-facing interactions are usually very limited, but it is our continued work and support of the collections that these same audiences heavily rely on that more than show how our work and responsibilities have always been a service – not just to public audiences, but others across the library.
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 in this new role?
Mark: Definitely. I am always seeking out new opportunities for professional growth and ways to better myself and my team. In this role, I am hoping to grow more in the areas of acquisitions work as well as further my technical skills by learning more scripting and content management. As a longer-term goal, I am also hoping to have the chance to develop my leadership skills in DCM and the Library, and am excited to see the different ways in which these can all happen!
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 group that you want to share? In what ways is it what you expected or not?
Mark: I do! My initial impressions of the entire DCM team are nothing short of awesome! I am sure I have exhausted that word by now as I wrap up my third week here, but it still stands true! I expected to meet a cohesive team, but was not expecting the amount of genuine support and sense of camaraderie I have received from every single DCM member, and not just towards me, but towards each other as well. DCM feels like a truly solid, efficient, and friendly team, and I am all the more lucky to be a part of that now.
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?
Mark: Beyond digital collections and libraries, I am passionate about advocacy concerning race and ethnicity equality, queer rights, and mental healthcare. In terms of hobbies, whenever I have downtime, you can find me relaxing by playing games on my PS4 or out on some hiking trails! Outside of a COVID-19 reality, I enjoy having board game nights with friends, going out to eat at restaurants, and taking the occasional trip to see a concert, a Broadway musical, or explore a new city.