Karen Estlund with Winter Bicycle in front of Knight Library

Photograph by Mandi Garcia.

Karen Estlund is the Head of  the Digital Scholarship Center for the University of Oregon Libraries and the Project Director for the Oregon Digital Newspaper Program. She is also a PhD student in Communication and Society. Karen received her M.L.I.S. in 2005 from the University of Washington. Prior to arriving in Oregon, Karen was a technology instruction librarian and oversaw the digital collections and institutional repository at the University of Utah, where she also taught web design in the Communication Department. Karen’s areas of expertise include information architecture, intellectual property, metadata and linked data, digitization, digital preservation, and scholarly communication.

Really What I Do

A month in my work life:

Word cloud of August 2012 work life

I provide the infrastructure, workflows, and consultations to promote access, sharing, and preservation of unique and/or local digital assets.  This means I work with scientific data, special collections and archives materials, faculty digital scholarship, and a variety of other kinds of materials and people.  I do everything from hacking away at code to project management and administration. I work with a great team of people at UO that makes all this happen.

In my a PhD studies, I concentrated on how code interacts with legal and social norms to affect access to information on the Internet. I completed my coursework in 2014.

Becoming a Librarian

I started working at the library as an undergraduate work study student. I sheepishly went to my first interview nervous that  my experience of typing out catalog cards for a local library when I was in high school wouldn’t be enough to get the job. I was hired as a student in cataloging and did a lot of spine labeling, barcode sticking, and special plate adhering. Alas, I couldn’t cut straight so was moved to cataloging authority work where I found an obsession with metadata and standards.

As an undergraduate, I had a year-long thesis project. Two online tools made all the difference to a project that I couldn’t have done without the Internet: the Perseus project and the then new online search-engine Google. After I graduated college, I knew I wanted to become a librarian and figure out how to tie in authority work with search engines and digital libraries.

Before going to graduate school, I continued to work in the library clearing copyright permissions for course use.  This was an invaluable education at a time when publishers were just getting used to electronic reserves. Copyright issues have continued to underlie all the work I do.