Multidisciplinary Solutions to Research Challenges


  • Laurel Weldon, Distinguished Professor of Political Science and Director of the Purdue Policy Research Institute, Purdue University
  • Tom Hickerson, Vice Provost for Libraries and Cultural Resources, University of Calgary
  • Susan Morgan, Associate Provost for Research Development and Professor of Communication, University of Miami
  • Kelly Miller, Associate Dean for Learning and Research Services, University of Miami Libraries


About the Panel

On March 9, 2018, University of Miami Libraries (UML) and the Office of the Provost co-sponsored an event featuring a panel of speakers with a broad and deep knowledge of interdisciplinary research approaches. Professor Laurel Weldon and Vice Provost Tom Hickerson each serve as principal investigators on projects funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation involving the formation of multidisciplinary research teams focused on a set of challenges or problems that have been selected as a point of focus at the institutional level. An aspect of the multidisciplinary work at Purdue and Calgary is the partnership between each research team and one or more library specialists. The background, impetus, current status, and findings of these initiatives is presented and discussed by the panel. Associate Vice Provost Susan Morgan and Associate Dean Kelly Miller present an overview of U-LINK at the University of Miami and explore its library engagement component.


About U-LINK

The University of Miami is embarking on a series of initiatives that comprise the Roadmap to Our New Century—a course for UM’s future across geographic, cultural, and intellectual borders. These initiatives will enhance the University’s passion for scholarly excellence, spirit of innovation, respect for including and elevating diverse voices, and commitment to tackling the challenges facing our world. The theme of “interdisciplinary inquiry” has unified teams of scholars from multiple disciplines in collaborative, problem-based research to address the complex challenges of society through two principles: geography and problems.

The UM Laboratory for INtegrative Knowledge (U-LINK) specifically addresses problems, and the unique points of view and tools that UM Libraries bring to these problems help provide ways of thinking that enhance the research teams’ productivity. UML is fostering this initiative by creating dedicated spaces in the Louis Calder Memorial Library, Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science Library, and Otto G. Richter Library to facilitate the on-going work of U-LINK teams.

UML Welcomes Elizabeth “Liz” Gushee

Elizabeth “Liz” Gushee, UML’s new associate dean for Digital Strategies.

University of Miami Libraries (UML) will welcome Elizabeth “Liz” Gushee as the new associate dean for Digital Strategies in September 2018. Ms. Gushee comes to us from the Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas (UT), Austin, where she has served since 2011 as head of Digital Collections Services. At the Ransom Center she is responsible for planning, leading, and coordinating the work of staff engaged in access initiatives for born-digital and digitized collection material, digital preservation and stewardship, and digitization. Her accomplishments at the Ransom Center include: grew the Digital Collection Services Department from one to five staff plus student workers; chaired and lead implementation of a digital assets management system across four university departments; developed and directed Project REVEAL (a privately-funded initiative designed to digitize and place entire literature collections online).

While at the Ransom Center, Ms. Gushee took the lead in developing an open access policy for the Ransom Center collections. She also served as a member of “DH@UT:  Building a Digital Humanities Ecosystem for Innovative Research in the Liberal Arts,” a cross-campus effort among the UT Austin libraries, archives, technology units, and the College of Liberal Arts to build an infrastructure and associated services for digital humanities work, including planning for establishing an Institute for Digital Studies.

Throughout her career, Ms. Gushee has successfully pursued and executed several grant-funded initiatives including an Institute of Museum and Library Services/Texas State Library and Archives grant involving digitization of the works of artist Frank Reaugh, and a Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR) grant involving cataloging and digitization of the literary works of the Nobel Laureate Gabriel García Márquez. Prior to her role at the University of Texas, Ms. Gushee worked at the University of Virginia Library where she served both as digital collections librarian and as the University of Virginia’s first digital archivist. In the latter role she worked on a Mellon Foundation grant, providing leadership among the cohort of digital archivists from the four partner institutions to develop a framework for collecting, organizing, preserving, and delivering born-digital special collection materials.

During 2014 Ms. Gushee served on the Ransom Center’s Strategic Plan Leadership Team. She is a 2016 graduate of the Leading Change Institute sponsored by CLIR and EDUCAUSE.

Ms. Gushee brings to her work a track-record of innovation, strategic thinking, project completion, program development, and collaboration within and beyond the libraries. These talents will serve her and the University of Miami well as she begins her work as the next Associate Dean for Digital Strategies.

uSearch: New and Improved

The new version of uSearch, the online system for discovering and accessing library materials, is now live for all University of Miami Libraries. The new interface has a cleaner look, is optimized for use on phones and tablets, and gives access to more information with fewer clicks:

Learn about key features and how to use the new uSearch:

Search results and rankings have not changed. Additionally, any saved items or saved searches in uSearch will be available in the new interface.

We want to hear from you! If you have any comments or concerns about the new uSearch, please send us your feedback:

The Digital Production Lab | Headquarters for Pan Am’s Digital Archive

Left to right: Manager of Digital Production Veronica Cabrera uses a bound copy of Clipper Magazine from the Pan American World Airways, Inc. Records to review best scanning practices with student assistant Corey Fehlberg.

By Cory Czajkowski

A few steps beyond the main elevator on the third floor of the Otto G. Richter Library is a generic looking door numbered 346. Despite its ordinary exterior, this door leads to an extraordinary workspace known as the Digital Production Lab (DPL), where skilled imaging specialists convert a wide variety of traditional library materials into digital formats, including printed books, journals, photographs, maps, manuscripts, fine art, and more.

The faculty, staff, and student assistants of the DPL represent an evolving circulation system that has become a prevailing focal point in the University of Miami Libraries’ (UML) mission to open worlds. In this case, rather than simply delivering printed, physical materials to library patrons in-person, the Lab instead offers local and distant users free access to digital surrogates that span the Libraries’ vast collections and strengthen the foundations of teaching, learning, and research at the University. Perhaps most importantly, the DPL’s expert team ensures the long-term preservation of UML’s unique digital content for future generations of scholars.

For the past 1.5 years, the Lab has fittingly served as the heart of operations for the digitization of materials from the Pan American World Airways, Inc. Records under a grant from the National Historic Publications and Records Commission. Whether scanned in-house or off-site, the DPL acted as both the starting point and finish line for 60 boxes of brochures, timetables, directories, and periodicals from the Printed Materials series of the Pan Am collection—an archive that documents the history of the largest international air carrier in the United States for more than six decades. The combined efforts have since added over 100,000 new images to UML’s Digital Collections, where they are full-text searchable and available for browsing and research.

Interim Associate Dean for Digital Strategies & Head of Digital Production Laura Capell worked with Digitization Project Manager Gabriella Williams to manage the complex workflows involved with preparing the Pan Am boxes for either of two scanning destinations: in-house with the DPL team, or off-site at Creekside Digital, a leading digitization vendor based in Glen Arm, Maryland.

“For a project of this scale, one of the first considerations was the groundwork laid by our staff and students to carefully record each box item-by-item, while maintaining the original order of the folders and verifying the information listed for each document was complete and accurate,” says Capell. “All 60 boxes were assigned specific digitization instructions for each individual item, which we call ‘technician’s notes’, to help make sure our team and the vendor were on the same page, so to speak.”

Imaging specialists in the Lab use a variety of equipment to digitally preserve materials from UML’s collections.

For in-house scanning, the staff and students of the DPL employed a variety of specialized imaging equipment designed for a wide range of formats. Former Digital Production Technician David Almeida captured high quality images of Pan Am newsletters with the DigiBook SupraScan and used the Atiz BookDrive Pro for smaller bound objects, such as Clipper Magazine, one of the airline’s in-flight publications. Veronica Cabrera, manager of Digital Production, was responsible for the grant’s file management and the Lab’s color calibration, ensuring digital surrogates had the highest level of quality and accessibility.

Additionally, Cabrera supervised the work of two assistants—UM students who have since become fascinated with the records of the former aviation giant. Corey Fehlberg, a sophomore in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology, performed quality control reviews of the outsourced Clipper Magazine. He inspected the gutters, or inside margins, of the bound periodical and brochure images produced by Creekside Digital to make sure no information was lost during scanning, ensured that all technical image specifications were met, and verified that the technician’s notes were accurately followed. “The quality control work required my undivided attention, and the experience has taught me to look at the materials from a researcher’s perspective, which has been both challenging and rewarding,” says Fehlberg. Daniel Correa-Manzor, a sophomore studying computer science, assisted with the in-house scanning of selected Pan Am materials. “As an undergrad, it’s incredible to have the opportunity to handle and be a part of the long-term preservation of the archive,” says Correa-Manzor. “It’s fun to imagine that someday my grandchildren will be able to view the work I did as a student under this grant.”

UML welcomed new Digital Production Technician John Hay earlier this year. Hay has been collaborating with Robert Largaespada, a long-time DPL technician who has worked on several grant-funded digital projects. “It’s great to be a part of a team of like-minded individuals at the DPL,” says Hay. “Working with materials on the history of aviation and Florida is exciting. I feel privileged to be a part of the expansion of new approaches to digitization.”

The culmination of these efforts has resulted in the extensive archive of digital images representing Pan Am’s Printed Materials series. The complete digital collection is now available to the public on the University of Miami Libraries’ Digital Collections web site.

Photos by Brittney Bomnin and Gisele Rocha

Left to right: Digital Production Technicians Robert Largaespada and John Hay perform quality control checks on scanned documents from the Pan Am collection.