"Caring for Digital Collections in the Anthropocene," by Dr. Trevor Owens
Virtually, Friday, April 9, 2021  
6:30 p.m. EDT


Program PDF

The craft of digital preservation and digital collections care is anchored in the past. It builds off the records, files, and works of those who came before us and those who designed and set up the systems that enable the creation, transmission, and rendering of their work. At the same time, the craft of digital preservation is also the work of a futurist. We must look to the past trends in the ebb and flow of the development of digital media and hedge our bets on how digital technologies of the future will play out. This talk explores key issues for exploring and imagining that future. We start with consideration of some key emerging technologies relevant to digital collections and then zoom out to consider the future of digital collections in the context of technologies of surveillance, precarity of both cultural heritage institutions and cultural heritage workers in the context of neoliberalism, and then explore the broad set of challenges facing the future of collections stemming from the increasing effects of anthropogenic climate change. Drawing on frameworks for maintenance, care, and repair this talk concludes with an opportunity to reflect on and consider how memory and information workers should approach the digital present and future of our institutions and professions.

Trevor OwensAbout the Speaker.

Dr. Trevor Owens is a librarian, researcher, policy maker, and educator advancing digital infrastructure and programs for libraries and archives. 

Owens serves as the first Head of Digital Content Management  at the Library of Congress. He is also a Public Historian in Residence at American University, and a lecturer for the University of Maryland’s College of Information, where he is also a Research Affiliate with the Digital Curation Innovation Center.
He currently serves on the board of Anacostia Trails Heritage Area Inc., as a founding board member of Digital Cultural Heritage D.C., as a member of the CLIR Hidden Collections Digitization Program Review Panel, and as a member of the Digital Library Federation Advisory Committee.
Owens previously worked as a Senior Program Officer and as Associate Deputy Director for Libraries at the United States Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS). At the IMLS, he led the establishment of the National Digital Platform initiative, which under his leadership, invested more than $30 million in 110 projects to advance digital infrastructure for libraries across the nation. Prior to that, he worked on digital preservation strategy and as a historian of science at the Library of Congress. Before joining the Library of Congress, he led outreach and communications efforts for the Zotero project at the Center for History and New Media at George Mason University.
Owens is the author of three books, the most recent of which, The Theory and Craft of Digital Preservation, was published by Johns Hopkins University Press in 2018 and has won outstanding publication awards from both the American Library Association and the Society of American Archivists. His research and writing has been featured in: Curator: The Museum Journal, Digital Humanities Quarterly, The Journal of Digital Humanities, D-Lib, Simulation & Gaming, Science Communication, New Directions in Folklore, and American Libraries.
In 2019, the College of Humanities and Social Sciences at George Mason University recognized him as Distinguished Alumni for History and Art History, exemplifying “the adaptability of a humanities and social sciences education” and for “taking an active role towards confronting essential questions and problems in our society.” In 2018 Library Journal recognized Owens as one of the “top changemakers who are transforming what it means to be a librarian.” In 2014 the Society for American Archivists granted him the Archival Innovator Award, presented annually to the archivist, repository, or organization that best exemplifies the “ability to think outside the professional norm.”


About the Stone Lecture Series

Elizabeth StoneEstablished in 1990, the Elizabeth W. Stone Lecture Series honors Dr. Elizabeth W. Stone, Dean Emerita of the School of Library and Information Science (SLIS), for her service to the school and the library profession. Dr. Stone (M.S.L.S. '61) joined the LIS faculty in 1961 and was named chair of the Department of Library Science in 1972. Under her leadership, the department became the School of Library and Information Science in 1981 and she served as Dean until 1983.

The Elizabeth W. Stone Lecture series is held each spring. The speakers, who are invited by the Alumni Association, include esteemed librarians, university presidents, journalists, members of professional associations, and government representatives.

The 13th Annual Elizabeth W. Stone Lecture included a special remembrance of Dr. Stone, who passed away on March 6, 2002, at the age of 83. Her presence throughout the years has given the school a sense of continuity, connecting students with the larger Catholic University library and information science community of alumni. This lecture series strives to bring innovators in the library profession to Catholic University that demonstrate Dr. Stone's commitment to the life-long development of librarians. To continue Dr. Stone's legacy, donations will be accepted for the Elizabeth W. Stone Scholarship Fund. Please call 202-319-6926 for further information.

Previous Speakers

  • 2019 Kate Zwaard, the Digital Strategy Director of the Library of Congress

    “Innovation and Digital Strategy at the Library of Congress”
    Click here to watch video

  • 2018 - Professor Dave Shumaker
    Clinical Associate Professor at the Department of Library and Information Science, Catholic University of America
    "How to Predict the Future" 

  • 2017- Melanie Townsend Diggs
    Pennsylvania Avenue Branch manager at Baltimore’s Enoch Pratt Free Library
    Recipient of the 2016 Lemony Snicket Prize for Noble Librarians Faced with Adversity
    “Being a ‘beacon of light’ in the face of adversity”

  • 2016 - Don Collins
    Oceanographer and archivist at NOAA National Centers for Environmental Information
    "An Oceanographer's Voyage Into Librarianship"

  • 2015- Linda Ueki Absher

  • 2014- Barbara Stripling

  • 2013- Blane Dessy
    Executive Director, Federal Library Information Network, Library of Congress
    The Federal Government's Information Sphere & The Myth of Federal Information Policy  
    Click here to view the slides

  • 2012 - Dr. Deanna Marcum
    Associate Librarian for Library Services at the Library of Congress, Managing Director of Ithaka S+R., and former Dean of the Catholic University of America School of Library and Information Science, 1989-1992
    "Leadership for the Digital Age"
    Click here to watch video

  • 2011 - Elizabeth Aversa
    Director of the School of Library and Information Studies at the University of Alabama and former Dean of LIS
    "A Passion for Libraries - or - Why We Do What We Do"

  • 2010 Dr. Clifford Lynch Ph.D.
    Executive Director, Coalition for Networked Information
    “Scholarship, Cultural Memory and Libraries in the 21st Century”

  • 2009 - Camila Alire
    ALA President, "Issues and Trends in American Libraries," April 21, 2009

  • 2008 - Andrew Pace
    Executive Director for Networked Library Services, OCLC
    "From SLIS to OCLC: An Alumnus Reflects on His Career and the Evolving Profession"
    April 30, 2008
    Click Here to View the Powerpoint Presentation slides (pdf)
  • 2007 - Dr. Deanna Marcum
    Associate Librarian for Library Services at the Library of Congress
    "Culture Shock: The Changing Nature of Library Science Education"

  • 2005 - Richard Baker
    Historian of the Senate
    "History on the Hill: From Gunpowder Paste to the Nuclear Option"

  • 2004 - Dr. Siva Vaidhyanathan
    Director of the undergraduate program in Communication Studies in Culture and Communication at New York University.
    "The Anarchist in the Library"

  • 2003 - Sanford Berman
    Berman, a Catholic University SLIS alumnus, has written extensively and especially on increasing access to libraries via attention to subject cataloguing and collection development.
    "Not in My Library: Issues of Workplace Speech and Governance"

  • 2002 - Duane E. Webster
    Executive Director for Association of Research Libraries (ARL)
    "Reflections on the Future of Scholarly Communications"

  • 2001 - Nancy Kranich
    President, American Library Association
    "Why Do We Still Need Libraries?"

  • 2000 - Dr. John Cole
    Director of the Center for the Book, Library of Congress
    "Bicentennial of the Library of Congress"

  • 1999 - Dr. Carla Hayden
    Director of the Enoch Pratt Free Library in Baltimore
    "Institutional Change in a Traditional Library"

  • 1998 - Kurt Cylke
    National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped, Library of Congress
    "That All May Read"

  • 1997 - Henriette Avram
    Library of Congress, Retired
    "On the Fourth Decade of the MARC Format"

  • 1996 - Dr. Mathilde V. Rovelstad
    Professor Emerita
    School of Library and Information Science, CUA
    "Temples of Wisdom and Faith: The Picture World of Monastic Libraries of the Baroque Period"

  • 1995 - Jeanne Hurley Simon
    Chair, National Commission on Libraries and Information Science
    "The Role of the National Commission in American Library Development"

  • 1994 - Eileen D. Cooke
    Director, American Library Association Washington Office
    "Lobbying for Libraries: Thirty Years on Capitol Hill"

  • 1993 - Hardy R. Franklin, Ph.D.
    Director, The District of Columbia Public Library and President, American Library Association
    "Customer Service and the Library: The Crucial Link"

  • 1992 - Rev. William J. Byron, S.M.
    President, The Catholic University of America
    "Library Support for Community Service"

  • 1991 - Sheilah Kast
    Network Journalist, ABC News
    "The Public's Right to Know in the Information Age"

  • 1990 - Rev. Timothy S. Healy, S.J.
    President, New York Public Library
    "The Role of the Public Library in a Democratic Society"