A Day in the Life: Julie Hardesty, Metadata Analyst for the Indiana University Libraries

Julie Hardesty
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“Being curious is pretty essential. Then having the skills to satisfy that curiosity - being able to answer questions, find information, and try technical things. Working in metadata is a well-rounded place to be - you have to read a lot and stay in touch with what is happening, know sources for finding the information you need, be able to take in that information and explain it to others effectively, and have the technical chops to try out and work with tools that can help manage metadata.”

College Background: Art History
M.A. Art History
Master of Information Science

Previous Experience: Julie worked as a web developer with IU’s University Information Technology and as a User Interface Design Specialist with the Digital Library Program (also as UITS staff). As a master’s student in Art History, she was a gallery assistant at the John Waldron Arts Center, an intern in the Education Department at the IU Art Museum, and an intern in the American Art Department at the Art Institute of Chicago.

While completing graduate work in Art History, Julie planned for a career in a museum or gallery. Although her interests shifted, Julie credits the Bachelor’s and Master’s in Art History with shaping her into the person she is today. A background in Art History provided skills that include critical thinking, empathy, and not giving up when things become difficult.

Julie began considering of the possibility of a career in information science while pursuing her master’s in Art History. She was working as a student assistant scanning archival materials and special collections for the Hoagy Carmichael project when she started tinkering with HTML. Julie says, “I found myself in this field rather than consciously deciding to go into this field of work.”

Upon graduation, with a master’s in Art History, Julie learned to program on the job as a UITS employee. Because many web developers were leaving IU for startups during the dot-com boom, she was in the right place at the right time. To improve her programming skills, Julie decided to pursue a master’s in Information Science while working full-time. The MIS degree provided Julie with confidence working in the field of web development and digital libraries. She enjoys “creating things through programming, solving the puzzles that continuously come up, and making things that help others do their work.”

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As a Metadata Analyst, Julie’s responsibilities vary from day-to-day. Typically, she is involved in digital library project meetings and service meetings for many library committees. Her digital library projects are focused on Avalon Media System and the Media Digitization and Preservation Initiative (MDPI). Avalon Media System is an open source system project led by Indiana University and Northwestern University for managing and providing online access to large collections of digital audio and video. Utilizing Avalon, Indiana University’s MDPI is a comprehensive plan that began in 2009 for the digitization and preservation of audio recordings. Julie sorts through and organizes data associated with original audiovisual materials as well as digitized materials to broaden access to collections.

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In addition to these large projects, Julie manages the Archives Online finding aid (collection descriptions) service. Archives Online publishes finding aid collections to many archives and special collections located at Indiana University Bloomington and around the state of Indiana. Archives Online offers access to detailed collection guides and descriptions of items such as correspondence, diaries, photographs, and audiovisual materials that do not appear in IU Libraries’ online catalog.

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In addition, some collection guides include links to digital images of items in the collections. Finding aids are encoded according to the Encoded Archival Description (EAD) format.

In addition to these projects, Julie spends time almost every day working with colleagues outside of IU on the open source Hydra/Fedora technology stack resolving metadata issues. Hydra is a multi-institutional effort to combine individual repository development efforts to find collective solutions. 

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Julie admits that her work can be challenging when she must understand the many different ways people create and utilize metadata.  More difficulties arise from the variety of standards and technologies involved in metadata projects.  Even when projects are trying, Julie finds it rewarding to help people work through technical problems.  She feels satisfied when she is able to implement a plan and then puzzle through programming issues that move along the larger project.

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Julie’s advice for Current MIS Students: You are getting a solid degree from the ILS Department in the School of Informatics. While you are here at IU, look for experiences working in different information science areas. Check out jobs at the library and UITS, look at GA positions and internship opportunities. There are real projects at IU that can use your help so if you have interests in digitization, programming, usability, accessibility, metadata, social media, or any other information science area, ask the ILS department for help in finding real project experiences sooner than later!

If you are currently working full time/almost full time and getting this degree, first recognize that you are already achieving something that is difficult to do (if I could, I would give you a cookie). Focus on internships for credit and in-class projects that might gain you real experiences in information science areas that interest you. Again, talking with the ILS department early and often is your best strategy to graduating with a degree and a job!


Media Contact

Ken Bikoff
Communications Specialist
Phone: (812) 856-6908