If you’re a faculty member who’s incorporated a digital element into your pedagogy, you’ve likely encountered Megan Mitchell . As a digital initiatives librarian, she helps faculty and others on campus bring academic projects to life online.
Faculty members share with Mitchell what kind of project they’re planning, and she helps identify the best digital solution—typically an online publishing software such as Omeka or WordPress—based on their needs. She also works with the faculty member and students to train them on the digital platform.
Her dedication to service, ensuring that both faculty and students receive ample assistance and support, is just one reason Mitchell was selected for the YB Staff Award.
The Yeworkwha Belachew (YB) Staff Award is given annually to an Oberlin College staff member who has gone “above and beyond” in service to the college. The award is named in honor of the extraordinary service of Yeworkwha Belachew, or YB, as she was known to Oberlin’s students, faculty, staff, and residents. The YB Staff Award is designed to annually recognize a non-faculty, institutional employee of the college or conservatory who demonstrates daily commitment and performance in advancing the college's strategic goals, through exemplary service to the college.
Mitchell began her role at Oberlin nearly 26 years ago, first as a reference and instruction librarian. She has always worked with technology in some capacity, and it’s something she enjoys. She was hired into her current position in 2015.
At first, the bulk of Mitchell’s role was focused on supporting the Five Colleges of Ohio Mellon grant, assisting faculty with digital collections, but now the focus of her work has shifted to pedagogy and scholarship.
In addition to this, Mitchell is also highly involved with making library materials more accessible to the public. She is part of a team that’s been working with the Internet Archive, a non-profit library of free books, movies, software, music, websites, and other items, to ensure items from Oberlin’s extensive archives are available to the world online.
“I love making things more visible and accessible, and helping people make connections in their work,” says Mitchell.
For Mitchell, the recognition is meaningful. “Receiving the YB award was an unexpected honor that made me feel grateful for my colleagues,” says Mitchell. “Like many people I've talked with, I originally thought I'd be at Oberlin for a few years on my way to someplace else. Twenty six years later, I'm still finding interesting work to do with wonderful people.”
What a few colleagues say about Mitchell:
“Megan has been a critical resource for faculty designing new curriculum that focuses on integrating digital humanities. She's worked with countless faculty on both pedagogical and research projects that have allowed us to remain relevant to the latest innovations in digital humanities.”
“Megan works closely with faculty, students, and staff to get Oberlin College closer to where it should be in terms of digital initiatives. She's always willing and eager to work with faculty to explore project ideas, and is open and creative in her brainstorming—she never says never! She's contributed greatly to Oberlin's impressive digital presence.”
“Megan has been a tireless advocate for the Oberlin College libraries and in service to the greater campus community for more than 25 years, and I consider her to be my closest mentor. Everything I have been able to accomplish in my role as a librarian and beyond is due to her deft, warm, and informed guidance. She is generous and insightful with her institutional knowledge ... she brings levity to difficult situations and she is supportive of each and every person she meets. In her role as a librarian, she has consistently driven the libraries toward new and innovative technologies and practices that have allowed us to keep up with changing patron demands.”
“Megan’s up-to-date knowledge of emerging technologies has been key for my classes, student research projects, and most recently, my own research. If only Megan could be cloned! She is incomparable and for myself and many other faculty across campus, a key figure in shepherding our teaching and research in new directions.”
“My teaching ... has been immeasurably enriched by Megan’s tremendous care and expertise. She sets professors and students up to succeed in whatever projects they take on. She meets them where they are in terms of familiarity with new technologies and gets them where they want to go, steering them toward the tools that are best-suited for their particular goals ... Megan is patience personified.”