By Ellen Meltzer, Manager, Information Services

Jason Colman’s reputation preceded him when he came to CDL’s Mass Digitization Program as a Project Specialist.  Although he brings a rich background in digital libraries, he was probably more widely known as the founder (and duke) of the University of Michigan Squirrel Club, the 2nd largest student club on Michigan’s campus (depending on how large the campus Student Democratic Club is at the time).  Jason’s been interviewed on Michigan Public Radio and the club was mentioned in the New York Times.  (He attributes its popularity to the legions of students who miss their furry pets at home.)

The Mass Digitization Program, part of CDL Collection Development, is comprised of Heather Christenson, Paul Fogel, Andy Mardesich and Jason.  Jason is heavily involved with UC’s Google Projects, coordinating statistical reporting, communication and logistical support among the campuses and CDL.  He carries UC’s concerns to Google and HathiTrust.  A bit of a jack of all trades for the mass dig project, he also does quality assurance (QA) testing on the Internet Archive books funneling into HathiTrust, produces monthly updates for mass digitization, web editing and documentation, and more.  At this point, in fact, he has more external contact with the campuses than he does with fellow CDLers.

Similar to a few others at CDL, Jason has his MSI from the University of Michigan, where he has the distinction of being the first graduate with a digital preservation specialization.  (The promise of the Google Books project had initially lured him to library school.) While at Michigan, he worked for the Text Creation Partnership at the Digital Library Production Service, in partnership with Oxford University and others, encoding early printed texts into TEI.  He continued as the workflow manager for the project for three years.  A stint as a tech writer for Apple in Cupertino bit him with the California bug, and the combination of his experience and talents make this position at CDL a perfect fit—and coursework that included web archiving, preservation of audiovisual materials, and a personal background in video production and editing didn’t hurt either!

Learning and navigating the ins and outs of the UC libraries with their different cultures, becoming familiar with UC’s staffs, unique histories and multitude of projects are quite a challenge, but since Jason’s position requires much campus interaction, he is rising to the occasion. His excitement over the sheer size and scale of UC’s mass digitization projects is palpable.  That we measure what we’re doing in millions of books across all disciplines, embracing a task that has never been done before, and across institutions in the HathiTrust that have never worked before in quite this way keeps his heart pounding!

We’re delighted to welcome Jason to CDL and the UC libraries.