CRL grows its collections team

From left to right: Jes Neal, a short-haired Black woman with braces and wearing a beige polo; Melanie Kowalski, a white woman with shoulder-length brown hair and beige cat-eye glasses; Ivanna Moreno, a young Latina woman with shoulder-length black hair and a black suit jacket over a collared shirt.
Monday, January 31, 2022
Hannah Edgar -

The Center for Research Libraries (CRL) is thrilled to announce three new additions to its Collections, Technology, & Partnerships team.

Jes Neal, formerly the Sterling A. Brown Archivist at Williams College and Records Management Project Manager at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, is CRL’s inaugural Community Collections Manager, a new role focusing on post-custodial, non-extractive partnerships at the collections level. Neal has described her seven-year career as “rooted in ensuring the narratives, papers, oral histories, archival and digital collections, and general cultural production of communities at the margins have equitable representation, promotion, access, and support.” Her professional experience aligns with the goals of the new Community Collections Manager role, which provides facilitated leadership to the Area Materials and Global Resources Programs and cultivates sustainable, forward-thinking, equity-centered partnerships with international, national, local, and diaspora communities. Neal's first day at CRL is February 21.

Emilie N. Songolo​ — who serves as the University of Wisconsin–Madison's Senior Librarian for African, Global, and Francophone Studies and Social Sciences, as well as the university libraries' Coordinator of International and Area Studies — sat on Neal’s search committee and spoke to the breadth of expertise Neal will bring to her work at CRL.

“As a member of the CRL International Collections & Content Group and a long-standing member of CAMP [Cooperative Africana Materials Project], I am excited to have Jes join us in this reenvisioned role of Community Collections Manager for CRL,” Songolo says. “Jes has a record of collaboration that will be leveraged to enhance the work of both the AMPs and the Global Resources Programs in non-extractive partnerships. Having worked in academic libraries, archives, historical societies, the federal government, and the private sector, Jes is best positioned to revitalize the diversity of existing CRL partnerships. I have no doubt that she will be instrumental in forming new ones from the local to the global levels, particularly with diasporic communities.”

Joining CRL on the same day as Neal is Melanie Kowalski, CRL's Open Knowledge Licensing Coordinator. Kowalski will work to operationalize open knowledge strategy in context of CRL’s licensing activity and serve as CRL’s primary resource for copyright information policy and education. Kowalski comes to CRL from Emory University Libraries, having served as the Copyright and Scholarly Communications Librarian since 2011. At Emory, Kowalski co-developed the university’s first Open Access Collection Development Policy, coordinated an Open Access Publishing Fund, co-developed Emory’s Digital Collections Copyright and Content Policy, and, with funding from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, co-developed an openly accessible Model Publishing Contract for Digital Scholarship.

In addition to her open knowledge policy experience, Kowalski has participated in summer institutes at the Humanities Intensive Learning and Teaching Institute and the Legal Literacies for Text and Data Mining Institute. She has contributed extensively to the field—as author, presenter, and committee member—via University Information Policy Officers (UIPO), the Library Publishing Coalition, ACRL, ALA, Research Data Access and Preservation, and the HBCU Library Alliance.

In her role as CRL's new Collections Assistant, Ivanna Moreno will work closely with both Neal and Kowalski. Moreno has worked in libraries since 2018 and previously worked as the Caribbean Data Curation Intern at the University of Florida, her alma mater. There, she worked to support dLOC as Data, an initiative of the Digital Library of the Caribbean that was supported by a grant from Collections as Data: Part to Whole, a CRL project.

Moreno is fluent in Spanish and brings a strong background in equity-centered collaborations and open knowledge to the role. As Collections Assistant, Moreno will provide administrative support for the Area Materials and Global Resources Programs, Collections as Data, the Repository of Documentation on Disappearances in Mexico, and other Collections, Technology, & Partnerships initiatives. She will also assist Kowalski in her licensing efforts by helping maintain eDesiderata and ConsortiaManager.

"CRL is committed to advancing open knowledge and open infrastructure on a global level, and Jes, Melanie, and Ivanna are key partners in this effort," says Thomas Padilla, CRL’s Senior Director of Collections, Technology, & Partnerships. "We look forward to learning from them and celebrating the successes they achieve in partnership with a diverse range of communities."


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