Mesco Finds It All in the Archives

Ann Marie Mesco standing next to brick wall

Ann Marie Mesco taught herself hypertext markup language in the 1990s while managing a culinary school's library. Ever since coding that first website, she has built a career around guiding libraries into a digital future.

As the digitization project manager, Mesco, a 2001 graduate of the Dietrich College, oversees the conversion of vast educational resources and intellectual assets into electronic items, all cataloged to be easily retrieved.

"The University Libraries is currently working to transform digital collections and reimagine how users will interact with them, whether it is alumni searching for photos or digital humanities researchers doing text and data mining. We are also working to expand the digital collections to encompass new formats, including photographs, video, audio and oral histories that have not previously been accessible online," Mesco said.

Her team at the Digitization Lab — located in a university warehouse at 6555 Penn Avenue — adapted to new demands when COVID-19 ushered in shutdowns and limited access to buildings and facilities. Mesco's team answered urgent requests to scan instructional materials as faculty transitioned to teaching online. The lab also focused on developing Virtual Reserves, a course digitization project in conjunction with Access Services.

"Our work has undergone a swift reinvention due to the pandemic and its unprecedented impact on our daily activities, requiring us to reprioritize and pivot to a new set of projects that expand on our core suite of services,' Mesco said. 

Needs increased for Controlled Digital Lending (CDL), which allows the university's print collection to be made digital for the global CMU community while remaining compliant with copyright laws. Mesco's team shifted from scanning chapters and journal articles before the pandemic to making entire books available for online learning.

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