I wish… Dreams from UWI in St. Augustine, Trinidad

I wish… Dreams from UWI in St. Augustine, Trinidad

I wish. Earlier today, this is how my phone corrected when I typed UWI. My phone has successfully typed UWI on many occasions, so it should not have had trouble. Changing UWI to I wish; I’m thankful for this auspicious error. I wish, my wish, my dreams are of collaboration and building community to work ever more strongly together, and I most often work and make this possible by leveraging technology.  But, no technologies are simply technical, and people are always the most challenging, exciting, and meaningful. From here, in the lovely UWI Inn on the UWI St. Augustine campus, on my last trip, I’m reflecting on a year of many trips to discuss Caribbean Studies and Digital Humanities/Scholarship, and how libraries can support and connect, including the Digital Library of the Caribbean (dLOC). On each trip, certain words emerge and repeat for our needs–amplify, elevate, celebrate–and certain words repeat for our work and ways of working–generous, passion, love, together.

I wish. When I was in graduate school, I chose to go into librarianship because I wanted to collaborate with others. I’m best when working together as we, when we’re positioned to be at our best. My passion was and remains in doing public scholarship, engaging scholars, students, and publics on shared questions and concerns and in making new things possible through collaboration, through us. Coming to work in libraries, specifically in Caribbean libraries and with folks in Caribbean Studies, I get to see generousity of thought and action, kindness, passion in action, and joy in our work. This is tremendously rewarding, creative, and generative. I wished to be part of this kind of community and I am joyous that I get to be. In many ways, how I work is still fairly technical, in that I work with technologies. How the work works is a bit magical, with the connections and community creating new possible worlds.

An example, from a meeting today that has a long history. This afternoon, I met with Dr. Karen Eccles, UWI Humanities Librarian, and Dr. Debbie McCollin, UWI Lecturer in History. I think Debbie has the longest running Digital Humanities class in the Caribbean, starting in 2012/2013.  Debbie shared that she was inspired by her participation at THATCamp Caribe in 2012, which was the first THATCamp in the Caribbean, with Dr. Alex Gil’s leadership. Also in that was Dr. Schuyler Esprit, who is now at Dominica State College and founded Create Caribbean. Create Caribbean is the first DH Center in the Caribbean. Dr. Alex Gil was in all aspects of the meeting, even though not physically here, with his work on minimal computing, as co-creator/editor with Dr. Kaiama Glover of sx: archipelagos for digital Caribbean Studies, and as one of the leaders on the Caribbean Digital Conference, where Dr. Schuyler Esprit and Dr. Kevin Browne of the Caribbean Memory Project presented. Dr. Kevin Brown is now here at UWI in the Department of Literary, Cultural, and Communication Studies, and we’ll meet this week. In a single afternoon meeting with three people, all of the other connections and collaborations–and this is a short listing–are with us. All of these conversations support next step collaborations and sharing and learning for amplifying, elevating, and celebrating Caribbean Studies.

In the afternoon’s meeting, three firsts–first DH class in the Caribbean, first DH Center in the Caribbean, and first THATCamp in the Caribbean–all came up for where we’ve been and where we’re going.  I wish, for me, is both a past wish that continues to come true with collaboration and community, and a constant opening invitation for wishing and dreaming together.

I wish for others to share on firsts, seconds, and to correct, complicate, and expand the history of Caribbean DH. Our work in dreaming together supports our present and futures, and our work in documenting our pasts allows us to more clearly connect and grow together for ever-expanding Caribbean Studies and libraries.