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Amelia Acker Awarded IMLS Early Career Development Grant

Texas iSchool Assistant Professor Amelia Acker has been awarded a three-year Early Career Development Grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), under the Laura Bush 21st Century Librarian Program, which supports the recruitment and education of the next generation of librarians, faculty, and library leaders.

The IMLS-funded project, “Investigating Platform Development for Mobile and Social Media Data Preservation,” builds on Acker’s ongoing research and teaching related to digital preservation strategies for social media and mobile platforms. Acker explains that although information generated on social media sites and mobile app devices represent the fastest form of data creation and collection, these data traces are vulnerable to loss. “Because social media started in the early 2000s, and mobile media in the late 1990s, we have yet to develop robust stewardship practices that facilitate digital preservation strategies in the long-term,” she added.

Beginning in fall 2018, Acker will begin a three-year investigation into emerging preservation tools and stewardship practices for mobile and social media data. The new grant will allow Acker to study the activities of engineers and designers at five digital media organizations engaged in platform development and information service provision. Acker will examine a variety of different research and development cultures where long-term data stewardship and digital preservation strategies are being re-envisioned in exciting ways.

The project will impact scholarly research, data preservation theories and models, professional education, and professional practice across U.S. cultural heritage organizations.  Discussing the value of her project, Acker says, “It aims to cultivate cross-domain expertise, mobile and social media data infrastructure, and digital preservation knowledge for information practitioners working in libraries, archives, and museums and beyond.” In addition, Acker’s research will contribute to IMLS’s goal of building the social and technical infrastructure of cultural heritage institutions nationwide, developing the National Digital Platform.

Outcomes of the research will serve as a bridge between corporate platform creators, industry technologists, librarians, and archivists by providing empirical data about emerging and experimental approaches to long-term access of mobile and social media data. “It creates a much-needed point of connectivity between the two domains of information provision and digital preservation,” explained Acker. The project will conclude in 2021 with an Open Educational Report intended for use by practitioners and educators in library programs and iSchools.

In addition to this research project, Acker continues her work on data created with mobile and social media platforms. She recently began another project with colleagues from UT, examining social payments metadata from mobile apps like Venmo. In 2016 Acker started at the University of Texas iSchool, where she teaches courses on digital preservation, metadata, literacy, and memory technologies. In 2017, Acker received early access to the Obama White House social media data archive for her research on social media metadata and digital archives. For more information about her research and teaching, visit http://www.ameliaacker.com/.