Welcome to the first in a series of blog posts aimed at introducing you to some of the movers and shakers who work tirelessly to advocate, educate and promote Fedora and other community-supported programs like ours. At Fedora, we are strong because of our people and without individuals like this advocating for continued development we would not be where we are today. As you may or may not know, our Steering Governance group is made up of elected members who serve to provide project oversight and ensure the priorities of the Leadership Group and member institutions are being met. In today’s “Meet the Members” post, I would like to introduce you to our Steering Group Chair and Chair-Elect – Este Pope & Tim Shearer.

Let’s Meet Este!

Tell me your name, where you work and what your title is.

“Este Pope. I am the head of Digital Programs at the Amherst College Library.”

How are you involved with Fedora Governance?

“I’m the chair of Fedora Steering and Leaders Groups this year. I’m also a co-chair of the Communication, Outreach, Marketing and Community Sub-group (we proudly have the longest name amongst the sub-groups).”

How long have you been involved with Fedora? How long have you been involved in Fedora Governance?

“I’ve been involved in Fedora and the Leaders and Steering Groups for four years. I’ve been a fan of Fedora since the early 2000’s.”

 What compels you to continue to advocate for Fedora? Why do you think it’s important

“Open source software. Academy-led software development. The opportunity to embed values of libraries, museums, galleries, and archives into the infrastructure we use to provide access and support preservation of digital assets from our institutions. We are a global community of colleagues with a shared investment and responsibility to promote long-term sustainability. And we have phenomenal and committed partners at LYRASIS and on the governance and committers groups.”

What is the coolest thing you’ve done with your repository?

“I’m really proud of all the college history materials we’ve been adding to celebrate Amherst’s bicentennial this year. With so much remote learning happening, having access to these materials in digital form is especially important and cool. The archives are supporting work by Amherst College to research the racial history of the institution as part of our anti-racism plan, and we are finding many materials in our repository that support this research.”


If you could choose one super power, what would it be and why?

I think I’d be able to pause time or speed myself up temporarily to get a bunch of things done quickly, but no one would notice, and it wouldn’t age me or tire me out. I could see a lot of potential uses for that superpower both personally and for the world. It would almost be like I was a human supercomputer.”

And now I’d like to introduce you to Tim!

Tell me your name, where you work and what your title is.

“I’m Tim Shearer, Associate University Librarian for Digital Strategies &IT at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill University Libraries.”

How are you involved with Fedora Governance?

“I am currently a member of Fedora Leaders, Fedora Steering and am chair-elect of Steering.”

How long have you been involved with Fedora? How long have you been involved in Fedora Governance?

“UNC Chapel Hill Libraries have been using Fedora as core technology for the campus institutional repository since 2010. Since then Fedora’s footprint has grown significantly as part of our preservation program. In addition to Carolina’s scholarship, Fedora now undergirds most library-managed digital objects, largely special collections. We have a long and rewarding history not only of using Fedora, but of contributing to the code base and broader community.

I was first elected to Fedora Leaders in 2014 and have been a part of governance for most of the sixteen years since. As is not uncommon for folks new to a community filled with names I’d only heard, I was pretty tentative in those first years. I wondered if I really had the background and experience to bring a meaningful voice to a global open source software project. What I found was a wonderful and welcoming community. One focused on collective problem solving and committed to making a difference. One that continues to evolve, and which is strengthened by new and diverse voices. (This means you!)”

What compels you to continue to advocate for Fedora? Why do you think it’s important?

“Narrowly, The University Libraries use Fedora as one of our enterprise systems. I feel it is important both to represent our use cases to the project and to contribute our expertise and energy back to the community. It is a feedback loop that strengthens our repository and preservation programs and at the same time (one hopes) strengthens the project.

Fedora is of direct benefit to my institution.

More broadly, Fedora holds a unique position in the larger repository world. Most off-the-shelf solutions serve a limited number of use cases. Fedora is essentially object neutral, data model neutral, and it scales. The University Libraries have large and complex collections representing the messiness of humans as trapped in artifacts. Fedora is a fundamental tool for stewarding, preserving, and expressing this record in ways that we hope are authentic. And while it is extremely flexible, Fedora is also part of an information system. One that holds promise to enable unmediated computational access to objects and metadata. We are trying to build toward an ever more robust future to help students, researchers, and scholars use our collections in ways that support current and future methodologies and tools.  

Fedora fulfills a unique role in the complex repository ecosystem.

Finally, Fedora is a great example of academy-led software development. There are real costs to this model. Community is messy, slow, and can become easily distracted. Sustainable financing of open source is challenging. But we find ourselves in a world where scholarly output and systems are being swallowed up by an increasingly small number of corporate entities. These companies own not only the research, but also the promise of controlling and selling predictive analytics back to the academy, companies, and governments. The academy, and the global citizens who pay for it, deserve transparent access to the code that stores scholarship and the algorithms that analyze it. We must have a voice in ensuring that systems respect privacy and are developed and used ethically. Additionally, institutions need systems that provide a bridge to the future. Too often rather than a bridge, we find ourselves in a foggy cul-de-sac where the only exit strategy is a hefty check…and the guarantee of a new license agreement that locks in annual increases. I am passionate about doing what I can to ensure there are alternatives. Open source community driven development is one of the tools to keep the door from being closed, and then locked. 

Fedora is part of a broader effort to support democratic access to the record of humanity.”

What is the coolest thing you’ve done with your repository?

“The answer depends on how you define cool. I get excited about some things that are pretty deep in the stack such as our work on bulkrax and longleaf. But over this last year we have added nearly thirty thousand open access articles by UNC Chapel Hill scholars to the Carolina Digital Repository with more to come soon. This feels particularly significant on a campus that adopted an Open Access Policy and entrusted the Libraries to build and manage its institutional repository.  

It is important to acknowledge that all this progress is due to the efforts of amazingly talented and passionate folks that I am fortunate enough to have had as colleagues. If you follow links, please take a moment to learn the names of the folks responsible for the work.”

If you could have one superpower, what would it be and why?

To provide well-resourced, freely available, universally inclusive education. Dr. King said, “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.” I believe that investment in education relates directly to the curve of that arc.”

I want to take a moment and thank both Este and Tim for participating in today’s post. We look forward to the progress the team is making toward a Fedora 6.0 Production Release and look forward to your continued involvement within the community.

If you would like more information about Fedora Governance you can find it here. And for additional information on how you can support community-supported programs like Fedora, please consider becoming a Member by clicking here.