WI Law In Action Podcast: Elizabeth Manriquez on the UW Law School Digital Repository

The latest episode of the Wisconsin Law in Action podcast from the UW Law Library features Elizabeth Manriquez, Head of Reference and Scholarly Support and manager of the UW Law School Digital Repository.  She joins host Kris Turner to discuss the numerous collections and features of our repository, as well as several new and upcoming collections.  Manriquez also provides insight into the future of scholarly communications and information discovery.

Last month, the Digital Repository celebrated its 5th anniversary.  Already one of the largest academic law repositories, it continues to grow.  We are currently seeking a professional to join our team as the Digital Collections and Reference Librarian.  This newly-created position will be responsible for the day-to-day management of the repository while also supporting an amazing group of legal scholars and law students.  

Manriquez on the UW Law School Digital Repository’s Open Source Platform:

Photo of Elizabeth Manriquez I couldn’t be more proud of the repository we have here at the University of Wisconsin. First, I’d like to say that it’s unique because it’s based in an open source platform known as Omeka. We are one of the few schools that do not have a Digital Commons repository, and I think that we’ve really distinguished ourselves by using an open source platform. By doing that, we’re able to accept collections that are a little bit more cultural heritage as opposed to just straight faculty scholarship, which is the emphasis of Digital Commons.

Manriquez on the Changes to the Digital Repository in the Last Five Years:

In 2018, repositories in law schools generally were just really concentrated on getting all the content in there, and at all the institutions that I’ve been at, the push at that time was really, “Let’s be as comprehensive as possible. We have to track down as much scholarship as possible. We want to be the stop for faculty scholarship.” And now that push has subsided, the UW repository along with other repositories are more concentrated on best practices and discoverability. So that’s what a lot of the work that I do now, which is adding enriched metadata, linking profiles, employing different search engine optimization techniques to make the material that we have available in the repository more discoverable for researchers and just generally fine tuning and making the collections look good, making them work the way that we want them to. We have the content there and what we’re doing now is just enriching it.

Manriquez on the Future of Scholarly Communications and Information Discovery:

I think this is a really exciting time to be a librarian. There’s a lot of systems that are changing. There’s a lot of innovation that is happening in libraries, and that is changing the face of the work that we do. And librarians are having to learn a lot more technical and data-centric skills just because everything is online. So librarians have always worked to make materials more discoverable. From the time that MARC was invented and we’ve had catalog records. All of those systems were designed specifically so that end users could find materials. So librarians are just doing that same work now, but we’re doing it on the Internet, so we’re using a lot of Internet practices to improve the discoverability of our resources.

I think that that’s just going to continue. We have AI and other innovations coming to the Internet, and librarians are just going to have to adapt to all of these new programs and use them to our advantage. I think that’s what a lot of scholarly communications librarian are doing right now. They’re working with persistent identifiers, just employing a lot of best practices that you see in computer and data science and giving them our librarian touch.

Manriquez on New and Upcoming Repository Collections:

One of the most exciting collections that we have coming up is the collection of Herman Goldstein’s papers. Herman Goldstein was a professor at the University of Wisconsin and was integral in the creation of problem-oriented policing. This is a concept that he created and worked his entire career to bring to the forefront and is really just a fantastic collection and body of work…

In the next months, we’ll be debuting a collection that we’ve been working on very hard for about three years. In 2020, we received a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services for the Digital Publication of Tribal Laws Pilot Project. And this is a unique project that there’s a huge space for… There’s a real access to justice issue when it comes to accessing primary law when it comes to tribal law and Indian codes and native laws…  We’re hoping to expand and have this serve as a pilot project for other libraries and other tribes publishing their laws on platforms like ours…

We also just finished digitizing a collection of briefs from one of our faculty members, Keith Findley. These are briefs from his career with the Innocence Project.

For Manriquez’s scholarship, see her profile on the UW Law School Digital Repository.