Zeineb Yousif’s success with UND Scholarly Commons, other digital initiatives catches Library Journal’s eye
GRAND FORKS, N.D. – Inspired to pursue librarianship by the range of services provided at her local public library, Zeineb Yousif has spent years successfully promoting digital access to UND’s research and collections.
Now that work has been recognized, with Library Journal naming Yousif as one of its Movers & Shakers for 2021. Yousif is one of 46 librarians and library workers across the country “who are transforming their communities, schools, and colleges and universities in myriad ways,” according to the journal.
The 145-year-old publication has been naming Movers & Shakers since 2002, making this the 19th group to be selected.
As a young woman in the Toronto area, Yousif found herself wandering around her public library one day, thinking about how much she enjoyed spending time there. Then she thought, “Wouldn’t it be nice to have a job in a place like this?”
A Masters in Library Science degree from the University of Western Ontario was the result.
In 2016, Yousif was hired as the inaugural digital initiatives librarian at the Chester Fritz Library at UND, tasked with starting up the University’s digital repository and promoting open access to scholarly resources.
Stephanie Walker, Dean of Libraries and Information Resources at UND, describes what happened next:
“In the not-quite-five years that Zeineb has been with CFL, she has built a fabulous Institutional Repository for UND research and teaching materials, called the UND Scholarly Commons,” Walker said.
“It holds almost 30,000 digitized items, which have been downloaded nearly 1 million times.”
Digital Commons – the company that initially developed the widely-used platform on which the UND Scholarly Commons is based – called the Chester Fritz Library about two years ago, asking, What are you doing up there in North Dakota?
“As it happened, we had by far the fastest growth rate of any of their customers,” Walker continued.
“Our latest digitization projects reflect the diverse array of disciplines taught at UND, ranging from dissertations to digitized fossil collections to Open Educational Resources in every discipline, to grant-funded digitized indigenous collections to 3D scans of wigs made by our Theatre Arts students!
“And this amazing success is all due to Zeineb’s enthusiasm and talent, and her outreach to our faculty.”
‘Reach out to the library’
Said Yousif, “I love having a job where I can help lots of different people while getting to regularly try doing something new.”
Furthermore, working as she does at a state university, Yousif takes pride in helping the public access the research that the same public funds.
“So much valuable research is locked behind paywalls, but not at UND,” she says. “No one goes into academia wanting their research to be read by only a few people!”
Yousif’s passion for access and inclusivity has also led her to work on initiatives such as readers’ advisories highlighting authors from marginalized communities, digitizing Lakota-language materials by working with members of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe (through a National Archives and Records Administration grant), and leading workshops for graduate students on using digital scholarship tools.
“The growth of the Scholarly Commons and other digital resources at UND is a credit to the University as a whole,” Yousif said.
“I appreciate how many of UND’s faculty have been invested in making their research available to the world. And I’d like to encourage anyone who’s still new to the idea of open access to reach out to the library.”