EMPLOYEE SPOTLIGHT: Virginia Dressler
Celebrating Ginnie Dressler's Accessibility Efforts as a Digital Projects Librarian
Improving accessibility is everyone's job! We'll use this feature of Inside Equal Access to celebrate how a Kent State employee has championed accessibility and created workable strategies for improving Equal Access for all. In this issue, we celebrate Virginia Dressler who has been an advocate for digital accessibility as a Digital Projects Librarian for 7 years. Before that, she taught as an adjunct for the School of Information (2010-2014).
This article originally appeared in the March 2022 Issue of Inside Equal Access.
Digital Projects Librarian
Please explain what your job entails.
My job mainly revolves around the creation and management of digital collections. It’s a job I enjoy immensely- identifying collections both in the many library collections as well as non-library content to digitize and upload to our institutional repository.
To give an idea of the variety of content, we have digitized most of the back log of student media publications (The Burr, A Mag, Fusion and more!), the entire collection (26,000) of historical Ohio Sanborn Fire Insurance maps from the map library in McGilvery, and the School of Art Exhibition catalogs.
I also serve as the subject liaison to the School of Information, the School of Art, and Visual Communication and Design.
How, if at all, does digital or physical accessibility intersect with what you just explained?
Digital accessibility intersects most directly in the creation of digital collections. I think one huge shift from when I first started out in this line of work in 2005 is thinking about digital accessibility from the onset of a project instead of an afterthought. This has been really important to work into existing workflows to think more about digital accessibility requirements as we set up a project rather than afterwards.
What attracted you to the area of accessibility?
Librarians are inherently driven to connect people with resources, and I have thought that part of this work is making sure resources are accessible.
What does your perfect day off look like?
Lately, a perfect day off is being with my family and technology-free.
How have you worked to improve the digital accessibility of materials, programs, and teams that you work with here at Kent State?
At University Libraries, I formed a digital accessibility committee in 2019, with members from almost every department in the library. I have also worked in digital accessibility goals into our department, mainly around remediation work and adapting existing production workflows for accessibility.
What is the greatest challenge facing you in your efforts to improve accessibility in your area?
Finding time and staffing to improve accessibility. We are at a point that we have identified many areas where we need to commit some time and resources for accessibility work, and this has been a challenge to complete.
What advice would you give to someone just beginning to learn about accessibility?
I remember a number of years ago, I had been very intimidated to even start learning more about digital accessibility- It felt insurmountable and almost impossible. I then started out having conversations with the amazing people here at Kent State in Information Technology and Student Accessibility Services about first steps. I found there were some amazing resources here on campus that really helped to get me started.