Professionals in Focus: Tamara Butigan, Head of the Digital Library Department at the National Library of Serbia
Are you interested in the unusual and complex jobs in digital cultural heritage? So are we. So each month we are going to take a deep dive into the work of professionals in the sector. This time, we speak with Members Councillor Tamara Butigan about the mines of Bor and her enthusiasm for digitisation.
With my background in electrical engineering, I started working as a subject librarian in the National Library of Serbia, which opened up a whole new world for me. Over the course of these 20+ years with the National Library, I’ve worked as a webmaster, head of digital library, European projects coordinator and assistant, head of international cooperation and deputy director. Three years ago I resumed my role as head of the digital library. The pursuit of new challenges brought me to Europeana’s door, where I’m still busy discovering. It helps me to remain a Eurooptimist in the Eurosceptic, non-EU part of Europe.
What are you currently working on?
One of the main projects we are working on here is a new digital library portal, with a fresh graphical solution, a new way to organise digital documents, and a separate website for editorials - ‘une belle découverte’ for us, resulting from two Europeana projects: The Rise of Literacy and Migration in the Arts and Sciences. At the same time, we are working on the Europeana Common Culture project by applying the aggregation landscape for Europeana in Serbia. I am very excited about the editorials on industrial heritage that we are creating together with the Public Library Bor, highlighting the mines of Bor, dating from the 19th century. An important part of my work relates to the national aggregator for Europeana that we set up in 2018 with our Slovenian partner Semantika. Together with the national coordinator of DARIAH Serbia, we are planning digital humanities activities for 2020.
What are some of the challenges in your role? What are some of your favourite elements?
The biggest challenge and issue in my role is working with people who do not share the same enthusiasm for digitisation, or for European projects and values. But that’s also a great motivation to persevere. The constant lack of IT specialists affects our everyday work and is a huge challenge too. I prefer to work in a team, especially brainstorming, but I also enjoy getting my hands dirty with metadata from time to time.
What was your motivation for joining the Members Council?
As a member of the Europeana Network Association, I attended a series of AGMs and as a rule, these events were among the most interesting in my travel agenda. So I wanted to play a more active role in the Network, which coincided with the proposal by Europeana for people to stand for elections. And here I am, the only councillor coming from a non-EU country, which makes me responsible for bringing Europeana closer to this corner of Europe and vice versa.
What do you plan to do as a Members Councillor?
My dedication to digital humanities has already been expressed among the Europeana Research Community. I am active in the Europeana Research Requirements Task Force, trying at the same time to act locally, by working on Serbian digital collections to ensure they are DH-driven. As a kind of Europeana ambassador, I will work on promoting everything Europeana is, both locally and regionally. In particular, I’ll work on attracting Serbian CHIs to deliver quality data through the aggregator for Europeana at the National Library of Serbia.