Erin Hawkins


Erin Hawkins

MLIS 2009
Metadata Specialist
Library of Congress
Washington, DC USA

What I am doing now.

I work for the World Digital Library, a multilingual website that provides free access to primary sources that document the histories and cultural achievements of all countries. I use a variety of controlled vocabularies and authorities to catalog content in our metadata and translation management application. I collaborate with subject and language specialists to research and solve metadata discrepancy and content mysteries. I work on our Quality Review process so that when we release a new item into production, all seven language versions of our metadata and description are correct. I also manage our digital reference service to respond to patrons’ questions. 

What are the most valuable skills I use in my job?

The skills that most impact my work are metadata-related, as I constantly deal with MARC AACR2-based records as well as standards-based non-MARC records (often in languages other than English), in a variety of schema. Another valuable skill is simply taking the time to look up technical programs, names, or terms that I don’t know or understand (Akamai purge? Ajax Seadragon?), which helps me to build a better shared vocabulary with our developers. More broadly, you can never go wrong learning more about your coworkers’ processes and workflow, including figuring out how you can make their job easier and better understand their concerns. And ultimately, I believe that teamwork, flexibility, and communication are the most valuable skills. Knowing all the technical jargon in the world will not save you if you are not a reliable or respectful coworker.

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