Julie Warren, Georgetown County Library system’s digital librarian, is one of a handful of Americans ever invited to speak at the prestigious United Kingdom National Archives Conference, Discovering Collections Discovering Communities.
The event is in Birmingham, England, Nov. 12-14. Warren is one of just two Americans on the program. The second is the archivist for the University of Maryland. The only Americans who have spoken at the conference have been from the Smithsonian and the New York Public Library.
“It’s a big honor,” Warren said. “You have all these huge internationally known institutions, and then you have the little Georgetown Public Library.”
Warren takes the stage Thursday, n the conference’s final day. She’ll discuss how the Georgetown County Library system created its Digital Library in 2007 with a grant from the Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation.
Available at gcdigital.org, the Digital Library is an online archive of local historic photos, newspapers and other documents. Warren has singlehandedly developed and overseen the Digital Library since its inception.
“We are immensely proud of Julie’s work in creating the Georgetown County Digital Library which has an online collection of more than 50,000 photographs, documents, newspapers and other items accessed annually by more than 93,000 persons worldwide,” said Georgetown County’ Library Director Dwight McInvaill.
Warren has followed the conference since its inaugural year (2012). When this year’s conference was being organized, she saw the theme, “Navigating the Digital Field: Practices and Possibilities,” was related to her work. Professionals were asked to submit papers on topics that could be presented during the conference. With permission from McInvaill, Warren sent in a paper. Several months later, she was notified her paper had been accepted and the conference wanted to include her as a speaker on the program.
“With the time difference, the email was waiting for me in my inbox when I woke up one morning. I was so excited, but it was 6 a.m., so I couldn’t call anybody to tell them about it,” Warren recalled. “It was really a surprise to get the email. I didn’t have any clue they would want somebody from a little public library in South Carolina.”
Making the news even more exciting, the cost of Warren’s travel and associated expenses to attend the conference are completely covered, thanks to a state Library Services and Technology Act grant, a private donation and a contribution from the Friends of the Georgetown Library.
Warren is on the conference program alongside speakers from institutions including the National Archives of the United Kingdom, the British Library, the University of Manchester, the University of Glasgow and the National Library of Ireland. She’s excited that a group from the University of Newcastle, where she obtained her graduate degree (a Master of Arts in Museum Studies), will also be in attendance.