MLIS student: Jasmine Li
Building a foundation: Former student Jasmine Li on designing the online home for the Smoke Signals Archive
One of the primary goals of the Smoke Signals Radio Archive project is to make audio from Dan and Mary Lou Smoke’s long-running program available to the broader public. In order to make that possible, the project needed an online home.
That’s where Jasmine Li came in.
Li is from London, Ont., has an undergraduate degree in communication studies, and is a recent graduate of the Master of Library and Information Science program at Western. She is currently working in acquisitions and media cataloguing at the library of Fanshawe College.
While studying at Western, she also worked as a student library assistant at the Faculty of Information and Media Studies (FIMS) Graduate Library. As part of that work, in the fall of 2019 Li was tasked with designing this very website - the online presence of the Smoke Signals Radio Archive.
Although she had little knowledge of the Smoke Signals project at that time, Li said she quickly got on board.
“I thought it was interesting,” she said, noting that the project aligned well with her interests in archives and metadata.
“I did some more research to kind of learn more about Mary Lou and Dan Smoke, and after learning about everything they’ve done for their community it just made me even more excited to be part of this project,” she said.
She began the project armed with some previous experience working with the web-publishing platform, Omeka, which is commonly used by small libraries and archives and forms the basis of the Smoke Signals site. However, she quickly realized that the Smoke Signals work would require her to go beyond the basics.
Over two months, Li went through a process of trial and error, working with librarian Marni Harrington to determine the appearance of the site. Top of mind was accessibility, she explained, and the desire to make the site as easy for visitors to navigate as possible. In order to achieve that goal, she dove into coding and research, and figured out how to adapt the basic template to meet the needs of the project.
“I definitely learned a lot, so it was rewarding,” she said.
As the structure of the site took form, Li also began researching Dan and Mary Lou Smoke, and enhancing the site with information about their backgrounds and achievements. The goal was to acquaint visitors with not only the radio program, but also the people behind it - “kind of like an introduction of all the achievements, all the projects that Dan and Mary Lou Smoke have done […] everything that they’ve done for the community,” she explained.
As a non-Indigenous person, the research was also an opportunity to expand her knowledge of Indigenous culture and community in the London area, she noted.
Despite the fact that she is no longer working and studying at Western, after building the foundation of the website, Li remains interested in its development, and has been happy to watch it evolve as others build on her work.
“It’s just very exciting to me, and I’m just very proud of just the collaborative work that’s been done thus far,” she said.
Her hope is that the website will be well-used, and that it will provide an opportunity for visitors to learn about Indigenous culture as they listen to the episodes.
“That’s what I will be planning on doing,” she said.