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Joseph D. Combs Jr. Appointed ARL Visiting Program Officer for Accessibility

Joseph D. Combs Jr.

The Association of Research Libraries (ARL) has named Joseph (Jody) Dale Combs Jr. as a visiting program officer for accessibility to advance ARL’s captioning initiative, from January through June 2017. Combs is associate university librarian at Vanderbilt University.

In recent years ARL has been engaged in ensuring effective and timely access to information resources for people with disabilities. Within this focus area of accessibility, the Association is now concentrating on opportunities for member libraries to caption videos and mixed-media resources, thereby providing full access for all members of the campus and library communities.

In his role as an ARL visiting program officer for accessibility, Combs will meet with library and higher education stakeholders from across the US and Canada to learn more about their particular interests in accessibility and captioning. He will research issues regarding the tools, integration, interoperability, scope, and infrastructure for a variety of potential shared or individual repositories of captioned files. Combs will work with ARL staff to share ideas and plan future activities for the captioning initiative.

“The Association of Research Libraries is fortunate to have in Jody Combs the perfect match for this assignment of visiting program officer for accessibility,” said Elliott Shore, ARL executive director. “Jody has the excellent technical skills and the deep experience in project management needed to move this vital initiative forward. With us he will help research libraries work together to make videos and mixed-media resources accessible to all users. We thank Vanderbilt University for supporting Jody in this endeavor.”

At Vanderbilt, Combs has served the university’s libraries in a variety of capacities since 1994, most recently as interim dean of libraries from 2014 to 2016. Under his leadership as associate dean of libraries for IT, Vanderbilt’s Television News Archive redeveloped its website and upgraded its digital recording infrastructure. Beginning in 2012, Combs established the Scholarly Communications team in the library, focusing on digital scholarship and encompassing open access advocacy, electronic publishing, GIS and census information, and the institutional repository. He coordinated the development of a digital exhibits infrastructure for the 2010 renovation of the Central Library and Special Collections Gallery. He was also project lead for Vanderbilt’s development partnership with Ex Libris to create the Primo discovery platform.

Combs is active in the research library profession. He was selected as a fellow for the Council on Library and Information Resources/EDUCAUSE Leading Change Institute class of 2014. He has served on numerous national committees and is currently a member of the Coalition for Networked Information Steering Committee. Combs is the author of numerous articles and presentations on technologies in libraries and speaks regularly at conferences.

“I am thrilled to have an opportunity to join in such important work,” said Combs. “Among other things, this initiative promises to greatly enhance higher education and further the creation of new knowledge in exciting ways by allowing people with new and different perspectives to engage more fully in the scholarly conversation.”

The ARL Visiting Program Officer program provides opportunities for outstanding staff members at ARL member libraries to contribute to special projects and programs, either in whole or in part, in order to advance the agenda of the Association. Visit the ARL website for more information about ARL’s Visiting Program Officer program.

About the Association of Research Libraries

The Association of Research Libraries (ARL) is a nonprofit organization of 124 research libraries in the US and Canada. ARL’s mission is to influence the changing environment of scholarly communication and the public policies that affect research libraries and the diverse communities they serve. ARL pursues this mission by advancing the goals of its member research libraries, providing leadership in public and information policy to the scholarly and higher education communities, fostering the exchange of ideas and expertise, facilitating the emergence of new roles for research libraries, and shaping a future environment that leverages its interests with those of allied organizations. ARL is on the web at ARL.org.