Tapping directly into Kenyon College’s mission to enrich undergraduate learning and strengthen community engagement, Latinos in Rural America (LiRA) is an online oral history project providing students with a community-engaged learning experience, and showcasing their research to the local and global communities. Professor Clara Roman-Odio secured grant funding through the Ohio Five Digital Collections: From Project to Pedagogy and Scholarship (funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation), the Ohio Humanities, and the Knox County Community Foundation. Working with the library, Clara and her students created a multimedia collection in Digital Kenyon, which now houses a wide range of materials including audio and video transcripts of interviews, bilingual exhibit materials, photographs, and local outreach information.
“Everything at Kenyon has a curricular imperative,” reports Jenna Nolt, Digital Initiatives Librarian, who supports this strategic goal through the repository. She worked with Clara from the beginning to share and preserve this project through Digital Kenyon. Students enrolled in Professor Roman-Odio’s Introduction to Chicano/a Cultural Studies participated as lead researchers on community-engaged learning (CEL) projects and she watched them flourish through this “powerful strategy to strengthen undergraduate research and civic engagement.” One of the CEL projects that emerged from the LiRA project is the Open Doors College Preparation Program, which offers students lesson plans and activities designed to navigate the college application process. The creation of LiRA also provided Professor Roman-Odio the platform to build the Stories of Knox County.
LiRA is part of Kenyon’s The Community Within collections. The scholarship in these collections marry advanced research with practical experience in community engagement. The library’s expertise in curating and publishing these materials has helped showcase the opportunities available to students at Kenyon, one of the institution’s unique strengths.