Project Electron September Update

It has been a busy month for Project Electron as we near the end of the first phase of development, which focused on building an application to enable the secure transfer and validation of digital records and their metadata according to the Rockefeller Archive Center BagIt specification. In addition to the transfer application development, much of our work this month has been about planning for the next phase of the project. In this post I will share a few activities and strategies we undertook to prepare for development and to keep users at the center of the design process. Continue reading

edUI Conference 2017

I recently attended the edUI conference in Charlottesville, VA. It’s a conference for web professionals working in educational institutions, and the speakers come from a variety of professional contexts including design, development, management, content strategy, and UX. For me, this conference was a chance to hear from and connect with folks outside of the archives field who are doing related work. It pushed me to think about familiar problems from a fresh perspective, build conceptual connections, strategize to improve communication across disciplines, and learn some practical approaches and skills that are not often emphasized in archives-specific conferences.

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NEDCC’s Preservation 101

By Amy Berish, Kanisha Greaves, and Emeline Swanson

One of the professional development opportunities at the RAC this summer was the chance to participate in NEDCC’s online Preservation 101 course. The objective of the course was to create an executive summary for a collection in our own institution. While many people took the class individually, Amy, Kanisha, and Emeline joined forces to create a robust final project and collaborate across departments: Processing, Reference, and Collections Management, respectively.

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Get Ready to Meet Your MatchBox

It is hard to predict when inspiration is going to hit. While a great idea can strike quickly, realizing it is a longer process; one that often requires seeking the help and guidance of others. Luckily, at the RAC, I have coworkers who are ready to listen to new ideas and willing to help me figure out how to turn inspiration into reality. Today, I am very excited to share with you a recent example of such a collaboration and the RAC’s newest application: MatchBox.

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Project Electron August Update

This month has been all about developing the Project Electron transfer application. The work is based on our defined specifications and the development decisions we made last month with our Marist College partners at the hackathon. We are really excited about testing transfers in the coming month.

In this post I am going to briefly discuss Gherkin, which in addition to being a delightful little cucumber, is a language that is used to define the requirements of software in order to document and test the software’s behavior as part of Behavior Driven Development (BDD). We have been using Gherkin to write Quality Assurance (QA) tests for the functions of our Project Electron transfer application. The language is human-readable, so it can enable communication between teams working in different domains across a project.

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Project Electron July Update

We kicked off this past month with a hackathon, hosted by our Marist College partners, to plan and start developing the part of Project Electron that enables the transfer of digital records from donor/depositor organizations to the RAC over a secure network connection. We worked with the Marist College team, including Marist students, to diagram the transfer structure and dependencies, building from the transfer specifications that we released in June and discussed in our last blog update. These specify the metadata and structural requirements for transfer and provide a bag profile to validate bags from donors. Additionally, we created wireframes and started building out the user interfaces (UIs) to view and track transfer information, view error messages, and manage user and organizational accounts. Continue reading

Presenting a Poster at the AIC 2017 Conference

This year’s theme for the AIC Annual Conference was Treatment 2017: Innovation in Conservation and Collection Care. Julia and I were excited to present our work that culminated in the creation of the Preservation Report. The report allows our institution to better document preservation decisions and workflows.  Although we represented an archive and its unique documentation challenges, we felt strongly that the theory and principals at play in our report would benefit the larger conservation community. It is critical that we create and use a form that is readable and useable long-term and we knew that feedback from outside our organization was key. Continue reading

Virtual Vault: making access to digitized records easier

This month, we launched a system called Virtual Vault, which allows us to deliver digitized content to any user within the RAC network. It’s a temporary solution that we hope will help us better understand responsible access to digital archival records. Our thinking around this solution is motivated by one central question: given the limitations of copyright and donor agreement restrictions, what is the most and best access we can provide? Continue reading

Shades of Similarity at Open Repositories

I attended my first Open Repositories conference in Brisbane, Australia two weeks ago. And while the RAC is still fairly new to the repository world and ecosystem, I picked up on a few trends that I think span across systems, institutions, and disciplines. Most of the attendees at the conference were coming from university library settings, but those institutions seemed to struggle with the same things we, as archivists, do: managing and maintaining a large infrastructure made of many systems, eliminating silos of information, and how to adapt to changing researcher or user needs. Sound familiar? If you said the above concerns made you think about what we’re trying to solve here with Project Electron, kudos to you. The entire conference I kept thinking about how it felt like almost everyone was trying to deal with the same issues we were, and in largely the same manners. Continue reading

D-Team Introduction

I am happy to introduce myself as the newest member of the RAC’s D-Team! I’ve joined the RAC thanks to the generous support of the Ford Foundation to work on Project Electron, and to help facilitate the transfer of digital records from our donor organizations. My work will have a specific emphasis on usability and user-centered design, a core value of Project Electron.  Continue reading