Web Archives – Where Do We Go From Here?

We’ve recently been thinking a lot about the potentials of web archives here at the RAC. Last week, I attended the appropriately titled web archives WARCshop hosted by Penn State University, and, while the organizers focused on getting its participants hands-on experience working with web archives research tools, the lesson that I took away from it is that libraries and archivists still have a long way to go in fully supporting researchers working with web archives. Penn State invited a great group of librarians and archivists to learn, as well as Jefferson Bailey and Lori Donovan from Archive-It, Nick Ruest from York University, and Ian Milligan from Waterloo to help lead the workshop. I was personally very excited for the meeting because I think Nick and Ian have been doing some of the most exciting research in web archives for the past few years, and I always love hearing them talk. Continue reading

Maintaining a Kick A** Tech Team and Organization

Below is a talk that Bonnie, Patrick and Hillel gave at the 2017 Code4Lib Conference in Los Angeles. Our slides are available online.

Intro

Hello! I’m Hillel Arnold, and with me are Bonnie Gordon, and Patrick Galligan. We’re the Digital Programs team from the Rockefeller Archive Center, an independent archive and research center located in Sleepy Hollow, NY (yes, it’s a real place). Our team’s role is to provide technical leadership and expertise to our organization across all function areas. That’s a link there to the text of this talk, which also includes links to a number of other things we’ll talk about that you can follow if you want. Continue reading

Replacing Refids for Automation and Standardization

A few months ago, I wrote about selected digitization readings and how we were going to use them to overhaul our digitization workflows. We’re now a couple of months into our new digitization workflow, and things are starting to run smoothly, but during the process, we noticed that we wanted a better way to match our digitized files to their description without using semantic filenames or separate metadata sheets. Continue reading

The Master Shelf List: Where We Go From Here

For many archives, the master shelf list has been a permanent staple since their inception. We have one. It’s an ever-growing Excel spreadsheet that lists the location of every single box in our collection down to the shelf number. It’s enormous, it’s unwieldy, and it takes a ton of work to keep updated month to month. For years we’ve been looking for a way to move away from it, and the release of ArchivesSpace version 1.5 has given us the rare opportunity to move entirely away from our spreadsheet into a more structured and interoperable. The Rockefeller Archive Center will no longer enter new information into our Master Shelf List. Continue reading

A Selection of Readings on Digitization

Earlier this year, the Rockefeller Archive started a multi-year plan to re-envision its digitization activities. The goal of this project is to contribute to the RAC’s mission of preserving and providing access to our collections as widely as possible by making digitized content findable, usable, and accessible in a timely manner. In order to achieve this goal, we will provide archivists with the tools, experience, and competencies to handle any digitization request that comes to the RAC, whether it is from a researcher, donor, or other staff member. On top of these tools and competencies, we will create mechanisms for prioritizing requests for in-house and outsourced digitization.  Continue reading

WARCs! What are they good for? Researchers!

I recently attended the IIPC (International Internet Preservation Consortium) conference in lovely Reykjavik from April 15th to the 17th. This was the first official year of the IIPC conference and it was a great opportunity for institutions of all sizes to get together and talk about the challenges facing web archiving today, and to strategize about the path forward. The presentations covered a wide variety of topics, but I think the ones that I found most helpful were those that focused on how researchers interact with web archives. Continue reading

A METRO Retrospective

I attended METRO’s annual conference on 1/21. METRO is the Metropolitan New York Library Council, and as members, RAC staff is open to attend any of their events. There were a lot of fantastic panels and speakers at the panel this year, but I’d like to focus on an overarching theme that I picked up on this year: getting our systems to communicate nicely with each other can streamline our work processes and improve our work as archivists.

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SAA Report: Navigating Scandal

Somewhat surprisingly, one of my favorite panels of Archives 2015 had very little to do with the actual work that I do day to day. Session 702, Controversial Crawling: Documenting University Scandal in Real Time, dealt with the practical issues of trying to capture internal and public discussions of university controversies on the web.

I often feel like archives shy away from documenting and seeking out controversial source materials, in many ways because of institutional pressure from invested parties that do not want those controversies kept in perpetuity. However, this panel offered a refreshing take on scandal, by explaining exactly how to three different web archivists selected and collected materials pertaining to institutional scandals, sometimes even against the wishes of those higher up in the organization. Continue reading