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

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

Workshop Review from AIC 2017

In May, Marissa Vassari and I presented a poster at the 2017 Annual Meeting of The American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works (AIC) in Chicago. Check back soon for a posting about our poster experience.

In this post, I wanted to discuss why I flew out to the AIC annual conference early in order to attend a workshop on digital file structure entitled “Examining the Composition and Structure of Digital Collection Objects: Strategies and Guidance for Ongoing Management and Preservation.” Although this workshop may have stood out as an oddity against a schedule full of photograph conservation, collections care, and environmental monitoring lectures, this workshop helped inform how I am thinking about my larger role in preservation at the RAC. Continue reading

RAC goes to Princeton!

Back in January, archivists from the Princeton University Manuscripts Division visited the Rockefeller Archive Center to discuss digital processing with members of the RAC Processing Team. To continue this conversation, a few staff members from the RAC went on a field trip to Princeton on June 8th. The group consisted of staff from various departments including members of the Processing, Collections Management, and Digital Teams. Continue reading

Principled Action: Asserting Archival Principles to Reduce the RAC Backlog

Several years ago RAC faced a dilemma familiar to many in our profession – a daunting processing backlog that was growing exponentially and depriving scholar’s and staff of access to many of the records held in our collections. Our collections are great resources of knowledge, but only if those resources are available to our users!

To find a solution, we actively sought processing practices that reflect our values as an operating foundation, specifically the values of collaborating and sharing knowledge, disseminating information, promoting discovery in all its forms, and facilitating open and equitable access to all our archival holdings. Over the last year and a half, we shifted our strategy to processing by accession and implemented a standards-based approach which has been a resounding success thus far and has resulted in the processing and opening for research of over 4,500 cubic feet of records. This discussion will be the first in a series of posts about our processes and collaborations. I hope our experiences may be valuable and helpful to others. Continue reading

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

Maintainers II: performance, invisibility and professionalism

Last week, I attended Maintainers II: Labor, Technology, and Social Orders, a conference at Stevens Institute of Technology, and presented a talk which attempted to make the case that folk music is maintenance work by looking at the songs and methodologies of Woody Guthrie. This was a followup to last year’s conference, which you may remember from my rave review. This year’s conference matched the first in terms of relevance and resonance, while opening up some new ground for me related to maintenance and archives. Continue reading

LDCX, BDAX & PDA

Last week I attended three events held at Stanford University: LDCX, Born Digital Archiving eXchange (BDAX), and Personal Digital Archiving. There was a lot of digital archives talk at all of these events, and it was great to chat with folks who are also dealing with the issues I’m encountering in my work.

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Standards Work: Revising the DACS Principles (in a blizzard)

This past week, I was invited to attend a working meeting of seventeen archivists and information professionals facilitated by SAA’s Technical Subcommittee on Describing Archives: A Content Standard with the goal of drafting a new set of Principles for DACS. It was a week that was simultaneously draining and exhilarating, beginning with a blizzard that shut down most of the northeastern United States and ending with a draft of principles that repositions DACS as a standard that communicates professional values, and is also far more aligned with recent literature and theory regarding archival description. Continue reading