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

Project Electron May Update

Our major news for this month is that, after evaluating a number of existing solutions against our requirements for archival storage, we have decided to use Fedora as the repository solution for Project Electron. Although there were other systems that met many of our requirements – DSpace for example – in the end we felt that Fedora was the closest match for our needs both in terms of feature coverage and scope. It does what we want it to do without requiring us to support a lot of extra functionality or complexity. 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

Project Electron April Update

As I mentioned last month, we’re moving forward with Project Electron on two fronts: defining the process by which digital records are transferred to the Rockefeller Archive Center and selecting a solution to provide archival storage for those records once they are in our custody. 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

Project Electron March Update

March was a busy month for the Project Electron team, with conference presentations at Code4Lib, attendance at LDCX, Born Digital Archiving eXchange and Personal Digital Archiving, and participation in the DACS Principles revision process. Despite this, we managed to make significant progress on Project Electron, specifically in developing requirements for archival storage as well as transfer of records from donor organizations to the Rockefeller Archive Center. 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