Lastly, one major step this year was the opportunity to re-establish the summer fellowship program between the RAC and the L. Jeffrey Selznick School of Film Preservation in Rochester, NY. This educational program—along with NYU’s Moving Image Archiving and Preservation (MIAP) program – can help repositories by providing excellent “future” archivists eager to assist in a “real world” setting.
I am not alone in the belief that access is an intrinsic part of preservation. In the past, the RAC — like many institutions — relied upon the creation of optical media discs (DVD or CD) for on-site researcher access. Beyond the person-hours required to create these discs, there were other issues such as retrieval time; the cumbersome process of loading discs into a player; and monitoring discs for on-going damage and wear and tear. My topmost concern, however, remained the long-term stability of these discs and the increasingly difficult-to-find drives necessary for playback. In short, we needed a new solution to the issue of audiovisual access.
A current trend in the archival field is “Accessioning as Processing,” based upon Mark A. Greene and Dennis Meissner’s article, “More Product, Less Process.” Dubbed “MPLP” for short, this topic remains prickly in the a/v world — and I am going to steer far away from discussing whether this trend has consequences for audiovisual collections (!).
I feel fortunate that the RAC has always gathered and/or maintained some form of documentation for their roughly 13,000 films, video, and audio elements. However, as with any archival institution, this information has been collected by several different individuals, who have sometimes employed different approaches over the course of many “eras” of RAC’s history. Applying consistency to audiovisual description became one of the first goals undertaken.
John Dewey once stated: “We do not learn from experience…we learn from reflecting on experience.”
So, as I have just finished my first year as the Audiovisual Archivist at the Rockefeller Archive Center (RAC), I thought now might be a good time to reflect upon what has been accomplished in these last twelve months.
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 →
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 →
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 →
On April 24-26, Hillel, Meg, and I attended the Personal Digital Archiving Conference at NYU. The conference focused on the management, preservation, and use of digital archives created by individuals, families, and community organizations. One of the great things about PDA is the variety of speakers and topics. Just the first day covered digitizing family photographs, using BitTorrent as a digital repository, and using hashtags on social media. Continue reading →