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
It’s been a busy couple of weeks for conferences! On Friday, Bonnie and I attended a Born-Digital Workflows CURATEcamp, held at the Brooklyn Historical Society. We gave a brief presentation on our workflows for arranging and descriping born-digital materials, and also learned a lot from other attendees. Continue reading
You might remember that earlier this year I wrote a post about Metadata Cleanup and Ford Foundation Grants that gave a very basic overview of how I went about reconciling thousands of subject terms against the Library of Congress. This reconciliation was essential in helping us gain control over data that we did not create, but that we also identified as possibly extremely valuable to researchers. This post will give an in-depth and updated account of how I hobbled together a (mostly) automatic way to check large amounts of topical terms against the Library of Congress. It still requires some hands-on work and quality checking is a must, but it cut a hundreds of hours job down exponentially.
In November 2013, the first phase of the Legacy Digital Media Survey began with examining collection information of the legacy collections at the Rockefeller Archive Center.
The Legacy Digital Media Survey aim is to gain intellectual and physical control over digital media materials in the collections. This survey came about due to the accumulated backlog of unprocessed and unknown amount of digital media over the past forty years of collection building at the RAC. Initial steps are being taken in order to manage the backlog of born-digital content for identification, separation and accessibility of these at-risk items. Continue reading
On December 9, we attended an SAA workshop on “Privacy and Confidentiality Issues in Digital Archives,” taught by a dynamic Heather Briston of UCLA on the wintry campus of Mount Holyoke in South Hadley, Massachusetts. Invoking the familiar mantra that we rely on analog laws to govern digital materials, Briston provided a broad review of the legal basis for privacy and confidentiality considerations in archives (including privacy jurisprudence, defamation, HIPAA and FERPA laws). She balanced these discussions with considerations of archival values and ethics, which mandate that we provide the widest possible access to our collections while protecting the rights, and sometimes the interests, of persons and institutions represented within them. While opening records crosses a barrier of privacy by definition, archivists’ efforts to meliorate this act lead toward equilibrium in this intrinsic tension. From a third angle she explored the ways digital technology changes the possibility and condition—as well as our expectations—of privacy and access. Continue reading
I just finished reading “What Screens Want: some thoughts on digital canvases” by Frank Chimero, and I highly recommend that you take a few minutes and read it too. It’s short, punchy, and pretty to look at. Seriously, go ahead, do it now.
I’m pleased to announce that Rockefeller Archive Center’s finding aids and library records available on our discovery system, DIMES, are now licensed under a Creative Commons Zero (CC0) dedication! This means that you can copy, modify and distribute our descriptive metadata in any way you want without asking us for permission. The CC0 license is explained in full on the Creative Commons website. Continue reading