Learning Python as a Processing Archivist: A Reflection

A large part of my first month at the RAC has been spent learning Python, Git, and GitHub.  As a processing archivist, who is also fairly new to the profession, I had no programming experience and was vaguely familiar with these tools. I began with a goal-orientated learning plan that essentially required me to learn enough of Python to be able to interpret an ArchivesSpace script. This experience not only taught me that programming is a powerful tool – but that it takes a sense of fearlessness to conquer a programming language.

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“Violation of Privacy Is Part of the Process”: Notes on a Workshop on Privacy and Access Considerations in Digital Collections

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

Lessons from edUI

Last week I attended edUI, a conference for web professionals (including designers, developers and managers) who work at learning or teaching institutions like colleges, universities, libraries, archives and museums. It was one of the best conferences I’ve attended, and I wanted to share four lessons from the conference with you. Continue reading

SAA’s Appraisal of Electronic Records Workshop

This past Monday I had the opportunity to attend the SAA workshop “Appraisal of Electronic Records” held at the METRO office in NYC. Taught by Caryn Wojcik, Government Records Archivist for the State of Michigan, the objective of the workshop was to discuss some of the unique issues involved with the appraisal of electronic records and adapt the approach to appraisal in response.

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