Posts Tagged ‘Archives’

This comic is brought to you by the letters E, A, and D (via Derangement and Description)

I love the Count. I love archives humor.

That’s two, two great things I love about this comic!

Ah ha ha ha ha ha!

This comic is brought to you by the letters E, A, and D

via Derangement and Description

New England Archivists Fall 2010 Meeting

Yesterday, I attended the New England Archivists (NEA) Fall 2010 Meeting at Keene State College in Keene, NH.  This was the second meeting I attended having previously attended the Spring 2010 Meeting at U-Mass Amherst.

Some general notes to begin with:

  • I enjoyed driving through rural parts of Massachusetts and New Hampshire I’ve never seen as well as the charming town of Keene and the Keene State College.  On a crisp autumn day it felt nice to be surrounded by mountains and colorful foliage.
  • On the down side, I wasn’t feeling my best – tired, a bit feverish and a rattling cough in my chest.  Instead of networking I kept a respectful distance from my fellow conferees.
  • For the first time I tried live-tweeting at a conference.  I found it difficult to pay attention to the presenters, balance my laptop & compose an intelligent tweet at the same time so I didn’t contribute much.  On the plus side, there are many tweets from others that highlighted the very things I found important at the meeting.  You the hash tag for the meeting was #NEAFall2010 and I have a saved search that you may or may not be able to read.  I’m drawing heavily on other people’s’ tweets for my notes below for which I am greatly appreciative..

Keynote Address:

Richard Sweeney, University Librarian, New Jersey Institute of Technology, Newark, NJ

Sweeney spoke about “Digital Natives in the Archives” on how archives can engage the Millennial Generation. He started by discussing the Long Now Foundation and the 10,000-year library and how each generation will need to take part in preserving the past for future research.  Much of the address was true and false questions about demographics regarding the Millennials.  While interesting I always find such generalizations to be more settling then useful (after all my generation is nothing but mistrustful, ironically detached slackers). I actually found much of the descriptions of Millennials to be true about myself at least until he got to mobile devices and text messaging (maybe I’m a premillennial?).  For a conclusion, Sweeney showed one possible way to engage Millennials in the archives by making photos, yearbooks, etc available on the web for tagging and for additional contributions and information to be added.  It was especially interesting when a Microsoft Surface was involved although that is something I expect that most archives will not have in the budget for some time.  Sweeney’s slide show is available on his website

Morning Concurrent Session – Email Archiving:

  • William Dow, CRM, Deputy City Clerk of Keene, Keene, NH
  • Virginia Hunt, Associate University Archivist for Collection Development, Harvard University Archives
  • Wendy Marcus Gogel, Manager of Digital Content and Projects in the Harvard University Library Office for Information Systems
  • Tamar Granovsky, Head Archivist, Lincoln Laboratory, M.I.T., Lexington, MA

Every archivist knows that preserving email records is important, but a clear method of doing so has yet to be determined.  Three methods serving the interests of the institutions represented were presented here.  Bill Dow talked about how our host city of Keene archives email in the cloud using Google Postini.  Tamar Granovksy and M.I.T. are exploring using Symantec Enterprise Vault.  Ginny Hunt & Wendy Gogel spoke about the Electronic Archiving Service pilot program now underway at Harvard.  A good point was made about how digital media has existed side-by-side with print since 1957 and it isn’t a choice of preserving digital or print, it’s a hybrid world.  There was also a good question about original order in e-mail with file paths being the possible solution.

Afternoon Concurrent Session I – Collections & Managements Systems:

  • Kat Stefko, Director of Muskie Archives and Special Collections Library, Bates College, Lewiston, ME
  • Kate Bowers, Collection Services Archivist, Harvard University Archives, Cambridge, MA
  • Marge Smith, Executive Director, Kent Historical Society, Kent, CT
  • Linda Hocking, Curator of Library and Archives, Litchfield Historical Society, Litchfield, CT

Three collection management systems were discussed all of which have benefits to institutions of different sizes and purposes: Archivists’ Toolkit, Past Perfect, and Archon.  Kate Bowers spoke eloquently on how AT is used at Harvard and even included some statistics of how it’s been used at Harvard Business School.  It felt nice to have my work in AT represented before the meeting however so anonymously.   Bowers mentioned a CLIR Report on Archival Management Software as a resource.  It was interesting to hear Marge Smith’s experience with Past Perfect and see it demonstrated although it appears to more of a curatorial tool for museums and historical societies rather than for purely archival material.  Finally, Linda Hocking spoke about her experience with Archon. Here’s a good example of the public interface for Archon, something that AT lacks (although the Rockefeller Archive Center is developing a reference module add-0n) .  It’s interesting to note that the pros and cons of AT and Archon appear to dovetail and that the impending merger of the two products as ArchiveSpace may be mutually beneficial to all users.  Something to look forward to!

Afternoon Concurrent Session II – Born Digital:

  • Ed Desrochers, Interim Academy Librarian and Academy Archivist at Phillips Exeter Academy, Exeter, NH
  • Veronica Martzahl, Records Archivist in the Digital Collections and Archives, Tufts University, Medford, MA
  • Jennifer Phillips, Digital Collections Archivist in the Digital Collections and Archives at Tufts University, Medford, MA

The final session was a team presentation by two members of the Tufts University Digital Collections and Archives.  As always the Tufts DCA appear to be light years ahead in archives & records management in the digital age so it is appropriate that they spoke of born digital records.  It was a nice reminder to be told that as archivists/records managers “you already know a lot” about what should be done with records so we should not be intimidated by the digital format.  Other advice included:

  • a four-step program: survey your holdings, document & store, metadata, & workflows.
  • referring to the Library of Congress reference for digital formats website at http://www.digitalpreservation.gov/formats/
  • just because they are digital does not mean that item-level description is necessary
  • there is nothing to be gained from converting PDF to PDF-A so don’t waste your time (Veronica Martzahl was emphatic about the unnecessary nature of this step as what’s lost is lost)
  • don’t go to the effort of conserving a floppy disk if you have already copied and preserved the files, just toss it like an old folder.

Overall it was a good day.  I felt that it was not as well-attended as the spring meeting nor did I feel like I had any real “wow moments” where I heard something I’d never heard before or presented in a new way.  Still, it was all good, thoughtful information that should help inform my work in the near future.  It was great to be there and interact both virtually and physically with the other conferees.

Ten Years @ The Library

Ten years ago today I began work at Baker Library at Harvard Business School, my first library job.  Ten years later I still work in the same building albeit I have had three different jobs (officially), survived a two-year renovation working in a windowless warehouse-like interim building, and find myself 21 out 53 staff members in seniority.  I’ve worked in 8 different offices and may be the only person to have office space on all four floors of the library building.

Here’s my progression of work:

…I started as an Access Coordinator, a position that involved both the grunt work of checking ID’s and bags but also a good introduction to  ready reference and bibliographic instruction.

…After a year & a half I moved into the Interlibrary Loan/Document Deliver office and learned the wonders of OCLC Passport and making lots and lots of photocopies.  I still worked a lot of hours on the desk  providing access and ready reference.  And I worked on Saturdays supervising the casual staff.  The Tue-Sat schedule helped with library school internships albeit it made life exhausting.

…In the summer of 2003, the library was closed for renovation and ILL was folded into something Article and Book Delivery Unit which provided access to print resources stored offsite.  My new digs were in a musty warehouse that also housed the university police rifle range and a kiln for the ceramics club.  My desk time was curtailed significantly and I spent many hours anonymously hidden in the stacks pulling books and journals.  Fun times.

…Moving into the renovated library in 2005, I resumed ILL/DocDel work and public service desk shifts but added more reference activities as a liaison to the reference team.  This included verifying citations for the faculty research division, creating a reference interview training program for my Access colleagues, and responding to email reference questions.

…In the summer of 2008, I made biggest job change yet joining the Information Lifecycle Management team taking care of the school records storage programs and working in the metadata and taxonomy team.

…Just over a year ago after the departure of the Information Lifecycle Manager and some budget considerations ILM was merged into the Archives.  I began reporting to the Archivist and taking on many new archival responsibilities including reference and processing.

I’ve been fortunate in that whatever my official job duties I’ve had the opportunities to learn new things.  While working full time I went to library school at Simmons College greatly eased by tuition assistance and release time.  Following a somewhat circuitous route I’ve found myself working in archives which is where I was interested in going from my earliest days in the field.

Previously:

Return of A Day In a Life of a Librarian

Back in July, I participated in a web-wide librarian event entitled Library Day in the Life.  This event was created by the terrific librarian-blogger Bobbi Newman to allow people who work in libraries to share the great variety of work we do with students, patrons, and fellow librarians.  For more on what I do, check out my post from July.

A Day in the Life of an Information Lifecycle Management Assistant

  • wake up late after a rough night due to my son having frequent coughing fits.
  • once out of bed though, he seems alert and energetic so now it’s time to chase him down to get him to school.
  • my wife drives my son and I to the school.  He goes to the childrens’ center, I go to the library.
  • sort through my email and catch up on social media sites.
  • scan a few articles from Peter Kurilecz’s Records & Archives in the News (RAIN) update, but none of them seem worth in-depth reading today.
  • spend some time planning out tasks for the work week to come.
  • worked on a project to calculate the amount each administrative office at the school would pay for records storage (costs currently absorbed by the library).
  • lunch break:  the students are back so there are nearly no seats left in the cafeteria.  I’m able to sneak into a dark corner to eat my salad and write in my journal.
  • for one hour I’m on-call to page materials to the reading room from the stacks, but I’m not needed.
  • read articles from professional literature and blogs related to libraries, archives, records management and general news.  Tag some articles on Delicious.
  • place an order to retrieve a box of student records from offsite storage.
  • get a call from the Childrens Center that my son didn’t nap well due to coughing fits, and he’s a little warm but not feverish.
  • work on accessioning five boxes of videos which includes making a preliminary inventory, labeling & barcoding the boxes and preparing accession forms.
  • talk to wife on phone about coming to pick up me & our sick son on a miserable, rainy night.
  • close out day & head to the Childrens Center.
  • my “sick” son is cheerfully jumping up & down and playing with his friends.  As usual, he doesn’t want to go home.
  • supper, tubby time, bedtime for the boy & chores for me, and that was the day that was.

I think a lot of people are doing “A Week in the Life…” but for me I will end it there unless there’s some popular demand in the comments for more.

A Day in the Life of a Librarian

Librarians everywhere are signing up for the Library Day in the Life project as a way of showing what we do to fellow librarians, library school students, and anyone curious.  I missed out on this the last time it occurred so I definitely wanted to participate this year, especially since I’ve been looking for ways to kickstart the library content on this blog.

My position at my place of work (MPOW) is Information Lifecycle Management assistant.  The job title is not the most self-evident and in the year and one month I’ve been working in this position the responsibilities and definitions have shifted.  Basically, I work with people and records whether those records be active (records management) or permanent (archives).  My typical responsibilities involve accessioning records for storage or for archives, retrieving & returning boxes at the request of an administrative or faculty office, and answering reference questions related to archival material.

That scratches the surface, and hopefully this exercise will explain more.  With no further ado, I present…

A Day in the Life of an Information Lifecycle Management Assistant

Monday

  • wake up (late).  My son gets me up with zerberts and lots of giggling. Get ready for work.
  • My wife drives my son and I to the school.  He goes to the childrens’ center, I go to the library.
  • begin work day by checking emails, planning out tasks for the day and other administrative tasks.
  • check out Twitter and FriendFeed to see how my other library peeps are doing.
  • continue an ongoing reference project to learn about details of the lives of students from China who attended the school in its early years.  This involves reviewing registrar records, yearbooks, and alumni bulletins among other things.
  • at request from a faculty assistant, arrange to have boxes picked up and returned to offsite storage
  • prepare a student file for loan to the admissions office.
  • Lunch!  I eat a salad and read the Rex Libris graphic novel.
  • Spend an hour on-call to page materials from the stacks for patrons in the reading room.  Spend the time populating a spreadsheet for records storage stats and reading scholarly articles and blogs relevant to my job.
  • At request of my manager, I refile boxes related to a reference question we worked on last week.  Also photocopy a few pages of interest to the patron.  I cut my finger when trying to remove the staple.  Ouch!
  • Resume research on Chinese students.  Also work on a similar question about the school’s earliest research in India.
  • Close out my day of work.
  • Go to childrens’ center to pick up my son.
  • Take bus to public library.  I get teased for going to the library on my time off, but MPOW generally doesn’t specialize in stuff I’m interested in.
  • Ride subway home.  My son is inordinately fussy.
  • Relieved to get home, eat supper, put the boy to bed and go to bed myself.  Whew!

I’m glad to get that done.  Now I’ll have to find time to read what everyone else wrote.

On the brink with Twitter & FriendFeed

In my efforts to be more connected with the professional community at large in library world I’ve been a member of Twitter and FriendFeed for about a year.  I liked it at first reading other people’s thoughts and ideas, sharing my own, and seeing what news and links others posted that I might not have seen otherwise (or may have ignored until a critical mass all post the same story).

Lately, I’d not been feeling the vibe:

  • Too often I was reading a lot about the mundane daily life of people I don’t even really know.
  • Some of the people I follow can “tweet” an awful lot in a short amount of time.  I’m sure they’re wonderful people, but I don’t have time/patience to read all that.
  • Since I’ve been working in records management since last summer, even the library-related content wasn’t too relevant to me.
  • I admit that I’m egotistical enough that I’m miffed that people rarely respond to anything I post.  Even my comments on FriendFeed seem to be thread killers.

One day last week I came close to deleting my Twitter and FriendFeed accounts.  But then I decided, it’s probably not them.  It’s me.

So instead, I:

  • Un-followed some of the folks who I was finding were posting the mundane/overly-frequent content.  Again, wonderful people I’m sure, but I think if this is going to work for me I have to reconcile to the fact that a “follow” is not a binding contract.
  • Put my real name into my handle to make it more professional.  It was easier on Twitter where I’m now LiamTSullivan, but on FriendFeed I have hybrid real name/nick name liamothemts.
  • Since I’d not found many people in the RIM field on Twitter on my own, I asked for good people to follow on, where else, Twitter.  Since I’m also now an assistant to the archivist at my library I also asked for good archivists to follow on Twitter.  I got an excellent response with some good suggestions from some unexpected sources.  There’s even a blog post for 25 People All Archivists Must Follow on Twitter sent to me by my wife’s cousin.
  • I’m making a concerted effort to be more participatory myself, posting work-related stuff, and responding to others.  And I think it’s working.

And thus the story of my social media midlife crisis and how it’s been satisfactorily resolved.  Now if I can just get through all the people complaining about the redesign of Facebook.

PS – Feel free to follow me on Twitter and FriendFeed and tell me I’m being a pompous windbag if you so feel inclined.

Previously:

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