fellowship update: six months

March flew by and marked the sixth month of my twenty-four month fellowship. An early lesson learned from the Fellowship experience: keeping up with blogging goals ain’t easy! I’ve found that the time I was setting aside for reading has largely become time to coordinate and read for the Archives and Digital Curation Reading Group. All in all not a bad thing, but I’m striving to get back to my original bloggin’ and readin’ plan in May…well, maybe June!

Below is a breakdown of current work and other things I’ve done as part of the MIT Libraries team so far.

MIT seal

MIT Context – Since day one, I’ve been learning about the history of MIT. This has involved looking over reference requests, learning about the interests of visiting researchers, reading the book A Widening Sphere, taking a student led campus tour, and general poking around in collection information. The Wikipedia event I co-organized also helped me learn about women at MIT. Did you know… MIT was founded in 1861 just days before the Civil War started? Classes didn’t begin until 1865. MIT was originally located in Boston’s Back Bay and moved to Cambridge in 1916. The MIT motto is Mans et Manus (Mind and Hand).

Acquisition and Processing Adventures – I’ve had the opportunity to observe the acquisition process and procedures for  transfer and submission of born-digital records. This has included tagging along with Kari to a few Institute offices for records, walking through procedures for submitting born-digital files for ingest processing with a collections archivist, reworking the written procedures for submission, and thinking generally about PAIMIS concepts in practice. I’ve also started processing a recently acquired born digital collection.

Research and Fellow Project – In addition to general work duties, the Library Fellows program gives the fellows an opportunity to create and present on a capstone like project. My project isn’t set in stone yet, but it may be in the area of web archiving. I’ve been spending a good deal of time research methods and modes of web archiving, considering the various MIT owned websites that might interest the Institute Archives, and thinking about web archiving experiments we might be able to test in the DSLab. I’m also working on a internal documentation related project with my fellow Fellow, Christine Malinowski. As that develops, I hope to post about our work.

i love these digital preservation images!

like many in archives and digital curation, my work involves a lot of research, documentation and planning. i ❤ documentation.


Reference/Outreach – I have officially begun working on the reading room reference desk once a week. I learned some strategies for exploring a disk image to meet needs of a reference request. You can learn more about this process on Kari’s blog. In April, I’m hosting two workshops on personal digital archiving. The workshop remixes this Personal Digital Archiving activity from the Society of Georgia Archivists. After the event, I’ll be sure to post about it and share materials. Back in January, I co-hosted a Wikipedia editing workshop with Greta Suiter. I’ve also been thinking about how to provide record creators with advice on creating and archiving digital content – so far I’ve gathered many external resources and created draft guides for PDF-A creation and use of Drop Box + MIT.

The Digital Sustainability Lab (DSLab)- I’ve been working closely with Kari Smith and Nancy McGovern on getting the lab ready for experiments. This has included lots of discussion about documentation and categorization of lab activities. One of the first things I’ve done is put together several sets of test files that can be used for experiments.  I sourced these files from a test corpus already used in the archives, Open Preservation Foundation test corpus, creative commons music websites, and the Personal Digital Archiving activity test files from Society of Georgia Archivists. So far, I’ve documented the master set of each test corpus with DROID, a narrative account of my process, and use guidance.

Conferences/Extracurricular Activities

Whew! It’s been a fun six months (well, seven at this point!). One of my goals for this summer is to write a few posts that provide more detail into these work areas. Stay tuned.

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