records, wikipedia, & digital libraries

I’ve been fortunate to attend a workshop and two conferences this month — see below for some quick recaps of the events.

Records Management in the Round: Re-purposing your Archival Expertise to Start a Program

  • This was an New England Archivists workshop led by Sarah R. Demb, Senior Records Manager/Archivist, Harvard University Archives and, Sarah A. Polirer, CA, CRM, Manager Corporate Research, Cigna Corporation. The day long workshop provided a introduction to a variety of topics like: the role of records management, benefits of a RM program, identifying records, retention schedules, planning for RM program and records surveys, and more. I learned so much!

Mass History 2016 – Putting History on the Map Together

  • This was a one day meeting at the College of Holy Cross in Worcester, MA. The meeting is organized by Mass Humanities. My colleague Greta and I participated in a session on “digital tools” by talking a bit about the value of Wikipedia edit-a-thons for archives/libraries. You can view our poster here.

Joint Conference on Digital Libraries

  • This conference was a great opportunity to learn about the perspectives of researchers in using digital collections and evaluating/improving digital library systems. In particular, I enjoyed the web archive related presentations and the WADL (web archiving and digital libraries) workshop. There was also an interesting session on archiving “born-digital” (meaning web based) news.
  • Some odds and ends from this workshop include:
    • Mention of using Storify to summarize a web archive collection prompting a tweet to this slidedeck about the project.
    • Unshorten utility for expanding shortened urls
    • Stephen Bury talked about Frick’s new “digital lightbox” access system. I didn’t catch a link to the system or if it was open to the public — but here is some info on the tool.
    • Vinay Goel from the Internet Archive showed off the new and soon to be released keyword search for the Wayback Machine. The feature will search website homepages.
    • Laura Wrubel gave some updates on the development of Social Feed Manager. The project is developing functionality that will incorporating provenance information in the metadata output!



fellowship update: NCPH 2016

Challenging the Exclusive Past. How can we recognize the traditional narratives of the historic contexts in which we work or study? How can we disrupt that narrative to introduce visitors, students, colleagues and researchers to new spaces of discussion and nuance? How do we earn trust in communities with a history of exclusion in order to elevate and preserve a more diverse historical record?

These questions and more underpinned the theme of this year’s National Council on Public History 2016 conference. I often attend academic library conferences or meetings related to digital preservation, so the focus on interpreting and sharing history was new. And fun. At just how many conferences could you attend a session on “The Secret Lives of Trees: How Landscapes Adapt and Change over Time”?

2016-03-16 17.38.48

Baltimore’s Inner Harbor. Sea monster paddle boats!

What’s my big take-away from NCPH 2016? Well, it something that I already knew was important and the meeting only reinforced the value. My take-away is the importance of actively building diverse and inclusive archival collections. What’s preserved today is what enables future historians and future communities to learn about and share more interesting, more inclusive, more nuanced stories of our collective and individual identities and experiences. If we only have records for a certain type of “important” person, we simply continue the tradition of telling only a few selective narratives at historical sites, in books, and in museum exhibits.

Read on for a detailed recap of the sessions I attended. And by detailed, I mean it. I went a bit crazy recapping these sessions. You can also read the conference program here. Continue reading


Back in early November I attended a two day meeting on web archiving that was fantastic. To top it off the meeting took place at the University of Michigan, so I got to marvel at the changes to little downtown A2, catch up with friends, and visit my family.


You know you’re in A2 when…

The meeting provided introductions to web archive analysis methods and technology. I also left with new questions regarding the ways we document, describe and use web archives. The meeting had four keynote speakers and several concurrent panel sessions. I wish that this had been a single track meeting! So many good conversations happening simultaneously and lots of active Q/A time. Continue reading

web archiving resources for NDSA NE crew (and anyone else reading this!)

This list of resources is shared as a compliment to a presentation I gave at the NDSA New England meeting on September 25, 2015. The presentation discussed the MIT Institute Archives’ efforts to acquire websites without a hosted service. I talked about how technology is important, but policy development and planning are key activities that can be accomplished even if new technology isn’t possible right away. The presentation also highlighted the tools we’re finding useful that are easy for an archivist with limited programming skills to use (web recorder, wget and web archive player). I’ve previously talked about some of these activities on ArchiveHour, see that post here.

P.S. Every time I think I’ve got a handle on the essential web archiving resources, I find out about something new. I also realize that a lot of work has gone into web archiving development long before it was something I first learned about in 2013. With this in mind, it’s quite possible that a lot of good stuff is missing from the following list — please add resources you love in the comments or alert me of my ignorance via contact page. =) thank you!

Get Started

  • International Internet Preservation Consortium (IIPC) website – What is web archiving?
  • IIPC blog post (2015), Ian Milligan – “So You Want to Get Started In Web Archiving?” Provides an excellent list of blogs to follow.
  • Archive-It Web Archiving Life Cycle – the examples are specific to Archive-It service and partners, but in any case the life cycle breakdown and concepts are helpful to think about the range of activities and policy that go into a web archiving program.
  • DPC Technology Watch 13-01, (2013), Maureen Pennock “Web-Archiving”
  • NDSA 2013 Web Archiving in the United States survey report

Continue reading

fellowship update: SAA 2015


Sunrise run in Cleveland to start the conference day off right.

Last week was the annual meeting of the Society of American Archivists in Cleveland. This was my first SAA experience. It was overall good, but I really do not love conferences that consist of only concurrent sessions. So much FOMO, it’s not even right. But I managed to see several good sessions over the three days I was in Cleveland. The following highlight a few of the sessions I attended and some tweets.

One of the plenary speakers was Daniel Horowitz Garcia from StoryCorps. He gave a wonderful and moving talk about the power of the stories and diverse voices that archives can preserve and share. The theme of the talk reminded me of something the plenary speaker at NEA 2015 said — “focus on what is made possible by the work.” Rather than talking endlessly about tasks, rules and tools, archivists need to talk most about what is made possible by the work we do.

Continue reading

fellow update: personal digital archiving 2015

In April I attended the Personal Digital Archiving 2015 conference. The two day series of talks provided a mix of perspectives–documentary film makers, doctoral students, archivists, librarians, and contemporary artists. You can find slides from the event in the Internet Archive. Following are a few highlights from the event:

Personal Digital Archiving 2015 was hosted by NYU.

Washington Square. Personal Digital Archiving 2015 was hosted by NYU Moving Image Archiving and Preservation program, NYU Libraries and CNI.

Wendy Hagenmaier discussed the development of the Find the Person in the Personal Digital Archive activity and resources. The project was a joint effort by the Georgia Society of Archivists, ARMA Atlanta, and Georgia Library Association. I used these materials for my own personal digital archiving workshops recently, so it was great to learn more about how and why the content was developed. (Slides) Similarly, a panel of librarians from Bryn Mawr, Wheaton, Vasser, Amherst, and Brown discussed their individual efforts to host personal digital archiving workshops.

Julie Swierczek talked about the preservation of technological and social communication forms online. Focusing on the octothrope (#) and ‘ironic metadata’, she questioned how future historians will understand the irony and cynicism in posts, memes and hashtags. Her essential question – how can individuals and social media companies record context for our social digital activity? (slides)

The opening keynote, Don Perry, talked about the power of bringing communities together, digitizing photographs, and sharing stories about the family history each photo represents. Through the Digital Diaspora Family Reunion roadshows, Perry and his team are using digitized and born-digital photographs to recover collective pasts and build new communities. (website) (slides)

Lauren Algee discussed the development of the DC Punk Archive at the DC Public Library. Lauren noted that while the library’s basement isn’t good for much — it is good for punk shows. As part of the overall effort to reach the punk community and build the archive, the library has hosted a series of shows in the basement.

Jessica Bushey, a doctoral student at University of British Columbia, talked about her research on how individuals manage digital content and share or store them via online platforms. Of her 502 survey respondents, 20% believe content will be available for 4-6 years and 24.49% believe that content in social platforms will still be available in 20 or more years. I am shocked by that kind of trust–20 years! Especially given stories like: this and this and this and this and this. The good news — 91% also have a local copy of their content stored on a laptop or external hard drive.  (slides provide full data from her survey)

Tod Wemmer gave an inspiring talk about the value and importance of audio in preserving context for photographs. I’m currently digitizing some 35mm slides for my grandma, mom and aunts — and decided during this talk that I should have my grandma tell me about the photos and record it. (slides – and the audio clips)

Jason Korvari from Cornell University Library shared about his work to provide web archiving services that can support teaching. He talked about his collaboration with a faculty member who uses websites related to art and artists in her classes. By working with the Library to archive the websites (using Archive-It), the faculty member can fully document courses and ensure access to web content used in the courses. (slides)

Yvonne Ng talked about assessment of PDA resources. She works at WITNESS and they provide video archiving guidance for activists. Assessment is so important for understanding community needs and purposefully prioritizing effort and resources. (slides)

And last, but not least – ePADD a fantastic tool for email acquisition, processing, discovery and delivery! I cannot wait for the official ePADD release in June 2015.

Odds and Ends:

Much more was covered – check out the conference website for details.

fellowship update: NEA/MARAC 2015 spring meeting

The professional development support for this fellowship is truly great! It also helps that NEA/MARAC 2015 Spring Meeting was held in Boston (saving on travel, ftw!). I really enjoyed meeting people from this region and am excited to be part of the Roundtable for Early Professionals and Students (REPS). Also… thank you to AV Preserve folks for the clever buttons.


new cork board decor for my cube.

The only downside was having to choose between sessions — in two days, I only attended six sessions–most of which were lightning talk rounds. But the sessions I did attend were interesting -below are some highlights and tweets from the event.

Continue reading

fellow update: code4lib 2015

Okay, so, February has not been a good month for blog updates or reading. But I did have the opportunity to attend Code4Lib 2015 in Portland! The atmosphere was reflective (this was the 10th year of C4L) and really fun. While conferences with different tracks and loads of presentations can be great, I really appreciated the single track style of C4L. I liked hearing complete talks (no fear of missing out!) and having a shared experience with other attendees.

I’ve been working on summarizing my experience since I got back and I’ve decided that, for me, the talks fit into two broad categories: teaching/learning/culture and ideas/projects/tools. 

In this post I’ve listed some of the highlights from each category. There were many other great talks and projects – the Code4Lib wiki has slides available for most of the presentations and lightning talks. Or check out the video of some of the talks.

Continue reading

CurateGear 2015

My first professional development activity of 2015 took place last week in lovely (and unseasonably cold) North Carolina. CurateGear is an event hosted by the SILS program at UNC-Chapel Hill that provides practitioners a platform to  both share and learn about the application of digital curation tools. Video of all of the lightening talks can be found on the CureateGear 2015 website.

The following are a few of the things I found most interesting:

Digital Curation Education

  • I found Carolyn Hank’s talk about her research on digital curation education interesting. As a recent graduate, I think there is definitely a need for a clearer understanding of how to best prepare students for the workplace. This topic came around again in the closing panel. The panelists highlighted the notion that students don’t necessarily need to learn specific tools-of-the-month in the classroom, but instead need to learn to think strategically about addressing the concepts that make up digital curation (e.g. ingest in practice, AIP concept modeling, workflows, restricted access methods vs. open access methods, digital forensics use cases).  This is all in my own words, and the panelists phrased it better — I just remember nodding my head a lot and forgetting to take good notes!

Using Data to Plan for Born-Digital Processing

  • Erika Farr talked about her team’s work to measure effort spent in born-digital processing. She explained how her team created effort categories, used Redbooth to track tasks and time, and what they hope to gain from the resulting data. I think this kind of measuring and planning will only become more commonplace as more and more archives are able to ramp up born-digital processing.

Emulation and Access for Digital Archives

  • Susan Malsbury from NYPL talked about their efforts to provide access to a collection of born-digital records from the 1980s/1990s. Currently, the records are available at a reading room station only. Users can view the collection by using Quick View Plus and the DOSBox emulator.

Analyzing Archive-It Collections

  • Lori Donovan, from the Internet Archive, demoed the newest updates to Archive-It. Archive-It 5.0 provides partners with a newly redesigned and expanded reports feature.  It is now possible to explore data captured with useful (and pretty!) visualizations that show size of captures, use of data budget, amount of duplication, file types, and more. The reports feature is only one part of Archive-It 5.0 redesigned – I can’t wait to see what else they’ve updated.

I also want to give a shout out to the talks by my colleagues Nancy McGovern and Kari Smith — the topics of their talks were focused on the high level planning side of things, but planning is essential to curation “gear” selection! The work they discuss is related to so many things I’m working on. I’m sure a future post about my work will reference the management tools for curation and the digital archives eco-system visualization.

Though I was itching for a hands on session to play with all the tools discussed, I enjoyed CurateGear 2015 and the opportunity to see a variety of tools in action.

digital distinctions – NE NDSA meeting

On Thursday I attended the New England regional National Digital Stewardship Alliance meeting at U-Mass Amherst. The meeting consisted of morning presentations, afternoon lightning talks, and open discussion. The organized talks included information on the Archivematica/DuraCloud pilot project, Dataverse services, taxonomy, and collaboration in digital preservation. We also heard from the current Boston NDSR residents.

During the discussion time, my group talked about handling preservation for digitized vs. born-digital content. In our allotted thirty minutes, we covered a lot of ideas and personal experiences that fit into this general topic. We discussed differences in digitization for print materials (books) and analog AV material—noting that the value of the digitized product varies greatly across content type. We wondered about how to prioritize content for various levels of long-term preservation action. We considered differences between licensed born-digital library materials, research data, and various born-digital content found in archives. In the end we didn’t reach specific conclusions, but we posed three questions to the overall group.

  1. How do we prioritize preservation actions (selection, reformatting, processing, long-term storage, reappraisal/deselection) for digital content (born-digital, born-digital legacy media, digitized analog AV media, digitized print/photographs)?
  2. If it’s born digital, is it more valuable?
  3. How do we highlight the importance of long-term digital preservation at the outset of research, object creation or digitization — rather than pushing quick for access and leaving digital preservation as an after-thought?

I look forward to the next NE NDSA regional meeting!

Today’s coffee: New England Coffee


Hope you have a spooky Halloween!