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!



reading notes: diversity, inclusion, social justice

I’m part of the newly established MIT Libraries’ Collections Directorate Diversity, Inclusion and Social Justice task force*. The group was assembled by Greg Eow, MIT Libraries’ AD for Collections. The charge of the group is to: explore and identify specific projects, programs and initiatives that will provide opportunities for Collections Directorate staff to promote our values of diversity, inclusion, and social justice. I’m fortunate enough to be working with some fantastic folks – Ann Marie Willer (chair), Michelle Miller, Rhonda Kauffman, Dana Hamlin, Julia Lanigan, Czeslaw Jankowski, and Michelle Baildon. We have representation from each of the departments in the directorate.

The group is currently busy defining our scope and preparing to compile a report . I hope that we will be able to share more about the report and our recommendations this fall. To kick things off we have, of course, focused on a lot of information gathering and reading. The following list shows some of things I’ve been reading lately.

The Big Picture

  • From MIT Libraries’ director, Chris Bourg:
    • Beyond Measure: Valuing Libraries – post here
    • The Neoliberal Library: Resistance is not futile – post here
  • Professional Code of Ethics/Values
    • Zine Librarians – here
    • Society of American Archivists – here 
    • American Library Association – here

Focusing in on Collections Work – description, collection development, publishing/open access, etc.

  • Charlotte Roh’s article on “Library Publishing and Diversity Values..” – in the ACRL publication College and Research Libraries’ News, here.
  • Jarrett Drake’s conference talk, “RadTech Meets RadArch: Towards A New Principle for Archives and Archival Description” – available via On Archivy, here.
  • Mudd Manuscript Library at Princeton’s work with the Archiving Student Activism at Princeton (ASAP) initiative – blog post here and update on progress here.
  • 2015 LITA Forum keynote from Mx. A. Matienzo “To Hell With Good Intentions: Linked Data, Community and the Power to Name.” – find it here.
  • Kate Theimer, “Gaps in the Past and Gaps in the Future: Archival Silences and Social Media” – a presentation talk available on her website – here.


  • Stacie Williams on the “Implications of Archival Labor” – find it On Archivy.


  • Heidi Abbey Moyer explores green practices in libraries, archives and museums in “The Green Archivist” – jstore link.
  • Project ARCC (archivists responding to climate change) is a group of archivists (and librarians) interested in how the profession can affect climate change. The mission is to elevate, reduce, protect, and preserve. Check out the website for more and the Climate Change Syllabus for a wide range of readings and resources.

This is obviously not an exhaustive list of readings related to DISJ topics in libraries and archives. The other MIT Libraries’ Collections Directorate DISJ members are busy reading other things we’ve identified and I’m sure there’s plenty more out there we haven’t even found yet.  I have a feeling that one output from our work might be a bibliography. Please feel free to suggest other readings for me or for the group!

*note, you may know that the MIT Libraries has a staff committee for the Promotion of Diversity and Inclusion (CPDI). The task force I’m part of is separate in that we are a temporary group, focused specifically on the collections directorate. CPDI has been around for several years and functions across directorates. CPDI has been a helpful sounding board for the DISJ task force so far.


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

reading notes: what exactly are we trying to capture?

Davis, Corey. “Archiving the Web: A Case Study from the University of Victoria.” Code4Lib Journal, no. 26 (2014). Accessed November 4, 2014.

 ‘It’s not your grandfather’s web anymore.’

-Negulescu and Rosenthal qtd. in Davis

I found this article to be a great starting point for my exploration of web archiving. Davis provides excellent background on web archiving as well as the areas of interest in developing a web archiving program. In particular, I appreciated Davis’ explanation of why dynamic websites are so difficult to capture well. In light of this difficulty, Davis wonders if we might be able to encourage website creators to build sites that are “optimized for web archiving.” Overall, that kind of task seems daunting. However, it might be possible to work with local website creators (at one’s institution) regarding needs for web archiving.

Davis also briefly discusses the nature of web documents and websites as objects to collect – are they archival objects with original order or discrete objects? This is a key question to grapple with when collaborating with colleagues (from library land and archive land) on development of web archiving initiatives.

Things for future consideration:

Description and arrangement: What kind of metadata fully captures the context of the site overtime? How would web archives of a university domain fit into existing institutional records? Would it need to? How should web archives be represented in archival description? Are most web archives at this point just stand-alone topical collections?

Use cases for web archives: Do you need to have expressed need for web archives before investing in the efforts? If you build it, will they come?  I think it’s important to look at existing collecting strengths and policy – and archive the web accordingly. Maybe the really big question is – how should frequency of crawls be determined?

The big question raised: Davis asks: “what exactly are we trying to capture? … This database—which represents the majority of the project’s human effort—arguably has more value than the website itself.”

I’m just going to keep thinking about that for now…

Today’s coffee: New England Coffee        

The reading notes posts found on this blog are intentionally question-filled and causal. Each notes post serves as a sort of open journal record of my professional development reading as the MIT Libraries Fellow for Digital Archives. See the introduction post for more on this series. I welcome suggestions for future readings—current or archival!

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!