What does a MIT Libraries Fellow for Digital Archives do?
This question and similar derivative questions (Digital preservation is what? Digital curation means what?) have been consistent companions since I started graduate school in 2012. Explaining the details of digital curation and preservation is a topic big enough for it’s own post. I’m not going to venture there today, but I would like to highlight what a Digital Archives Fellowship is all about. My quick answer is that the fellowship experience provides built-in mentorship and an opportunity to continue to develop skills that help me wrangle digital content and context. As far as what I do here …
My official project plan is still in development. As my projects become more defined, I’ll provide updates about my work on this blog. But, essentially, I’m here to help the Digital Archivist in furthering the development of the digital archives program. This means we are working on things like:
- Workflow analysis and documentation related to transferring, processing and managing digital collections
- Testing and development of use cases for various digital archives tools that assist or automate processing and management activities (e.g. Archivematica, ArchivesSpace, BitCurator)
- Enabling access to digital collections in the reading room and online
As a fellow, I also have the luxury of extra time for skill building and professional development. So far, I’ve set aside time each week for this blog as well as for developing programming skills. First up, is Python. I had hopes of taking an edX course in data analysis using Python, but my hopes were dashed quickly (by the second week). I learned the basics of Python in graduate school, but those seven weeks felt like they took place seven years ago! My retention was pretty bad, so I’m back to basics. Through Code Academy and a textbook from graduate school, I’m relearning Python. I’ll provide an update on my progress once I have a better idea of how I might use Python—maybe to analyze digital collections or automate part of a workflow. For now, here is an example of my brilliant Python abilities.