PDA 2012: Media Types

Second morning session: media types. Let’s see what we have to talk about now.

Processing and Delivering Email Archives in Special Collections using MUSE Peter Chan from Stanford University
Email archiving is important, but there are many challenges: copyright and privacy, sensitive information, description, and delivering. So how do you bulk process/archive emails? Description is especially important and difficult because we must include useful metadata and description in order to make the email archives useful for people.

MUSE is a project at Stanford for email archiving and actually do something useful with the emails. Can do sentiment analysis and also group analysis. [I’ve used this before and it is quite fun.] Can also look at image attachments as a slideshow. Lots of very cool improvements on MUSE since the last time I used it. Very cool.

Processing emails with MUSE: edit pre-built lexicon and screen for sensitive information and mark for restriction, group by known projects, conferences, etc. and can use MUSE functions to create usable archives at the institutional level. Deliver metadata about the emails on the web via summary information, sentiment visualizations, etc. In the reading room, can deliver individual emails and attachments. Gaps: sophisticated search, original view via the creator’s email folders/tags, delivery mode for metadata, lexicons, and foreign language support.

parallel-flickr Aaron Straup Cope
Link to information: parallel-flickr appendix

“For all intents and purposes, no one backs up their photos.” Flickr has a lot of trust from users and people just assume that their photos will always be there. But we really need backups because every system fails at some time.

parallel-flickr uses the Flickr API to pull out the photos and photo information. The source files are then fed into the database and then uploaded to the website. Also can pulls in photos you favorite on Flickr. You can use parallel-flickr just for yourself or for sharing with others.

Note: Seems very interesting and important, but I’m just not following this talk. I need to go through his extra information after the conference to get a better handle on this.

Remember the Web? Practical challenges of Bookmarking for Keeps Maciej Ceglowski (Pinboard founder)
Link to talk

Pinboard.in founded in 2009, 9 million archived bookmarks, and 4 TB stored web content. “The search engine does not replace the need for your own bookmarks.” Archive bookmarks because link rot is a large problem. By archiving your bookmarks, you’ll be able to get to what you want (you can sign up for this extra service through Pinboard). Challenges to getting the content: adversarial servers (paywalls/authentication, sessions, streaming content, geoidiocy), desperate advertisers (hyperpagination, interstitials, URL shorteners, IP law), and inner platform effect (dynamic loading, infinite load, #!hashbang URLs, third-party comments, Flash).

Take Home Message
Email archiving is important and MUSE makes these large email archives actually usable (and makes fun visualizations). MUSE is still being developed, but is already cool and useful project. Back up your data and files. Check out Pinboard for archiving your bookmarks.

PDA 2012: Cases and Examples

First morning session: case studies and examples. Let’s get into it.

How My Family Archives Affected Othersby Stan James (on Twitter @wanderingstan)
Talking about his grandmother and grandfather and how his grandmother burned all her letters after she had let her children read the letters. [Note: Stan spoke at PDA 2011 about his family archiving project] His father is still scanning his materials.

Three points: personal archiving is a hot space; much room for creativity; archiving and relationships

Still working on the family archives and checking out other social media sites to share the images and documents. Used Drupal platform to create own family website (lots more work than he thought it would be). Lots of great features on the website because have tagging metadata. Lots and lots of photos. Began using maps, especially Google Street View, to see how geographical locations have changed since the photos were taken years ago. Also has had many text documents scanned and transcribed via Mechanical Turk. Lots of mashups on the website, like covers from TIME on the website based on the date of the letters written.

Using simple questions and randomly selected photos to get the rest of the metadata entered by the family members (using the website). This project has helped the family members become closer and need to make the interfaces easier to use, especially for those who are not familiar with technology or have mobility issues.

You need to think about privacy concerns of others who are in the photos (but not part of the family) and also geo-location codes for those who don’t want their homes marked online.

The Personal Archive of Sven G. by Sven Goyvaerts
Unfortunately not here

What I’ve learned from gardening my Brain Jerry Michalski, The REXpedition
[Talking now instead of after lunch]

Talking about The Brain and using it for 15 years in one brain space. It’s mind-mapping software. Each link is called “a thought” and links together various thoughts and maps out the connections. Very good if you are a visual thinker and can make your own links to various thoughts. You can drag and drop new links into “the brain” on your desktop. Good way to create context and to make sense out of the world, but you have to rely on organizations like the Internet Archive to be able to find old websites. You can use The Brain instead of bookmarks. Does have a notes field. Doesn’t take a lot of time according to Jerry and helps him improve his memory. Can see his brain at JerrysBrain.com. He isn’t sure what to do with this now because, while it is great for him, he wants to figure out how it could be helpful for others. He wants to do collaborative sense-making.

Unstable Archives: Performing the Franko B Archive by Jo An Morfin-Guerrero (fine art conservator and student at Bristol University)
Part of PhD research on preservation of media and different artistic practices. Franko B is an artist who currently lives in London and does many different types of art including performance art. He started collecting documentation of his artistic work and donated to Live Art Archives at Bristol University. Very controversial to document performance art because you are preserving something that has been created to be ephemeral. [I think this is a very interesting philosophical and theoretical debate] Because the artist himself has collected the documentation and donated to the university in 2009, it is a bit less controversial to archive this collection.

First she just dealt with materiality of the collection because the materials were in very poor containers and not indexed. Then she began worked with the materials and the database records to do media archaeology to see what the materials together mean. Lots of interesting dilemmas for archiving. How do you show moving behaviors through time with static archives? How do you convey the ephemeral nature of the performance art?

Take Home Message
Family archiving is a great way to bring multiple generations of the family together. It is a great way to share memories, but does take a lot of time to create. Check out TheBrain for mind-mapping and contextual bookmarks if you like visual linkages. Performance art in the archives means that we must find new ways of showing context and using the archives to create meaning (and being okay with not always having the answers). Very interesting trio of talks showing the diversity of personal archiving methods and tools.

Personal Digital Archiving 2012: Keynote by Mike Ashenfelder

Happy Thursday, dear readers! Today is the first day of Personal Digital Archiving Conference at the Internet Archive. I’m excited to hear about lots of cool projects and tools, but not psyched to sit on wooden pews for two days. (The Internet Archive is in an old Christian Science church.) But let’s get into what Mike Ashenfelder has to say about the Library of Congress’ Personal Digital Archive Advice for the General Public.

“Sometimes we complicate things more than they need to be.”

Library of Congress is simplifying by helping people get started with their own personal digital archiving. Goal is to help the general public. Need to simplify our institutional-level digital preservation knowledge and share it with the general public. Basically, you scale down the workflow process for individuals.

Need to get the message out that people need to manage their digital assets because there is no such thing as benign neglect in the digital realm.

“Cells of history”: having people archive their own materials helps the institutional archives because the collections will already be processed when they come to the archives.

Photos are the main concern for most people. Cell phone cameras have exponentially increased the number of photos people take, keep, and want to maintain access to for future use.

Identify: What you want to save
Decide: What is most important
Organize: Keep it all in one place
Save Copies: In different places

Library of Congress can’t make any endorsements of projects, therefore has to point to other resources. Makes terminology more accessible to people. [Great tip: always use clear language. I’m a librarian and archivist and I don’t even appreciate the acronym soup and crazy lingo we seem to come up with to describe what we do.]

Library of Congress has many resources for the general public, including blogs, Facebook, and videos (iTunes and YouTube). [This is great because there is a lot of incorrect information about digital preservation, especially surrounding online materials.] You can check out the information on the Library of Congress’ Personal Archiving site. Also, the LoC has the Personal Archiving Day which coincides with ALA’s Preservation Week. They go to National Book Festival, too, which is the best outreach event for increasing people’s knowledge of preserving their own media. Unsurprisingly, people love to play with obsolete media at these outreach events.

Unsurprisingly, you need to listen to the public to make sure they understand the educational materials and to see what questions they have. Also, simplify all your writing and materials. Think haiku, not free verse.

Everyone needs to do more outreach and marketing to get people aware of digital archiving. Train the trainer in the public libraries and people will get excited to become involved. Community outreach is super-important and gets great collaborations and partnerships formed. You can find a Personal Archiving Day Kit on the Library of Congress’ website.

Take Home Message:
You’ve got to make it easy and not scare people if you want people to organize, tag, and archive their materials. I hope that more people feel that they want to and can preserve their materials so we don’t lose these materials. Maybe I can convince my library that we should hold a personal archiving day to help people start organizing and preserving their materials. Get into the community and get people excited to preserve their materials!

The Waki Librarian Turns 3 Today!

Happy Saturday, dear readers! You read the post title correctly–The Waki Librarian blog turns three years old today! I can hardly believe that I’ve been blogging for three years or that I’ve been at my current position for just over three years. Time really does fly (even if it’s a bit wibbly, wobbly).

I was thinking about what I should write about for my 3-year anniversary post and I had a lot of ideas. But the phrase that kept running through my head over the last few weeks is: “Momma was right.” So I thought I’d share some wisdom and things my momma taught me that have helped me in my first three years as a professional librarian and archivist because they might help you, too. So let’s get into the good stuff.

First, you have to understand that my momma is a pretty brilliant woman. Besides teaching me to bake a mean pie and replace a kitchen garbage disposal, she also taught me that we are in control of a lot more of our lives than most people want to believe. She sold her car to buy a motorcycle in order to afford the first payment for tuition to veterinary school at a time when women just didn’t become veterinarians. She doesn’t buy into the societal delusion that there are just some things that women don’t do. And, even though she’s not a librarian, she instilled in me an awesome appreciation for libraries and self-taught learning. And she was pretty much right about everything, not that this fact is at all surprising to her.

So what did my momma teach me that have been essential in my work? I’ll give you three things that are essential for success at work and in life that I still don’t see a lot of people doing.

Being kind is super-important
Being kind (aka being nice) seems to be a lost art on most people. But my momma impressed upon both her daughters that being kind is super-important. It’s what keeps us civil and makes the world a little nicer place. Everyone wants a little kindness and not only will being kind allow you to sleep with a clear conscious at night, it will help you in your work, too. People like to help the people who have been kind to them and who go (even a little) out of their way to be nice. So as you are fast-tracking your way to the top of the librarian or archivist heap, be nice about it. Say hi in the morning to everyone, remember that it was their niece’s birthday party over the weekend and ask them how it went, and even bring in cookies once in a while.

The great thing about being kind is that it makes the world a better place and it doesn’t matter if you are an introvert or an extrovert, you can still be a nice person. Being nice shifts your perspective and will get you through the chaos, trust me on this. But, if you are like some people I know, and need a concrete reason for changing your behavior so you get ROI, think of it this way: being nice will ultimately get you what you want. So if you can’t be nice just because it’s the right thing to do, be nice because it will help your career (although my momma might have a thing or two to say to you if she finds out this is why you are being nice).

Being kind is not the same thing as being a pushover
This is something my momma made sure we understood when growing up. Being nice doesn’t mean you have to be the pushover that some sections of society thinks you should be if you are kind (especially if you are a woman). I think this is one of the stereotypes that I’ve had the most trouble fighting most of my life. People need to understand that you can be both a nice, kind person and a strong person.

Especially when you start your career, there will be people because of your age, or your inexperience, or because you smile, who think that you’ll be easy to push around and use for furthering their agendas. Remain civil, but nicely say no to their machinations. You don’t need to put up with any of that. And, if you’ve been nice (and I mean sincerely nice and caring) to others at your work and in your life, they’ll have your back, too. See? Being nice creates an environment that allows you to be strong. It won’t be easy all the time, but it’s worth it. If being kind allows you a clear conscious at night, being strong will give you a happy state of mind and confidence.

Being yourself will ultimately make you successful
Everyone says this and they’re right, but my momma’s lived it and that makes her evidence stronger, in my mind, in support of being ones’ self at work and in life. I’m not an extrovert by nature and I’m definitely not someone who is comfortable with “tooting my own horn.” I also don’t promise pie in the sky to people, if I can’t deliver. And, while I love bright and shiny tech tools as much as the next person, I’m a private person by nature and so some social media and I don’t really get along. To some, especially if you read marketing blogs or professional development advice, this means I’m on the fast track to oblivion.

I beg to disagree. Hard work, as my momma would say, wins out in the end. If nothing else, us Waki women work harder and smarter than a whole heck of a lot of people. And this, over the course of say three years combined with being kind and slowly building relationships, will make anyone successful. Does it take more time? Yes. Is it as glamorous as blowing up on Twitter over night? Nope. But it is the way to building a lasting career? Totally.

I believe in continually learning and growing. My momma taught me that. But I also believe in staying true to what makes you unique and you because then you do your best work and hopefully find success and pleasure in your work and in your life.

So those are just a few of the life lessons my momma passed on to me and that I’m now doing the nice thing and passing them on to you. You’ve probably heard it all before, but have you taken the time to try being kind, being strong, and being yourself? Try it out and don’t forget to have a cookie once in a while, cookies are cool, too.

And whenever I get down or need to remember my momma’s advice, I hear this song in my head (really not surprising, if you knew my momma, even if it’s not quite about what we’re talking about now):

Have a wonderful rest of your weekend, give your momma a call, have dinner with some friends, and curl up with a cat and a good book (and a cup of tea or glass of cider, whatever wrinkles your prune). I’ll be back next week with our regularly scheduled archives, libraries, and technology programming. Allons-y!

Quick Update on Our Archives

Happy Wednesday, dear readers! I hope you are having a lovely day. Hopefully the weather is even nice for your day. Today I just wanted to give you a quick update on our archives before getting back to all the emails that piled up yesterday.

I was hoping to find an announcement to link to, but I couldn’t, so you are just going to have to take my word for it: our archives at Cal State East Bay received a 2011-2012 LSTA funded Local History Digital Resources Project (LHDRP) grant! We are super-excited as this grant not only allows us to have 200 images of the beginnings of our campus digitized and made available on the wonderful Online Archive of California, we also get to attend trainings on digitization, metadata, and even copyright so we can continue with more digitization projects after the grant period. I think this is a wonderful program.

What I just wanted to say today (and give a shout-out) was that yesterday we had our first in-person training and it was an all-day workshop on copyright, formally titled “Minimizing Legal Risks in Digitization Projects.” It was put on by Infopeople and led by Mary Minow. And, this is the most important part, it wasn’t boring and I finally feel like I have a fair grasp on copyright, permissions, and digitization projects! This is amazing because I have sat in on my fair share of lectures on copyright throughout my graduate education and throughout my (short) professional career at conferences, but I’ve never really understood it.

So this is basically to say if you have a chance, definitely take a workshop on copyright with Mary Minnow. She’s fabulous. Also you can check out the blog she runs with Peter Hirtle at LibraryLaw Blog and their full website at Library Law.

I hope you have a great rest of your day and I’ll be back on Friday with some tech news and fun for you to share. Allons-y!


Happy Friday, dear readers! I hope you are having a lovely day and, if you are in the United States, have a lovely Memorial Day weekend planned. I plan on accomplishing a lot of relaxing during the weekend in order to have energy for the last bit of the spring quarter. I just want to talk a bit about communities today and how important archives and libraries are (or could be) in fostering communities.

Public libraries seem to get the lion’s share of press when it comes to libraries fostering spaces, resources, services, and events that increase community involvement and interaction. However, academic libraries and archives can also be extremely important places for fostering community spirit among library and archives users. But it seems that we are not as pro-active on the whole about demonstrating our value to the community as public libraries. I know that my library could do a lot better at reaching out to students and getting them involved with changes in the library. One of my projects this summer will be working on cheap (read: free) ways of doing outreach and getting students involved. Our library is “the heart of the campus” mainly because it is open when nothing else is on campus, but I don’t think that students really feel “ownership” of the library and that’s a problem for engagement.

In the latest issue of C&RL News there was a great article by Gfeller, Dutterfield-Nagy, and Grignon, Imagine: A student-centered library, which described the Fogler Library’s outreach and marketing campaign that heavily involved students. The graphics they produced were awesome, prominently featured students, and would be easy to replicate at other university libraries given a bit of time and a little bit of money for printing posters. Just think of the fun of having students involved with the photography and designing of the posters, as well as creating tie-in events using mobile technologies, QR codes, and other student-led, student-driven activities. There is so much room for engagement and increasing the interaction with users in academic libraries. We can foster community, but we need the time and support to do it.

While archives might seem like a world away from public libraries and academic libraries in terms of fostering community, I would argue that they can also be at the heart of communities. I study community archives and will hopefully be sharing some of my research in the near-ish future with a wider audience because I’ve not finished up all my work yet. But in the meantime, I can say that community archives are hugely important for community history, memory, and public programming. And, most community archives operate on a shoestring budget, so they have many ideas to offer libraries on how to get things done when money actually is a huge object.

Anyway, just some food for thought. How does your library or archives engage with your community members? How do you make sure that people feel connected and involved with your library or archives? I’d love to hear suggestions in the comments as I work with our community members over the coming months.

I wanted to share this photograph of a post-it note I found affixed to one of the water fountains on campus because it made me smile. Unexpected messages of kindness and positivity are always welcome.

Surrounded by True Friends Post-it

Also, for a short work break, check out anatomy of a mashup: Definitive Daft Punk for one of the coolest visualizations I’ve seen in a long while. Plus, the music sounds awesome.

Have a wonderful day, a fabulous weekend, read a lot, and I’ll be back next week with more thoughts on libraries, archives, and technology. Allons-y!

Caring and Archival Conservation

Happy Friday! I hope that your day is going well, even though it’s the thirteenth (and no, I’m not really superstitious). It’s a Friday and that’s a good thing. Today I just want to talk briefly about caring and archival conservation, then send you off with some fun videos for your tea breaks. So let’s get going.

On Tuesday was the second of two Protecting Cultural Collections workshops held at the lovely California Historical Society in San Francisco. Sponsored by the IMLS, these workshop series are supposed to help more cultural institutions (libraries, museums, and archives) create and implement disaster preparedness plans and also learn basics about salvage/conservation techniques. I will admit to almost falling asleep in the first half of the workshop, mainly because the room was freezing and the lights were dim, but the second half of the workshop made up for it because it was hands-on. I like doing things so working with water-logged materials and determining how to go about drying the materials was a lot of fun. I highly suggest the workshops if you need a brush up on the basics of salvaging materials or need to create a disaster plan. You can see a schedule of the upcoming workshops and register here. If you want more in-depth training for conservation, you’ll have to go elsewhere as that is not the point of the workshops.

In addition to getting me thinking about how much conservation work needs to be done to the materials in my archives, the workshops also got me thinking about caring in general. Not just caring for the collections, which sorely need it and which the one grant for preservation work we got is going to help in that aspect, but caring for and about cultural institutions and people on a more general level. These thoughts have also been bouncing around in my head due to a lovely post over on Ink and Vellum,We’ve built the brand. Now let’s build celebrities and due to reading a lot of Seth Godin’s work lately, including The Big Moo. After thinking quite a lot about this, among other things, I really believe that a lot of the problems in branding, funding, increasing statistics, etc. comes down to not showing people how much we care. Now before you raise your pitchforks, hear me out.

I’m not saying you don’t care, or your organization doesn’t care. I’m saying that people don’t perceive us as caring about their unique problems. I’m saying that we are all so stressed and overworked that it’s beginning to show and this leads to a vicious cycle of apathy and bad statistics that then leads management to want to try new fancy “actionable” steps and “measurable” outcomes. However, I think we need to simply think about the truth in one chapter of The Big Moo:

You could spend all your money and all your time trying to improve your customer service through one fancy technique or another. Or you could just care. And hire people who care.

When people know you care about them, they start caring about you. And when they care about you, they’ll seek you out for help with their research paper, or their job application, or their archival research. When they care about you, they are willing to listen to your story and your ideas for creating a better library or archives or museum with programming and services that matter to them. And if they really can see that you care and have proof that you care, they will tell their friends and family members and start spreading the word and helping you out. Having a support base is the only way that we are going to be able to survive and improve, and it’s really the only way that we’ll ever get “celebrity” librarians or archivists.

So that’s all I really have to say today. Workshops on archival conservation and disaster preparedness made me think about caring in all aspects of life, but especially in my work. So let me know what you think because I really do care and love to hear from you, dear readers.

Finally, here’s some fun stuff for your Friday study/work breaks. Check out this video: Super Tiny Apartment is an Amazing Transformer. It’s really nifty, although I don’t think I want to do that moving of furniture in my apartment. Also, for those of you that like design and especially typography, check out: What Font are You? It’s fun and let’s you read through all of the font personality types at the end.

And, of course, we need a great video to finish with so here’s the Doctor because, well, it’s the Doctor.

Have a wonderful rest of your day, a fantastic weekend, and I’ll be back next week with more library/archives/tech thoughts and news. Allons-y!

SCA: Going Digital: Less Process, More Content

Happy Saturday! Time for session notes from the first talk of the day. Let’s talk about digital materials and processing. Allons-y!

Moderator: Lellani Marshall (Sourisseau Academy for State and Local History, SJSU)

Paula Jabloner (Computer History Museum)
Russell Rader (Hoover Institution Archives, Stanford University)
Lisa Miller (Hoover Institution Archives, Stanford University)

Topic: Ways in which we can apply “More product, less process” in digital realm. Speakers will be sharing two case studies.

Lisa Miller (Hoover Institution Archives)
Hoover is well-funded compared to most, but still lacking some tools for digital processing and preservation. Shows a wish list: digital repository system, dedicated IT staff, computer programmer, DAM system, Tools for METS, PREMIS, etc..

Available resources; PC and Mac computers, floppy disks, server space, some staff time, and eager researcher for the Katayev Collection (2007). Spurred the archives to create basic processing procedures. Mostly had Web 1.0 files (Word files, non-interactive media, etc.). Researchers just wanted content, not concerned so much with authenticity issues (diplomatics) like archivists.

Basic steps:

  1. Find computer media: looking for media in collections via finding aids and catalog. No standard way of indexing media, so serendipity plays a role in finding them.
  2. Get files off the disks. Scan for viruses.
  3. Use checksums for file integrity (MP5 checksums). Can also be used to de-dup collection. Verify checksums when move or duplicate the files.
  4. Preserve files with unaltered bits and with author’s filenames intact. Sometimes change to target formats (.txt, PDF, PDF/A, delimited text for spreadsheets and databases). Try to do as much batch processing as possible. Add prefix to filename to delineate converted files
  5. Centralize files in one place on a server. Verify checksums regularly and do backups on tape. Manually initiate checksum verification each month.
  6. Document work with a “Read Me” text file. (Nice idea.) Explains processing steps-unstructured metadata.
  7. Use creator’s semantic folder system. Researchers can use at the Hoover Institution. The files are not available online because of copyright issues, etc..
  8. Describe the aggregate in the finding aid. Put information on finding aid on OAC, even if just a stump record without the rest of the collection having been processed. Description based on creator’s file structure and naming convention. Still trying to figure out meaningful ways to describe the content and extent.


  • Viruses= stop doing anything with the file.
  • Unformatted disks
  • File extensions are lacking
  • Filenames don’t have any meaning. Problem with digital camera photos,
  • Corrupted files.
  • Character and coding problems, especially with data from other countries.
  • Scalability of: unstructured metadata in read me files, workflows for hundreds of media items, Web 2.0 formats (complex formats)

Ending thoughts: not ideal process, but files are recovered and can be used by researchers. “Preservation is for five years or forever, which ever comes first.” In the future, want to make part of regular collection processing workflow, create truly compliant PDF/A files, establish quarantine station, find digital tools to facilitate/expand workflow, and optimize file delivery for researchers.

Russell Rader (Hoover Institute)
Digital projects exceed our reach and Rader posits that we stopped asking the right questions. (What are the right questions?) Also believes that archivists are still afraid of “the digital.”

Talking about keeping workflows simple, which is a good idea. Using open source and free programs and tools are good ideas. Archivists need to learn more technology.

Paula Jabloner: Welcome to Nerdvana
Started at Computer History Museum in 2004 and needed to get stuff online. Over 80,000 records online. Museum has a “get it done” attitude. Everyone was for online access because if it isn’t online it’s a “black hole.” Concentrated n the doable not the perfect, one catalog for all artifact types (physical objects, software, A/V, and digital files), simple and seamless online experience (so get easy search process, but may not be exhaustive or authoritative)= broad based access, not an interpretive catalog.

Idea behind quick and dirty processing is to make it available asap. Put a lot of trust in the audience, because the audience is highly technical. Expect the audience to understand the content of the records. Also, used a lot of volunteers and interns for the creating the catalog.

Implementing MPLP: two year processing experiment. One full-time processing archivist supervising interns and volunteers. 12,500 folder level records created by the end. Stripped down metadata entry: set it up so almost everything could be entered automatically. Could duplicate records to speed up processing too.

Finding aids available on website and OAC. No open hours at museum; everything is by appointment for research use of materials. Finding aids are very stripped down. Not a lot of context given in the finding aids and you get minimal access. Always a trade-off between speed of processing and describing and many access points with contextual finding aid. 70% of collection now available online via catalog records.

Success: 16 finding aids online (entire archival collection in catalog), 32,000 searchable catalog records, 575,000 page views for a year, and 450,000 catalog page views in a year. However, records can be confusing, searching could be more user-friendly, too many databases to manage, etc..

Take Home Message
Processing and preservation of digital materials is difficult. You can speed up processing, but will lose extensive metadata creation and some ability to scale process (example, scaling text “Read Me” files). I’m conflicted about MPLP: I want more stuff online and available, but don’t think that there will be time to go back are reprocess, so will this minimal processing and metadata creation be a detriment in the future? Or does it not really matter as “digital preservation is for five years or forever, which ever comes first”?

SCA: Virtual Worlds in Archival Settings

Time for the session notes from the afternoon session on Virtual Worlds in Archival Settings, moderated by Mattie Taormina (Stanford University). Allons-y!

Speaker list:
Henry Lowood (Stanford University)
Bob Ketner (Manager of The Tech Virtual, Tech Museum of Innovation)
Pamela Jackson (Information Literacy Librarian, San Diego State University)

Most of panelists will be talking about projects done in Second Life. Examples: using Second Life for exhibits after the exhibit is closed in physical realm. Using Second Life for reference and integrating all Web 2.0/social media feeds in Second Life.

Pamela Jackson: San Diego State University in Second Life
Public services perspective: outreach to students and teaching instructors to teach in Second Life. Started in 2007 through 2009, focusing on faculty. Faculty thought it was a lot of work and didn’t embrace the technology. Received Information Literacy Grant Project for 2008-2009 to create a library, created online tutorials and had links to help via link to reference librarians in the physical library, but not enough students to justify having a librarian in Second Life.

In 2009, bought island: Azlan Island and shifted focus to students so students could explore 3D environments. Created a few landmarks that map to buildings and landscape features of campus. Worked with 3D modeling class and imported models into Second Life. Senior students in Art and Design create virtual exhibits for the University Art Gallery. One student created a studio for machinima film. Also used by educational technology students for a summer class.


  • If you build it, will they come? Mostly middle aged women in Second Life instead of college students. May be able to get students come in with cool stuff.
  • Staff time and expertise: someone needs to be supported to manage the Second Life stuff
  • Technology Requirements: need higher-end computers, admin rights, etc.
  • Digital “ownership”: need to own your stuff in order to have it not disappear-ephemeral nature
  • Transferability: need to be able to transfer your content to other virtual worlds; can also transfer skills between platforms

Bob Ketner: Tech Museum of Innovation: Virtual Worlds: Archive of the Imagination
Tech Virtual: virtual prototyping space for museum exhibits, use it for a collaborative space, test interactive exhibits
Used because: great tools, rapid speed of visualization, diversity of input from experts

Roots of virtual words in “Augmenting the Human Intellect” by Doug Engelbart. So longer history than most people think.

Teens transformed an entire gallery space (not part of a formal class). Created exhibits about microchips and technology, also created interactive exhibit. Have weekly design meetings/sessions.

Questions: Can you archive a virtual “place”? What to do with models if move away from Second Life? Can you archive a zeitgeist (spirit of a time)? (thinking points for the audience)

Bruce Damer (damer.com) working on archiving virtual worlds.

Henry Lowood (Stanford University) Life Squared: Archiving the Virtual Archive
Dante Hotel (now the Hotel Europa): first example of site-based art installation-recreated in Second Life now. Lynn Hershman created the art installation. Archives has documents and photographs from Hershman. Integrated documents in Second Life model.

Used actual floorplan of hotel for Second Life hotel and created hotel, incorporated documents and photographs to create an immersive experience. Created “meta-archive.” Lowood showed a video of the hotel tour in Second Life. Also use space to show films and other art exhibits.

Worked on project, Preserving Virtual Worlds, on issues of preservation metadata, encoding standards, selection, etc.. Second Life was probably the most negative aspect of project for preservation. Linden Lab does not assert copyright over what users create in Second Life which is very progressive, but makes preservation difficult because you need to obtain permission from each user to archive stuff and many users are anonymous (only know the individual’s avatar).

Lowood teaches archival courses at SJSU SLIS. Over half of his students in a class said we shouldn’t archive virtual worlds/Twitter. (Interesting) Some are resistant to having their creations move into an archives.

My question: Can you get usage statistics off of Second Life?
Can get some usage statistics of exhibits and galleries in Second Life, but it’s not automatic (except for number of avatars landing on the island). But can create counters, see number of unique visitors, figure out what they touch, can also figure out how much time avatars are spending in the archives, etc. (pretty cool metrics)

Take Home Message
It is a ton of work to create stuff in Second Life and it is very time-consuming and difficult to preserve the created virtual world. I’m still not sold on investing in creating archives in Second Life. I am glad to hear you can get metrics out of Second Life, though. Let’s hear it for using evidence-based practice for evaluation and assessment of all projects through using metrics.

SCA Session: Taking Our Pulse: The OCLC Research Survey of Special Collections and Archives

Next up: Taking Our Pulse: The OCLC Research Survey of Special Collections and Archives. Allons-y!

Talks by David Zeidberg (Huntington Library), Tom Hyry (UCLA) and Mary Morganti (California Historical Society)

Overview of Survey Results (You can check out the report here: PDF of report.

  • Collections size is growing
  • Use is increasing
  • Backlogs continue to grow
  • Staffing is stable
  • 75% of library have had budget cuts

275 Libraries surveyed, 61% response rate
Wanted diversity of special collections and archives represented, but academic archives were most heavily represented in respondents.

ARL collection growth since 1998: Archives/manuscripts: 50% growth (average)
Special collections in remote storage: 67% of respondents use remote storage

Use of archival materials is increasing, which is cool. Many archives provide access to uncataloged/unprocessed materials (we do or we wouldn’t be able to let people see anything!). In 87% of the special collections reading rooms, you can use digital cameras.

So access is increasing and archivists and special collections librarians are getting better about being flexible for giving access to collections.

50% of archival materials are available via online catalogs
Backlog is decreasing with implementation of “More product, less process”
Need cataloging and metadata processes that are scalable

Archival management
40% of archival finding aids are online
34% of respondents are using Archivists’ Toolkit

One of the great challenges for archives-we can never do enough.
52% of an active program of digitization
38% have completed large-scale digitization of special collections (systematic reproduction of entire collections using streamlined production methods that account for special needs)

Born-digital Materials
Undercollected, undercounted, undermanaged, unpreserved, and inaccessible.
Need to do more with the born-digital materials; most people need more training
Funding named as biggest challenge of managing born-digital materials

Mary Morganti (CHS)
Small staff and lots of different materials (museum materials and archival materials)
Can solve everything with creativity, time and money! (very true)
Space is a huge issue for many organizations. Talking about lack of space for storing collections (also environmentally controlled storage)
CHS are looking at “right sizing” the collection storage in the correct boxes. (We’re doing this with our collections, too! It’s amazing the kind of shelf space you can regain)
Uses Archivists’ Toolkit (very cool) and contributes to the OAC (Online Archive of California)
Her concerns: metadata discovery, access, decreasing backlogs, funding

David Zeidberg (Huntington Library)
Thinking about the issues philosophically. We all continue to collect faster than we can catalog. Collection development and access to collections (decreasing the backlogs) should be the top priorities (they are at the Huntington). Two schools of thought of collection development: take everything lest it be lost; take only those collections that can be processed in a reasonable period of time to put in hands of researchers. Need to remember ethical responsibility to donor to process the collection. Take material that can be used= need to be more selective in acquisition. Need to do field appraisal before saying you will take the collection.

Reaction to low level of formalized collection development reported in OCLC survey: haven’t seemed to work or be sustainable. Practical alternative: update and share collection development policies with one another. Then we can see who is collecting in particular areas. Need to behave ethically, always.

Tom Hyry (UCLA Special Collections)
Despair over increasing A/V materials, ’cause we weren’t that good at these before, backlogs are growing, and budgets have been cut.
Hope over using streamlined processes and getting more materials online.
At UCLC, reading room is too small as usage has gone up. UCLA is collecting aggressively.

Trends in research libraries: selection is changing, budgets have shrunken, approval processes for purchasing, cataloging departments have changed, and how to support emerging fields (e.g. digital humanities).

Growth areas in research libraries: digital libraries; teaching and outreach; growth of special collections and prominence of special collections. Opportunities for special collections to capitalize on interest in special collections: example, using catalogers with language skills and training them in archival cataloging.

See born-digital materials as an opportunity as they be able to serve our users better. Can serve the materials over networks (don’t have to digitize them). Argues that appraisal is more important now than ever.

Take Home Message
Interesting data and results. Tip for presenters: if you are going to go over a lot of statistics, either go slower so people can take notes and process the information (and give less of it) or make sure to tell people (up front) where you will make your slides available online. Acquisitions and backlogs are important issues facing the profession. Always behave ethically= motto to archive by and if you remember this point, you’ll do well in your archival work.