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!

Personal Connections FTW

Happy Friday, dear readers! It has been a long week, hasn’t it? I can hardly believe we are already in February and on my campus we are in the midst of midterm exams. Today, though, I don’t want to focus on exams or the fact that time is getting a bit to wibbly wobbly for my taste, but instead take a few moments to talk about personal connections and how they really are for the win.

We all know the saying “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.” And, I have to say, that for the most part this still holds true. But more than a trite saying, I think it’s the personal connections that we foster that make any of our work successful and our lives fulfilling.

For example, the last conference I attended was interesting to say the least. (Three people in the small cohort of which I was a part got horribly ill and we were all rather shocked by the lack of sidewalks around the hotel the conference was at which necessitated some interesting maneuvers to walk anywhere. But really, that’s neither here nor there.) What I really wanted to point out was that the personal connections I have with my cohortmates and the connections I made while at the conference were the best parts of the whole experience. I also found many of the sessions interesting and relevant which was awesome, but the time spent talking one-on-one is what really stood out for me at this conference as worthwhile.

Now I know that everyone seems to talk people’s ears off about networking, but I find networking difficult and awkward. However, doing research and keeping up with others and having something substantial to talk about it is easy and fun. It takes a while to build up a research agenda and relationships to make it to the point where “serendipitous” moments occur, but it is so rewarding when it happens.

Which brings me to the dreaded committee meetings. I think everyone knows my feelings about committee meetings–I love them when they are productive and get so frustrated and antsy when no progress occurs. As one of my wise colleagues said, “Little work actually happens in committee. Most of the work happens in the hallways before and after.”

So in committee work too, it’s the one-on-one, personal connections that get things done. For example, the last three years I’ve been working in the archives at my university (on top of all my work I was actually hired to do). Along with one part-time staff member, we’ve been processing collections, writing and managing grants, giving talks to classes, working with students on projects, planning digitization projects with the anthropology museum, and promoting the archives at every chance we get. And while we still don’t have the staff or the funding we need to have a full archives program, we are making more connections and more partnerships every day. (Soon the problem will be finding enough hours in the day to get it all done.)

Yesterday, after a committee meeting, this power of personal connections was brought home as we are now in beginning talks to work with the Biological Sciences Department through their natural history collection. It was a combination of meeting an awesome biology faculty member, having worked with the biological sciences department for the last 4 years, and trying to always connect with others that enabled talks of this new collaboration. Personal connections ftw! (Also hard work, lots and lots of hard work. There is no way around putting in the time that then allows one to build the credibility and body of work that reassures others that when you say you will do a project, you’ll actually come through.)

So those are just my few thoughts on personal connections for this Friday. To all my fellow librarians, archivists, and teachers out there, keep the faith in the work you do and the successes will come (even if they bring extra work with them). And, like my momma’s says, always be polite and help others because it helps you out, in the end.

On a techie note, I couldn’t help but share this article from Lifehacker:
stupid things you do online and how to fix them. I’m using this with my next information literacy class. Share it with anyone who needs a brush up on online security, behavior, etc..

Finally, let’s get you on your way to the weekend with Tolkien:

Tolkien from barrow blades via Beautiful Portals Tumblr

Tolkien from barrow blades via Beautiful Portals Tumblr

Have a wonderful weekend, full of tea and kittens with some good reads and eats, too. I’ll be back next Friday with some more thoughts on libraries, archives, and tech. Allons-y!

Traveling, Technology, and Fun

Happy Friday, dear readers! I hope you have a lovely weekend planned and that your week went well. This week has been very busy at my campus with our external reviewer here for the review of our information literacy program and the start of classes. So let’s get ready for the weekend with some tips on traveling, technology, and some fun stuff, too.

I know a lot of librarians are getting ready for the start of conference season, what with ALISE and ALA Midwinter conferences coming up in the next two weeks. (By the way, I’ll be in Dallas next week for ALISE, so if you are there do say hi.) Since conference season is starting, I thought it only appropriate to highlight two great resources from Lifehacker: airline scorecard (check before you decide which airline to fly) and
best tech-friendly airports and airlines (see where you can get wifi, etc.).

Also, check out Lifehacker’s article on the stay on top of the fight against SOPA/PIPA tools. Great to share with your library patrons and great to use to keep yourself informed.

So, did you sign up to learn to code this year with Codecademy? If not there is still time so head on over and start your course. It’s really a fun way to learn to code and you get nifty achievement badges, too (similar to Foursquare badges).

After you’ve planned your travel, learned some JavaScript, and gotten up-to-date with SOPA, take a break to make one of these lovely origami cat bookmarks. I’m going to make one and I’m sure my cat will have fun ripping it out of one of my books this weekend.

Finally, if you haven’t treated yourself to watching this Joy of Books video, you really should. It’s just delightful.

Have a wonderful, relaxing, productive, and fun weekend, dear readers! I’ll be back next week with some thoughts from my time at ALISE and other randomness. Allons-y!

Thoughts on the Women's Leadership Institute

Hello, dear readers! I hope you are well and getting into the holiday spirit. Here on campus it is finals week which is always such an interesting week on campus. The term is coming to a close and yet before the campus goes completely silent, there is a mad rush of energy and activity. Anyway, today I just want to share some thoughts I had as I’ve been meditating on what I heard, learned, and experienced at the Women’s Leadership Institute I attended last week in Laguna Niguel.

First of all, it was my first time at the Women’s Leadership Institute and my first time in Laguna Niguel. Both were wonderful experiences and the first takeaway from the experience was how supportive a lot of supervisors are to fund the travel to the institute for their employees. There were about 150 women who attended the conference and the California State University system was well-represented at the institute. It was nice to see that many supervisors hold professional development of their staff to be important. (I’m very lucky that our University Librarian told me about the conference and supported my attendance.)

Overall, it was one of the best experiences I have ever had at a conference. All of the speakers, from the panelists to the keynote speakers, were amazing. I’ve never been to a conference that had speakers who were so good across the board.

One of the best sessions was the opening keynote by Sara Laschever who, along with Linda Babcock, wrote the book: Ask for it: How women can use the power of negotiation to get what they really want. She was a fantastic speaker and her book is great (I bought it while at the institute and devoured it on the flight home). Her research shows that women are fantastic negotiators when negotiating on behalf of someone else but not good at all when negotiating for themselves. Because of this, women don’t get promoted or get the perks and benefits that men get simply because they don’t ask. Now there are a lot of other gender biases that women have to overcome that men don’t, but actually asking for what they want is a huge first step.

After Laschever’s talk, lots of the women were sharing stories of when they should have asked or negotiated for something and what they had asked for that they never thought they would get. It was great because many then started asking for things, that may seem small but that they would not have thought of before the talk. For example, on the last night of my stay I noticed that I hadn’t been left one of those tiny bottles of lotion in my room. I really wanted one because I hadn’t packed any, but was going to just forego it because I didn’t want to inconvenience anyone. Then I stopped and thought that was silly, picked up the phone and requested a bottle of lotion. Three minutes later, housekeeping was there with two bottles of lotion and I was happy (and proud of myself for actually asking. This may seem like a small thing to you, but to me it was a huge victory to actually ask for something, even if it was just lotion). I highly recommend the book to everyone and suggest you share it with the women in your life.

One of the major themes that ran throughout multiple talks was the large issue of work/life balance. I know I continually struggle with balance in my life (even on the yoga mat) and I was excited to hear about what the very powerful and influential women leaders had to say about work/life balance. Basically, no one has a grasp on work/life balance and the take away message was that you can’t have it all, something always has to give.

I was talking with a library director while I was there and she said that the best thing one can do is extend grace to one’s self because not everything will go perfectly and that’s okay. I think this was one of the most important pieces of wisdom I heard while at the conference because it helps me remember that I don’t need to be perfect when I would never expect anyone else to be. The other very important idea, which we all know but it is a good reminder, is that you have to decide what is most important in your life. To do this, you have to determine what you define as success for yourself and not what others think should define success in your life.

There were also some amazing talks on different styles of leadership, developing your career and your brand, and successfully having difficult conversations. It was an inspiring three days surrounded by many current and future leaders in higher education and now my reading list for the holiday break has grown about three-fold.

Throughout the institute, one of the most enjoyable and rewarding parts was the structured wellness time each afternoon. During wellness time, there were different activities you could choose to join or you could choose to go off on your own for a walk on the beach or time just thinking. It was a great mix of activities and a reminder to take time to slow down and actually be present instead of trying to multi-task for the entire day. It was also a great time to reflect on what we were learning and it made the institute feel less like a blur than other conferences I’ve been to in the past.

In the coming weeks, I hope to share more with you, dear readers, about what I learned and how I think it will impact my career path and journey in the coming years. I’d love to hear your thoughts and comments about leadership and any of the conferences you recommend.

Have a wonderful rest of your day, read a good book, talk with a friend, and remember to enjoy the journey. I’ll be back with more libraries, archives, and tech news soon. 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 Friday Plenary: David E. Hoffman

Happy Friday! First up at Society of California Archivists’ Annual General Meeting: David E. Hoffman, “Inside the Kremlin: Unraveling the papers of Vitaly Katayev and Soviet thinking during the latter stages of the Cold War.”

Talking about how he used an archives for his research for his book (The Dead Hand: The Untold Story of the Cold War Arms Race and Its Dangerous Legacy He won the 2010 Pulitzer Prize for General Non-fiction.) Tried to write a book from his archival research and his own experiences.

Parallels he saw: Cold War Symmetry with shape of bombs, space shuttles, etc. in the thinking and engineering.

Asymmetry after the Cold War was in understanding and making sense of the Cold War. In the United States= triumphant versus in Russia= introspective and reflective, not triumphant

Challenge: how to write a history that reflects both sides and also getting access to archives (lots of stuff still not open) Very difficult to get into archives in Russia

Goal: To tell the Cold War story from both sides and try to figure out what was going on in the Soviet system

Discovered papers of Vitaly Katayev (former professional staff member, Defense Department, Central Committee, 1974-1991). 10 boxes of papers acquired by Hoover Institution Library and Archives prior to 2001. These papers are very important as most information from the Kremlin is not available. (Katayev died in 2001) In November 2004, Hoffman received a Hoover media fellowship and used time to search collection of Katayev papers. No finding aid, not processed collection. Hoffman was a third of the way through his book research when he began with Katayev’s papers.

Found two inventories: one in Russian and one in English. The one in English referenced 79 floppy, but only a few floppy disks found in the collection. The collection was quite raw-not processed and no finding aid.

Found insights into Soviet thinking that never seen before through the records of Kataylev (many bound volumes). Kataylev wrote a manuscript on the reactions of the Kremlin to Regan’s announcement of SDI (aka Star Wars). Ideas for tons of missiles, a Soviet Star Wars program, etc. Very detailed notes and technical details on spreadsheets. A treasure trove of information, not on Kremlin gossip, but on important technical tests and meeting decisions. This collection allowed Hoffman to see into the Soviet thinking during the Cold War that wasn’t understood before using Katayev’s papers.

Hoffman did an index of nine boxes in 2005 and did a survey with Pavel Podvig in 2006. (Lucky archivists to get the help to index the collection!)

The papers have allowed Hoffman, with the help of scientists, to piece together insight about the actual capacity of the Soviet Union in terms of accuracy of missiles and other technologies. A big mystery was how much Gorbachev knew about the Soviet biological weapons program. United States discovered that the Soviets were not following the agreement to not create chemical and biological weapons.

In 2007, when the box was able to be opened in Kataylev’s collection, Hoffman found documents chronicling the Kremlin’s decisions on biological weapons. Shows decisions under Gorbachev began in 1986. Up until this was revealed, we didn’t know who knew in the Soviet Union and when. The Central Committee resolutions means, according to Hoffman, that Gorbachev must have known about the biological weapons program.

Katayev took very good notes (was the official note-taker at many meetings). Because of his great notes, Hoffman has been able to piece together a lot of new insights on the Soviet weapons programs.

In August 2007, Hoffman met Ksenia Kostrova (26) the granddaughter of Katayev. She was very close to Katayev and became the custodian of his records after his death. Discovered in apartment: family photos, additional documents, 79 floppy disks, and a memoir. From August to December, Kostrova made a mast index and Hoffman photographed all of the paper documents. Copied all the disks and sent entire collection via FTP to Washington immediately. Was able to read 40 of the disks. (Talk about a find for a historian–it’s amazing!) But had problems reading the files. Talked with Kostrova about the procedure to open the files she did when she was 11 years old to decode the files. 19 more of the floppy disks had recoverable data, done by a UK specialist.

Didn’t have to use Russian official archives. Much of the collection is still raw with many documents to be examined. No official Russian government reaction to Hoffman’s book. Hopefully Katayev’s memoir will be published sometime next year.

Take Home Message: Archives are exciting and you can find information that is unique and incredibly important for the understanding of past events and reactions to these events. Many times, you have to do a lot of work and sort through a lot of documents, but it is worth it in the end. Nice work, Mr. Hoffman.

Speaking Gigs

Happy Wednesday! I hope your week is going well. I can’t believe we are already to the middle of the week. Today’s post will be short as I have just a few updates on some speaking gigs this week. (Also, I really have a bunch of stuff to do before leaving for a conference at the end of the week, so I best get to that instead of doing a very long blog post, dear readers.)

Tonight I’m speaking to the Library Connection group about information literacy instruction. Library Connection is organized in part by one of the student groups at San Jose State’s School of Library and Information Science. It should be fun, but as per usual I’m finding last minute stuff I want to include in the presentation. Luckily it’s not until 7:30 this evening. If you are in the Bay Area, stop on by. It’s being held at Cal State East Bay’s University Library.

On Friday and Saturday of this week I’ll be down in San Jose for the Society of California Archivists’ Annual General Meeting (AGM). Hopefully there will be wifi and I’ll be posting some session summaries during the conference. I’ll be chairing a panel on Saturday at 10:30am, so do stop by and say hello. It should be a great discussion on networking, professional development, job searching, and more.

So that’s all I have today, as I’ll hopefully be posting multiple times later this week from the conference. Oh, but writing about speaking gigs made me think of a Lifehacker article, so I have to share it: How to Overcome Burnout when You’re a Superachiever. It’s a good read for all of us stressed by the end of the academic year craziness and those just stressed in general.

As a middle of the week break, check out Festo’s Aqua Penguins:

Take care, have a great rest of your week, and I’ll be back on Friday with some conference session notes. Allons-y!

Random (Helpful & Fun!) Stuff for Friday

Happy Friday and Happy Earth Day! I can’t believe we are at the end of another week. Luckily workweeks end on a Friday (for many people) which means helpful, fun, and random links of goodness are sure to abound in today’s post. So let’s get to it.

Next week I’m chairing a panel at the Society of California Archivists’ Annual General Meeting/Conference, so I’m in conference prep mode at the moment. Lifehacker, as always, had some great posts about conference worries in general over the last few weeks. First, if you have issues with public speaking, check out how to activate your go system. Also, Lifehacker had an interesting post on why one should carry blank business cards. Not sure that I buy the argument, but it was an interesting read. Personally, should you be at the conference, you will be handed one of my recently redesigned business cards that I’m rather fond of (complete with QR Code linking you to my about.me page because, yes, I’m that kind of person).

Oh, and because conferences can produce many discussions, in person and online, I think it is the perfect time to say, go read Stephen Abram’s piling on on the web post. Then reaffirm your commitment to disagreeing with others respectfully at all times. The world could use more kindness, or at least manners.

If you manage somehow to run out of things to do this weekend, may I suggest this project to you: add ground effects to your bed for gentle night lighting? I think this looks pretty awesome and useful. Hopefully in the next week or so I’ll have time to do this to my bed.

And because we all need a laugh on a Friday and I’ve been working my way through Top Gear (I swear it’s because my cat likes it, really!), I think you should watch watch Jeremy drive the world’s smallest car. It is hilarious. Or, if cars aren’t your thing, but cats are, take a break and watch Simon’s cat in ‘Hop It’:

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