Posts Tagged ‘grants

31
Aug
11

SAA Days 4 & 5: e-records, metrics, collaboration

Friday in Chicago started with coffee with Christian Dupont from Atlas Systems, followed by Session 302: “Practical Approaches to Born-Digital Records: What Works Today.” The session was packed…standing-room only (some archivists quipped that we must have broken fire codes with the number of people sitting on the floor)! Chris Prom from U Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, moderated the excellent panel on practical solutions to dealing with born-digital archival collections. Suzanne Belovari of Tufts referred to the AIMS project (which sponsored the workshop I attended on Tuesday) and the Personal Archives in Digital Media (paradigm) project, which offers an excellent “Workbook on digital private papers” and “Guidelines for creators of personal archives.” She also referenced the research of Catherine Marshall of the Center for the Study of Digital Libraries at Texas A&M, who has posted her research and papers regarding personal digital archives on her website. All of the speakers referred to Chris Prom’s Practical E-Records blog, which includes lots of guidelines and tools for archivists to deal with born digital material.

Ben Goldman of U Wyoming, who wrote an excellent piece in RB&M entitled “Bridging the Gap: Taking Practical Steps Toward Managing Born-Digital Collections in Manuscript Repositories,” talked about basic steps for dealing with electronic records, including network storage, virus checking, format information, generating checksums, and capturing descriptive metadata. He uses Enterprise Checker for virus checking, Duke DataAccessioner to generate checksums, and a Word doc or spreadsheet to track actions taken for individual files. Melissa Salrin of U Illinois, Urbana-Champaign spoke about her use of a program called Firefly to detect social security numbers in files, TreeSize Pro to identify file types, and a process through which she ensures that the files are read-only when moved. She urged the audience to remember to document every step of the transfer process, and that “people use and create files electronically as inefficiently as analog.” Laura Carroll, formerly of Emory, talked about the famous Salman Rushdie digital archives, noting that donor restrictions are what helped shape their workflow for dealing with Rushdie’s born digital material. The material is now available on a secure Fedora repository. Seth Shaw from Duke spoke about DataAccessioner (see previous posts) but mostly spoke eloquently in what promises to be an historic speech about the need to “do something, even if it isn’t perfect.”

After lunch, I attended Session 410: “The Archivists’ Toolkit: Innovative Uses and Collaborations. The session highlighted interesting collaborations and experiments with AT, and the most interesting was by Adrianna Del Collo of the Met, who found a way to convert folder-level inventories into XML for import into AT. Following the session, I was invited last-minute to a meeting of the “Processing Metrics Collaborative,” led by Emily Novak Gustainis of Harvard. The small group included two brief presentations by Emily Walters of NC State and Adrienne Pruitt of the Free Library of Philadelphia, both of whom have experimented with Gustainis’ Processing Metrics Database, which is an exciting tool to help archivists track statistical information about archival processing timing and costs. Walters also mentioned NC State’s new tool called Steady, which allows archivists to take container list spreadsheets and easily convert them into XML stub documents for easy import into AT. Walters used the PMD for tracking supply cost and time tracking, while Pruitt used the database to help with grant applications. Everyone noted that metrics should be used to compare collections, processing levels, and collection needs, taking special care to note that metrics should NOT be used to compare people. The average processing rate at NC State for their architectural material was 4 linear feet per hour, while it was 2 linear feet per hour for folder lists at Princeton (as noted by meeting participant Christie Petersen).

On Saturday morning I woke up early to prepare for my session, Session 503: “Exposing Hidden Collections Through Consortia and Collaboration.” I was honored and proud to chair the session with distinguished speakers Holly Mengel of the Philadelphia Area Consortium of Special Collections Libraries, Nick Graham of the North Carolina Digital Heritage Center, and Sherri Berger of the California Digital Library. The panelists defined and explored the exposure of hidden collections, from local/practical projects to regional/service-based projects. Each spoke about levels of “hidden-ness,” and the decisionmaking process of choosing partners and service recipients. It was a joy to listen to and facilitate presentations by archivists with such inspirational projects.

After my session, I attended Session 605: “Acquiring Organizational Records in a Social Media World: Documentation Strategies in the Facebook Era.” The focus on documenting student groups is very appealing, since documenting student life is one of the greatest challenges for university archivists. Most of the speakers recommended web archiving for twitter and facebook, which were not new ideas to me. However, Jackie Esposito of Penn State suggested a new strategy for documenting student organizations, which focuses on capture/recapture of social media sites and direct conversations with student groups, including the requirement that every group have a student archivist or historian. Jackie taught an “Archives 101” class to these students during the week after 7 pm early in the fall, and made sure to follow up with student groups before graduation.

After lunch, I went to Session 702: “Return on Investment: Metadata, Metrics, and Management.” All I can say about the session is…wow. Joyce Chapman of TRLN (formerly an NC State Library Fellow) spoke about her research into ROI (return on investment) for manual metadata enhancement and a project to understand researcher expectations of finding aids. The first project addressed the challenge of measuring value in a nonprofit (which cannot measure value via sales like for-profit organizations) through A/B testing of enhancements made to photographic metadata by cataloging staff. Her testing found that page views for enhanced metadata records were quadruple those of unenhanced records, a staggering statistic. Web analytics found that 28% of search strings for their photographs included names, which were only added to enhanced records. In terms of cataloger time, their goal was 5 minutes per image but the average was 7 minutes of metadata work per image. Her project documentation is available online. In her other study, she did a study of discovery success within finding aids by academic researchers using behavior, perception, and rank information. In order from most to least useful for researchers were: collection inventory, abstract, subjects, scope and contents, and biography/history. The abstract was looked at first in 60% of user tests. Users did not know the difference between abstract and scope and contents notes; in fact, 64% of users did not even read the scope at all after reading the abstract! Researchers explained that their reason for ignoring the biography/history note was a lack of trust in the information, since biographies/histories do not tend to include footnotes and the notes are impossible to cite.

Emily Novak Gustainis from Harvard talked about her processing metrics database, as mentioned in the paragraph about the “Processing Metrics Collaborative” session. Her reasoning behind metrics was simple: it is hard to change something until you know what you are doing. Her database tracks 38 aspects of archival processing, including timing and processing levels. She repeated that you cannot compare people, only collections; however, an employee report showed that a permanent processing archivist was spending only 20% of his time processing, so her team was able to use this information to better leverage staff responsibilities to respond to this information.

Adrian Turner from the California Digital Library talked about the Uncovering California Environmental Collections (UCEC) project, a CLIR-funded grant project to help process environmental collections across the state. While metrics were not built into the project, the group thought that it would be beneficial for the project. In another project, the UC Next Generation Technical Services initiative found 71000 feet in backlogs, and developed tactics for collection-level records in EAD and Archivists’ Toolkit using minimal processing techniques. Through info gathering in a Google doc spreadsheet, they found no discernable difference between date ranges, personal papers, and record groups processed through their project. They found processing rates of 1 linear foot per hour for series level arrangement and description and 4-6 linear feet per hour for folder level arrangement and description. He recommended formally incorporating metrics into project plans and creating a shared methodology for processing levels.

I had to head out for Midway before Q&A started to get on the train in time for my return flight, which thankfully wasn’t canceled from Hurricane Irene. As the train passed through Chicago, I found myself thinking about the energizing and inspiring the projects, tools, and theory that comes from attending SAA…and how much I look forward to SAA 2012.

(Cross posted to ZSR Professional Development blog.)

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15
Jun
11

Teaching digitization for C2C

Most of this post is duplicated on the Professional Development blog at my institution.
I recently volunteered to help teach a workshop entitled “Preparing for a Digitization Project” through NC Connecting to Collections (C2C), an LSTA-funded grant project administered by the North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources. This came about as part of an informal group of archivists, special collections librarians, and digital projects librarians interested in the future of NC ECHO and its efforts to educate staff and volunteers in the cultural heritage institutions across the state about digitization. The group is loosely connected through the now-defunct North Carolina Digital Collections Collaboratory.

Late last year, Nick Graham of the North Carolina Digital Heritage Center was contacted by LeRae Umfleet of NC C2C about teaching a few regional workshops about planning digitization projects. The workshops were created as a way to teach smaller archives, libraries, and museums about planning, implementing, and sustaining digitization efforts. I volunteered to help with the workshops, which were held in January 2011 in Hickory as well as this past Monday in Wilson.

The workshops were promoted through multiple listservs and were open to staff, board members, and volunteers across the state. Each workshop cost $10 and included lunch for participants. Many of the participants reminded me of the folks at the workshops for Preserving Forsyth’s Past. The crowd was enthusiastic and curious, asking lots of questions and taking notes. Nick Graham and Maggie Dickson covered project preparation, metadata, and the NC Digital Heritage Center (and how to get involved); I discussed the project process and digital production as well as free resources for digital publishing; and Lisa Gregory from the State Archives discussed metadata and digital preservation.

I must confess that the information was so helpful, I found myself taking notes! When Nick stepped up to describe the efforts of the Digital Heritage Center, which at this time is digitizing and hosting materials from across the state at no cost, I learned that they will be seeking nominations for North Carolina historical newspapers to digitize in the near future, and that they are also interested in accepting digitized video formats. Lisa also introduced the group to NC PMDO, Preservation Metadata for Digital Objects, which includes a free preservation metadata tool. It is always a joy to help educate repositories across the state in digitization standards and processes!

05
Apr
11

Society of NC Archivists meeting: Morehead City

Most of this post is duplicated on the Professional Development blog at my institution.

While many of my colleagues were in Philadelphia for ACRL, I traveled east to the coast of North Carolina for the joint conference of the Society of North Carolina Archivists and the South Carolina Archival Association in Morehead City.

After arriving on Wednesday around dinnertime with my carpooling partner Katie (Archivist and Special Collections Librarian at Elon), we met up with Gretchen (Digital Initiatives Librarian at ECU) for dinner at a seaside restaurant and discussion about digital projects and, of course, seafood.

On Thursday, the conference kicked off with an opening plenary from two unique scholars: David Moore of the NC Maritime Museum talked about artist renditions of Blackbeard, Stede Bonnet, and other pirates, as well as archival research that helped contextualize these works; Ralph Wilbanks of the National Underwater and Marine Agency detailed his team’s discovery of the H.L. Hunley submarine, including the Civil War-era men trapped inside.

Session 1 on Thursday, succinctly titled “Digital Initiatives,” highlighted important work being done at the Avery Center for African American Research at the College of Charleston, UNC Charlotte, and ECU. Amanda Ross and Jessica Farrell from the College of Charleston described the challenges and successes of digitization of material culture, namely slave artifacts and African artwork in their collections. Of primary importance was the maintenance of color and shape fidelity of 3-D objects, which they dealt with economically with 2 flourescent lights with clamps, a Nikon D80 with a 18-200 mm lens by Quantaray (although they recommend a macro lens), a tripod, and a $50 roll of heavy white paper. Their makeshift lab and Dublin Core metadata project resulted in the Avery Artifact Collection within the Lowcountry Digital Library. Kristy Dixon and Katie McCormick from UNC Charlotte spoke carefully about the need for strategic thinking and collaboration at a broad level for special collections and archives today, in particular creating partnerships with systems staff and technical services staff. They noted that with the reorganization of their library, 6 technical services librarians/staff were added to their department of special collections!

Finally, Mark Custer and Jennifer Joyner from ECU explored the future of archival description with a discussion about ECU’s implementation of EAC-CFP, essentially authority records for creators of archival materials. Mark found inspiration from SNAC, the Social Networks and Archival Context Project (a project of UVa and the California Digital Library) to incorporate and create names for their archival collections. Mark used Google Refine‘s cluster and edit feature to pull all their EAD files into one file, grabbed URLs through VIAF and WorldCat identities, and hope to share their authority records with SNAC. Mark clarified the project, saying:

Firstly, we are not partnered with anyone involved in the excellent SNAC project. Instead, we decided to undertake a smaller, SNAC-like project here at ECU (i.e., we mined our EAD data in order to create EAC records). To accomplish this, I wrote an XSLT stylesheet to extract and clean up our local data. Only after working through that step did we then import this data into Google Refine. With Refine, we did a number of things, but the two things discussed in our presentation were: 1) cluster and edit our names with the well-established, advanced algorithms provided in that product 2) grab more data from databases like WorldCat Identities and VIAF without doing any extra scripting work outside of Google Refine.

Secondly, we haven’t enhanced our finding aid interface at all at this point. In fact, we’ve only put in a few weeks’ worth of work into the project so far, so none of our work is represented online yet. The HTML views of the Frances Renfrow Doak EAC record that we demonstrated were created by an XSLT stylesheet authored by Brian Tingle at the California Digital Library. He has graciously provided some of the tools that the SNAC project is using online at: https://bitbucket.org/btingle/cpf2html/.

Lastly, these authority records have stayed with us; mostly because, at this point, they’re unfinished (e.g., we still need to finish that clustering step within Refine, which requires a bit of extra work). But the ultimate goal, of course, is to share this data as widely as possible. Toward that end, I tend to think that we also need to be curating this data as collaboratively as possible.

The final session of the day was the SNCA Business Meeting, where I gave my report as the Archives Week Chair. That evening, a reception was held to celebrate the award winners for SNCA and give conference attendees the opportunity to participate in a behind-the-scenes tour of the NC Maritime Museum. Lots of fun ensued during the pirate-themed tours and I almost had enough energy to go to karaoke with some other young archivists.

On Friday, I moderated the session entitled “Statewide Digital Library Projects,” with speakers Nick Graham from the NC Digital Heritage Center and Kate Boyd from the SC Digital Library. The session highlighted interesting parallels and differences between the two statewide initiatives. Kate Boyd explained that the SCDL is a multisite project nested in multiple universities with distributed “buckets” for description and digitization. Their project uses a multi-host version of CONTENTdm, with some projects hosted and branded specifically to certain regions and institutions. Users can browse by county, institution, and date, and the site includes teacher-created lesson plans. The “About” section includes scanning and metadata guidelines; Kate mentioned that the update to CONTENTdm 6 would help with zoom and expand/reduce views of their digital objects. Nick Graham gave a brief background on the formation of the NCDHC, including NC ECHO and its survey and digitization guidelines. He explained that the NCDHC has minimal selection criteria: simply have no copyright/privacy concerns and a title. The NCDHC displays its digital objects through one instance of CONTENTdm. Both programs are supported by a mix of institutional and government funding/support, and both speakers emphasized the value of word of mouth marketing and shared branding for better collaborative efforts.

Later that morning, I attended a session regarding “Collaboration in Records Management.” Jennifer Neal of the Catholic Diocese of Charleston Archives gave an interesting presentation about the creation of a records management policy for her institution. Among the many reasons to begin an RM program, Jennifer noted that it was likely the legal reasons that were most important, both federal and state (and in her case, organizational rules). She recommended a pilot RM program with an enthusiastic department, as well as a friendly department liaison with organizational tendencies. Jennifer came up with “RM Fridays” as a pre-determined method for making time to sort, shred, organize, and inventory the materials for her pilot department. Her metrics were stunning: 135 record cartons were destroyed and 245 were organized and sent off site. Kelly Eubank from the NC State Archives explained how the state archives uses ArchiveIt to harvest social media sites and websites of government agencies and officials. She then explored, briefly, their use of BagIt to validate GIS geospatial files as part of their GeoMAPP project.

It was great to meet and network with archival professionals from both Carolinas and learn about some of the innovative and creative projects happening in their institutions. Right now I am thinking about EAC, collaboration with tech services, CONTENTdm, and records management.

09
Jun
10

The NC Digital Heritage Center is (Finally) Here: Reflections

This morning, Nick Graham sent out a message to the North Carolina Library Association announcing DigitalNC.org, the new digital repository for primary resources across the state digitized at UNC Chapel Hill.  Nick, formerly of NC Maps, is the newly-appointed coordinator for the North Carolina Digital Heritage Center, a development which I have followed closely here at Touchable Archives. The focus of the NC Digital Heritage Center and its matching website, according to the site:

“The North Carolina Digital Heritage Center is a statewide digitization and digital publishing program housed in the North Carolina Collection at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The Digital Heritage Center works with cultural heritage institutions across North Carolina to digitize and publish historic materials online. Through its free or low-cost digitization and online hosting services, the Digital Heritage Center provides libraries, archives, museums, historic sites, and other cultural heritage institutions with the opportunity to publicize and share their rare and unique collections online. The Center operates in conjunction with the State Library of North Carolina’s NC ECHO (North Carolina Exploring Cultural Heritage Online) project. It is supported by the State Library of North Carolina with funds from the Institute of Museum and Library Services under the provisions of the Library Services and Technology Act.”

Some of you who are familiar with North Carolina may wonder, “what happened to NC ECHO?” Based on discussions with colleagues across the state, it looks as though NC ECHO no longer exists as it originated*. (*Since I am relatively new to the state as a librarchivist, I am still unclear about the original purpose of the NC ECHO Project. Two of the largest deliverables from NC ECHO include its survey and institutional directory and its LSTA digitization grant funding program.) The preservation and emergency response focus of NC ECHO has become NC Connecting to Collections and NC SHRAB’s Traveling Archivist program, as well as possible regional emergency response networks like MACREN. The digitization planning and project funding aspect of NC ECHO appears to have joined with UNC Chapel Hill to form the NC Digital Heritage Center.

In previous posts, I have been excited about this Digital Heritage Center being North Carolina’s version of the California Digital Library’s Calisphere. I originally thought that the CDL was a statewide initiative of the state library, but recently realized that it is, like the NCDHC, an initiative of a university system. The CDL is not a resource provided by the state library of California. It is a project of the University of California system. This is what the digital collections portal of the California State Library looks like; this is what the State Library of North Carolina’s digital repository looks like. Why do the statewide library and archives systems for these states have such limited digital resource, while academic libraries in these states carry digital collections technology and access into the future? Wouldn’t it make more sense for the state library to be the digital repository, instead of providing funding for it?

The obvious answer is that the state library does not have the technological resources or expertise to make this happen. Academic libraries and archives are research-oriented, so they are able to do more experimentation and use the knowledge of systems librarians and programmers to create new and innovative resources. Perhaps most importantly, the state library supports academic libraries that make these resources accessible, which is possibly the only reason I am willing to overlook the potential conflict of interest of having UNC and the state library so closely intertwined.

The NC Digital Heritage Center arrives at an exciting moment in the history of digital libraries and digital collections. The team and advisory board exist to provide project management, digitization, and web hosting to smaller and less-funded institutions in the state in order to create access to primary resources across the state. I hope that institutions both large and small can participate in this effort to create a statewide digital repository. In this way, resources from community-based institutions and repositories holding the history of underrepresented groups can be made available for research and review like never before. I continue to follow closely the development of the Center.

25
Nov
09

Preservation and digitization for all

First off, a few words of gratitude in this season of thanks-giving. I am thankful for my job, where I learn every day about public service, local history, and get to use my skills as an archivist. I am grateful that our county finally decided to upgrade our outdated county website (including the public library) to CSS, and that it will be coming out in early 2010. Finally, I am grateful for the grants my department has received, most recently the NC SHRAB’s Traveling Archivist Program.

Speaking of grants, my library (in partnership with Wake Forest University) recently received an outreach grant from the State Library that provides digitization equipment and preservation training in locations throughout our county. This grant is unique to North Carolina and is being watched carefully by the State Library due to its somewhat unusual concept. Put simply, we are putting expensive scanners “out there” for the general public and providing preservation education for nonprofit groups and individuals.

This Saturday was our first workshop, which was focused on local nonprofit organizations. From genealogy clubs to food banks, churches to social clubs, we sent emails and postcards to as many groups as we could find. Our workshop’s limited RSVP list was filled within a week, and I began hearing from groups that I know I had not yet invited! We are having three more rounds of workshops in 2010.

On Saturday, we brought in Rachel Hoff, preservation expert from UNC Chapel Hill, as well as Barry Davis, multimedia coordinator at Wake Forest, to teach our community partners about preservation, repair, and digitization of their organization’s archives. The enthusiasm of our participants was absolutely contagious. Not only were they fully engaged from 10 am to 5 pm, but they were thrilled to learn about book repair, archival housing, and the steps to use our VHS-to-digital, cassette-to-digital, slide scanner, and flatbed scanner!

We need to get all of the public library staff involved with the equipment to the point where they are comfortable showing a customer how to use the scanners. At a small public library branch with a few full-time staff, it is hard enough to get the staff trained on the equipment, let alone ask them to spend time with a customer who is just getting started! So we’ve decided to expand our training on the digitization equipment to become part of our regular computer training classes, allowing for small seminars.

While it sounds simple, the grant is compelling in its implications. This equipment will be open to the public. There are no restrictions as to what can be digitized, and no requirements that digital objects be shared with our libraries or hosted on a designated server. It is empowering for community-based archives to be provided with training and resources to preserve their history their way. I will post more in the future as our project develops.

In related news: the NC Digital Heritage Center is coming…!

18
Jun
09

Nontraditional funding, or: how I learned to ask for money

Back in May I participated in a WebJunction webinar called “Finding Funds for Preservation.” The guest speaker was the Library of Congress’ Diane Vogt-O’Connor, who spoke candidly about the process of wooing potential funders as well as the potential for tapping non-traditional funding sources. She used the webinar as an opportunity to introduce the 2009 Foundation Grants for Preservation in Libraries, Archives, and Museums, a free PDF available from the Foundation Center and LC.

The presentation was valuable to me as a new librarian/archivist, especially as Diane addressed the need to network and not be afraid to ask potential grantfunders what they want to see in a grantee. She also highlighted the diversity of potential funding sources and emphasized the need to sell the concept, the impact, or “why bother?” of your project — not how you will do the work when/if you get the grant.

While I am still in the “cold call” phase of fundraising, I have come to appreciate the value of regional resources. The North Carolina Room lacks secure space for its special collections and archival materials, has no archival boxes or other storage, and these materials definitely have not been processed and described. Essentially, I realized, I would be starting an archival program from scratch.

With the blessing of our administration, I applied for a small grant to support the construction of a locking cage for our department through the North Carolina Preservation Consortium. I emphasized our stakeholders and what would happen if we did not get this grant, as well as steps I would want to take after gaining a secure storage area (boxes, etc). I researched many vendors for the most affordable price and kept the final estimate under the maximum grant amount ($2000). The result: last week I got notice that the grant application had been approved!

Our local genealogy society and historical society often have fundraisers to help purchase books they feel would be of use to the local history and genealogy collection in the North Carolina Room. This year, however, I asked my supervisor if we might be able to request funds for archival boxes and folders to process and house some of our genealogical manuscripts and special collections. We humbly requested $1000 altogether for the purchase of these supplies and were quickly approved by both organizations.

Also, this afternoon I found out that we have been awarded the IMLS Connecting to Collections Bookshelf, which includes books to help educate our staff about the care of special collections. It might be considered a “mini-grant” but it is another form of funding that we would not have had otherwise.

Traditional, large sources of funding such as LSTA provide incredible resources to libraries, museums, and archives doing large and impressive projects. Smaller grants provided by nontraditional, smaller, regional funders can help us take steps toward a legitimate archival program and resources to provide access to our community’s history.