Posts Tagged ‘north carolina state archives

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.

13
Oct
09

NCLA Part 3: Statewide public library, statewide digital heritage?

At NCLA, everyone was buzzing about the possibility of a statewide public library…and, separately, the possibility of a statewide digital heritage center.

While UNC Chapel Hill has been relatively quiet about the North Carolina Digital Heritage Center (see previous post), there certainly were special collections librarians and archivists at NCLA who were curious to know more about how such a program might work. They will likely have a Program Coordinator early next year. With the NC ECHO statewide survey of cultural heritage institutions and the NC SHRAB’s Traveling Archivist going out to community groups to consult on preservation, the NC DHC stands as the next big effort to democratize efforts to make accessible the heritage of North Carolina.

En route to Greenville, one of my colleagues mentioned a recent meetup at a “Library Cooperation Summit” to discuss the potential for statewide collaboration to increase public access to state resources. One major idea that emerged from the summit: a statewide ILS using open-source software such as Evergreen. On Thursday, David Singleton, Director of Library Experiences at the Public Library of Charlotte & Mecklenburg County, discussed his experience with Evergreen in the state of Georgia, where the software originated to support the PINES project. Users of PINES can check out materials at any participating library across the state and return the materials to any other library across the state, using the same library card. Studies showed 90-95% user satisfaction with the open-source ILS. As for North Carolina, the State Library representative in the audience was a bit hesitant to respond that they hope to have a statewide system in place by late 2010.

31
Aug
09

Reflections: SAA Austin (Thursday/Friday — North Carolina sessions)

On Thursday I attended Session 109, “Not Another Survey!” about statewide collections inventories and needs assessments. I have often wondered who creates the sometimes long and always investigative surveys of collections and preservation needs. Of course I found the presentation by Hilary Perez, the Project Archivist at NC ECHO the most interesting of all! What is fascinating about NC ECHO’s survey was that it entailed actual site visits, which were done a week at a time and included a 17-page survey. They focused on non-living, permanent, non-local government collections in the state of North Carolina. Here are some of the facts following their 5-year project:

  • Over 850 institutions were visited
  • 761 institutions responded to the survey
  • 16% have no web presence
  • 72% have no disaster response plan (including my department)
  • 59% describe their storage facilities as inadequate
  • 25% are entirely volunteer-run

The resulting institutional directory created by NC ECHO serves as a clearinghouse of information about these statewide cultural heritage institutions. For some, it is their only web presence. Another conclusion made during the presentation: digitization is the fastest, best way to preserve the cultural heritage of the state.

(I also attended Session 202 and Session 210 on Thursday.)

On Friday I attended Session 408 entitled “Advocacy, Education, and Money: How State Historical Records Advisory Boards Can Help.” Sarah Koonts, Head of the Collections Management Branch of the North Carolina State Archives, spoke about our state’s SHRAB and some of its advocacy initiatives. She pointed out in her presentation that while NC ECHO is IMLS-funded, the NC SHRAB does not have any full-time staff.

As part of the SHRAB’s funding from a SNAP (?) grant, the Traveling Archivist Program was developed. By offering best practices, demonstrations, and consultation about preservation, the Traveling Archivist will provide valuable guidance to small cultural heritage institutions in North Carolina. I will be applying for the first round of the program, which is due on September 30, on behalf of my library. It is limited to 40 institutions between the two rounds of the program.

Since this is focused primarily on physical preservation of primary resources, what about digital preservation? NC ECHO’s role appears to have been defined early on as the place for digitization initiatives, but it seems that it has shifted in recent years to help identify institutions and create an information clearinghouse.

Perhaps in relation, UNC-Chapel Hill recently announced this position as part of a new North Carolina Digital Heritage Center, to be housed as part of the North Carolina Collection. The NC Digital Heritage Center will “provide digitization and hosting services for cultural heritage materials held by libraries, archives, historical societies, and other institutions in the state of North Carolina.” That’s right, they are going to be a digitization center for the state!

While at SAA, I spoke briefly with NC archivists and speakers about the possible relationship between the Traveling Archivist Program (physical preservation) and the NC Digital Heritage Center (digital preservation). Some archivists had not heard of either program; others had not seemed to consider the fact that these programs were being developed simultaneously. They are both incredibly valuable programs and demonstrate a renewed focus on archival advocacy and education for community-based repositories.

One question I forgot to ask: do either of these projects have to to with the IMLS statewide planning grant? One was awarded in 2009 to North Carolina entitled “North Carolina Connecting to Collections” as a collaboration between the NC Department of Cultural Resources (which encompasses NC ECHO and the SHRAB), the North Carolina Museums Council, the North Carolina Preservation Consortium, and the Federation of North Carolina Historical Societies to “identify, coordinate, and assess collections preservation and disaster preparedness activities in the state’s cultural heritage community.” Any ideas?

(I also attended Session 411 on Friday.)

In the meantime, I will be following closely the development of these programs since they are near and dear to my librarchivist heart.