Digitally Archiving Architectural Models and Exhibition Designs

June 16th, 2015

pta22_figure2Happy Summer.  I thought I would share this short article I wrote on archiving Computer-aided design (CAD) for Practical Technology for Archives:

Digitally Archiving Architectural Models and Exhibition Designs: The Case of an Art Museum


During the course of electronic records start-up project for a medium-sized art museum located in the Northeast United States, the need to develop strategies for digitally archiving two-dimensional CAD drawings (2D) and three-dimensional (3D) models became readily apparent. Over 37,000 CAD drawings were unearthed during a network storage inventory project, as well as over 6,000 3D models. These files originate primarily in VectorWorks (and its predecessor MiniCAD), AutoCAD, and Rhinoceros. Given this need, this project is motivated by the question: By what methods can two-dimensional CAD drawings (2D) and three-dimensional (3D) models be digitally archived for long term preservation and access? To answer this question, a review of the relevant literature will be conducted, followed by an investigation of solutions available to this medium-sized museum, and conclude with format migration tests of select records.


Summer School!

May 12th, 2015

Oregon TrailHello there.  So this summer I will be teaching Projects in Digital Archives for a fifth year in a row.  This semester, we will be working with a selection of personal materials from Ms. Liza Loop.  Ms. Loop is looking to create the History of Computing in Learning and Education (HCLE) Virtual Museum, and has worked her career in Silicon Valley’s computing industry with an interest in uses of computing for education and learning.

The collection that we will be working with is both born-digital and analog: 5.25 floppy disk, 3.5 floppy disks, Hi8 video and Betamax video (which is the bulk).  Our goal is re-animate these materials using methods relevant to a modern archival environment (e.g., digitizing analog material, imaging obsolete media, making it intelligible/runnable, etc.), and providing value to the HCLE initiative.

Although we will not be working with the Oregon Trail (screenshot above), it is one of the more well known and often remembered educational games.    I also remember playing a lot of Number Munchers…. and Carmen Sandiego (all on the Apple IIe, which may mean that I am really old or that my school was slow to adopt new technology, or both).

You can also download the course syllabus (PDF).

Upcoming classes @ Pratt SILS with hands-on archival projects

April 2nd, 2015

AIDS-at-30-ACT-UP-silence_equals_deathHello there. I just wanted to send out some information on upcoming classes at Pratt SILS that have hands-on archival projects, and what those projects are:

Summer 2015 – LIS 665 Projects in Digital Archives
The project this semester will be focusing on born-digital archives and endangered electronic media, which include records that originate on obsolete media, software and operating systems. The class will be working on materials from the History of Computing in Learning and Education in Silicon Valley, which looks to preserve and interpret documents, artifacts and stories relating to the history of computing in learning and education (e.g., educational games, early computing applications in schools, etc.).

Fall 2015 – LIS 668 Projects in Moving Image & Sound Archives
The project this semester will be transforming an analog collection of audiovisual materials into a digital archive. The class will be working on collection accumulated by the Lesbian Herstory Archives about ActUp. ActUp was an activist organization started in New York meant to draw attention to and seek greater research and development into treatments for HIV/AIDS. Most meetings were run from the nearby LGBT Center on 13th St., and ActUp is widely credited for changing the course of the global AIDS crisis.

Fall 2015 – LIS 665 Projects in Digital Archives
The project this semester will be working on preserving and making available oral histories from the Archives of the Center for Puerto Rican Studies at Hunter College, CUNY. The oral histories document the Puerto Rican diaspora in New York, and how Puerto Ricans became a powerful group within New York City through labor unions, political activity, and social agencies. The oral histories also document the decline of Puerto Ricans in New York, as they choose to move to more affordable, sunnier locations, like Central Florida.

Fall 2015 – LIS 625 Management of Archives and Special Collections (with Prof. Cucchiara)
In this class, the hands-on component will involve working with the Greenwood Cemetery archives in Brooklyn. Greenwood is moving more from being an active cemetery to a cultural heritage site. For more information on this class project, please contact Prof. Cucchiara –

Fall 2015 – LIS 625 Management of Archives and Special Collections (with Prof. Cocciolo)
In this class, the hands-on component of this class will be working on the 125 years of archival records related to Pratt SILS, which is celebrating its 125 anniversary this year. The SILS records document the school going back to 1890, and include an extensive array of student records from its earliest days. As SILS is the oldest LIS school in North America, the records illustrate the emergence, growth, and changes within the field of library and information science, and document SILS’s contribution to the LIS workforce and growth of libraries globally.

FixityBerry: Environmentally Sustainable Digital Preservation for Very Low Resourced Cultural Heritage Institutions

March 12th, 2015

I am pleased to be presenting this poster at the iConference 2015 this month in Newport Beach, CA. Below you will find the abstract and poster:

Whereas large cultural heritage institutions have made significant headway in providing digital preservation for archival assets—such as by setting-up geographically redundant digital repositories— medium and small institutions have struggled to meet minimum digital preservation standards. This project will explore one option for enhancing the digital preservation capacity for very low-resourced environments. FixityBerry is a project which connects consumer-grade USB hard disks to the $35 Raspberry Pi computer, which checks file fixity weekly and powers down when checking is complete. This poster will report out on an eight-month pilot of using FixityBerry to monitor the digital assets from several small cultural heritage institutions.

You can setup your own FixityBerry by following the instructions available on the project’s GitHub page.


Download poster as PDF | Download as Paper

Spring 2015 Teaching

January 12th, 2015

Morgan HouseHappy 2015. I thought I would share some of what I have planned for teaching this semester. In LIS 665 Projects in Digital Archives, the class-wide project is to continue working to digitize, curate, and make accessible the photos from the Bill Maris architectural collection, which were donated a few years ago to Pratt. This collection includes architectural photos from the 1970s, including many gems like the Morgan House shown above (photographed by Maris in 1976). The goal is to launch the site by the end of the semester.

In LIS 668 Projects in Moving Image and Sound Archives, the class-wide project is to finish up digitizing, curating, and making accessible the Daughters of Bilitis Oral History Project. Also, we are hoping to start work on a collection of materials related to Act Up that is housed at the Lesbian Herstory Archives.

Download the Syllabi:
LIS 665 Projects in Digital Archives Syllabus
LIS 668 Projects in Moving Image & Sound Archives Syllabus


Guggenheim Museum Electronic Records Project

December 23rd, 2014

guggenheimI was very pleased to have the opportunity to work with the staff of the Guggenheim Museum on their Electronic Records Startup project. The project has completed, and you can find all the reports from the project on the Library & Archives webpage, including the Three-tiered plan for Managing Electronic Records.

Challenges to Born-Digital Institutional Archiving: The Case of a New York Art Museum

October 14th, 2014

jazI have written a new article that highlights the challenges to born-digital institutional archiving, using a New York art museum as a case.  It is appearing soon in Records Management Journal, but you can download a preprint here.


Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to highlight the challenges to born-digital institutional archiving, using a New York Archive Museum (NYAM) as a case.

Design/methodology/approach – The digital record keeping practices at NYAM were studied using three data sources: a) focus groups with staff, totaling 81 individuals, or approximately one-third of all staff, b) analysis of network file storage, and c) analysis of digital records in archival storage, or specifically removable media in acid-free archive boxes.

Findings – This case study indicates that the greatest challenges to born-digital institutional archiving are not necessarily technological but rather social and cultural.  Or rather, the challenge is getting individuals to transfer material to a digital archive so that it can undergo the technological transformations needed to ensure its long-term availability.  However, transfer is impeded by a variety of factors which can be addressed through education, infrastructure development and proactive appraisal for permanent retention.

Practical implications – This paper highlights the challenges to born-digital institutional archiving, yet notes that these challenges can be overcome by following a multi-pronged approach.

Original value – This paper outlines the challenges to born-digital institutional archiving, which is not often discussed in the literature outside of the context of higher education.

Fall 2014 Teaching

September 5th, 2014

collab-buildingsHello World. This semester I am teaching three classes: 2 sections of Projects in Digital Archives, and Projects in Moving Image and Sound Archiving.

For the Wednesday section of Projects in Digital Archives, the class will be working with my colleagues Susan Malbin and Christine McEvilly from the American Jewish Historical Society to incorporate new material into their portal, Jews in America. We will also be working on arranging, describing, and digitizing materials from an architectural photographer that were donated to the Institute.

For my Thursday section of Projects in Digital Archives, we are continuing on a collaboration with Pedro Juan Hernandez of the Archvies of Centro de Estudios Puertorriqueños (CENTRO) at Hunter College / CUNY, to enhance a digitized audio archive.

And lastly, in Projects in Moving Image and Sound Archiving, the class will continue a partnership with the Lesbian Herstory Archvies by continuing to digitize the video collection for the Daughters of Bilitis Oral History Project. I would venture to say that this website has become the largest digitized audio archive related to lesbians and lesbian communities.

Feel free to download my syllabi:
Project in Digital Archives Syllabus: Section 1, Section 2
Projects in Moving Image and Sound Archives Syllabus

Mobile Technology, Oral History and the 9/11 Memorial

July 3rd, 2014

911 MemorialI have published a new paper in Preservation, Digital Technology & Culture titled “Mobile Technology, Oral History and the 9/11 Memorial: A Study of Digitally Augmented Remembrance.” Below is the abstract and the article can be downloaded from the publisher site. I also have made a pre-print available here.

I would like to thank the Pratt Institute Faculty Development Fund for funding this project. I would like to thank former graduate assistant Rafael Baylor for help planning and implementing the focus groups.

The National September 11 Memorial is notable in that it has designed a mobile application in unification with its physical space in Lower Manhattan. Despite the potential of such an arrangement, no research has been conducted that demonstrates the efficacy of mobile technology in augmenting the memory and remembrance functions of the built environment. Using the memorial as a site of inquiry, this project will address the following research questions: How are remembrance and memory impacted by use of mobile technology at a site of memorialization? And, what factors mediate engagement with mobile technology for the purposes of remembrance? Nineteen diverse New York City area residents visited the memorial while using the app, and then participated in a mixed-method study (in-depth focus group and survey). The results reveal that participants—if they experienced no significant technical troubles—found the app as significantly enhancing the memory and remembrance functions of the memorial. For developers of mobile technology for cultural heritage contexts, the use of curated oral histories available on a mobile phone is highly effective.

Summer teaching

June 3rd, 2014

I’m into my second week of teaching projects in digital archives. The big class-wide project this semester is enhancing the Dance Dialogues website, which includes audio interviews with dancers by dance journalist Barbara Newman.

Download Syllabi

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