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

International Internet Preservation Consortium

May 19th, 2014

eifelI’m in Paris for the IIPC 2014 General Assembly.  I am presenting on 3 web archiving projects that I have been working on: one solo and two with my colleague Debbie Rabina.  Below is the solo project:

Youth Deleted: Saving Young People’s Histories after Social Media Collapse

After twenty years of loosing personal digital files, I wonder if today’s youth’s digital shoeboxes of memories will be even thinner than my own.  To test this notion, the following research question is posed: When social media collapse, are youth disproportionately at risk of loosing their digital contributions? To study this, the age demographics of failing or failed social media will be analyzed.  The list of failed or failing social media is provided by the Archive Team’s “deathwatch,” which is a group of “rogue archivists” who save web content in danger of disappearing.  Results confirm that when social media collapse, youth are disproportionately at risk of loosing their digital contributions because young people disproportionately use the sites that fail.  Personal digital archiving outreach efforts need to continue working to educate young people about the risks of loosing digital content and how to avoid such loss.

Download PDF

Update May 29, 2014: The slides from my second presentation, as well as everyone else’s presentation, is available on IIPC’s website.

Unix Commands and Batch Processing for the Reluctant Librarian or Archivist

January 19th, 2014

logoCheck-out my new article in Code4Lib Journal: Unix Commands and Batch Processing for the Reluctant Librarian or Archivist.


The Unix environment offers librarians and archivists high-quality tools for quickly transforming born-digital and digitized assets, such as resizing videos, creating access copies of digitized photos, and making fair-use reproductions of audio recordings. These tools, such as ffmpeg, lame, sox, and ImageMagick, can apply one or more manipulations to digital assets without the need to manually process individual items, which can be error prone, time consuming, and tedious. This article will provide information on getting started in using the Unix environment to take advantage of these tools for batch processing.

Read Article @ Code4Lib Journal

Update May 5, 2014: I am also teaching a workshop on this same topic at Metro NY Library Council – feel free to take it.

Spring 2014 Courses

January 15th, 2014

centroThis semester, I will be teaching Projects in Digital Archives (LIS 665) with a new project partner: Centro de Estudios Puertorriqueños (or the Center for Puerto Rican Studies at Hunter College / CUNY). In the class, we will be working to assemble a digital archive of oral histories from their collection. I am excited to be branching out into new areas, and hope the students will enjoy the collaboration as well.

I will also be teaching Projects in Moving Image and Sound Archiving (LIS 668), where the class will continue work on a video oral history project started last semester in collaboration with the Lesbian Herstory Archives.

You can download the syllabi below:
LIS 665-02 Projects in Digital Archives

LIS 668-01 Projects in Moving Image and Sound Archiving

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