Upcoming course projects (Fall and Summer 2016 semesters)

April 9th, 2016

umaticBelow you will find the upcoming course projects that we be undertaken by my students in the Fall 2016 and Summer 2016 classes:

Fall 2016 – LIS 668-01 Projects in Moving Image and Sound Archives
The course project in this class will involve digital reformatting and exhibiting to the public the public access program Dyke TV, in collaboration with the Lesbian Herstoy Archives. Below you will find some information about the program written by Erica Titkemeyer (2013):

In 1993, Dyke TV began as an access television show created by members of the New York City lesbian community (specifically Linda Chapman, Ana Simo, and Mary Patierno) at Prince St. and Broadway in Manhattan. The purpose was to produce news segments by, for, and about lesbian individuals and communities throughout the United States. The founders more specifically wished to document “rising lesbian activism and to provide a viable platform for lesbian voices to enter the realm of popular culture.” By the time the series came to an end thirteen years later in 2006, the production had reached a total of 78 public access channels , produced at least 322 total shows , and planted its office among the lesbian community in Park Slope, Brooklyn.

The project will involve working with a video collection on U-Matic videotape, which is endangered because of a declining number of units available for playing the format. Past student work digitized from LHA can be found at http://herstories.prattinfoschool.nyc.

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New script: Archives Finder

April 5th, 2016

archives_finderRecent initiatives in accessioning born-digital archives have focused on removable media, such as using forensic tools to image media (e.g., 1, 2, 3, 4).  However, there has been little discussion of the born-digital archiving needs of institutional archives.  In institutional settings, terabytes of records with permanent value often reside on large, unstructured network drives, often alongside active records.  For example, a National Archives of the UK blog post mentions that  up to two-thirds of government information is held on unstructured shared drives with some departments holding up to 190 terabytes of information.

Tools to identify batches of inactive records, such as the records of departed staff members or initiatives that have long ended, are often lacking and are designed more for IT departments to manage disk space.  To address this need, I created the script Archives Finder that aims to address some of the issues with existing tools for locating batches of inactive records.  Archives Finder searches across large, unstructured network drives for the largest possible grouping of records that are a given number of years old defined by the user.  It also includes “fuzzy math” feature that allows the user to specify that only a certain threshold of files need to by X years old.  The defaults are 95% of files are 7 years old, but these values can be readily modified.  The results are output as a CSV file that can be readily viewed in MS Excel.

You can download the script at GitHub, which runs on Windows machines.

Spring 2016 Courses

January 25th, 2016

President Jimmy Cater, photograph by Bill MarisThis semester is off to a nice start. In LIS 665 Projects in Digital Archives, students will be working to arrange, describe and digitize portions of a collection of architectural photography (with some landscape and craft photography) donated to the School by the estate of Bill Maris. You can checkout the finding aid created by students last Fall here. One of Maris’ digitized photograph is shown here, depicting President Jimmy Carter making furniture.

In LIS 625 Management of Archives and Special Collections, students will continue arranging and describing a collection of records on the history of the school. The finding aid created by students last semester can be found here. You can find both course syllabi below:

Syllabus – LIS 665 Projects in Digital Archives
Syllabus – LIS 625 Managemenet of Archives & Special Collections

New book project: Moving Image and Sound Collections for Archivists

November 25th, 2015

16mm polyester filmI am pleased to announce that I am working on a new book project titled Moving Image and Sound Collections for Archivists to be published by the press of the Society of American Archivists.

Most archivists encounter and most archives contain some form of moving image and sound material.  These can include recordings of events on video, oral histories captured on audiotape, and films created by independent filmmakers.  The purpose of this book is to provide practical guidance to the archivist on how to preserve and make accessible the moving image and sound record.  Although the moving image archivist may find value in this book, it is specifically targeted at the general archivist who may deal primarily in paper-based collections and need additional guidance or the student archivist with interest in building-out this expertise.

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The decline of text on the web

September 16th, 2015

Whitehouse webpage with text blocks selectedI had a hunch that the webpages were deploying text less text than the used to.  I put together a study that looks at the use of text on webpages since 1999, using the Internet Archive’s archived webpages in the WayBackMachine.  I found that indeed there has been a decline, beginning around year 2005.

You can read the paper online at Information Research:

The rise and fall of text on the Web: a quantitative study of Web archives

Update (Oct 17, 2015): I have also blogged about this study on the CILIP blog and the Web Archives for Historians blog.

Quick Metadata Entry in Omeka

August 14th, 2015

quick-entry3Anyone who has ever taken one of my classes knows that I like Omeka. It is very easy to use, and has many nice features.  However, one limitation is that it can be difficult to do rapid data entry on many items.  For example, if you use the Dropbox plugin to bring in several hundred pictures, and you want to quickly add metadata for them, or if some of the metadata fields are exactly the same (like author of photographer), there is no way (at least that I am aware of) to easily add this data.  Thus, I created what I call the quick metadata entry form, which allows you to update Title, Description, Date, Creator, and Rights fields, and allows you to make all values in a collection the same for a given field.  Unfortunately, it was not developed as an Omeka plugin.

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Archiving Email Newsletters, or getting your Newsletters out of Constant Contact

August 14th, 2015

pride_run_emailIn this blog post, I am going to offer a way to extract large batches of email newsletters from Constant Contact for the purposes of creating email archives, resulting in each message as a PDF.

First, some background.  I have recently finished an email archiving project for the History & Archives of Front Runners New York.  The club used to snail-mail newsletters since the early 1980s, but transitioned to email newsletters around 2004, and has been using Constant Contact since 2007 for its newsletter software.  They had managed to retain all the messages in Constant Contact, however, not all the embedded images.

Constant Contact does not have an easy way to export sent messages in bulk.  Thus, I created a script that leverages the Constant Contact API to export messages and the related metadata.  It creates a PDF, first including a full-length image of the email message, followed by a JSON export of the message metadata, and complete with text-version of the email message (if available).  This allows for the look of the message to be retained, but also text-searchable.

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Fall 2015 Courses

August 14th, 2015

women_aids_actup_collectionThe Fall semester is just right around the corner and I thought I would share my upcoming course projects.  This semester’s LIS 668 Projects in Moving Image and Sound Archives we will be working on digitizing, curating, and making available a collection of video and sound recordings around the topic of Women, AIDS, and ActUP, in collaboration with the Lesbian Herstory Archives.  In LIS 665 Projects in Digital Archives, we will continue an oral history digitization and curation project with the Archives of the Center for Puerto Rican Studies at Hunter College, CUNY, around the topic of the Puerto Rican diaspora.  And lastly in LIS 625 Management of Archives and Special Collections, we will work on an archives processing and exhibition around the history of Pratt SILS, which is celebrating its 125th Anniversary this year.  Feel free to download the syllabi:

LIS 625 Management of Archives and Special Collections
LIS 665 Projects in Digital Archives
Lis 668 Projects in Moving Image and Sound Archives

Digitizing Oral History

July 20th, 2015

teacHello all.  I thought I would share a new research article that got published today in OCLC Systems & Services.  I have a pre-print available if you don’t have access to that journal.

Digitizing oral history: can you hear the difference?

ASBTRACT

Purpose – The purpose of this study is to answer the questions: Can students discern the difference between oral histories digitized at archival quality (96 kHz/24-bit) versus CD-quality (44.1 kHz/16-bit)? and How important do they believe this difference is? Digitization of analog audio recordings has become the recommended best practice in preserving and making available oral histories. Additionally, well-accepted standards in performing this work are available. However, there is relatively little research that addresses if individuals can hear a qualitative difference in recordings made with best practices versus those that have not.

Design/methodology/approach – In all, 53 individuals participated in the study, where they listened to three sets of oral histories and had to decide which was the archival-quality recording versus the CD-quality recording and mark their answer on a survey.

Findings – Students could discern less than half of the time on average which was the archival quality versus the CD-quality recording. Further, after listening to the differences, they most often indicated the difference was “a little bit important”.

Practical implications – This research does not suggest that archivists abandon well-established sound digitization practices that produce results that audio archivists (and those able to hear fine-grain audio differences) find superior. Rather, it does imply that additional work may be needed to train listeners to discern these fine-grain differences, and appreciate the highest-fidelity replication of original audio recordings.

Originality/value – This research addresses a gap in the literature by connecting audio digitization practices to its impact on listener perception.

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Differences between Digital Archivists and Digital Asset Managers

July 9th, 2015

View of McKeldin Library from the Mall with blue sky and clouds.This Monday, I will be presenting the paper When Archivists and Digital Asset Managers Collide: Tensions and Ways Forward at the Archival Education and Research Institute 2015 at the University of Maryland.  It gets at the sticky issue, what is the difference between digital asset managers and digital archivists anyway? Below you will find a short description of the study:

ABSTRACT

While archivists have been developing methods to appraise, accession, arrange and describe born-digital records, a new class of professionals—the digital asset manager—has developed.  The digital asset manager sees her role as creating a repository of assets that can be easily and efficiently reused by staff.  Given the closeness of this role to the archivist, this case study will explore the question: what issues arise between archivists and digital asset managers when they are working together in the same organization?  To study this, the researcher spent one year as a participant observer at a major art museum located in the northeast United States.  He found that indeed tensions do exist firstly because the digital asset manager and archivists do not recognize the different roles each is playing and hence enter a kind of competition.  Secondly, this tension stems from an intellectual disagreement about how digital record keeping will play-out over the next several decades.  The study will conclude with suggested ways of moving forward so that both digital asset managers and archivists can further their respective missions.

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