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Musings of a librarian, former archivist, musician, bibliophile, and tech-obsessed.

Entries in Archivist (12)


Family Archivist

Over the extended Thanksgiving weekend, I did a little preservation for my grandparents on family heirlooms. Most were from Peter Pike, a Civil War veteran and my great great great grandfather. The items included clippings documenting his regiment's movement, his marriage certificate, a promotional certificate (to sergeant), an army-issued death certificate (long after the war), three tintypes, and regiment pins. The best piece was his Great Army of the Republic hat. Also included in the items were a photo of my grandmother's father before he was shipped out to fight in World War I, and my grandfather's father's dog tags from World War I.

I de-framed one photo and certificate, bought Bookkeeper spray and de-acidified all of the paper documents, re-housed the tintypes and photos in four-flap, non-buffered envelopes, and then in a box, and placed the pins and dog tags in archival boxes with clear lids for viewing. I also stuffed the hat with acid-free tissue, separating the leather band that had fallen out of the hat from the wool of the hat.

It was fun to watch my family members gathered around me, watching me work with my white gloves on, engrossed and impressed in my work.



The State of Archives

Fueled by a quite lengthy post on the A&A listserv this weekend, I would also like to reflect on the state of archives in the US.

As an audiovisual archivist and musician, I am most impacted by the future of audio preservation, covered by an interview in WNYC this weekend. Guests for the interview included Sam Brylawski, an author of the study and leading member of ARSC, and Jody Rosen, a music critic for and senior critic for Rolling Stone. They reflect upon many aspects of audio preservation--degradation, problems finding resources for preservation, and copyright, to name a few.

Referenced in the A&A post, a blog post from the Derangement and Description author. I agree that young archivists are being slighted by some older archivists. I agree that we're doing a lot for little compensation.

But that's happening everywhere right now as older employees in every field stay longer to put off retirement and budgets of most institutions are being cut. Two former graduate student employees in our archives fought to get the part-time work they currently have, though they are expected to do work that requires more than a part-time commitment.

Newcomers into the field can turn this into a positive by going beyond what is asked of us, learning as much as possible and challenging ourselves to learn new ways of doing things. I learned basic audio engineering skills because we couldn't hire a consultant to set up our in-house digitization station. I also learned basic web design skills to create our archive's a/v webpages, and then my own website. Also, as this blog entry featured in OCLC "Above the Fold" states, spend time with people who challenge your thinking. Right now, I'm learning more about the entire digitization process as I serve on a consortial task force, set with writing a business plan for a new cooperative digitization service. I also network like it's my job, giving out nearly all of the business cards I received almost three years ago (I think I have enough for one more conference). Through networking, I've been able to get onto committees in two organizations, and have gotten free equipment for the archives. 

There is a gap between long-time archivists and the new archivists, felt more in some associations than others. I feel at home in ARSC, encouraged on projects by freely given advice, and I'm asked for advice on other issues. The people I've met at ARSC who have been in the field longer recognize that us new archivists aren't trying to get rid of the old ways of the archives, but that we're together in this fight to preserve our collections, and the younger archivists' skill sets can be used to try new ways of doing the old methods.


Personal Archivist For Hire

Sometimes I feel like a personal archivist-for-hire.

When I was starting along this path and joked with my family "If you need something preserved, you know who to ask!" they laughed. Okay, not the same as "Now that I'm an accountant, I'll do your taxes for free," but I meant well.

Now I've taken on a project for each side of my family--a photo preservation project from my mom's side and a mixed material collection (cloth, medals, documents, tin-types, etc.) of Civil War era from my dad's side (from Peter Pike, who served in the war).

Recently, my boyfriend has realized the potential of my tech side ("Can you look at my printer?" "Why doesn't this file work on this computer?"). I de-acidified and housed his newspaper from the Red Sox World Series win for a gift. We've been packing his stuff since he's moving next week, and he found a few magazines from the same time, and he wants those preserved, too. He also has quite the collection of movies on VHS, DVD, and Blueray. Somehow we got on the topic of me transferring audio for work and that somehow translated into me transferring his VHS to a hard drive. I said "Just as soon as I figure out how to do that for work..."


Very Important Archivist

I am having lunch today at the National Press Club for the Committee for Economic Development's Digitial Connections Council new report release "Harnessing Openness to Improve Research, Teaching, and Learning in Higher Education."

Pretty cool!

I can't wait to see what this special interest group has to say about open access in higher education, and how it will benefit me as an A/V Archivist, especially when it comes to the copyright issues for recordings of performaces of copyrighted works. (That's going to be my biggest obstacle with the School of Music audio recordings.)


It was more about openness in digital repositories and creative commons instead of digital and electronic copyright issues in general. Still very cool, and got me thinking about the development of CUA's Institutional Repository!


Fantastic Films

After wrapping up discussions on the reception last night, I erased quite a few things from my to-do dry erase board, and added my new projects. In the next week and two days I will be starting to focus solely on the CUA School of Music audio recordings, and the CUA Department of Athletics films. I made great progress today, which has left me in a super happy mood!

I talked with my supervisor about starting the film preservation/digitization project. Starting is a lose term because I located two collections of severely degraded films a little over a year ago. I had students perform surveys (library students who jumped to have the experience to learn about and survey film, not that were grudingly stuck with vinegar syndrome films) to complete an inventory but to also survey preservation concerns. I met with Russ Suniewick, President (and representative) of ColorLab, a film laboratory and telecine service, who appraised the films, took the surveys, and provided an estimate soon after.

And then we sat on those estimates because we didn't have the money to do either large project. I proposed doing a few films as a pilot project to my supervisors, and then we can use this pilot project to get money from donors who can help us to complete this project. However, I could not pursue this project because of the reception.

Today was a day for new goals.

Today I contacted our sales rep, agreed on a price and type of project we are looking to do, re-reviewed the inventory, selected the five films (based on level of deterioration and potential for popularity and donor appeal), and FedEx-ed them off to ColorLab!

Tomorrow, audio!