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

Entries in Life in the Day (74)


Finishing Up for the Semester

Over the last month, I've been focusing on crossing things off my work and professional to-do list. My two SLIS practicum students have finished their projects, including a new finding aid that was posted today, and over 300 metadata records for the School of Music audio recordings, to be used in a future digital collection.

I also participated in a interviewing process for the consortium's new Digital Projects Coordinator, who was just hired (she starts in March). Until then, as the upcoming head of the Digital Practices Committee, I will be making sure that we have completed all of our initiatives for before the June deadlines, and that we have all of the documentation in place for the Coordinator when she starts; while I won't start until January, I've been reviewing all of the documentation that I might need. We have our last meeting of the year tomorrow, and we'll be mainly focusing on project plans.

In addition to my normal volume of "let me get this in before you close for the holidays" photo digitization requests, I also digitized a small, alumnus photo album in-house. He didn't want to donate it, yet, but is allowing us to use the images for projects (I sent a Deed of Gift requesting copyright of the digitized images). This is one of several digitized alumni albums that will definitely be useful in the upcoming year for the university's 125th anniversary.

I also wrote a third, shorter article for our annual newsletter, featuring photos from our collections used in the CUA photo history book and a Veteran's Day presentation by an alumnus.

The piles on my desk are decreasing as I put away the books and printed reference publications that I have used over the last few months. I'm clearing away the post-it note reminders stuck to my computer monitor. While I still have next week, I feel like I have almost everything settled before I leave for break.


Digitization, Collaboration, and Communication

Over the past several weeks, I have been getting a lot of digitization requests for several projects that correlate with CUA's upcoming 125th anniversary celebrations. One of the more frequent and more interesting series of requests I've received relate to the Music Librarians' history of music at CUA, which became available last week as a digital exhibit (presented in omeka). They have been adding to the site this week and plan to contribute more to it in the future. It contains many photographs from our collections, scans of documents and music manuscripts, and audio recordings of school songs (all digitized by yours truly). What I like best about this exhibit is that it displays a variety of formats and materials from several collections to provide a comprehensive history of music at CUA. It also shows their dedication to the in-depth research needed for this project.

I've also been working on two articles for the Archives's annual newsletter. The article that I finished today is also tied into the 125 years of photographs in our collections, many of which have been used in two photograph books, The Catholic University of America and Brookland, in the past two years. The article gave me a good excuse to touch base with the authors to get some information from them for the article, and to see if they have any future projects in mind in which they will use our collections.


Audio Problems Finally Solved

I started my work day by taking apart the Otari with the hex screwdriver, and then, for over an hour, tried to find the internal switch to go from 15ips to 7.5ips. After I decrypted the manual (on page 5-5, "big P.C.B. Ass'y"="big printed circuit board assembly"), and found the corresponding location referred to in the most basic diagram the manual refers to, I was able to start to digitize the reels. However, unlike most small reel players, you do not depress the external button, you just flip the internal switch. That gave me a pretty interesting recording before I realized it was playing at 1/4 speed. I'm creating internal documentation for anyone else that might have to digitize anything if I'm out for some reason because I don't want to give anyone the headache I've had the last two days!

Screenshot of the diagram and photos of the internal switch:


Audio Anxieties

The last two days I have worked on the beginning of a large audio request for a researcher. These requests are part of a larger project in which I have collaborated with the Music Librarian, and will culminate in a lecture on November 17. While it was fun to digitize the first 7" reel, but because it was recorded at 3 3/4 ips and extra tape was added, the recording is over 2.5 hours per side! In between other requests and a grant-writing webinar yesterday, this is why it took two days to completely digitize this one reel. The biggest problem created by a tape this length is that it creates unusually large files (the raw project file is 4.2 GB, per side!). I am going to have to listen to both sides tomorrow and divide the files into manageable chunks, closer to 2 GB, which seems to be the limit for my software program.

Some of the other reels the researcher requested are 10.5" reels. I have only used our Otari once before, and fortunately, the previous reel was recorded at 15 ips. Today's reel was recorded at 7.5 ips. For those of you who haven't had to change the configuration for ips before, it is apparently easy but hard to access on these larger machines. After finally locating a user manual online, and then downloading a .rar expander for Mac (which was harder to find than the correct Otari manual), I finally realized that not only do I have to push the button on the front, I have to take off the back and right side panel and flip a switch. Unfortunately, the archives does not own a hex screwdriver set to remove the side panel. I am going home, bringing in some proper tools, and will hopefully finish setting up the player tomorrow!

The final thing that really got under my skin today, is that I had to level the player head and the archives has no level. I finally got out my Android and used my Bubble Level app.

As a final note, the guy who runs Analog Rules! has many more reel manuals than just the Otari MX5050-BII. I highly recommend his site!


Requests and Compliance

I have had quite a lot of requests since the fall semester, including audio and film in addition to the normal photo requests. On Wednesday, I attended a compliance training session given by the university's new Compliance Officer. During this session, he mentioned considerations for signing contracts, which made me think about our own contracts that act as invoices for the reproduction of images and other materials (such as those featured in the most recent Ken Burns PBS special on Prohibition, currently airing!). Our forms were created by the Archives and approved by the General Counsel a few years before I started at CUA, and we have the authority to give users the permission to use or reproduce these materials. However, occasionally, I have researchers, usually representatives from large publishers, ask me to sign their contracts. I politely refuse and give them ours. This behavior was reinforced by the Rights and Reproductions panel of which I was a member at the spring 2011 MARAC. Today I learned that this is not only good procedure, but it will legally protect me because the Archives is not libel for contracts I sign outside of the approved forms because I am not authorized to do so.