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

Entries in Requests (4)


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.


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.


What's Your Limit for Performing Research?

I had a recent distance request that required me to go through several boxes of processed photos to find people wearing a particular habit. I also had to check four yearbooks for the same individuals. While I have had students do this for me in the past, especially when dealing with unprocessed or partially processed collections, I did not have a student working for me during the times when I was working on the request.

Typically, since we are a small archives, we do not perform research for our patrons. Even if they are distance researchers, we do not have the time to commit to performing lengthy searches. However, if they know what they are looking for, we will perform minimal research for them. Typically, with photos, a patron or publisher says they are looking for a photo of x, or a photo of x in a particular collection. These materials are easily found in most processed collections. However, with the vague description I was given, I was hesitant to look. I did not end up finding any photos in six document cases and four yearbooks.

The reason I ask "What's your limit for performing research?" is that I know some archives have written policies concerning archivists performing research for patrons who cannot visit. At CUA, we have an informal policy that we give each researcher about an hour of our time. I would like to know what other archivists do in this type of situation. Also, if anyone has experience with not being taken into Catholic guilt, I would also like advice! While I have had some of the sweetest patrons, I've also had quite a few who are pros at implementing the Catholic guilt.

Please comment on this entry or tweet me at @AVArchivist with responses!



International Requests

In the CUA Archives, our staff is small, our collections are small, but the extent of our collections is ever-growing, especially since more of our collections are searchable online. Something I have been managing over the last two years is dealing with international delivery of files, especially larger a/v files. What's the best or easiest way to deal with the delivery international a/v requests, and to a lesser extent even high resolution photo requests?

When I started, almost two years ago, I received few international requests, and even the few I received were from Canada and didn't involve air mail across an ocean. I would mail CDs just like I would for national requests. However, with the increasing demand from national and international publishers, archivists have to adapt to new(er) technologies, some of which are FREE, to provide faster, online file delivery.

At work, I use FileZilla FTP client (free, opensource program), which allows me to deliver files via FTP. The patron provides a directory name, user name, and password, I log onto their FTP server and then upload the files, which is very similar to moving files around between folders on your computer.

Recently, I had an international client that did not have access to an FTP, so I signed up for a FREE file drop box site, 4shared. There are varying levels of membership based on how much room you have for files and how big the files can be, and you can buy an account to share larger or more files. In this case, I uploaded the file to the site, set it to shared, and provided the patron with a URL to view and then download the files.

There are other options, as well as other FTP clients and file sharing, or "drop-box," sites. Both of these options save on shipping costs, CD/DVD costs (to send material to patrons), and provide almost immediate access to high resolution archival material suitable for publication.

I'm wondering what other archives are doing to accomodate this type of request?