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

Entries in SAA (11)


#SAA11: Saturday

I'm sitting at O'Hare, waiting for my flight. I didn't want to take a chance with Hurricane Irene and in case my flight gets cancelled, I'm here to pester them to get on another flight. I'm among many east coast archivists waiting... Anyway...

This morning I attended two sessions before I had to leave for the airport. If I waited any later, I could have been late. I attended sessions 503 and 601. 503 was great because I got to hear in person some of the information that I've been researching for the DPC concerning archival collaborations and consortiums. I now realized why there are two versions of the California Digital Library (OAL and Calisphere), and why NCEcho has very basic metadata for their projects (they're a separate institution working with many smaller institutions, some of which have no full-time staff, and they needed a very simple schema to make their program feasible across their community).

I'm glad I ended with session 601, Rappin' with a Fiddle. The session focused on music collections, unfortunately, not much audio, but the manuscript collections (including awesome avant garde music manuscripts) were very interesting! Most impressive was the Tupac Shakur Collection at the Atlanta University Center.

I can't wait until I get home so I can do some further research into all of these collections!

Also, for all the great archivists I met this week, please stay in touch, especially if you need any a/v advice!


#SAA11: Monday and Tuesday

I arrived Monday, early afternoon, got settled in the Hyatt, and started to explore the hotel and the surrounding areas. Upon trying to check in, I met an awesome archivist named Rachel, and she and I went to get some food at the conveniently-located grocery store only one block away. Then, my roomie Rona and I decided to get some Chicago deep dish pizza (phenomenal!), and to walk off the calories, we went for a walk on the Riverwalk. Chicago is gorgeous! We ended up at the House of Blues (great music!). Two guys thought we were with their conference group and we ended up explaining to them what archivists do.

Most of Tuesday I was in the Preserving Digital Archives workshop. The content was good, I learned some and some was a good review, but the instructor April was great! Even though the class was 7 hours of sitting, it was stimulating, thoughtful, and the entire class was laughing. Thanks April, for making learning about preserving born-digital materials interesting! (More specifics on this later.)

After getting some snacks at the room, Rona and I went out to explore and try and get on the Architecture Boat Tour. The box office was closed, so we decided to walk down the opposite way on the Riverwalk, and ended up at Navy Pier... Where the Architecture Tour boats were still taking tours. We did a great tour at dusk which ended at night, with the city lighting up before our eyes! Our tour guide Jeff, was great, knew a lot about the city's architecture, and had some recommendations for us (go to the John Hancock building for the best view of the city, not the Sears Tower). We then found Forever Marilyn, took some pictures with her, and went home.

Today, I take the ACA exam, will try to squeeze a tour in before the roundtables, and maybe will go to the John Hancock building!


It's an Archivist's Party!

Okay, not really, but in order to make SAA more affordable in a week-and-a-half, I will be rooming with three other young professionals. One was a former student of mine and current friend, the second, one of her former interns who attended UMD, and their third, a current UMD PhD student. Oddly enough, the pairings were completely random except for my former student and I. I met with my former student and her former intern last night for dinner and drinks and had a blast. We talked shop, we talked current jobs, we talked future aspirations, we talked past and future travel, tattoos, and Sci-fi. After spending time socializing with these ladies, I can definitely say that SAA is going to be one great party!


Roundtable Website

I'm heading up the initiative to heavily revise the Recorded Sound Roundtable website. We have quite a few interested and talented people on our web team, and I'm hoping to start developing content soon. Ideas so far include:

  • Expanding to all audiovisual formats, because they have the same basic preservation concerns in the digital world
  • List of print and electronic resources
  • List of vendors by region for those who are not able to provide preservation in-house, similar to those listed by AMIA and ARSC
  • Links to practical standards and procedures in use in archives, not just re-housing but digitization, equipment, hardware, and software
  • Links to interesting projects, preservation projects, or well-presented and easily navigable projects.

The goal is to have our roundtable site supply archivists who are less familiar with a/v, with resources and guidance for their collections.


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.