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Archiving Challenges

This covers the technological and format challenges that information professionals are facing.

Archiving Social Networking Sites: Why?

May 7th, 2010 · No Comments

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Earlier this month, the Library of Congress announced that it would house every “tweet” ever posted on Twitter. Every 140-character-or-less blurb on the site is now part of the vast LoC archives. This got me thinking: what are the issues at hand in archiving social networking sites? And why is it important?

Recently, while cleaning out my apartment, I found a relic of primitive social networking—a printed-out Facebook message from 2005. Nostalgia instantly struck. Five years ago, Facebook was [thefacebook], with a much simpler interface. A toolbar on the left listed the humble features of the relatively new site: My Profile, My Groups, My Friends, My Away Messages. Clearly, Facebook was trying to emulate MySpace —which was then by far the preferred means of social networking.
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Category: Archiving Challenges · Digital Obsolescence · New Tools · Social Media

Developing A Digital Collection: Skill Four: Metadata Standards

April 26th, 2010 · No Comments

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Skill Four: Metadata Standards

Metadata is defined as data about data, information about information. If this sounds confusing, TechTerms.com provides a simple definition of how metadata “describes other data” citing examples such as: image size, document length, and creation date. A much more comprehensive guide called Understanding Metadata was published in 2004 by The National Information Standards Organization (NISO).

The NISO publication is meaty, but concise at just 15 pages and that includes a resource list and a glossary! Though the word “metadata” sounds enigmatic to librarians and laypersons alike, compiling metadata is really similar to standard cataloging using MARC 21 – which is itself a metadata standard. There are three types of metadata as defined by NISO: descriptive metadata, structural metadata, and administrative metadata. Anyone working with digital collections should become intimately familiar with all three.
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Category: Archiving Challenges · Developing A Digital Collection

Management and Digitization

April 15th, 2010 · No Comments

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As I was working on a workshop about process planning for digitization, I came across this quote by Peter Drucker, ”Effective leadership is not about making speeches or being liked; leadership is defined by results not attributes.”

No matter how pleasant you are (or you think that you are) the bottom line is that the funding and reputation of your institution rests on success.

There is a reason that business principles exist. There is a reason that companies that fail to follow these principles also fail. Few managers of digitization projects have business backgrounds. The number one failure seems to be a lack of project management skills.
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Category: Archiving Challenges · Developing A Digital Collection

Developing A Digital Collection: Skill Three: Knowledge of Technologies

April 12th, 2010 · No Comments

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Skill Three: Knowledge of Technologies

Librarians and archivists who develop digital collections must be technology savvy. This sounds much more intimidating than it really is. To be skilled in technology does not mean one has to have mastered every program and piece of equipment ever created. This would be nearly impossible because technology is constantly changing and evolving. Rather, being skilled in technology means one has mastered some programs and equipment, has an overall understanding of how things work, and is capable of learning new skills. Fortunately that describes most of today’s librarians and archivists. Staying informed about the latest developments in hardware and software is equally as important as nurturing an enthusiasm for learning new tools and the possibilities they bring.
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Category: Archiving Challenges · Developing A Digital Collection

Developing A Digital Collection: Skill Two: Needs Assessment

March 29th, 2010 · No Comments

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Skill Two: Needs Assessment
After deciding to create a digital exhibition, the librarian/archivist should perform a needs assessment to list anything required for the project. The list will include everything from staff and supplies to time and workspace. After compiling a list, the librarian/archivist will determine which resources are readily available and which needs will need to be acquired. The library/archives may already have sufficient supplies, a large workroom and staff members who are knowledgeable in technology, but it may need to acquire a scanner, a digital camera, digital storage devices and software. Each new purchase should be researched for quality, specifications and suitability. The librarian/archivist will likely be the one to select and recommend the new purchases. It may help to look at other collections during your own needs assessment.
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Category: Archiving Challenges · Developing A Digital Collection

Developing A Digital Collection: A Series of Installments

March 2nd, 2010 · 1 Comment

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Skill One: Evaluating the Collection:

The five skills essential for developing digital collections have collectively been my mantra since I “inherited” over 4000 images from a university archivist’s external hard drive. These images were uploaded into Luna Insight, without a plan, and their catalog records are extremely incomplete.

My task has been to organize the collection into subject areas and develop a metadata schema. Remembering the five skills is a tremendous help! These skills include: evaluating the collections, needs assessment for the project, knowledge of technologies, metadata standards and project management. Each skill listed above is actually a multifaceted aspect critical to the creation of a digital library. Today, we will discuss Skill One– Evaluating The Collection.
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Category: Archiving Challenges · Developing A Digital Collection

The Paradigm Shift

February 10th, 2010 · No Comments

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In teaching multimedia archive,s I think about the future of our content constantly. Like a new mother, I fret for its security, growth and health. What is THE answer for our degrading media, emulsions, for our software obsolescence and our equipment falling down around our ears?

Recent discussions on the AMIA listserv brought new energy to this discussion and I wanted to put my spin on this. The subject line was “What’s Not Cool About Cold?” and it solicited some serious discussion about whether we have made a horrible mistake for a generation of archivists and content.

Jim Lindner argues that the imminent demise of tape players is more important in an archivist’s preservation decision than our focus on the imminent degradation of the media itself. The latter being our big decision to place much of our media in cool or cold storage. The group discussion mentioned the fact that many of our players are no longer supported by their manufacturers and the simple math that the lack of machines and the existing wear on their parts will not even cover the playback of the volume of archival tapes awaiting…migration? This hits a deep reality. Have we lost hundreds of thousands of hours of archival motion under our watch? Maybe even millions or billions of hours?
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Category: Archiving Challenges · Media Obsolescence · Preservation

Long-term Website Preservation Uncertainties

October 28th, 2009 · No Comments

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Since the advent of the Internet, floodgates have opened with people creating all forms of documents put on the web. And with open source and proprietary software, the proliferation of websites and blogs has been nearly overwhelming. But will all that material be around a year or five from now? What will exist in the future? How will it be archived? Internet content creators cannot be certain that their material will be around for years to come. A lot of people might be OK with that, but if they do want their sites around for posterity, they should be proactive in saving their works.
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Digitizing from an Archival Student’s Perspective

October 27th, 2009 · No Comments

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Digital preservation is a wonderful thing…as long as I do not have to do it. As I work in an archive/library at my university, digitizing a collection for online use, I have lots of time to think about digital preservation, its benefits and disadvantages, how the nature of libraries and archives is changing and what it means for us all.

As a newly graduated student, I dream of processing unique materials, rummaging through boxes and loosely organized files to find the rhythm of a collection. Documents and artifacts that tell someone’s story, that make me chuckle or make me sad, that surprise me and some that bore me. These materials get my hands dirty, make me feel gritty, make my skin break out, but make me feel real. But the scanner? It makes me feel definitely like something other than an archivist or a librarian. I must work quickly and without thinking – I am there to scan only, not to make judgment calls, or to find order in chaos, nor to find that collection rhythm.
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