This was my first time attending the Society of North Carolina Archivists Conference as a attendee, although a few years ago, Audra and I, along with Rachel Hoff presented in Pinehurst about Protecting Forsyth’s Past.
The conference was amazingly well organized and run. The signage was great and parking was available nearby. I have already reported on the paper mending workshop I took before the start of the conference. Rebecca also did a great job of covering the conference and so I’ll try not to repeat.
On Thursday morning, I took the tour of the UNCG Special Collections hosted by UNCG Archivist, Erin Lawrimore. Keith Gorman, Assistant Head of Special Collections and Archives, led my group. They have gone with one service point, as we have at ZSR. It was interesting to talk with Keith about their outreach to faculty where they do ‘cold calls’ during office hours and reach out to departments to get faculty interested in using Special Collections. The Plenary Luncheon speaker, Kate Theimer, was great. I especially liked two sources she mentioned in her talk: Handmade Librarian is a blog by Jessica Pigza, who combines being a librarian with the sources she oversees in her work as a Rare Books Librarian at New York Public Library. Jessica also writes a Handmade blog fro NYPL. The other source mentioned by Kate Thimer was Ben Brumfield who is using crowd-sourcing to get volunteers to help with transcription and annotation on digitization projects. It has to be a challenge to work with volunteers to transcribe letters and diaries for these projects-I think this idea is innovative and inspiring.
The other session I’d like to report on was “Keeping the Faith and Sharing it Too” presented by two of ZSR’s finest: Vicki Johnson and Rebecca Peterson. Vicki and Rebecca reported on the the now infamous Biblical Recorder project.
The Biblical Recorder was founded by Thomas Meredith, a Baptist minister and founder of Meredith College in Raleigh. The BR began in 1833, and ZSR has what is probably the most complete run. The BR represents a get historical look into products and events of the Civil War. Vicki’s lead into the talk was a slide from the film A River Runs Through It where she described Rev. Maclean (played by Tom Skerritt) as saying that “Methodists were Baptists who could read” got a laugh from the audience. Vicki then used the BR as a way to show Baptists could certainly read…and write! She then explained how we got permission to digitize the BR from the Editor and Board, and received a grant to digitize the papers from 1834-1970.
Rebecca covered the challenges of this project: poor quality microfilm; dis-binding of all the original papers for scanning, boxing and shipping to Quebec; the time period of the grant; and personnel turnover at the vendor-Olive. For the vendor, Olive-they do not provide analytics and we cannot edit any of the material. The benefits are enormous: keyword searching of the BR for the first time and users benefit from having the ability to search without travel or looking through original papers. Vicki and Rebecca did a remarkable job and I was more than a little proud to be their colleague.
Gwen Erikson from Guilford College, reported on a collaborative project to connect four ‘Friends’ Colleges: Guilford, Bryn Mawr, Earlham and Haverford. This project attempted to find better ways to connect people and historic Quaker church records, some dating to 1680. Using conference calls with each college, they ended up partnering with Ancestry.com, who wanted to work with these Quaker schools partly because Quaker records have unique information in them. For permissions, they faced more opposition from their attorneys at Guilford than anywhere else because their attorneys wanted to protect Guilford. Guilford used the 1972 census rule of confidentiality as a guide.
LeeRae Umfleet, from the NC Department of Cultural Resources spoke about the Civil War project she has undertaken. Each day, sometimes several times a day, she posts about events that took place 150 years ago on that same day in the Civil War, via their twitter feed. UNC-CH also has a Civil War Day-by-Day blog which uses their resources to document the war. Anyone who has heard LeeRae will appreciate her enthusiasm for this work, which involves lots of transcription.
I enjoyed SNCA: hearing about the work of archivists in North Carolina, meeting new people, seeing old friends and hearing Vicki and Rebecca.