Professional Development

Author Archive

Tanya @ MAC (Midwest Archives Conference), Milwaukee, WI

Thursday, May 5, 2016 10:34 am

I recently attended the Midwest Archives Conference (MAC) annual meeting in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. MAC is one of the largest regional archival organizations, and I have been an involved member since 1995. It was, however, a nasty shock to arrive in Milwaukee with the high only being 40—apparently, I am now completely acclimated to the NC climate.

One of my duties as a Past President of MAC, is to chair the Presidents’ Award Committee, which recognizes individuals, groups, or organizations. This year, the awards were given to the Ability Center of Greater Toledo, and three individuals who founded the Urban Appalachian Council (UAC) in Cincinnati in 1974. After the UAC was closed in 2014, these three made sure 40 years of records were transferred to Berea College for preservation. I had other duties at MAC, including co-teaching a workshop on Career Planning for Archivists and giving a presentation on community beyond the archives, focusing on the St. Benedict 75th anniversary project.

I also was able to attend a number of interesting sessions, but wanted to share more specifically about two that really struck a chord with me:

Crowdsourcing Beyond Transcription:
This pecha kucha style panel presentation offered panelists sharing various stories of how they utilized crowdsourcing in a unique way. The most fascinating was offered by Laura Alagna (Northwestern University) who had received a mobile phone as part of the personal papers of actress Karen Black (one of my favorites, who could ever forget Trilogy of Terror?). It was an old-school mobile phone, and Algana decided to crowdsource donations of charger cords in the hopes of finding the right one to access the contents. Of course, they now have a large collection of charger cords, which they hope to utilize in accessing other obsolete media.

Preparing Students for a Future of Working with the Past: Designing Undergraduate and Graduate TPS Curricula:
This was probably one of the strongest sessions I have ever attended at a MAC meeting. The topics included teaching students about:
Not judging historical resources
Developing an appreciation of changing language
The value of digital hands-on work in research, such as using city directories

There were also presentations on how archives and special collections instruction can focus on engaging your students, as opposed to simply show and tell. The best takeaway? The concept that digital collections are the one thing from Special Collections that students CAN browse.

All in all, attending MAC was well worth shivering in the Milwaukee rain.

Tanya @SAA2015

Wednesday, September 9, 2015 5:50 pm

I recently returned from the Society of American Archivists annual meeting in Cleveland, Ohio and per usual, it was a very busy week! I finished my third year and term as an SAA Council member. As before, much of my time was spent with governance issues during the week. However, not to worry—there is a special deal where I can purchase all of the sessions for $19.99 so I can catch up on everything I missed:
http://www2.archivists.org/am2015/program/MP3s#.VfCiFJcwhT0

SAA Council met early in the week and approved an Arrangement and Description certificate program for SAA’s workshops and new criteria for issuing advocacy statements. Other hot topics were a proposal to reorganize SAA’s affinity groups and a dues increase—needless to say, these stimulated a lot of conversation! The dues increase is especially important for a small professional organization, is it will enable the purchase of a functional association management software system and also advance our advocacy efforts. I finished my liaison term for the Committee on Advocacy and Public Policy, but the work is not over, as I have now been appointed Committee Chair. We are currently working on a number of issue briefs relating to privacy in public records, copyright, federal records, and the Transpacific Partnership Agreement. I attended an interesting forum on updating facilities standards for archives and was able to hear several interesting presentations from the Native American Archives, the Latin America and Caribbean Cultural Heritage Archives, and the Science, Technology, and Healthcare Roundtables (which featured Duke and UNC-CH).

I presented twice—first, I spoke about becoming involved with regional archival organizations to our Mosaic Scholarship Winners as part of their all-day workshop. I also participated in a panel focusing on the “Best Practices for Volunteers in Archives” with an excellent question and answer time with an active audience. Our reception was held at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and I still cannot get over how tiny Mick Jagger’s costumes are. The best part about Cleveland was the beautiful building architecture and arcades, many of which have been repurposed…

 

Archives Leadership Institute (ALI) 2015 (Decorah, Iowa) by Tanya

Monday, June 22, 2015 3:22 pm

I recently attended our third and final iteration of the Archives Leadership Institute (ALI), located in Decorah, Iowa. Funded by the National Historical Publications & Records Commission (NHPRC), the goal for the Institute is to “bring to tomorrow’s leaders the insights and understanding necessary for increasing public use and appreciation of archives.” However, while we won’t be coming back to Decorah, we were recently notified ALI has been funded for another three-year run, and our new location will be Berea College in Berea, KY, where the Project Director resides. I will continue as part of the Steering Committee: (Rachel Vagts, ALI Director) from Berea College as well as representatives from New York (Geof Huth), Massachusetts (Beth Myers), Ohio (Dan Noonan), Oregon (Terry Baxter), Texas (Brenda Gunn), and of course, North Carolina (Tanya). For our third year, we worked with the faculty to revise the schedule and again reviewed applications (there were nearly 100 for 25 slots). The Committee conducted daily evaluations of the curriculum, and monitored the overall process by serving as facilitators for small groups in the cohort. Again, we had a wonderful week and built many new relationships.

The core curriculum remained the same, the first day focused on New Leadership Thinking and Methods (faculty and facilitator, Luther Snow). Our second day brought Dr. David Gracy (retired from the archives faculty at UT-Austin) who spoke on Advocacy. Day three brought Dan Noonan from Ohio State who presented on Strategies for Born Digital Resources. Sharon Leon (Director of Public Projects, Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and Media, George Mason) who oversees OMEKA and Scripto, focused on project management for day four. Christopher Barth, from West Point, spoke on Strategic Visioning and Team Development.

The week again ended with a special celebratory dinner (which included heartfelt stories from the participants as well as inside jokes). The group is scheduled to meet again at the annual meeting for the Society of American Archivists, being held in Cleveland in August. There will be a dinner (including ALI alumni from past years) as well as a workshop to discuss potential service activities.

The ALI Team was also recently notified we have been awarded the Society of American Archivists’ Distinguished Service Award! ALI has had a tremendous impact on the archival profession by developing the potential leadership skills in a wide range of archival professionals throughout the country. I am glad I am able to continue my participation in this important program.

Midwest Archives Conference Annual meeting–Lexington, KY–Tanya

Monday, May 11, 2015 1:18 pm

I had a wonderful time at the most recent MAC meeting—there was learning, sharing information, and hearing horror stories. I was able to attend the Society of American Archivists workshop: Accessioning and Ingest of Electronic Records. The workshop was excellent, and included discussion of how to combine the practice of archival appraisal with accepting and documenting born-digital records. There was a focus on policies, file formats, storage considerations, and a number of tools available for archivists to use. The donation of born-digital and electronic records is becoming an increasing issue for the University Archives, and the time could not be better to attend a workshop such as this.

I also gave a presentation on Thursday on Assessing our Public Services, part of a broader session on Assessment (including Collections and Trusted Digital Repository Criteria). We had around 70 people in the room and there were lots of questions afterwards. My presentation is available here:
https://www.academia.edu/12321931/Assessment_in_Action_Using_Results_to_Improve_the_Archival_Experience

The opening reception was held at The Carrick House (http://carrickhouse.com/index2.php#/info1/1/) in downtown Lexington. There were variations on ham and biscuits, and yes, I witnessed archivists square-dancing. They also had a photo booth and it was just as popular as ours was at the Dean’s List Gala. I was able to attend more sessions on archives internships and implementing organizational change, and see posters on Documenting Ferguson and the current status of archivists’ salaries (courtesy of our own Stephanie Bennett).

Finally, I was able to knock another item off my bucket list as I traveled back via the Cumberland Gap Parkway.

ALABI–Nashville, Tennessee by Tanya

Monday, April 27, 2015 11:50 am

I recently attended the Association of Librarians and Archivists at Baptist Institutions (ALABI) in Nashville, Tennessee. It was a great experience, and I had the opportunity to meet new people, learn about projects at other repositories, and even see a bit of Nashville.

For me, the professional highlights were sharing the plans for our Baptist collections in a presentation; hearing about other digitizing and outreach projects at the Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, Mercer College, Samford University; and touring the Southern Baptist Historical Library and Archives, which hosted the ALABI conference. There were also interesting presentations on transferring and digitizing audio recordings, glass plate negative care and storage, current pressures on libraries to dispose of print materials, and evaluating duplication policies and fees. The speakers for this last topic also handed out a booklet of policies submitted by ALABI institutions, so we could compare how each one of us is handling requests.

For the Nashville part of my trip, I visited the Johnny Cash Museum, went to a Nashville Sounds baseball game, and attended a Grand Ole Opry performance at the Ryman Auditorium. The Ryman has been on my bucket list for years. What a great conference!

CurateGear 2015 by Tanya

Wednesday, January 14, 2015 12:51 pm

Rebecca and I again had the opportunity to attend UNC’s CurateGear last week, and the presentations were excellent. CurateGear provides an overview and technical demos of selected digital curation tools, but this year seems to be focused on broader issues and I found it much more useful.

Erika Farr reported on Emory’s use of Redbooth in her presentation “Measure for Measure: Tracking Effort in Born Digital Processing,” which enabled them to collect assessment data on how long it actually took staff to process digital files for the archives. Their numbers came down to 5MB per hour (18 files), not necessarily encouraging in regards to speed and effort, but there always needs to be a starting point.

Nancy McGovern (MIT) updated the group on Digital Preservation Management Tools. She has been involved for many years with the DP workshops, and they are expanding their repertoire to include Collection Management Workflows, Disaster Preparedness, and a Self-Assessment Audit. I also attended a NYPL session on providing research room access to electronic records with a stand-alone PC. As the speaker, Susan Malbury noted, archivists have been focusing on the ingest and preservation of electronic records, as opposed to researchers accessing them, but this will change in the future. Katherine Skinner spoke about MetaArchive, a cooperative network preserving digital records by following the LOCKSS concept. Angela Spinazze spoke about CollectionsSpace, an open-source platform to handle eclectic collections such as archaeological objects and botanical specimens. CollectionsSpace is now under the LYRASIS umbrella.

If anyone is interested, please see the CurateGear agenda as there are links to all of the presentations: http://ils.unc.edu/digccurr/curategear2015.html

Tanya at the Society of American Archivists (SAA) Annual Meeting, 2014

Tuesday, August 26, 2014 11:12 am

I recently returned from the Society of American Archivists annual meeting in Washington, D.C.—it set a record for attendance, so was a bit crowded (I could barely find Craig’s poster display). It was a very busy week! I am in the middle of my second year of service as an SAA Council member, and was also recently elected to serve on the Executive Committee (as a Council representative meeting with the SAA Executive Director and the elected Treasurer, Vice President and President). I attended my first meeting of the SAA Foundation as part of my new role. Needless to say, much of my time was spent with governance issues during the week. However, not to worry—there is a special deal where I can purchase all of the sessions for $29.95:

http://saa.archivists.org/store/archives-records-ensuring-access-conference-recordings-on-mp3/3945/?

SAA Council met early in the week and approved a Code of Conduct, Best Practices for Volunteers and an issue brief on HIPAA (Health Information and Portability Act), among other items:

http://www2.archivists.org/news/2014/council-adopts-best-practices-for-volunteers-in-archives-revised-terms-of-participation-fo?

I also serve as the liaison for the Committee on Advocacy and Public Policy and the Diversity Committee. Both are very busy groups, and some of their upcoming projects include issue briefs on funding for the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) and other advocacy issues, and the creation of an SAA Diversity Toolkit (based on the one developed by RBMS (ALA). I attended a session on Kickstarter as well as an interesting forum on Diversifying the Archival Record which featured authors from the recently published SAA Diversity Reader. I have a copy of this new book, if anyone is interested in taking a look. Finally, I was able to hear several interesting presentations from the Native American Archives and Latin America and Caribbean Cultural Heritage Archives Roundtables.

I was very excited to attend our reception, held at the Library of Congress. They have an entire stack area dedicated to their card catalog, it was amazing!

 

I also was able to get out one evening for a tour of some of the memorials, including the Lincoln Memorial.

 

It was unseasonably cool in DC for this time of year, for which I was very thankful. I ended my week with the Archives Leadership Institute dinner (Saturday) and morning workshop (Sunday)—as always, this group immediately energized me, and some new ideas and connections have already come out of it.

After a successful trip, I was very happy to arrive home late Sunday night and again, would like to say how much I appreciate those direct flights out of the Piedmont Triad Airport!

2014 Archives Leadership Institute (Decorah, Iowa) by Tanya

Wednesday, June 25, 2014 4:25 pm

I recently attended the second iteration of the Archives Leadership Institute (ALI), hosted by Luther College and located in Decorah, Iowa (I participated in the 2008 ALI held in Madison, WI). Funded by the National Historical Publications & Records Commission (NHPRC), the goal for the Institute is to “bring to tomorrow’s leaders the insights and understanding necessary for increasing public use and appreciation of archives.” I am now part of the Steering Committee, organizing the current 3-year set of ALI (still sponsored by NHPRC):

http://www.archivesleadershipinstitute.org/

The Steering Committee consists of archivists (Rachel Vagts, ALI Director, and Sasha Griffin) from Luther College as well as representatives from New York (Geof Huth), Michigan (Beth Myers), Ohio (Dan Noonan), Oregon (Terry Baxter), Texas (Brenda Gunn), and of course, North Carolina (Tanya). For our second year, we worked with the faculty to revise the schedule and again reviewed applications (there were nearly 100 for 25 slots). The Committee conducted daily evaluations of the curriculum, and monitored the overall process by serving as faciliators for small groups in the cohort. Again, we had a wonderful week and built many new relationships.

The core curriculum consisted of the following: The first day focused on New Leadership Thinking and Methods (faculty and facilitator, Luther Snow). Our second day brought Dr. David Gracy (retired from the archives faculty at UT-Austin) who spoke on Advocacy. Dr. Gracy is such a personality, the tweeters in the group couldn’t keep up with all of his quotes! Day three brought Dan Noonan from Ohio State who presented on Strategies for Born Digital Resources. Sharon Leon (Director of Public Projects, Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and Media, George Mason) who oversees OMEKA and Scripto, focused on project management for day four. Christopher Barth, from West Point, spoke on Strategic Visioning and Team Development. A new addition was StrengthsFinder, so, yes, I managed to take it again. My number 1 strength Activator has remained the same, but I have added Achiever and Connectedness. My other two, Learner and Responsibility remain. Of course, during our Strengthsfinder presentation, we had a tornado warning and had to complete part of the presentation in the laundry room. Good times.

The week again ended with a special celebratory dinner (which included funny and heartfelt stories from the participants). The group is scheduled to meet again at the annual meeting for the Society of American Archivists, being held in Washington, D.C. in August. There will be a dinner (including ALI alumni from past years) as well as a morning workshop to discuss potential service activities. ALI has had a tremendous impact on the archival profession by developing the potential leadership skills in a wide range of archival professionals throughout the country. I am glad I was able to continue my participation in this important program.

 

SNCA Meeting, Raleigh (NC) by Tanya

Thursday, April 10, 2014 12:41 pm

While I had some challenges making it to the SNCA meeting on April 8 (a sprained ankle necessitated some crutches), the opportunity for networking and hearing about all the ongoing archives projects in NC, was well worth the trip! I moderated a session focusing on the Digital Public Library (including Chelcie) and was interested to hear about the logistics and challenges of contributing to such a far-reaching project. Over lunch, State Archivist Sarah Koontz spoke and I greatly enjoyed hearing her remarks about the work of the State Archives of North Carolina. She gave excellent advice about combining advocacy and Archives Week, and as the new SNCA Archives Week coordinator, I greatly appreciated the ideas.

I also attended the Student Lightning Round session where five projects were described. Duke Divinity School student Dr. Ken Woo presented on his outreach plans for the Religion in North Carolina project, which includes our Special Collections. His presentation focused on the effectiveness of reaching a user base through online social media and collaborating with local communities.

Lastly, I co-presented with Erin Lawrimore (UNC-Greensboro) about the Archives Leadership Institute. The Institute, funded by the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC) selects twenty-five archivists to attend a week-long retreat in Decorah, Iowa, and to complete a number of professional projects. I serve on the Steering Committee for ALI, and Erin was a recent 2013 participant. This was an effort to publicize the Institute in the hopes of increasing applications for 2015.

All in all, it was good to get out and see all the archives activity taking place in North Carolina!

CurateGear 2014 by Tanya

Thursday, January 9, 2014 5:24 pm

I was happy to have the opportunity to attend the most recent CurateGear 2014 (hosted by the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill). Held for the third year, this one-day event offers the opportunity to hear from a variety of technical gurus and to also participate in demos of various products. The majority of participants discussed digital tools of great interest for not only digital collections, but archives and electronic records as well.

I was most interested to hear Reagan Moore, who talked about iRODS, (integrated Rule Oriented Data System), which is an open source data grid to be used for organizing and managing large collections of data. Basically, when collections are submitted, the user can set up default rules and procedures which allow you to do any number of things, including validation, creating audit trails, and even extract metadata–and the system is interoperable with both Fedora and DSpace! This system is currently being used by many in the research community, such as the Southern California Earthquake Center (SCEC) and NASA’s Center for Computational Sciences.

This was only 1 of 5 sessions I attended, and I appreciated the opportunity to just hear updates and additional information about a variety of programs which have great potential, such as the MetaArchive and ArchivesSpace. Chelcie and Rebecca will also be submitting their comments, so they will provide more information about some of the other sessions. At the end of the day, Dr. Cal Lee gave concluding remarks and he noted the increasing number of intersections between all these programs. When he asked the audience for comments and recommendations for the future, I suggested having some kind of assessment of these tools for decision-makers, such as what do they all do? How do they interact? How much do they cost? How much expertise do they need to operate? Basically, it all comes down to choice, but there is a great need for education before making these important decisions that can impact your program or library for years to come.


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