Professional Development

Stephanie at NEDCC Digital Directions

Thursday, August 6, 2015 5:05 pm

Along with Chelcie, I just spent three days in Raleigh at the Northeast Document Conservation Center’s Digital Directions workshop, learning about “best practices and practical strategies for the creation, curation, and use of digital collections” – the quote is from the conference write-up and is spot on.

The conference was a good mix of high-level thinking and nitty-gritty details. I was especially happy to have the opportunity to talk with experts; a challenge with special collections is that our holdings encompass a variety of formats, including artifacts, books, papers, and various forms of audiovisual cassette, reel, and disk. I attended three sessions that discussed various aspects of audiovisual materials handling and vendor management, since these materials types are fragile and the bulk of ours are not yet digitized. As anyone who has used cassette tapes knows, AV materials have unique quirks; since digitization is the only way to preserve that content, vendors are often used to ensure quality products. In another practice-based session, the former Library Fellow for digital Special Collections at NC State University, Jason Evans Groth, described NCSU’s workflow for processing digital materials, which covers files on physical media as well as network file transfers. Archivists are responsible for preserving original records, and digital files are more difficult to keep in original condition than folders from a desk drawer.

The 30,000-foot view sessions covered a variety of topics, including copyright issues for (digital) collections, given by archivist and Berkman Center fellow Peter Hirtle, who has been a leading voice in copyright; selecting collections for digitization; and conducting risk management assessment for digital collections. Greg Colati, who leads UConn’s University Archives, Special Collections and Digital Curation unit, gave a pair of thought-provoking talks about managing digital collections for preservation and access. Those concepts are central to archives work, so I think about them a lot, but digital access and use can be very different from analog counterparts. Chelcie and I were able to have a quick probing discussion with Greg about the LSTA-funded digitization that will be taking off here soon, too, which was useful. On Wednesday afternoon, we wrapped up our Digital Directions experience with a quick visit to see NC State’s digital processing workstation, get a demo of their workflow in action, and meet the library developer who worked with Jason.

All in all, this conference provided a well-timed opportunity for me to think more deeply about how my role as Collections Archivist intersects with digital collections and digital preservation efforts. It would have been valuable had I attended solo, but being able to compare notes with Chelcie and share expertise across the days was an added bonus!

Stephanie to attend Image Permanence Institute workshop

Friday, June 26, 2015 10:57 am

Special Collections and Archives would like to announce that Collections Archivist Stephanie Bennett has been selected to attend an Image Permanence Institute (IPI) workshop, Preservation of Digitally Printed Materials in Libraries, Archives and Museums. Bennett was one of 15 participants selected from a pool of more than 50 applicants. The workshop, for which tuition of waived due to generous support from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, will be held October 20-22, 20115, at IPI’s facilities at the Rochester Institute of Technology in Rochester, NY. IPI is a nonprofit, university-based laboratory and recognized world leader in the development and deployment of sustainable practices for the preservation of images and cultural property.

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.

Stephanie at Midwest Archives

Tuesday, May 12, 2015 9:33 am

As Tanya mentioned, I also attended the Midwest Archives Conference annual meeting last week. It was my first trip to bourbon country, and thanks to the local arrangements committee, I kicked it off at Buffalo Trace, the longest running bourbon distillery in America, and a narrated amble through horse country. Another first for an archives: the plenary speaker was Joel Pett, a Pulitzer Prize-winning editorial cartoonist for the Lexington Herald-Leader; his talk was a laugh a minute.

The trip was not all fun and games, though, I did make time for learning! I attended a very informative session on audiovisual preservation, which is timely since I’m currently processing about 8 linear feet of cassette tapes, videotapes, and audioreels in the Edgar Christman collection. All the sessions were great, though. Other highlights included:

  • A hands-on session about digital forensics presented in part by Jason Evans Groth of NC State: I may be taking a field trip soon to see their digital imaging workstation
  • A quick brown bag lunch session on strategic career planning featuring our own TZB
  • Event planning and social media management solutions for solo archivist shops (translates well to our department, as well)
  • A “speed geeking” session on records management-related outreach and marketing that provided four different, creative approaches

It’s rare that every session of a conference offers something that is directly applicable to my work, but happily this was the case in Lexington. I also presented a poster on Saturday morning, “How Much Do You Earn? An Informal Look at Archives Salaries,” presenting the results of a survey that I conducted last spring. I got some good questions and feedback, which was useful for thinking about my next steps. Many thanks to Craig for providing some tips on making the poster look good! Alas, I failed to take a photo of my masterpiece.

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.

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.

 

Tanya–Tri-State Archivists Meeting (Greenville, SC)

Friday, October 18, 2013 2:46 pm

I was able to sit in on one day of the Tri-State Archivists 2013 (Society of Georgia Archivists, Society of North Carolina Archivists, Society of South Carolina Archivists) joint meeting at Furman University, Greenville, SC. While my time was short, the quality of the presentations definitely made the trip worth it.

The opening plenary was by Emily Gore of the Digital Public Library of America and provided an excellent overview of the DPLA’s mission, organization and structure. She also recommended numerous apps to access their collections, including OpenPics and Culture Collage, which could also have implications for instruction. Dr. Clifford Kuhn, the Director of the Oral History Association was the lunchtime plenary and shared examples of oral history projects focusing on the Southeast. One of his most interesting comments related to the role transcription has played in giving access to oral history–traditionally, there has been a focus on providing text for audio interviews, which is extremely time consuming and expensive. Things have changed somewhat, and as he noted, we are moving towards thinking and authoring in sound, which raises the importance of sharing the audio and video directly with researchers, so they can hear actual voices. During the afternoon, there were a fascinating set of presentations focusing on MPLP (More Product, Less Process) processing and decision-making in regards to collections; the role of description in assisting researchers; and the role of reappraisal in assessing collections. All raised excellent points, and one of the speakers utilized a University of California-developed set of criteria (user interest, quality of documentation, institutional value, and object value) for determining collection priorities, which I hope to use in the future. There were also interesting poster sessions, including the Clarence Herbert New poster by Rebecca and Craig, and others on dealing with small disasters, archives internships, and using Dropbox for reference service. All in all, I picked up many valuable tips and food for thought.

Tanya at the Society of American Archivists (SAA) annual meeting in New Orleans, LA

Friday, August 23, 2013 11:30 am

I don’t know how I can possibly describe my 9 days in New Orleans, but I will certainly do my best!

I recently attended the annual meeting of the Society of American Archivists (SAA), held in New Orleans, in addition to other events tacked on at the beginning and the end of my travels. First off, I was part of a review team (with colleagues from the Radcliffe Institute, Harvard University and the University of Iowa) who were asked to review the Newcomb Institute Women’s Archives, part of Tulane University. This is the first program review I have been involved in that was not for an academic program, academic department, or library. We met with the Institute’s archivist, Executive Director, staff, faculty, Tulane archivists, toured the Newcomb Archives, and reviewed documentation from the library and university. All in all, this was an interesting experience, and one I hope to write about in the future. Before SAA began, I was able to have a nice tour of the Garden District, visit the Ursuline Convent, and have dinner with some of my favorite archivist colleagues, including my sister-in-law, Stacy Belcher Gould. Stacy is the University Archivist at the University of Hong Kong and is not always able to come to SAA, so this was a big treat.

At the very beginning of the week, I attended SAA Council meetings as I was elected to a three-year term last year (2012-2015). Council oversees all budgetary and programmatic activities of the Society, and meets three times per year (twice in Chicago in January and May, and at the annual meeting). Council completed a number of tasks, including reorganizing the annual meeting structure, reviewing reports, and creating an Advocacy and Public Policy Committee. I have been working on advocacy projects in conjunction with SAA, the Council of State Archivists (CoSA) and the National Association of Government Archives and Records Administrators (NAGARA), and I will also be assisting with the work of this committee. After the annual meeting actually started, my main responsibility was to update numerous groups on Council activities and ask for feedback. “My” groups include the Diversity Committee, the Government Affairs Working Group, the Latin American and Caribbean Heritage Archives Roundtable, the Native American Roundtable, the College and University Archives Section, and the Science, Technology and Healthcare Roundtable.

On Tuesday, I attended the Women’s Archives Symposium, sponsored by the Newcomb Institute and Archives. This program was organized to coincide with SAA’s publication of my newly edited book (with Anke Voss), Perspectives on Women’s Archives (Society of American Archivists, 2013). I gave introductory remarks and listened to panel presentations and discussions organized around themes we raised in our introductory essay. There were 60 attendees and one of the participants blogged about the day:
http://lori.birrell.us/2013/08/14/what-does-the-future-hold/

All in all, it was a satisfactory end to 7 years of hard work:
http://saa.archivists.org/store/perspectives-on-womens-archives/3334/

During the annual meeting, I did manage to hear interesting presentations on institutional repositories and advocacy efforts in Alabama (presented by my very first archives employer, the Alabama Department of Archives and History). I made time to stop by Rebecca and Craig’s poster on Clarence Herbert New, it really did look wonderful. On Friday, I gave a presentation on women in science and engineering, in honor of archivist Joan Warnow Blewitt (American Institute of Physics), to the Science, Technology and Healthcare Roundtable. This presentation described oral history projects at ISU and potential future plans for a similar project at Wake Forest.

Finally, at the end of the week, as a Steering Committee member for the Archives Leadership Institute, I attended meetings, hosted an ALI alumni dinner, trekked down Bourbon Street at 11:00 p.m. and finished up with a Sunday morning workshop. Thank goodness, they had some coffee for us.

SAA is always incredibly exciting, stimulating, and exhausting–there is nothing like having 1,600 archivists all in the same place! I am now happy (and a little relieved, to be truthful) to be back in Winston-Salem. I look forward to catching up and staying put for some time….

Archives Leadership Institute 2013 (Decorah, Iowa)

Monday, June 24, 2013 10:05 am

All, I apologize for the length of this posting, but really didn’t want to split it up!

Five years ago, I had the tremendous opportunity to participate in the very first Archives Leadership Institute (ALI), hosted by the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Funded by the National Historical Publications & Records Commission (NHPRC), the goal for the Institute was to “bring to tomorrow’s leaders the insights and understanding necessary for increasing public use and appreciation of archives.” The Institute provided a series of workshops on managing change, self-evaluation, working with external collaborators, and much, more more! We also worked in small groups and developed responses to specialized case studies. All in all, it was a excellent experience–I was able to meet new people, and build deeper friendships with those I already knew (FYI, the archives profession is extremely small, and even if you don’t know someone, you usually are only one degree away from a connection). My friend and colleague, Geof Huth, blogged about the entire week: http://anarchivist.blogspot.com/2008_06_01_archive.html

Now, in 2013, I am part of the Steering Committee, organizing the next 3-year set of ALI, held last week at Luther College, Decorah, Iowa (still sponsored by NHPRC): http://www.archivesleadershipinstitute.org/

The 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). The Steering Committee assisted in the development of the Institute content and logistics, and also reviewed applications (there were nearly 100 for 25 slots). For the Institute, the Committee conducted daily evaluations of the curriculum, and monitored the overall process by serving as facilitators for small groups in the cohort. All in all, we had a wonderful week (including a field trip to Seed Savers (which saves heirloom seeds) and a yoga class) and built many new relationships. The Institute also gained the moniker, “The Weight Gain” Institute because the food was so good.

For some photos (please note Audra Eagle Yun as she was one of the attendees): http://www.flickr.com/photos/55249940@N08/sets/72157634232465477/

The week began with a day dedicated to New Leadership Thinking and Methods. Our facilitator for the entire week was community organizer and consultant, Luther Snow, who is based in Decorah. I found his concepts on generativity to be extremely helpful-the focus is on what you have, not on the negative aspects of continually thinking about your weaknesses. During the afternoon, the group was presented with a number of physical team challenges for team groups to solve to build bonding, and then we went to the high ropes course. We were really not sure how the group would respond, but it was amazing-even if you didn’t take the challenge of crossing a log 30 feet up, you could participate by serving on the belay team or cheering everyone else on. I finally broke down and participated in the swing, which draws you up about 30 feet in the air, and after you pull the cord, swoosh, you swing through the air numerous times. I am afraid of heights, but after everyone else on the Steering Committee AND my small group tried at least one thing, I felt obligated as a point of pride. Next year, I am planning to tackle the diagonal log climb. See the photos on the Flickr site, yikes!

On Day two, Dan Noonan from Ohio State presented on Strategies for Born Digital Resources. The constant mantra of dealing with electronic records is never let the perfect be the enemy of the good. In other works, do something, even if it is not perfect. Day 3 brought Sharon Leon (Director of Public Projects, Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and Media, George Mason) who oversees OMEKA and Scripto, focus on project management. Christopher Barth, from West Point, spoke on Strategic Visioning and Team Development. One of the best things about his presentation (in addition to the content) was his use of PollEv which enable the participants to text thoughts on various questions he asked, which were then displayed to everyone:

http://www.polleverywhere.com/polls/1018107-httppollevcom

Finally, Day five brought Kathleen Roe to speak about Archival Advocacy and Awareness. Kathleen is an SAA Fellow and has been an archivist with the New York State Archives for nearly 35 years. She is also the incoming president for the Society of American Archivists, and has been a leader in building awareness of and financial support for archives. The week ended with a special celebratory dinner, which included heartfelt stories from the participants as well as inside jokes concerning bacon, shoes, and trolls. The group will be meeting again at the annual meeting for the Society of American Archivists, being held in New Orleans 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 participate in continuing this important program.

FYI-as I was recently elected to ZSR’s Mentoring Committee, I thought I would share a couple of items from ALI 2012, where I presented specifically on mentoring. The first is an outline of my presentation and a bibliography on mentoring-if you have questions about either, please do not hesitate to let me know!

http://www.slis.wisc.edu/documents/zanish-belcher_text.pdf

http://www.slis.wisc.edu/documents/zanish-belcher_bib.pdf

 

 

Midwest Archives Conference (Indianapolis, Indiana)

Monday, April 22, 2013 12:35 pm

I recently returned from Indianapolis, where I attended the Midwest Archives Conference annual meeting. I have been a member of MAC for nearly 20 years, and have served in a number of offices, including chairing the Nominating Committee, Council member, Vice President, and most recently, as President (2009-2011). MAC is an interesting organization, for while it is technically a regional group, it does have a large national and international membership and also publishes its own journal, Archival Issues.

I still have ongoing service activities within MAC. As Past President, I serve on the President’s Award Committee, which recognizes organizations who make a significant contribution to the archival community. This year’s winner was the Earth Resources Observation and Science (EROS) Center (part of the U.S. Geological Survey), located near Sioux Falls, SD. One of their primary data collections is called Landsat, short for land satellite. Landsat’s global archive contains over 3.5 million individual images and these images are available for free to the public. I was also recently appointed as co-chair of the Education Committee. The Education Committee is responsible for the selection of workshops for the annual meeting, planning for the long term, and organizing a Speakers’ Bureau. The Bureau has potential implications for the national archives scene and as the idea was generated during strategic planning when I was MAC President, I feel obligated to assist in its development.

MAC normally has 300-350 attendees (Indy had 400!) at the annual meeting, and many of the members have known each other for years. The programs are always of high quality, and this year has proven to be no exception. The opening plenary was given by Film Professor and member of the Organization for Transformative Works, Francesca Coppa. She focused her remarks on fan works and culture, and the online creation of fan-based creations in a wide variety of formats, including fiction, artwork, film/video, textiles, wikis, and songs. There are all sorts of copyright and preservation issues, and the group recently created a new software, The Archive of Our Own, which enables the various groups to preserve and organize their own work. The most interesting part of the presentation was her discussion of tagging and the creation of folksonomies by “tag wranglers,” and how they use tagging to capture highly complex concepts.

I also attended As It Happens: Documenting Community Tragedies and Transformations, a session with representatives from the University of Northern Illinois, the Evangelical Lutheran Church, and my “home” state of Iowa’s Postville Collection. Each presentation described the issues involved with documenting sensitive events (i.e. campus shootings, religious changes, and a federal raid on a meatpacking plant) and how to sensitively document these events for the future. The real challenge, in addition to diplomatic skills, was the preserving of such a wide variety of formats, i.e. artifacts, oral histories, film, video, banners, memorials, and photographs.

Crowdsourcing Transcription was a popular session-the presenters focused on the technical and staff efforts to provide such an experience for the public. One of the first of such efforts was the New York Public Library’s What’s on the Menu project: http://menus.nypl.org. While crowdsourcing is an excellent way to connect with the public, the time, labor, and technical requirements involved make it extremely difficult to implement. Proactive Collecting was another interesting session, where speakers described assessing a regional or topical “information ecosystem” and how to integrate a variety of diverse sources in a variety of locations in order to provide a more holistic view of the past.

Two of the best sessions I attended were both on Saturday morning. Three graduate students at the University of Wisconsin-Madison described their project, Sounds of the Archives, where they produced podcasts using archival material. The other session focused on the many issues related to the preservation and storage of electronic records, and gave excellent advice as well as valuable resources. The resources included the Duke Data Accessioner (http://library.duke.edu/uarchives/about/tools/data-accessioner.html: for migrating information off disks prior to appraisal), Firefly SSN Finder (which searches for those pesky social security numbers which can lead to identity theft) and the Australia Digital Preservation Software Platform (http://sourceforge.net/projects/dpsp/) which offers a number of open source products for better management of electronic and born digital records.

All in all, this was a very productive meeting, and it will take me quite a while to fully assess everything I learned and how to utilize it here at Wake!


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