Long overdue round-up from around the Web

I’ve got a big backlog of things for a “round-up” post, so this will be both long and brief at the same time.

    • Previous “Best Archives on the Web” award winner, “A View to Hugh” has launched a new feature–a series of essays commissioned to accompany the regular blog posts about the work of Hugh Morton. Another innovative approach from the smart people at UNC-Chapel Hill.
    • The New York Times has a nice story about Carl Malamud’s crowd-supported digitization of NARA’s videos (which I covered here). Nice to see his efforts getting more recognition!
    • The Brooklyn Museum is taking a different approach to releasing descriptive information on the Web–open it all up, without review but provide a rating of how accurate it is. Read the whole story for yourself, it’s a great idea. (And yes, they’ve been allowing visitors to add comments to the catalog descriptions for quite a while now too.)
    • Following up on his post of a few months ago (“Tragedy of the (Flickr) Commons?“), Roy Tennant is eating his words in a new short post, “Mea Culpa: The Flickr Commons Lives.”
    • Speaking of Flickr, the images from the Documerica collection that the National Archives has posted on Flickr is getting a lot of well-deserved attention, most notably from wired.com in “The ’70s Photos That Made Us Want to Save Earth.”
    • In case you missed it on the listservs, the Denver Public Library has set up a Flickr group to share images of photographs that were stolen by James Lyman Brubaker and recovered by the FBI but have yet to find their true homes. See the group and learn more at: http://www.flickr.com/photos/dplwesternhistory/sets/72157623286262023/.
    • The EAC-CPF schemas have been released. If you don’t understand why that’s important, do some reading up here.
    • You can now register for the Association of Canadian Archivists’ annual meeting, to be held June 9 – 12 in Halifax, Nova Scotia, where I’ll be teaching a day-long workshop on (what else?) the use of Web 2.0 tools by archives. Hope I won’t be the only American attending!
    • The Jewish Women’s Archive has launched a groovy new tool, “On the Map,” a user-generated map documenting the physical landmarks of Jewish women’s history.

I’m sure I have more, but that seems like a long enough post for now. If you really want to keep up, you might want to subscribe to my Twitter feed. As I say in my little Twitter bio, I follow over 500 people so you don’t have to!

Archivists as activists?

Tomorrow is Earth Day and also the Presidential primary election here in the commonwealth of Pennsylvania. It seemed like a good time to discuss how comfortable people feel about archivists taking on the role of activists. I think any regular reader of this blog knows that I’m not only comfortable with that idea, I think it’s a very necessary one. Back in February I wrote a post about it, but it didn’t get much comment at the time. I was surprised and pleased to get this comment on the post a few days ago:

“I’m a fairly new reader to your blog – I appreciate your energy and efforts. I’ve come back to this post because, having just returned from a gathering of historians who also call themselves activists – the Historians Against the War (HAW) conference, held in Atlanta April 11-13 – I wanted to support your assertions about the importance of advocacy and activism among archivists. Also, I believe advocacy within the profession is not only important for leaders, but for all or any of us who care about the environment, health care, the impact of war, academic freedom, funding – etc. “

Thanks, Lauren. To prepare for writing this post, I read Rand Jimerson’s article, “Archives for All: Professional Responsibility and Social Justice” in the latest issue of American Archivist.

Continue reading “Archivists as activists?”

Some rounding up and following up

I’ve got a virtual stack of things to follow up on, so here, in no particular order, are some things you might want to take a look at:

  • I recently found out about two archives blogs that take a historical/chronological approach. If you haven’t seen them, check out the Abner Jackson Journal blog and the Mary Comes to the College of William and Mary blog.
  • You might also enjoy the Scottish Screen Archive which, in very 2.0 fashion allows you to:
    • Find details of titles available to view, hire or buy
    • Watch 1,000 clips online
    • Save lists of your favourite films and clips
    • Make enquiries online
    • Find other films of possible interest to you, based on your topic.
  • With little fanfare (or did I just I miss the fanfare?), the National Archives seems have launched a 2.0ish online feature, its Digital Vaults. Expect a full review from me here or elsewhere in the future, but does anyone have any inside information to share on this?
  • The American Historical Association’s Archives Wiki is now up to 160 entries. If you haven’t already, please consider adding a page for your institution. Note there is now more information in the Contributor Guidelines to help you fill in the blanks.
  • People interested in archives and the environment should take a look at Terry Baxter’s article, “Records and Sustainability” on page 12 of the latest issue of The Records Manager, the newsletter of the SAA Records Management Roundtable.
  • I’ve raised the topic of different generational attitudes here before, mostly in regard to technology and archives, but if you’d like an interesting analysis of how different generations view candidates Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, take a look at this post on what looks to be a worthwhile blog on generational issues in the workplace.
  • I think I do want to know who the Movers and Shakers in archival profession are, so, yes, we’re having another contest. If you’re all sugared up on Peeps and rarin’ to go, click on the “Movers and Shakers Nominations” tab at the top right of this page and take a look at what’s required. Start nominating now! I’m not doing this just for my personal curiosity. I think this is also the kind of information that could be used to do some advocacy and outreach about the archival profession. Maybe an article in a non-archives journal?
  • And look out for a Very Special bonus post later this afternoon!

Connecting with issues

If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you have probably figured out that one of the issues I care about is protecting the environment. I consider it a moral obligation for all of us to do everything we can, in every aspect of our lives, to protect what is left of our natural world. There is a lot of information out there on what steps we can take in our daily lives (bring those SAA tote bags to the grocery store!), but I’m also interested in what we can do in our professional lives.

I’m looking for suggestions of other issues that touch us both as citizens of the world and also have implications for our professional lives as well. Access to health care is another possibility–what’s the state of access to health care within our profession, but also perhaps, do we have access to materials in our collections to contribute to public awareness about health care issues?

Again, I’ve got a bias, but I think one sign of leadership, in a person or a profession, is to make a contribution to something bigger than one’s own personal or professional goals. If we, as individual archivists and as a profession, took on such a challenge, what issues do you think should be at the top of our list?

Share your thoughts on giveaways and History Day

We’ll return to the subject of the AHA wiki after it’s been up for a while. In the meantime, here are two chances to share your wisdom with the archival profession.

I heard a rumor that the Host Committee for this year’s SAA Annual Meeting in San Francisco wanted to have as “green” a meeting as possible, and so were re-considering the conference giveaways. For example, giving something else away instead of the traditional tote bag. Personally, I don’t mind not getting another bag. I have a lot of old ones–which I use every time I go the grocery store. The ones from the 2002 meeting in Birmingham and the 2006 meeting in DC are the best for this. I couldn’t live without them. (Thanks, Iron Mountain!)

But, what would you really like to get instead? I definitely don’t want another portfolio. What would be in keeping with the green theme? I’d like a re-usable water bottle. How about you? It’s got to be something the sponsor can put their logo on and get some visibility. Any other thoughts about how to reduce the impact of our meeting?

And, another survey to pass along. This one is sponsored by SAA’s Reference, Access and Outreach Committee. The goal is to “explore the various ways that archivists and other related professionals participate in National History Day.” The survey site is:

It will be open through Friday, March 14.

Doing good for archives by doing good for the planet?

This morning I was re-reading the special issue of Vanity Fair devoted to Africa and guest edited by Bono. Some of the ideas in that issue started to bounce off the issues related to potential donors choosing to sell their archives (see the recent New Yorker article about the Ransom Center and the article in yesterday’s New York Times about Frank Gehry’s plans for his personal archives). These ideas seemed to fall naturally in place with some of the concerns raised about the need to raise the public profile of archives and perhaps do some more effective marketing of our value to society. Quite an odd mix, isn’t it?

But, what if we started to find ways to use our collections and expertise to support environmental activism? What would this mean? I don’t know–finding collections that document changes in the environment, that show historical means of conserving natural resources–I’m sure you’re all much more creative than I am, and you know your collections. It might sound kind of flaky, but think about this as a way to show the relevance of archival collections (and archivists) to today’s problems–not as dusty artifacts stuck in the past. It’s good PR, brings new visibility, might offer new sources of funding, and might just be good for the planet. And I think it’s a cause most archivists would want to contribute to on a personal basis as well. I’m not seeing a downside.

How would we get this off the ground? Look for who’s doing this already, of course. I suspect that some college and university archives may have already partnered with some of their environmental studies departments or supported individual student projects–is this true? Or how about state and local archives that may have seen their records used by environmental groups? Any ideas there? An affiliation with a national or regional archival association would be a good idea (I’m looking at you, MARAC. Want to prove that you’re “nimbler” than SAA? Want to step up and provide an example?) Seeking out the expertise of environmental experts would be a good first step. They can tell us what kinds of information would be most helpful to them, and we can figure out where it is.

Then, we share–this is what has been done, this is what you can do and how you can do it, this is who you want to talk to. Put a how-to-kit together. Call the reporters. You know the drill. I think the SAA student chapters would get on the bandwagon and have great ideas. We could even make this a theme for Archives Month in a year or two.

I’m kind of excited about this idea. What do you think?