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Challenges And Opportunities
 

Challenges And Opportunities

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This slideshow was created for a job talk given at Texas A&M University on Friday 21 August 2009.

This slideshow was created for a job talk given at Texas A&M University on Friday 21 August 2009.

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  • First, I&#x2019;d like to say thank you for inviting me to campus to speak with you today about the challenges and opportunities for the university archives over the course of the next decade. As a university archivist at a much smaller institution, the process of organizing my thoughts on this subject has been a useful and edifying experience. <br /> <br /> I began as the University Archivist at UT-Tyler in the fall of 2006 and I am - in the vernacular of the profession - a lone arranger, the sole professional archivist with responsibilities for managing the university archives. As such, I have been pondering, if somewhat in the abstract, about the myriad challenges and opportunities that face the university archives with a mixture of terror and exhilaration. Terror at the enormity of the task that faces me; exhilaration at the possibilities that are open to me. <br /> <br /> Looking toward the next decade, I see continued change associated with technological development, even as we face the challenges of the current economic downturn (which may continue to affect us for several years). In this presentation, I want to focus on some of the primary challenges that have faced the profession and the way in which a university archives might rise to meet them.
  • One of the challenges I&#x2019;ve always faced as a professional archivist has been the challenge of defining what I do to the outside world. This is referred to in our profession as the &#x201C;elevator conversation&#x201D; (how do we define what we do in a polite, 10-15 second exchange on an elevator). In my experience, this challenge has most often manifested itself in the salon chair. Archivists know what I&#x2019;m talking about...the question from the hairstylist, the initial answer (i&apos;m an archivist), the blank stare. And then I go on to explain... [click] usually followed by a specific, exalted example (are you familiar with the declaration of independence??) The latter usually gets a nod, though the degree of understanding that the nod indicates can vary quite widely. <br /> <br /> As I gathered my thoughts about the challenges that face the university archives, it occurred to me that the answer may lie in the answer to the elevator/hairdresser question, or more precisely, the barriers or obstacles I face in fulfillling this task. Or, even more precisely, [click] the major challenges to the modern archives are the barrier or obstacles that the archivist encounters in fulfilling the Society of American Archivists definition of that role (which is more complete and jargon laden than mine). Who here would like to try to explain the concept of "authenticity"?
  • One of the challenges I&#x2019;ve always faced as a professional archivist has been the challenge of defining what I do to the outside world. This is referred to in our profession as the &#x201C;elevator conversation&#x201D; (how do we define what we do in a polite, 10-15 second exchange on an elevator). In my experience, this challenge has most often manifested itself in the salon chair. Archivists know what I&#x2019;m talking about...the question from the hairstylist, the initial answer (i&apos;m an archivist), the blank stare. And then I go on to explain... [click] usually followed by a specific, exalted example (are you familiar with the declaration of independence??) The latter usually gets a nod, though the degree of understanding that the nod indicates can vary quite widely. <br /> <br /> As I gathered my thoughts about the challenges that face the university archives, it occurred to me that the answer may lie in the answer to the elevator/hairdresser question, or more precisely, the barriers or obstacles I face in fulfillling this task. Or, even more precisely, [click] the major challenges to the modern archives are the barrier or obstacles that the archivist encounters in fulfilling the Society of American Archivists definition of that role (which is more complete and jargon laden than mine). Who here would like to try to explain the concept of "authenticity"?
  • One of the challenges I&#x2019;ve always faced as a professional archivist has been the challenge of defining what I do to the outside world. This is referred to in our profession as the &#x201C;elevator conversation&#x201D; (how do we define what we do in a polite, 10-15 second exchange on an elevator). In my experience, this challenge has most often manifested itself in the salon chair. Archivists know what I&#x2019;m talking about...the question from the hairstylist, the initial answer (i&apos;m an archivist), the blank stare. And then I go on to explain... [click] usually followed by a specific, exalted example (are you familiar with the declaration of independence??) The latter usually gets a nod, though the degree of understanding that the nod indicates can vary quite widely. <br /> <br /> As I gathered my thoughts about the challenges that face the university archives, it occurred to me that the answer may lie in the answer to the elevator/hairdresser question, or more precisely, the barriers or obstacles I face in fulfillling this task. Or, even more precisely, [click] the major challenges to the modern archives are the barrier or obstacles that the archivist encounters in fulfilling the Society of American Archivists definition of that role (which is more complete and jargon laden than mine). Who here would like to try to explain the concept of "authenticity"?
  • One of the challenges I&#x2019;ve always faced as a professional archivist has been the challenge of defining what I do to the outside world. This is referred to in our profession as the &#x201C;elevator conversation&#x201D; (how do we define what we do in a polite, 10-15 second exchange on an elevator). In my experience, this challenge has most often manifested itself in the salon chair. Archivists know what I&#x2019;m talking about...the question from the hairstylist, the initial answer (i&apos;m an archivist), the blank stare. And then I go on to explain... [click] usually followed by a specific, exalted example (are you familiar with the declaration of independence??) The latter usually gets a nod, though the degree of understanding that the nod indicates can vary quite widely. <br /> <br /> As I gathered my thoughts about the challenges that face the university archives, it occurred to me that the answer may lie in the answer to the elevator/hairdresser question, or more precisely, the barriers or obstacles I face in fulfillling this task. Or, even more precisely, [click] the major challenges to the modern archives are the barrier or obstacles that the archivist encounters in fulfilling the Society of American Archivists definition of that role (which is more complete and jargon laden than mine). Who here would like to try to explain the concept of "authenticity"?
  • One of the challenges I&#x2019;ve always faced as a professional archivist has been the challenge of defining what I do to the outside world. This is referred to in our profession as the &#x201C;elevator conversation&#x201D; (how do we define what we do in a polite, 10-15 second exchange on an elevator). In my experience, this challenge has most often manifested itself in the salon chair. Archivists know what I&#x2019;m talking about...the question from the hairstylist, the initial answer (i&apos;m an archivist), the blank stare. And then I go on to explain... [click] usually followed by a specific, exalted example (are you familiar with the declaration of independence??) The latter usually gets a nod, though the degree of understanding that the nod indicates can vary quite widely. <br /> <br /> As I gathered my thoughts about the challenges that face the university archives, it occurred to me that the answer may lie in the answer to the elevator/hairdresser question, or more precisely, the barriers or obstacles I face in fulfillling this task. Or, even more precisely, [click] the major challenges to the modern archives are the barrier or obstacles that the archivist encounters in fulfilling the Society of American Archivists definition of that role (which is more complete and jargon laden than mine). Who here would like to try to explain the concept of "authenticity"?
  • Even so, the job description provides a useful place to start and I think the main challenges we face as archivists in the next decade can be divided into two categories:analog and digital. In the university environment, these challenges are also shot through with a duty toward pedagogy. [click] Our association with libraries and our role in the university environment provides us with the challenge/opportunity to educate and inform, to take part in information literacy efforts, reaching out to faculty, staff, and students. I&#x2019;m mainly going to discuss the analog and digital challenges that face us, but with an awareness that pedagogy may play a role in meeting the challenges of either or both.
  • Some of the main &#x201C;analog&#x201D; challenges are the same challenges that have plagued archives for years. Dealing with the backlog, providing access to hidden collections, understanding, defining, and connecting to our user community (a challenge with which many archives have struggled) and - of course - all of these challenges are exacerbated by the pervasive problem of dealing with limited resources, including scarcities of space, money, or time.
  • The &#x201C;digital&#x201D; challenges that we face may be even more complex. The university archives, like any institutional or governmental repository, is becomining ncreasingly inundated with what David Bearman calls, electronic evidence. This is the e-records problem which is the 800 pound gorilla in modern archival rooms. Last week I listened to Frank Boles, outgoing president of the Society of American Archivists plead with archivists to really think about this problem, because if we don&#x2019;t, if we don&#x2019;t make the effort to acquire and preserve these materials, some irretrievable pieces of our identity as a society could very well be lost. I don&#x2019;t have the answers to this problem, but I do know that as a member of the records managment community, it is incumbant upon me to at least try to contribute to the discussion. <br /> <br /> The second challenge that faces us are gaps in our expertise and training. On top of all the other challenges that we have always faced and wrestled with, archivists are now expected to be adept in various forms of XML (mostly EAD (Encoded Archival Description) and, to some extent, perhaps METS and MODS, in addition to MARC). We have a separate descriptive standard (DACS) but in a University Environment we should have some understanding of AACR2. Preservation extends to digital issues and we need to have a basic understanding of file formats and digital objects. And, in order to meet the needs of our increasingly diverse set of global users, who are accessing our records (hooray!) in more ways than ever, we need to be able to present these materials effectively and efficiently on the web, as well as figure out ways to deal with reference 24 hours a day. Librarians have been and continue to be leaders in innovation and our partners in these efforts, but the unique nature of archival materials requires unique solutions to archival challenges.
  • I think we can do it, though. Not to ring too clicheed a note, but I also think that the university campus is an optimal place to turn such challenges into opportunity. For the rest of my time, I want to talk about three interrelated opportunities that I believe have particular resonance within the scope of a university environment. I believe that these three opportunities will be essential building blocks in the archival institutions of the next decade.
  • The first opportunity is by far the broadest in scope and I cannot hope to cover all aspects of it here today. This is the opportunity for user engagement and (to some extent) facilitation of processing and collection development, presented by Web 2.0 in an archival context, OR what blogger and 2.0 advocate Kate Theimer refers to as Archives 2.0. <br /> <br /> Second, the opportunity to pursue collaborative digital so-called documentation strategies. <br /> <br /> Finally, we have the use of electronic systems for archival processessing, reference, and collection development. <br /> <br /> Taken together, each of these building blocks provides for or facilitates the archivists primary function (you know, the one that I have described to my hairdresser): to acquire, preserve, describe and make available archival materials. In some cases, they do more than my simple definitiion. In many ways, they may even help us address some of those challenges that we face.
  • The first opportunity is by far the broadest in scope and I cannot hope to cover all aspects of it here today. This is the opportunity for user engagement and (to some extent) facilitation of processing and collection development, presented by Web 2.0 in an archival context, OR what blogger and 2.0 advocate Kate Theimer refers to as Archives 2.0. <br /> <br /> Second, the opportunity to pursue collaborative digital so-called documentation strategies. <br /> <br /> Finally, we have the use of electronic systems for archival processessing, reference, and collection development. <br /> <br /> Taken together, each of these building blocks provides for or facilitates the archivists primary function (you know, the one that I have described to my hairdresser): to acquire, preserve, describe and make available archival materials. In some cases, they do more than my simple definitiion. In many ways, they may even help us address some of those challenges that we face.
  • The first opportunity is by far the broadest in scope and I cannot hope to cover all aspects of it here today. This is the opportunity for user engagement and (to some extent) facilitation of processing and collection development, presented by Web 2.0 in an archival context, OR what blogger and 2.0 advocate Kate Theimer refers to as Archives 2.0. <br /> <br /> Second, the opportunity to pursue collaborative digital so-called documentation strategies. <br /> <br /> Finally, we have the use of electronic systems for archival processessing, reference, and collection development. <br /> <br /> Taken together, each of these building blocks provides for or facilitates the archivists primary function (you know, the one that I have described to my hairdresser): to acquire, preserve, describe and make available archival materials. In some cases, they do more than my simple definitiion. In many ways, they may even help us address some of those challenges that we face.
  • The first opportunity is by far the broadest in scope and I cannot hope to cover all aspects of it here today. This is the opportunity for user engagement and (to some extent) facilitation of processing and collection development, presented by Web 2.0 in an archival context, OR what blogger and 2.0 advocate Kate Theimer refers to as Archives 2.0. <br /> <br /> Second, the opportunity to pursue collaborative digital so-called documentation strategies. <br /> <br /> Finally, we have the use of electronic systems for archival processessing, reference, and collection development. <br /> <br /> Taken together, each of these building blocks provides for or facilitates the archivists primary function (you know, the one that I have described to my hairdresser): to acquire, preserve, describe and make available archival materials. In some cases, they do more than my simple definitiion. In many ways, they may even help us address some of those challenges that we face.
  • The first opportunity is by far the broadest in scope and I cannot hope to cover all aspects of it here today. This is the opportunity for user engagement and (to some extent) facilitation of processing and collection development, presented by Web 2.0 in an archival context, OR what blogger and 2.0 advocate Kate Theimer refers to as Archives 2.0. <br /> <br /> Second, the opportunity to pursue collaborative digital so-called documentation strategies. <br /> <br /> Finally, we have the use of electronic systems for archival processessing, reference, and collection development. <br /> <br /> Taken together, each of these building blocks provides for or facilitates the archivists primary function (you know, the one that I have described to my hairdresser): to acquire, preserve, describe and make available archival materials. In some cases, they do more than my simple definitiion. In many ways, they may even help us address some of those challenges that we face.
  • ARchives 2.0 is, as noted by Kate Theimer on her wonderful ArchivesNext blog, is: open, transparent, user-centered, tech savvy, standardized, measurable, and iterative. It also creates archival value and is innovative, flexible, and open to new users. It is, states Mary Samoulien of the state library of north carolina, more a state of mind then a set of strategies or tools, yet Archives 2.0 speaks to how the tools of Web 2.0 might be exploited in an Archives 2.0 environment. In reference especially to users, the web 2.0 tools might be used in the following ways: [click] <br /> <br /> Blogs - a fantastic way to narrate what is happening in the archives. I just spoke to my staff (all 2 of them) about starting a blog that narrates our happenings. I just set one up to, at least once a week, comment on the history of the university. In addition, I&#x2019;ve invited both my student worker and my full-time assistant to post interesting things that they find in their processing work. They were receptive to this idea and excited by the opportunity to break up the sometimes dreary processing work. <br /> <br /> Wikis - While we do very little in the area of reference work in my library, Cory Nimer and Gordon Daines, in their Interactive Archivist site propose that archivists might use Wikis for reference work in much the same way as the reference librarians at Oregon State university, providing common answers to frequently asked questions, perhaps having users collaborate on the question/answer process. I have used Wikis for collection development and project management in my role as a librarian and I can see their potential for use as information literacy tools (which is an area in which the modern university archivist must be more involved). <br /> <br /> Photo sharing - At our university, we have a photographer who has been their for nearly a quarter of a century, almost as long as the university itself has been in existence. He has literally thousands of photos with no information more than the date on which the photo was taken. I can already anticipate using a Flickr-type product to invite the community of alumni to comment on this. In addition, this could become a way to solicit materials among alumni. I think this type of technology mihgt have have unique traction at a place like A&M where the alumni pride is so acute. <br /> <br /> Tagging and bookmarking: Another way to bring users into the experience as collections become available. In a presentation for an SAA session just last week on using 2.0 technologies in teh archives, Jessica Segewick, an archivist at Harvard Medical School, presented her research on how various users have engaged with digital objects, commenting on photos and information about collections on the web. Her presentation was entitled "Let me tell you about my grandpa" which reflected the number of time archival users found their relatives in the photos. I suspect A&M has the potential to be a significant hit with genealogical researchers who might be into using this type of technology. Tagging can create excitement from the most unexpected sources. Our cataloging librarian has found new life on footnote.com singlehandedly tagging over the course of the last few years over 90,000 items. This formerly mild-mannered, analog-focused, history librarian who works occasionally as a civil war reenactor, has become a 2.0 nut, recently upgrading her internet from dial-up so she could tag throughout the evening. Apparently she&apos;s famous among the footnote.com people, which just illustrates the power of this technology to enhance the user&apos;s experience with the records. <br /> <br /> Finally, social networking. A recent washingtonpost article noted that facebook is poised to corner the market on efriends, becoming the aggregator of choice. The university environment has had a unique imprint on the rise of this particular social networking tool and it makes sense for university environments to continue to cultivate users through this tool. Many information agencies are setting up facebook sites to communicate with their user communities, and I think that this could become another useful point of access for reference services (why not use all the tools at our disposal). Twittering, well, I haven&#x2019;t completely figured that out yet, but because the technology is essentially micro-blogging, it could probably work well with the blogging i have already described and certainly constitutes a fun form of outreach to a very tuned-in community of users. <br /> <br /> This is by no means an exhaustive list, meant more to wet the appetite with the possibilities of 2.0 utilities.
  • ARchives 2.0 is, as noted by Kate Theimer on her wonderful ArchivesNext blog, is: open, transparent, user-centered, tech savvy, standardized, measurable, and iterative. It also creates archival value and is innovative, flexible, and open to new users. It is, states Mary Samoulien of the state library of north carolina, more a state of mind then a set of strategies or tools, yet Archives 2.0 speaks to how the tools of Web 2.0 might be exploited in an Archives 2.0 environment. In reference especially to users, the web 2.0 tools might be used in the following ways: [click] <br /> <br /> Blogs - a fantastic way to narrate what is happening in the archives. I just spoke to my staff (all 2 of them) about starting a blog that narrates our happenings. I just set one up to, at least once a week, comment on the history of the university. In addition, I&#x2019;ve invited both my student worker and my full-time assistant to post interesting things that they find in their processing work. They were receptive to this idea and excited by the opportunity to break up the sometimes dreary processing work. <br /> <br /> Wikis - While we do very little in the area of reference work in my library, Cory Nimer and Gordon Daines, in their Interactive Archivist site propose that archivists might use Wikis for reference work in much the same way as the reference librarians at Oregon State university, providing common answers to frequently asked questions, perhaps having users collaborate on the question/answer process. I have used Wikis for collection development and project management in my role as a librarian and I can see their potential for use as information literacy tools (which is an area in which the modern university archivist must be more involved). <br /> <br /> Photo sharing - At our university, we have a photographer who has been their for nearly a quarter of a century, almost as long as the university itself has been in existence. He has literally thousands of photos with no information more than the date on which the photo was taken. I can already anticipate using a Flickr-type product to invite the community of alumni to comment on this. In addition, this could become a way to solicit materials among alumni. I think this type of technology mihgt have have unique traction at a place like A&M where the alumni pride is so acute. <br /> <br /> Tagging and bookmarking: Another way to bring users into the experience as collections become available. In a presentation for an SAA session just last week on using 2.0 technologies in teh archives, Jessica Segewick, an archivist at Harvard Medical School, presented her research on how various users have engaged with digital objects, commenting on photos and information about collections on the web. Her presentation was entitled "Let me tell you about my grandpa" which reflected the number of time archival users found their relatives in the photos. I suspect A&M has the potential to be a significant hit with genealogical researchers who might be into using this type of technology. Tagging can create excitement from the most unexpected sources. Our cataloging librarian has found new life on footnote.com singlehandedly tagging over the course of the last few years over 90,000 items. This formerly mild-mannered, analog-focused, history librarian who works occasionally as a civil war reenactor, has become a 2.0 nut, recently upgrading her internet from dial-up so she could tag throughout the evening. Apparently she&apos;s famous among the footnote.com people, which just illustrates the power of this technology to enhance the user&apos;s experience with the records. <br /> <br /> Finally, social networking. A recent washingtonpost article noted that facebook is poised to corner the market on efriends, becoming the aggregator of choice. The university environment has had a unique imprint on the rise of this particular social networking tool and it makes sense for university environments to continue to cultivate users through this tool. Many information agencies are setting up facebook sites to communicate with their user communities, and I think that this could become another useful point of access for reference services (why not use all the tools at our disposal). Twittering, well, I haven&#x2019;t completely figured that out yet, but because the technology is essentially micro-blogging, it could probably work well with the blogging i have already described and certainly constitutes a fun form of outreach to a very tuned-in community of users. <br /> <br /> This is by no means an exhaustive list, meant more to wet the appetite with the possibilities of 2.0 utilities.
  • ARchives 2.0 is, as noted by Kate Theimer on her wonderful ArchivesNext blog, is: open, transparent, user-centered, tech savvy, standardized, measurable, and iterative. It also creates archival value and is innovative, flexible, and open to new users. It is, states Mary Samoulien of the state library of north carolina, more a state of mind then a set of strategies or tools, yet Archives 2.0 speaks to how the tools of Web 2.0 might be exploited in an Archives 2.0 environment. In reference especially to users, the web 2.0 tools might be used in the following ways: [click] <br /> <br /> Blogs - a fantastic way to narrate what is happening in the archives. I just spoke to my staff (all 2 of them) about starting a blog that narrates our happenings. I just set one up to, at least once a week, comment on the history of the university. In addition, I&#x2019;ve invited both my student worker and my full-time assistant to post interesting things that they find in their processing work. They were receptive to this idea and excited by the opportunity to break up the sometimes dreary processing work. <br /> <br /> Wikis - While we do very little in the area of reference work in my library, Cory Nimer and Gordon Daines, in their Interactive Archivist site propose that archivists might use Wikis for reference work in much the same way as the reference librarians at Oregon State university, providing common answers to frequently asked questions, perhaps having users collaborate on the question/answer process. I have used Wikis for collection development and project management in my role as a librarian and I can see their potential for use as information literacy tools (which is an area in which the modern university archivist must be more involved). <br /> <br /> Photo sharing - At our university, we have a photographer who has been their for nearly a quarter of a century, almost as long as the university itself has been in existence. He has literally thousands of photos with no information more than the date on which the photo was taken. I can already anticipate using a Flickr-type product to invite the community of alumni to comment on this. In addition, this could become a way to solicit materials among alumni. I think this type of technology mihgt have have unique traction at a place like A&M where the alumni pride is so acute. <br /> <br /> Tagging and bookmarking: Another way to bring users into the experience as collections become available. In a presentation for an SAA session just last week on using 2.0 technologies in teh archives, Jessica Segewick, an archivist at Harvard Medical School, presented her research on how various users have engaged with digital objects, commenting on photos and information about collections on the web. Her presentation was entitled "Let me tell you about my grandpa" which reflected the number of time archival users found their relatives in the photos. I suspect A&M has the potential to be a significant hit with genealogical researchers who might be into using this type of technology. Tagging can create excitement from the most unexpected sources. Our cataloging librarian has found new life on footnote.com singlehandedly tagging over the course of the last few years over 90,000 items. This formerly mild-mannered, analog-focused, history librarian who works occasionally as a civil war reenactor, has become a 2.0 nut, recently upgrading her internet from dial-up so she could tag throughout the evening. Apparently she&apos;s famous among the footnote.com people, which just illustrates the power of this technology to enhance the user&apos;s experience with the records. <br /> <br /> Finally, social networking. A recent washingtonpost article noted that facebook is poised to corner the market on efriends, becoming the aggregator of choice. The university environment has had a unique imprint on the rise of this particular social networking tool and it makes sense for university environments to continue to cultivate users through this tool. Many information agencies are setting up facebook sites to communicate with their user communities, and I think that this could become another useful point of access for reference services (why not use all the tools at our disposal). Twittering, well, I haven&#x2019;t completely figured that out yet, but because the technology is essentially micro-blogging, it could probably work well with the blogging i have already described and certainly constitutes a fun form of outreach to a very tuned-in community of users. <br /> <br /> This is by no means an exhaustive list, meant more to wet the appetite with the possibilities of 2.0 utilities.
  • Another area of opportunity, somewhat related to the Archives 2.0 state of mind, is the idea of collaborative digital documentation strategies. Helen Willa Samuels articulated the documentation strategy as an approach to address collecting materials across a broad swath of society. While the documentation strategy as an appraisal method has struggled to gain purchase within the archival community (owing to failures in projects that sought to document life in Western NY and Millwaukee, both somewhat ill-defined), it seems to be making a comeback in the digital world. In last fall&apos;s issue of the American Archivist, Doris Malkmus asserted that "Documentatin strategy is well suited to help archivists take advantage of the interconnected world. By building relationships with communities of all kinds, documentation strategy projects can embed the archives in the ongoing life of these communities." When collections of particular interest to a repository already have homes, the documentation strategy applied to collaborative digital collections can make the host institution a clearinghouse and resource center to facilitate donation. With A&M&apos;s technical resources and outreach mission, a collaborative documentation strategy might be an ideal use of resources. <br /> <br /> Related efforts in which A&M is heavily involved and which might be mobilized in service to this strategy are the Texas Digital Library and or the Texas Archival Resources Online (or TARO), which if I understood what I heard last May in an SSA session, may be joining forces (or, more accurately, TARO would be folded in to TDL) if the funding works out. Exciting stuff.
  • Another area of opportunity, somewhat related to the Archives 2.0 state of mind, is the idea of collaborative digital documentation strategies. Helen Willa Samuels articulated the documentation strategy as an approach to address collecting materials across a broad swath of society. While the documentation strategy as an appraisal method has struggled to gain purchase within the archival community (owing to failures in projects that sought to document life in Western NY and Millwaukee, both somewhat ill-defined), it seems to be making a comeback in the digital world. In last fall&apos;s issue of the American Archivist, Doris Malkmus asserted that "Documentatin strategy is well suited to help archivists take advantage of the interconnected world. By building relationships with communities of all kinds, documentation strategy projects can embed the archives in the ongoing life of these communities." When collections of particular interest to a repository already have homes, the documentation strategy applied to collaborative digital collections can make the host institution a clearinghouse and resource center to facilitate donation. With A&M&apos;s technical resources and outreach mission, a collaborative documentation strategy might be an ideal use of resources. <br /> <br /> Related efforts in which A&M is heavily involved and which might be mobilized in service to this strategy are the Texas Digital Library and or the Texas Archival Resources Online (or TARO), which if I understood what I heard last May in an SSA session, may be joining forces (or, more accurately, TARO would be folded in to TDL) if the funding works out. Exciting stuff.
  • Another area of opportunity, somewhat related to the Archives 2.0 state of mind, is the idea of collaborative digital documentation strategies. Helen Willa Samuels articulated the documentation strategy as an approach to address collecting materials across a broad swath of society. While the documentation strategy as an appraisal method has struggled to gain purchase within the archival community (owing to failures in projects that sought to document life in Western NY and Millwaukee, both somewhat ill-defined), it seems to be making a comeback in the digital world. In last fall&apos;s issue of the American Archivist, Doris Malkmus asserted that "Documentatin strategy is well suited to help archivists take advantage of the interconnected world. By building relationships with communities of all kinds, documentation strategy projects can embed the archives in the ongoing life of these communities." When collections of particular interest to a repository already have homes, the documentation strategy applied to collaborative digital collections can make the host institution a clearinghouse and resource center to facilitate donation. With A&M&apos;s technical resources and outreach mission, a collaborative documentation strategy might be an ideal use of resources. <br /> <br /> Related efforts in which A&M is heavily involved and which might be mobilized in service to this strategy are the Texas Digital Library and or the Texas Archival Resources Online (or TARO), which if I understood what I heard last May in an SSA session, may be joining forces (or, more accurately, TARO would be folded in to TDL) if the funding works out. Exciting stuff.
  • Finally, as we seek to find more efficient ways to address our seemingly endless backlogs and aquisition priorities (especially in the university&apos;s role as an institiutional repository), we may find some relief in the new developments in electronic systems created for archival use. Tools such as the Archivists&apos; Tookit (AT) and Archon (which I learned at the AT Roundtable last week are joining into one) address this by helping establish intellectual control over our collections in a collection management system designed for archival use (instead of endless spreadsheets, homegrown databases that take time and expertise to build, or shoehorning information into systems made for library materials). <br /> <br /> These types of systems now allow us to produce EAD finding aids directly from input which, from a lone arrangers standpoint, may be one of the best features of all. I understand and am proficient in EAD coding, but I could theoretically spend all my time marking up finding aids. It can be a slow process and difficult to train paraprofessionals in its use. With a tool like AT, I can off-load some of that work to my processing assistant (with adequate training, of course) and become an editor of the materials, rather than sole creator. In any situation (large university or small like mine), we might reasonably expect that such tools will help significantly in reducing the backlog while getting the information (in the form of EAD-encoded finding aids) to our users in ways consistent with modern standards and best practices. <br /> <br /> One final area in which these systems may streamline processes is in the area of reference. Archivists at the Rockefeller Archive Center, for example, are working on a reference module for the ARchivists Toolkit that would facilitate the management of patron registration, reference inquiries, reading room scheduling, use tracking and duplication services. For those who don&apos;t want to wait for this module to get up and running and work out the bugs, there is Aeon, developed by Atlas systems, which is already in use at a handful of research libraries. I saw a beta version of this working at the University of Virginia last year while I was at the Rare Book School and the staff seemed very happy with the way it was working.
  • Finally, as we seek to find more efficient ways to address our seemingly endless backlogs and aquisition priorities (especially in the university&apos;s role as an institiutional repository), we may find some relief in the new developments in electronic systems created for archival use. Tools such as the Archivists&apos; Tookit (AT) and Archon (which I learned at the AT Roundtable last week are joining into one) address this by helping establish intellectual control over our collections in a collection management system designed for archival use (instead of endless spreadsheets, homegrown databases that take time and expertise to build, or shoehorning information into systems made for library materials). <br /> <br /> These types of systems now allow us to produce EAD finding aids directly from input which, from a lone arrangers standpoint, may be one of the best features of all. I understand and am proficient in EAD coding, but I could theoretically spend all my time marking up finding aids. It can be a slow process and difficult to train paraprofessionals in its use. With a tool like AT, I can off-load some of that work to my processing assistant (with adequate training, of course) and become an editor of the materials, rather than sole creator. In any situation (large university or small like mine), we might reasonably expect that such tools will help significantly in reducing the backlog while getting the information (in the form of EAD-encoded finding aids) to our users in ways consistent with modern standards and best practices. <br /> <br /> One final area in which these systems may streamline processes is in the area of reference. Archivists at the Rockefeller Archive Center, for example, are working on a reference module for the ARchivists Toolkit that would facilitate the management of patron registration, reference inquiries, reading room scheduling, use tracking and duplication services. For those who don&apos;t want to wait for this module to get up and running and work out the bugs, there is Aeon, developed by Atlas systems, which is already in use at a handful of research libraries. I saw a beta version of this working at the University of Virginia last year while I was at the Rare Book School and the staff seemed very happy with the way it was working.
  • Finally, as we seek to find more efficient ways to address our seemingly endless backlogs and aquisition priorities (especially in the university&apos;s role as an institiutional repository), we may find some relief in the new developments in electronic systems created for archival use. Tools such as the Archivists&apos; Tookit (AT) and Archon (which I learned at the AT Roundtable last week are joining into one) address this by helping establish intellectual control over our collections in a collection management system designed for archival use (instead of endless spreadsheets, homegrown databases that take time and expertise to build, or shoehorning information into systems made for library materials). <br /> <br /> These types of systems now allow us to produce EAD finding aids directly from input which, from a lone arrangers standpoint, may be one of the best features of all. I understand and am proficient in EAD coding, but I could theoretically spend all my time marking up finding aids. It can be a slow process and difficult to train paraprofessionals in its use. With a tool like AT, I can off-load some of that work to my processing assistant (with adequate training, of course) and become an editor of the materials, rather than sole creator. In any situation (large university or small like mine), we might reasonably expect that such tools will help significantly in reducing the backlog while getting the information (in the form of EAD-encoded finding aids) to our users in ways consistent with modern standards and best practices. <br /> <br /> One final area in which these systems may streamline processes is in the area of reference. Archivists at the Rockefeller Archive Center, for example, are working on a reference module for the ARchivists Toolkit that would facilitate the management of patron registration, reference inquiries, reading room scheduling, use tracking and duplication services. For those who don&apos;t want to wait for this module to get up and running and work out the bugs, there is Aeon, developed by Atlas systems, which is already in use at a handful of research libraries. I saw a beta version of this working at the University of Virginia last year while I was at the Rare Book School and the staff seemed very happy with the way it was working.
  • I believe that each of these components have a special role to play in the development of the university archives over the next decade, all three are strategies oriented toward praxis, though I think that Archives 2.0 has the potential to inform theory as well. These elements of practice are quickly becoming part of the archivists&apos; daily bread and will, I believe, help us reach out to all of our constituencies as we seek to preserve our past well into the future. Thank you.
  • I believe that each of these components have a special role to play in the development of the university archives over the next decade, all three are strategies oriented toward praxis, though I think that Archives 2.0 has the potential to inform theory as well. These elements of practice are quickly becoming part of the archivists&apos; daily bread and will, I believe, help us reach out to all of our constituencies as we seek to preserve our past well into the future. Thank you.
  • I believe that each of these components have a special role to play in the development of the university archives over the next decade, all three are strategies oriented toward praxis, though I think that Archives 2.0 has the potential to inform theory as well. These elements of practice are quickly becoming part of the archivists&apos; daily bread and will, I believe, help us reach out to all of our constituencies as we seek to preserve our past well into the future. Thank you.
  • I believe that each of these components have a special role to play in the development of the university archives over the next decade, all three are strategies oriented toward praxis, though I think that Archives 2.0 has the potential to inform theory as well. These elements of practice are quickly becoming part of the archivists&apos; daily bread and will, I believe, help us reach out to all of our constituencies as we seek to preserve our past well into the future. Thank you.
  • I believe that each of these components have a special role to play in the development of the university archives over the next decade, all three are strategies oriented toward praxis, though I think that Archives 2.0 has the potential to inform theory as well. These elements of practice are quickly becoming part of the archivists&apos; daily bread and will, I believe, help us reach out to all of our constituencies as we seek to preserve our past well into the future. Thank you.

Challenges And Opportunities Challenges And Opportunities Presentation Transcript

  • Archives 2020: Challenges to and Opportunities for the University Archives Déirdre Joyce University Archivist and Special Collections Librarian The University of Texas at Tyler Tyler, Texas
  • a tricky definition? “So...what do you do?”
  • a tricky definition? “So...what do you do?” Acquire, preserve, describe and make available unique and enduring materials.
  • a tricky definition? An individual responsible for appraising, acquiring, arranging, describing, preserving, and providing access to records of enduring value, according to the principles of provenance, original order, and collective control to protect the materials’ authenticity and context. **SAA Glossary of Archival and Records Terminology. http://www.archivists.org/glossary/term_details.asp?DefinitionKey=293
  • challenges Analog Digital
  • challenges Pedagogy Analog Digital
  • Analog Challenges Backlog Access to hidden collections Connecting to users Limited resources, i.e.: space money time
  • Digital Challenges Electronic evidence Expertise/Training Global users
  • challenges opportunities
  • opportunities
  • opportunities Archives 2.0
  • opportunities Archives Collaborative digital 2.0 “documentation strategies”
  • opportunities Archives 2.0
  • opportunities Archives 2.0
  • opportunities Archives 2.0
  • opportunities Blogs Archives Wikis 2.0 Photo sharing Tagging and bookmarking Social networking
  • opportunities
  • opportunities Collaborative digital “documentation strategies”
  • opportunities Digitized collaborative collections with similar collecting interests Collaborative digital “documentation Texas Digital Library (TDL) strategies” Texas Archival Resources Online (TARO)
  • opportunities
  • opportunities Electronic systems for archival processes
  • opportunities Electronic systems for archival processes Establish intellectual control Produce EAD finding aids. Reference modules
  • opportunities
  • opportunities Archives 2.0
  • opportunities Archives Collaborative digital 2.0 “documentation strategies”
  • opportunities Archives 2.0
  • Thank You.