Doing Digital Archives in Public Manifesto

The following manifesto was created for the Society of American Archivists Archives Records 2016 conference session 307 “Doing Digital Archives in Public” by Wendy Hagenmaier, Jaime Mears, Jessica Meyerson and Eric Milenkiewicz.

manifesto

Do you have thoughts or comments about doing digital archives in public? Tweet about it with the hashtag #archivesinpublic !

DOWNLOAD THE PDF HERE—->      archivesinpublic.manifesto

Co-Hosting a Datathon at the Library of Congress and what I do now

In early Mary, I finished my NDSR residency project with the Memory Lab and began work at the Library of Congress with the National Digital Initiatives division. I was here before, in 2012, where I did two internship stints in the ISSN Division and Manuscript Division, learning cataloging and archival processing. My time here was what convinced me to get my Library degree.

 

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Buckle up.

It’s different now. The responsibilities are greater, but the impact is as well, and everything seems fat with possibility in a brand spankin’ new division, with a brand spankin’ new lady boss on the way.

One of the first things I got to do in this new position was help host a hackathon called Archives Unleashed 2.0 having (1) never hosted anything at the LoC before and having (2) never been involved in a hackathon. I also got to meet Vint Cerf, but hey, NBD.

You can check out this storify about the event and adjoining Save the Web symposium.

If you’re interested in doing one, check out my post on The Signal, “Co-hosting a Datathon at the Library of Congress”.

What’s next for this nascent?

I think it will be rare, going forward, to have the same, thematically focused posts I’ve had in the past just by the nature of my fellowship ending. I’ve been learning a lot about the digital humanities this past month in preparation for a symposium at the Library of Congress (stay tuned), so I’ll probably be posting on that. I’m also still very interested in personal archiving and continue to follow its development, so that’ll be sprinkled in here as well. Also- as I’m sure you’re aware- the world’s been particularly insane lately, and I’ve been just as preoccupied with topics like racism, sexism, ageism, professionalism, and self-care, to name a few. It seems inevitable that these topics may make their way in  to what I know has been before a strictly professional blog. I will do my best to work out a category and tagging system that will help you navigate around the hodge-podge to what you came here for in the first place.

NDSR Capstone Event

The NDSR Capstone Event was held at the Library of Congress on June 1st, 2016- marking the end of the residency year. The following is the resident reflection I gave-

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Hi everyone, and thanks for coming and supporting our cohort today. Thank you to IMLS and the Library of Congress for this residency opportunity.

My name is Jaime Mears and I’m just one of the 5 amazingly talented and employable residents worked with a DC host institution this year on a digital preservation project. I’ve been asked to give a brief resident reflection to give you some insight as to what this year has been like from our side.

7,720 miles.This is how far we traveled collectively to DC for this opportunity. (I only contributed about 2 miles to this number. Pretty sure Valerie coming from Eagle River, Alaska made a lot of this possible). It’s a little over the distance from here to Nairobi, and I think it’s important to remember that in these miles we left family, friends, partners, even job offers. Why?

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Perhaps we wanted to solve a problem for a prestigious institution, or create a body of work to call our own. I know Nicole has mentioned she wanted the luxury of time to do a digital preservation project without the competing priorities of multiple jobs or coursework.

I can say with confidence that we all wanted to DO. Not study, not listen to a lecture, but to physically tackle this mysterious, amorphous, slightly intimidating thing called digital preservation.

So the question I had as I thought about this residency reflection is- were we successful at doing? What does that look like?

To answer this question, I found the slides from our panel presentation at the Mid Atlantic Regional Archive Conference this spring. In one part of the presentation, we each had listed the educational and professional skills and experience we had brought with us to NDSR, and what we’ve learned this year. I compiled our lists pre and post NDSR into a word cloud generator to see what’s changed after a year of DOING, or at least- how we talk about it.

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Here we have what we listed as Before NDSR – experience or education in different types of management, customer service, instruction, research, theory, preservation, data.

Now let’s look at what we gained during NDSR.

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Management is still the biggest reported skill gained. But surprisingly,  ‘Preservation’ as a term is actually missing from our residency word cloud, as are metadata, copyright, repository, or any of those buzzwords from Library school curriculum that appears before NDSR. We dealt with them this year, for sure, heck, we audited, implemented, or educated people about all of these terms- but they’ve been rendered invisible by the processes and tools it takes to deal with them.

I think what you’re seeing here is that DOING preservation has been translated into a succession of actions- planning, design, outreach, testing, budgeting, requests, blogging, workflows, software, systems, programs, etc.

Lastly I see an awareness of our context as working professionals- we’re using words like national, glam, public, and Washington’s favorite adjective ‘federal’- to describe the scope of ourselves, our peers, our audience.

So how did this play out daily? Well, no shocker here, I’ll use my own project as an example to illustrate some of these terms. I worked with the DC Public Library system to educate staff and DC community members about personal archiving – be it physical or digital- and created free resources, replicate classes, and a public facing transfer lab that is now called the Memory Lab. Another important aspect of my project was to serve as a national model for other public library systems facing this issue.

DESIGN. Design really began with the zine, which was a collaboration with a special collections librarian who had illustrated one the year before. How do you design something to make it fun? Accessible? Sustainable? User-friendly? This zine was an attempt at an answer.

 

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For one, you have to appeal to the nostalgia of another time to get people interested. So we chose an 80s theme, a decade rife with magnetic media and DIVO.

You can’t use the word metadata, and you also can’t be too specific in your recommendations because it might not exist next year.

This is the Memory Lab website I built using the library’s libguides platform. This was not a part of the originally scope of the project, but it soon became apparent we need a public facing site to centralize lab directions, preservation best practices and resources, and information on how to build a transfer station was necessary for the project’s success.  I dedicated more hours to this guide than installing the lab equipment. Way more. I learned that design is limited by what you have to use and takes an unbelievable amount of time.

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But good design can take something scary- such as wiring an a/v rack – and turn it into something inviting, something playful. The framing is essential to provoke its use.

OUTREACH. I learned that outreach is really difficult if your audience is ‘the public’. I needed to pinpoint specific audiences, and hold fun, accessible events with partners who could help me reach new community members. For example, I partnered with the National Museum of African American History and Culture and playbackthetape to do a Home Movie Day to reach cinephiles and SW community members with film.

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I partnered with the Hamiltonian Gallery on U street and fellow resident Nicole Contaxis to connect artists with local preservationists.

I also had to reach DCPL librarians, so I worked within an established incentive within the DC government system- yearly professional development smart goals- to teach staff about personal archiving so that they could in turn begin programming at their own branches.

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TESTING. Testing things- equipment, software, workflows- then watching users in the space was by far the most satisfying and frustrating aspect of this new type of doing. We started with this- a glass cubicle in the back corner of our digital commons lab.

Resident Reflection (5)

I could see this as a graduate school exercise- you’ve got this footprint in the main branch of a public library. What would you design to help people with personal archiving? Write a report. Go!

But what happens when you actually have to do it looks more like this – 12 feet of table space lined with the obsolete equipment, micro failure after micro failure, scavenging list servs, calling friends for help, having your co-workers donate their home movies and mix tapes to you.

Resident Reflection (6)

Then the space opens, and things come to light with people in the space that you could never have imagined. Like the fact that some people find it easier to follow paper instructions, that the air canister for cleaning slides runs out really quickly, that people want everything to go FASTER. Great things happen too.

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This is Alex. He and his siblings are digitizing negatives and photos of a father they can’t remember who traveled around the world.  There was also the former New Yorkian with the Yiddish pirate radio broadcast, or a father who has amazing hip hop videos his daughter did in the 90s. 

I want to end this reflection on another word that appeared only during this experience- COHORT. Because you don’t do digital preservation alone. You need peers to teach you and challenge you, to get pizza or other things when the going gets rough. So I just want to say THANK YOU to Nicole, John, Jessica, and Valerie.  And to the national NDSR cohort for cross-promoting our work, answering our questions, and to Morgan and Julia, who both came to our symposium.

Slide19

And just as the word ‘preservation’ was rendered invisible by its ubiquitous,there’s another seemingly invisible yet critical component to our group’s success- our mentors.

Thank you all for your guidance and support, your trust in our ability, and for continuing to be a part of our professional networks as we enter this new phase of our careers.

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NDSR DC 2016 Symposium

We held a symposium called “Digital Frenemies: Closing the Gap in Born-Digital and Made-Digital Curation” on May 5th, 2016. For full audio recordings, you can visit our website. For the storify, visit https://storify.com/ncontaxis/ndsr-symposium-2016

8:30 – 9:30 Registration

9:30 – 10:00 Welcome & Opening Remarks, George Coulbourne, Library of Congress and Betsy L. Humphreys, National Library of Medicine

George Coulbourne is Chief, Internships and Fellowships, in the office of National and International Outreach, at the Library of Congress, in Washington, D.C.  Mr. Coulbourne was a co-founder of the pilot NDSR program in Washington, DC and currently leads the third iteration of the Library of Congress/IMLS National Digital Stewardship Residency Program and serves as a NDSR advisory board member for the American Association of Public Broadcasting and the newly awarded NDSR Philadelphia Museum of Art and ARLIS North America NDSR programs. He was co-founder of the Library’s nationwide Digital Preservation Education and Outreach initiative and serves as the agency lead for the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities Internship Program.

As deputy director of NLM, Betsy L. Humphreys shares responsibility with the director for overall program development, program evaluation, policy formulation, direction, and coordination of all Library activities. Ms. Humphreys also coordinates the Unified Medical Language System (UMLS) project, which produces knowledge sources to support advanced retrieval and integration of information from disparate electronic information sources, and NLM’s activities related to health data standards. She contributes to the development of NIH and HHS policy on a range of matters, including health information technology, public access to research results, clinical trial registration and results reporting.

10:00-10:50 “The Walking Dead,” Jason Scott, Internet Archive/Archive Team

Click to download and open slides from Jason Scott’s “The Walking Dead”

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Currently, Jason Scott is the curator of the Software collection at the Internet Archive. In 2009, Jason Scott formed the Archive Team, now coined as a “loose collective of rogue archivists, programmers, writers and loudmouths dedicated to saving our digital heritage.”  Leading the Archive Team, Scott provides technical expertise as the creator of emulation software JSMESS. Scott is also a filmmaker, historian, and a celebrated force of unyielding digital archiving outreach and advocacy

10:50-11:15 Break

11:15-12:00  National Digital Stewardship Resident Lightning Rounds: Jessica Tieman (GPO), Nicole Contaxis (NLM), John Caldwell (U.S. Senate Historical Office) Valerie Collins (American Institute of Architects), Jaime Mears (DC Public Library)

Click to download and open slides from the NDSR Resident Cohort Presentations

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Jessica Tieman, U.S. Government Publishing Office

Jessica conducted an internal audit to prepare GPO for external ISO 16363 certification of GPO’s Federal Digital System as a Trustworthy Digital Repository.

Nicole Contaxis, National Library of Medicine

Nicole created a pilot workflow for the curation, preservation, and presentation of a historically valuable software product, developed by the National Library of Medicine (NLM), which is deemed to be historically noteworthy due to its usage by a user community and/or its distinctive technical properties that are at risk of being lost due to obsolescence.

John Caldwell, U.S. Senate Historical Office

John studied and assessed current Senate workflows in appraisal, management, ingest, description and transfer of Senate committee digital assets into the Congressional Records Instance of the National Archives’ Electronic Records Archive, and Senators’ digital assets into academic and institutional repositories, benchmarking current policies against best practices.

Valerie Collins, American Institute of Architects

Valerie co-led testing and implementation of an institutional digital repository system at the American Institute of Architects to preserve the AIA’s born-digital records that represent its intellectual capital and/or have permanent value for the history of the architectural profession.

Jaime Mears, District of Columbia Public Library

Jamie created a sustainable, public-focused lab, tools, and instruction for building public knowledge and skills around the complex and paralyzing problems of personal digital recordkeeping.

12:00-1:15 Lunch on Own

1:15-2:05 “The Rise of Data Publishing in the Digital World  (and how Dataverse and DataTags help)”, Mercè Crosas, Chief Data Science and Technology Officer, IQSS at Harvard University

Click to download and open slides from Dr. Mercè Crosas’ “The Rise of Data Publishing in the Digital World  (and how Dataverse and DataTags help)”

Dr. Mercè Crosas is the Chief Data Science and Technology Officer at the Institute for Quantitative Social Science (IQSS) at Harvard University. She has more than 10 years of experience leading the Dataverse project, an open-source repository framework for sharing and archiving research data, and more than 15 years of experience building data management and analysis systems in industry and academia. She is part of numerous committees and collaborations focus on research data management, as well as on data standards and research best practices. More recently, together with Dr. Sweeney, she leads the DataTags project for sharing sensitive data. Crosas holds a Ph.D. in Astrophysics and a B.S. in Physics. More at http://mercecrosas.com.

2:10-3:00 “Breaking Down Barriers: Creating a Mobile Digitization Service,” Caroline Catchpole, Culture in Transit

Click to download and open slides from Caroline Catchpole’s “Breaking Down Barriers: Creating a Mobile Digitization Service”

Caroline Catchpole is the METRO Mobile Digitization Specialist for Culture in Transit, a project funded by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. The project aims to bring mobile scanning equipment to smaller libraries, archives, museums, and the communities they serve. The outreach-centered digitization model aims to democratize and diversify NYC’s historical record. Before joining METRO, she served as Archivist in a major project at the Natural History Museum in London, to digitize the correspondence and assorted manuscripts of nineteenth century naturalist, Alfred Russel Wallace and place the digitized content online. Caroline has worked in the archives and library sector for 10 years with a special focus on the digitization of cultural heritage material and increasing access to archives since 2009.

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3:00-3:20 Break

3:20-4:00 Panel: All Presenters, Moderator: Julia Kim, ’15 NY NDSR & Folklife Specialist (Digital Assets Management) at Library of Congress

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4:15 Adjourn

 

Class: Digital Estate Planning

The Case

The user group most in need of personal digital archiving resources at the moment are retirees as they plan for end of life. Many that I’ve spoken with only include physical objects in their estate plans, and the idea that they must also think about their ‘digital estate’ is alarming.

You might think that retirees don’t have many digital assets, but according to a 2015 article in The Wall Street Journal called “How Technology Will Transform Retirement”,  those 55 and up were the highest percentage of mobile smart phone app users (although they tend to use the smallest variety of apps).

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From my experience teaching digital estate programs this year, retirees are most interested in the future of the photos on their phone, their email, personal computer, and Facebook. What differs from other age groups is the greater concern for privacy and the wish to delete these assets so that they do not linger after death. As one attendee told me, the idea of a memorial Facebook profile was “creepy.”

In summary, this is an important program for public libraries to run, and to encourage librarians to do so, I’ve put together a packet that includes slides, a review of one of my programs, examples of how they’ve been marketed, and class handouts.

The Class

I taught this class 5 times in the District this year – 4 at library branches and once at a senior center.

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Capital Hill Village Senior Center Ad for my class.

The majority of the resources for this class come from John Romano and Evan Carroll’s fantastic website thedigitalbeyond.com . I can’t rep this resource enough. It aggregates resources and news related to digital estate planning under archival, cultural, technical, and legal themes. Some of my favorite resources include:

90 minute class outline:

  • Begin by making a case for digital estate planning. I discussed this from the perspective of an archivist, but you could also take a legacy or privacy angle in this intro.
  • Review the current legal landscape with the introduction of the FADAA, and emphasize that at this point in time (in DC) nothing about the future of your digital assets can be taken for granted and it really comes down to communicating with loved ones and writing explicit directions in a will.
  • Define a digital asset vs. a digital account, emphasizing that assets are yours but accounts can be trickier due to Terms of Service agreements
  • Review the digital asset management checklist
  • Discuss how to help facilitate the transfer of digital assets and accounts using three examples: Facebook, personal computer, smart phone
  • Review sample statements provided by Romano and Carroll (who are both attorneys) that could be used in a will
  • Discuss available resources
  • Have a 20 minute Q and A

Tips from teaching these classes:

  • Emphasize at the beginning and end of class that you are not a lawyer and are not giving legal advice. You are sharing resources created by attorneys.
  • Demoing how to change the legacy settings of a Facebook profile is very popular
  • Working on the inventory together is a great activity to gauge how well people are understanding what digital assets and accounts are
  • Encourage retirees and their loved ones to take the class together and discuss the check list with each other
  • Assume that tech knowledge will be varied
  • Connect with a local senior center or retirement group to come to the class or go to them

Class Materials

 

Interested in personal archiving programming? Check out my workshop lesson on Personal Archiving with Facebook!

Week 47: Wiring Diagrams

Back when I was researching about how to build a transfer lab for magnetic media, I didn’t find much documentation on how to actually set-up a rack. You know- where the chords go and stuff.

This documentation has also been heavily requested by staff members at my library who are assisting customers in the lab and troubleshooting.

I used the online graphic design platform Canva  and Issuu to make a book of them. For more information about our Memory Lab, go to the wiki.