This meeting of the Mid-Michigan Digital Practitioners (MMDP) lived up to and exceeded the previous ones, as the meetings are in the habit of doing. This one was particularly excellent in that there were many talks and a lot of very rousing discussion.
For your convenience and later reference, the full schedule is available here, through the MSU Archives & Historical Collections site for the group.
I just wanted to give a brief recap of the majority of the meeting and any impressions or thoughts I had on my experience in attending. If you are interested in learning more about any of these and the other portions from the agenda, the materials from the meeting are now available online here.
Unfortunately, I was unable to attend the new workshop that they held on the 26th. If anyone reading was able to attend, please leave your impressions or experience in the comments! I’m sure we would all like to hear about them.
These are quick (about 5 minute) explanations, summaries or updates on various topics. These are fairly popular, I think because of the concise nature of the presentations, and the variety of subjects that can be covered during this portion of the meeting. There was a lot of great information here but for the sake of space (and your eyeballs), I am going to try to just put the main points for each one.
Recovery and Reuse of Legacy Digitization Data – Brian Wilson, The Henry Ford
This presentation was about repurposing previously digitized materials and the lessons and pitfalls that result from such an endeavor. Two of the lessons that I found most impactful were that: 1. Old data can be repurposed, and 2. Accessing that data again can lead to other data that can in turn be used.
Digital materials at a Small Institution – Megan O’Neill Kudzia, Albion College
This presentation focused on the presenter’s team and their experiences in trying to get a viable and efficient workflow using Islandora. One aspect that they have been struggling with is working with multiple software and metadata (apparently Islandora and DSpace don’t speak the same XML?). To this end, she has even undertaken some minor software engineering!
Digital Holland, Michigan Project – Geoff Reynolds, The Joint Archives of Holland
This discussion covered the Mellon sponsored project to create a Google site which serves as a space for Holland, MI related collections in an inactive and accessible form. It looks really neat! The website has collection and historical info and then there is a Google map with the historical sites on it, which is interactive. I am providing the link to this here for those interested.
Legacy Finding Aid Import into ArchivesSpace – Dallas Pillen, Bentley Historical Library
This talk focused on the Bentley’s efforts to migrate their finding aids to ArchiveSpace. Dallas offered an interesting perspective as he was not migrating from Archivists’ Toolkit or Archon. If you’d like to hear about his testing of the migration in depth, then come or tune in to our colloquium! Dallas will be giving a longer presentation on the subject then.
MSU Special Collections Migration to ArchivesSpace – Nicole Smeltekop, MSU Libraries
Nicole also spoke about migrating to ArchivesSpace except that she was working on migrating data that was in an Archon system. However, the system was so customized that the normal migrations would not work. This actually turned out to be an epic journey story, full of ups and downs and amazing plot twists.
New Detroit Video Collection– Nathan Kelber, Detroit Historical Society
Apparently when the city went under, they called the Detroit Historical Society and said (paraphrasing) “Hello, yes, we have 2000 tapes of video over here. Kindly come retrieve them or they shall be destroyed.” So they did and now have something akin to 7500 hours of video on various media that they need to ingest. They are currently assembling a work station for the project.
Working with obsolete digital media: the case of the Robert Altman collection– Anthea Josias, University of Michigan Library
This presentation was an introduction to a project on working with almost-obsolete media, which in this case is made of up many types of floppies, Kodak discs, hard drives, and other types of media. One important aspect was the questions of policy that this project has brought to light (procedures for each type of media, storage, appraisal, policies for short and long-term preservation, etc.). Currently the project is working on developing their imaging workstation, and developing and testing workflows.
Preservica at GVSU – Annie Benefiel, Grand Valley State University
I was looking forward to this presentation because I have been attending a few webinars about Preservica. GVSU decided to switch to Preservica from CONTENTdm because of the preservation aspects and also because their CONTENTdm got full and (as happens with increasing frequency, it seems) the price jump to the next space level was too large. The aspect that I found the most interesting was that Preservica has actually helped to develop new workflows for their unique content. I have heard mostly good things about Preservica but I did not realize the extent to which institutions could receive personalized service.
Preservation Self-Assessment Program and Other Tools – Ryan Edge, MSU Libraries
This presentation began with the question of “Where do we begin to prioritize preservation?” It described a system built of top-down, modular profiling of an institutions, which results in a prioritized list of preservation treatments after the assessment. Basically, they can assess collections or items and give them scores. These scores come with stats that can be taken to administrators, for example, to show how tangible changes can affect collection health. I had never heard of anything like this, so I found it fascinating and it sounded immensely useful.
I’m sure you can tell from the program on the website, but there were quite a few posters this time around. I think this is the first time they have done a formal poster session, although I did bring a poster on behalf of the Archive to the last meeting. One thing I feel I should mention is that a few of the posters were actually from students! So, if you are relatively local and looking for a place to showcase your work, keep your eyes on this meeting. The poster session was quite lively and engaging so I think it’s a good venue.
These three talks consisted of updates from the host institution on various events or projects of theirs.
Update on ArchivesSpace-Archivematica-DSpace Workflow Integration project
This presentation was particularly interesting to me because I work with Archivematica at one of my jobs and am looking forward to updates on this project in the future. Essentially, the Bentley Historical Library has earned a grant to develop an end-to-end born digital archival workflow. They want to streamline what they can currently do and do more in Archivematica so as to lessen jumping between systems. I was practically salivating when he described the new “Arrangement and Appraisal” tab they would like to have developed in Archivematica’s dashboard.
Implementing Aeon special collections software at the Bentley Historical Library
The Bentley has recently switched to Aeon as their “circulation and workflow automation software”. What that really does is get rid of paper and a host of other ridiculously amazing and drool-worthy things. For example, researchers can make requests online now if they want (they can still drop-in, too, of course though). The system stores request history so that patrons can select requests to repeat – like ordering your usual at Dominos! And, just like Dominos, you can track the status of your request online, too. Perhaps some might be offended by the comparison, but to me, this is amazing. It is good that the traditional paradigm of archivist and researchers face-to-face is still there; that’s very important. But I think it is also important to stay current and the enhancements that this system offers do just that. I think it’s a great way to make archival collections more accessible and better serve patrons’ needs. Not to mention the system is already providing amazing data that will help with collection development, justification, and a host of other concerns. I was blown away (the data, the data!), and I think others must have been intrigued as well because a large portion of the Q&A session was taken up by questions on this talk, some positive, others wary (the data, the data! And privacy, for example).
Web Archives 2015: Capture, Curate, Analyze (upcoming symposium at the University of Michigan)
This last formal talk was about the new conference that is coming up on web archives in November. The site for the conference can be accessed here. Proposals are due in May, by the way, so if this is something that would interest you or reflects your work, do consider submitting! Additionally, I learned a new phrase through this talk “vis hub”. They are places with high powered computers with huge monitors used to visualize data in real time and interactively. You can learn more about those here.
Birds of a Feather sessions
Once again the meeting held their “Birds of a Feather” sessions, wherein everyone rotates to different topic tables, discuss for 20 minutes per rotation, and at the end, the leader of each table reports what was discussed. These are fun because generally at each table there is a good mix of people: “experienced and would like to discuss/share”, “know some but would like to ask advice/commiserate”, and “know little to nothing but am eager to learn/curious”. I generally fall into the last category so this part of the meeting is particularly advantageous for me. The mix allows for incredibly diverse and interesting discussion to take place. I will give some brief notes on the three sessions that I attended.
ArchivesSpace (Dallas Pillen)
My group for this session consisted of many people who were looking to use ArchivesSpace but were not sure of when to jump on the boat. Ed Busch, who is on the Technical Advisory Board for ArchivesSpace, gave great insights and insider tips. Apparently there is a development schedule coming out soon and a major release in the Fall.
Online Digital Collections (Geoff Reynolds)
In this session Mr. Reynolds described to us more in-depth a few insights about his work with Digital Holland. I was impressed in particular by the amount of creative work the students contributing to the project had completed; many of them are actually English-major students and the project involves a lot of investigation and writing. As a group, we also discussed/commiserated about methods for allowing access to video content online (one of the pitfalls being there is just too much and a lot of the video content is sitting somewhere because of lack of storage/space).
Digital Materials at a Small Institution (Megan O’Neill Kudzia)
We discussed a few things at this session, but in particular, it was interesting to learn why some institutions go with one preservation/DAM system over others. Megan O’Neill Kudzia (the topic facilitator) also discussed her experience with her institution choosing Islandora. One particular experience that we discussed, which I think many of us can relate to is having things get bottlenecked because of much there is to do versus how many people there are to do it. One insight that she had was that it may be better to just come to terms with those sorts of limitations and accept, for example, that it might just take a little longer than preferable to make progress.
Wrap-up and What’s Next
The next meeting will most likely be at Albion (I think it was?), but the date has not been settled yet. However, it is like to be around August, last I heard. So, keep your eyes and ears open for news on that!
Images courtesy Bentley Historical Library