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June 7, 2011

You haven’t heard from me all spring because I’m retiring on June 15th and I have been spending most of my time winding down.  I’m trying hard to document the procedures I have put together over the years. I have to accept that there are still items hiding in the dark back there that I haven’t found or haven’t figured out.  Oh well, it won’t be fair to the next person if they didn’t have some mysteries, right?

It’s been fun sharing with you all and thanks again for all the great input you gave me when I was stuck on various problems.

Tracking down that answer.

January 28, 2011

It’s always interesting to try to pin down an answer to a question when you have incomplete information.

Example: You’re given names of three faculty members and asked when and what they taught. Hint: we think it was about 20 years ago.

Let’s see… We don’t have files by faculty names.

  • College catalogs have the faculty listed.
  • 20 years ago, let’s start with 1990 — nothing.
  • Check catalogs going back 10 years at a time.
  • Find one of the names in 1978. (20 years???)
  • With each name there is a date for the year they started. Great, now go forward every year until they are no longer listed, then you know when they left.

The dates I came up with were 1967-79; 1961-66 and 1958-1965. Next problem, what courses did they teach?

  • The courses are listed, but not the instructors.
  • Check to see if there are any other faculty files anywhere.
  • We have a some files described as “biographical information”.
  • Find 2 names out of the 3.
  • First has back type information only.
  • Second…I can tell you what he was paid, when he asked to be excused from attending commencement. What’s this, a letter from the registrar telling him what rooms he was assigned for one semester, with the courses listed.

Well it’s better than nothing!

Accessing digital images

January 25, 2011

Last Friday I was part of a panel at the Pioneer (public) Library System meeting. The purpose was to get the libraries interested/excited about providing digital content to their patrons.

Blanche Warner of the Naples Public Library told about a community funded project that digitized a local person’s love letters, sent home during the Civil War.  The project was outsourced. The search capability is good and the letters are a lot of fun to read. She also showed a clip of the local news doing a piece on the collection, great PR.

I talked about the things I wrote about in my last blog entry.

April Younglove and Debbie Emerson of the Rochester Regional Library Council (RRLC) talked about the FLAG Heritage project of putting local images on CONTENTdm. FLAG is in the process of merging with a similar New York State project, New York Heritage. They explained how the libraries could get involved and how much support they are able to give. (A lot)

It seemed like quite a few librarians were interested in pursuing some of these options. I hope they are able to follow through.

Thinking on updating

January 14, 2011

I am working on brainstorming two things at once.

  1. What to included when updating the current archives webpage to look more like the library webpage.
  2. Content for a presentation I’ll be doing next week of my use of digital images.

Luckily, both things seem to require much the same content. 🙂

For the presentation I have:

  • Providing research materials for faculty
  • Working with a class building a wiki with information on campus buildings
  • Cataloged images in the OPAC, with links to images in the holdings field
  • PR through the library blog
  • Images added to the RRLC CONTENTdm project, FLAG Heritage

Ideas for the near future:

  • Using an online site like to build timelines, campus buildings, college presidents, any other ideas?
  • Setting up Twitter and Facebook accounts to make more people aware of our collections. See: National Archives (@archivesnews) on Twitter
  • Setting up a Flickr account to post images and get feed back on who, when, what and where on photos that we are clueless, or almost clueless about. Similar to the Library of Congress project. Have any of you tried this? How did it go?

All suggestions gratefully accepted.

PDF/A solved

January 10, 2011

Sending out a big thank you to Leonard Rosenthol of Adobe. My email archiving problem was solved by installing the Preflight plug-in to Adobe 9. I wouldn’t doubt that I had to do this way back when, but my memory for such things…

It’s great to have a blog that is such a help to me with these problems. I’ve just discovered (from reading another blog) Quora, which is a new type of social networking to me.  You can put in a question, must be phrased as a question, and others can find it an give their answers. You can also give your answers.  I’m just getting the hang of it. I’ve put in personal questions, like about Newfoundland for trip planning and haven’t gotten much back yet.

I’ve just added the question: How are archivists using Quora? Let’s see what I find out. If you decide to try it, and haven’t before, why don’t you give me an answer, like, just exploring, perhaps. Might prove a good way for us to get linked up. 🙂

PDF/A revisited

January 6, 2011

Wonderful. We upgraded our computers to Adobe Acrobat 9 Pro! Now, of course, my procedure for archiving the Faculty and Staff lists no longer works. (See post of April 3, 2008–that’s how long I’ve been doing it)

I used to do it by printing to PDF where I could change to properties to PDF/A. Now the print job just hangs up.  If I make a PDF portafolio from the menu, I can’t make it PDF/A.  I’ve written to the Adobe Forum, and Adobe support.  I’ll let you know when (if) I figure it out.  As always, if you have figured it out, please let me know.

I’ve decided to take the WordPress challenged to write every week this year.  Wish me luck.

I was lucky enough to attended this workshop on archives security, sponsored by the New York State Archives.  The presenter was Mimi Bowling and it was an excellent program. The handout is also great and includes samples of suggested forms and a selected bibliography. “True stories” of thefts added a lot to the day.

Topics covered included hiring practices, security systems, researcher room layout, researcher registration and paperwork in general.  It is going to take a while to determine which of the solutions offered might be workable for our small archives.  I don’t envision getting the funding necessary to install laser beam motion detectors and round the clock video cameras.

It’s not my personal style to make people jump through too many hoops to get to the materials they need.  Too many years as a public librarian, I guess. But I think finding ways to have a tighter control are needed.

I’ll try to keep you up to date on the procedures we put in place, but in the mean time, if you get an opportunity to attend this workshop, I can recommend it highly.

Reevaluating archives

September 7, 2010

We’ve been talking about reorganizing the archives for close to a year now.  We had what we thought of as the Colleges’ archives is what has been called the “Geneva Collection”. This collection has anything and everything we have that pertains to the Colleges and/or the local area.  It includes published and unpublished materials and is divided into mss, programs, alumni, faculty, photo, and letters files, as well as books and items such as faculty meeting minutes that have been put in binders.

The reorganization was looking like it would take the form of separating published from unpublished, and organizing unpublished into records groups.  We had quite a lengthy discussion last Friday that led me to pose the question on Twitter, “When is an archives not an archives?”

To my knowledge (I’ve only been here 7 years) nothing has been deposited in the archives from any official office. eg: trustee minutes have been gathered when someone retired or left and sent all their files to us; faculty meeting minutes are those sent out before meeting to the archivist, as faculty member (no additions or corrections); commencement and convocation programs are here because the librarians have sent them down after attending an event.  Is this really an archives?

I posted this question to the regional library list at the same time that I posted it here.  I got quite 19 responses so I thought it would be worth sharing  some of those thoughts.

Question: should we retain or dispose of old newspapers that have be microfilmed and are acidic, and/or in bad condition?  And space is needed.
Summary of responses.

retain dispose
Academic 2 1
Historians 3 3
Hist. Soc 4 1
Genealogists 2 0
Public Lib 1 1
Conservator 1 0
Total 13 6


Reasons to retain
researchers prefer
loss of microfilm or reader
degradation of microfilm
intrinsic value
our mission is to keep things
better copy or photo from the original
irreversible decision
film may be missing issues
Reasons to dispose
you’ve maintained the intellectual content
Suggestions and thoughts
  • Keep a few important artifacts (Kennedy assassination, Pearl Harbor, 9/11, etc.)
  • Make sure there are films and masters
  • Are the originals being retained elsewhere?
  • Build an addition so you have room
  • Give to another institution or sell on E-Bay
  • Keep a sample to show the condition and thus why you disposed of them.
  • RRLC is embarking on:  digitizing old newspapers from the microfilm
  • Digital files are still considered unstable. Microfilm or fiche are still preferred from a preservation standpoint

Deteriorating newspapers

August 24, 2010

We are in the process of evaluating the space we have left for archives and special collections.  At this point we have shelves full of acidic newsprint in the form of old bound newspapers.  They have all been microfilmed and we don’t let anyone touch them because they are falling apart.

If you are in the same situation, are you committed to keeping them?  Why, or why not?  I know you’re out there. 🙂  As always, any help or ideas you can give.

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