Tag Archives: Archives

Final Entry

Well, it’s been a long semester, and I didn’t get as many entries in this research journal as I originally planned. But the research journal process has been interesting. It helped me gather my thoughts and know what I had to do next in the process of the research project. I can see that this tool will be useful in the development of future projects. In the mean time, I have developed a research proposal for a case study at an archive. I want to see what it would take to digitize successfully the audio/visual contents of an archive and to study how it would work. Going forward I can use the experience writing this paper when looking for grants and other funding in my professional career.


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Working hard…

I am struggling a little with this research proposal, but I carry on. There seems to be a limited amount available on digitization of negatives as a means of preservation. I will continue to research the area, and perhaps branch out a bit. The first draft is started on my work, and I am hoping to complete it this week, so that I can get some feedback.

I am currently planning to look at what standards are available for the preservation of negatives. Is it considered best to freeze negatives for example, or are acid free containers good enough by archival standards. There seems to be some argument on the matter. Regardless, digitization is a complex issue. It is surrounded by benefits of being able to access information at a distance, but there is the ever present argument that it is too expensive, and the continuing rapid evolution of technology makes formats unstable. Additionally, there are concerns about server stability. How much backup is enough? Should it be backed up to 2 or 3 places. Certainly the more copies that exist in different places, the less likely to lose all of your data. The digital age is one that we are all having to ease into for fear of both moving too fast, and being left behind and becoming irrelevant.

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Woops! Look how long it’s been.

I’ve let time get away from me with the semester, but I’m getting back on track now and updating my research blog. There will be a main post in the next day or so. But back to research for now…

My research project for 705 will consist of developing a project for a small, publicly funded archive that has recently acquired a collection of films. The collection spans a wide range of time, and many of the films in question are of the silver nitrate variety. The archive in question has not collected films in the past, but the nature of the film collection meets the new mission of the archive. As such, they do not currently have the facility to store volatile films such as silver nitrate on site. Currently the collection is being housed at another institution too far from the archive to make regular access to the collection feasible. The archivist has been tasked with researching the best option for storage (whether on-site, or at a local off-site facility) and being work on writing for grants to fund the project of moving the collection and funding the housing for the collection. Additionally, the collection was acquired with the intention of digitizing the contents, so the archivist will method that will be used to digitize the collection, by researching the current options available.

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I’m still struggling to come to terms with a specific topic for this research proposal, which is not good for me, because there are portions of this project that will be coming due soon. Nevertheless I carry on. I am now leaning more towards a project regarding the digitization of photographs, negatives and films. This coincides with another interest of mine currently, namely, how to preserve the images on all of my negatives (yes, I had a 110 camera when I was small and a 35 mm camera later before digital became widely available). Even frozen, negatives will eventually break down, and the actual photographs will fade and color change as well. While I start a personal project, looking for the most cost effective way to digitize these items, while capturing the best image possible, I could cross my personal research into this project, looking at digitization options and practices in archives with regards to film. I plan to research the literature on this in the next day or so, looking at articles, and will post again soon.

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Welcome to my new J705 research journal

Here you will find all of my research journal entries for the J705 research journal I am keeping this semester. I am currently considering a topic regarding digitization practices in archives and how those practices impact the business of archival science. I am a little concerned about my topic, because I am unsure how to gather all of the data that I want without a survey, and I’m not sure that I will have time to do a survey during the semester. I may have to narrow my topic down. I am going to start some preliminary research through journal searching and see what is available. I will post back once I have located some appropriate journal articles.

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Welcome to the Public Domain

We’re back to copyright today, because a new year welcomes a new group of people to the public domain. Works of authors who passed away in the year 1940 enter the public domain in many, but not all countries.

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Don’t forget to #followanarchive

Tomorrow 11/12/10 is Follow an Archive day, and information can be found on twitter by searching for #followanarchive or at the Follow an Archive Blog.

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Libraries, Archives, QR Codes and Microsoft Tag

QR Codes like the one above are becoming more and more common. (This code was created using a free generator produced by the ZXing Project.) They appear on documents, posters, blogs, websites and other forms of advertisements. The prevalence will only increase in the future, because QR code generators are rampant on the Internet. A Google search of the phrase “QR Code Generator” on 11/6/2010 returns over 12 million results, and a Bing search for the same phrase returns 102 thousand results. (Note: these numbers were accurate at 12:15 a.m. on 11/6/10 future searches may return different numbers). Anyone can use a QR code generator to hold business card, appointment, website and text information to name only a few functions. Denso Wave created the QR code in 1994, although mainstream use is much more recent.

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Wow, that was a struggle.

I struggled my way through my first critical book review today. Despite knowing that this was meant to be a critical evaluation of the book from the perspective of an archivist, my brain kept heading back to “book report.” It was difficult to stay in the mindset of a criticism of another author’s work, and how that work related to my chosen field. Despite the struggle, I think the final document ended up well, and I hope I do well on it grade wise. Perhaps the biggest part of my difficulty was that the instructor asked specific questions to be used in the evaluation of the book, however several of them didn’t apply to this book due to the way it was written. I know what some of you are thinking, but the book was actually picked from a list of options that she provided on the syllabus, so it’s not my fault. All in all, I think I did O.K. I guess I’ll find out when I get my grade.

For those interested in the book I was evaluating, it was The Passport: The History of Man’s Most Traveled Document by Martin Lloyd. If anyone is interested in the history of the passport, it was an engaging book about the evolution of the document, and how it has developed over time. I recommend it. If you’re interested, I may post the review here on my blog at some point. I don’t want to post it just yet, as it hasn’t been graded yet, and because I don’t want there to be any concern with plagiarism issues. Not that I plagiarized anyone when writing the document you understand, but I’d hate to have to prove to my instructor that my blog is really my blog and not someone else’s. So for now at least, you don’t get to read my review. Look for it later, when the instructor has had a chance to grade it.

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DigiClass Journal 1

Digital image collections are a significant part of the future of any library or information science organization, and I have come to believe, archives in particular. This is part of the reason for taking a course on design and management of digital collections. Recently, in my Intro to Archives course, we watched a video of Rick Prelinger’s lecture, “Are the archives doomed?” In watching that lecture, Prelinger posits that the future of archives is in providing access to the information that they hold (Prelinger, 2006).¬† One of the best ways that archives will be able to provide access is through digital collections. In addition, throughout SAA’s annual conference this year, there were sessions regarding the Archivist’s Toolkit and Encoded Archival Description, evidence that the profession is looking at the future of digitization. Economic struggles as with the current recession and travel difficulties often make traveling to distant archives untenable. Digitization will allow distance access for those users who cannot travel to the archive.

Digitization will also be an excellent method of preserving older documents for posterity. Although preservation techniques continue to advance, the nature of paper documents is such that eventually, despite all preservation efforts, documents will become unreadable, or even simply fall apart. Through digitization of collections, these documents can be preserved as they originally looked, long after they have crumbled to dust and been lost. Additionally, archives and special collections will continue to see ever increasing numbers of born digital records which must be preserved. These records, like their paper counterparts, need to be retained, some for a limited time for legal reasons, others as part of a long-term permanent collection. As the records were born digital, they will need to be maintained in digital form.

Unfortunately, archives, like all institutions developing digital collections will face problems. Funding issues will make purchasing the necessary equipment for digitization difficult. Compounding the problem of funding difficulties is the ever-changing nature of technology. At the outside, new hardware technology will be obsolete within only a few years, sometimes even a matter of months; meaning that archives will often have to rely on older technology to complete digitization projects. Software changes rapidly as well, and with no industry standard for file types and constantly evolving software, it is likely that file formats used today will not be compatible with software in the future. Storage space will be a continuing issue for archives, as digitizing high quality images can use large amounts of space, but digitizing at lower quality could compromise information, and make conversion to new file types more difficult.

Frustrating as these problems are, it is, and will continue to be, important for archives to digitize collections. The recession and financial concerns keep scholars from traveling long distances to access collections for research. The age of the Internet has set expectations for fast access to information, this expectation of fast access will continue to grow not diminish. Without online access to collections, archives will be left behind. But we have to ask important questions about digitization. With limited resources how do we decide which projects should be digitized? Do we digitize strictly based on popularity of specific collections or on which collections are in the poorest physical condition? How do we handle the problems of ever-changing technology? When collections are not yet in the public domain, how should digitization and access to digitized records be handled? How do we justify large expenditures for equipment that will need to be replaced in only a few years? As archivists and records keepers, these are questions which will have to be answered as we go forward with the process of digitization and which I hope to answer as I continue through this course.


Prelinger, R. “Are the Archives Doomed?”. University of Pittsburgh. Pittsburgh, PA. 26 Jan. 2006. Retrieved from http://mediasite.cidde.pitt.edu/mediasite/Viewer/?peid=effed7f4aecc4448b1eb10a90916f48b

Are the Archives Doomed. (2006). . Pittsburgh, PA. Retrieved from http://mediasite.cidde.pitt.edu/mediasite/Viewer/?peid=effed7f4aecc4448b1eb10a90916f48b

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