Presenting a Poster at the AIC 2017 Conference

This year’s theme for the AIC Annual Conference was Treatment 2017: Innovation in Conservation and Collection Care. Julia and I were excited to present our work that culminated in the creation of the Preservation Report. The report allows our institution to better document preservation decisions and workflows.  Although we represented an archive and its unique documentation challenges, we felt strongly that the theory and principals at play in our report would benefit the larger conservation community. It is critical that we create and use a form that is readable and useable long-term and we knew that feedback from outside our organization was key. Continue reading

Virtual Vault: making access to digitized records easier

This month, we launched a system called Virtual Vault, which allows us to deliver digitized content to any user within the RAC network. It’s a temporary solution that we hope will help us better understand responsible access to digital archival records. Our thinking around this solution is motivated by one central question: given the limitations of copyright and donor agreement restrictions, what is the most and best access we can provide? Continue reading

Shades of Similarity at Open Repositories

I attended my first Open Repositories conference in Brisbane, Australia two weeks ago. And while the RAC is still fairly new to the repository world and ecosystem, I picked up on a few trends that I think span across systems, institutions, and disciplines. Most of the attendees at the conference were coming from university library settings, but those institutions seemed to struggle with the same things we, as archivists, do: managing and maintaining a large infrastructure made of many systems, eliminating silos of information, and how to adapt to changing researcher or user needs. Sound familiar? If you said the above concerns made you think about what we’re trying to solve here with Project Electron, kudos to you. The entire conference I kept thinking about how it felt like almost everyone was trying to deal with the same issues we were, and in largely the same manners. Continue reading

D-Team Introduction

I am happy to introduce myself as the newest member of the RAC’s D-Team! I’ve joined the RAC thanks to the generous support of the Ford Foundation to work on Project Electron, and to help facilitate the transfer of digital records from our donor organizations. My work will have a specific emphasis on usability and user-centered design, a core value of Project Electron.  Continue reading

Project Electron June Update

This month we’re excited to announce the release of the first version of a specification for transferring digital records to the RAC over a network connection. In line with our project value of supporting archival practices and standards, we’ve built many parts of this specification on existing standards and frameworks such as BagIt, BagIt Profiles, Activity Streams, and OAIS. We believe this approach will make the products we come up with more easily reproducible at other institutions, which is another one of our project values. Continue reading

Workshop Review from AIC 2017

In May, Marissa Vassari and I presented a poster at the 2017 Annual Meeting of The American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works (AIC) in Chicago. Check back soon for a posting about our poster experience.

In this post, I wanted to discuss why I flew out to the AIC annual conference early in order to attend a workshop on digital file structure entitled “Examining the Composition and Structure of Digital Collection Objects: Strategies and Guidance for Ongoing Management and Preservation.” Although this workshop may have stood out as an oddity against a schedule full of photograph conservation, collections care, and environmental monitoring lectures, this workshop helped inform how I am thinking about my larger role in preservation at the RAC. Continue reading

RAC goes to Princeton!

Back in January, archivists from the Princeton University Manuscripts Division visited the Rockefeller Archive Center to discuss digital processing with members of the RAC Processing Team. To continue this conversation, a few staff members from the RAC went on a field trip to Princeton on June 8th. The group consisted of staff from various departments including members of the Processing, Collections Management, and Digital Teams. Continue reading

Principled Action: Asserting Archival Principles to Reduce the RAC Backlog

Several years ago RAC faced a dilemma familiar to many in our profession – a daunting processing backlog that was growing exponentially and depriving scholar’s and staff of access to many of the records held in our collections. Our collections are great resources of knowledge, but only if those resources are available to our users!

To find a solution, we actively sought processing practices that reflect our values as an operating foundation, specifically the values of collaborating and sharing knowledge, disseminating information, promoting discovery in all its forms, and facilitating open and equitable access to all our archival holdings. Over the last year and a half, we shifted our strategy to processing by accession and implemented a standards-based approach which has been a resounding success thus far and has resulted in the processing and opening for research of over 4,500 cubic feet of records. This discussion will be the first in a series of posts about our processes and collaborations. I hope our experiences may be valuable and helpful to others. Continue reading

Project Electron May Update

Our major news for this month is that, after evaluating a number of existing solutions against our requirements for archival storage, we have decided to use Fedora as the repository solution for Project Electron. Although there were other systems that met many of our requirements – DSpace for example – in the end we felt that Fedora was the closest match for our needs both in terms of feature coverage and scope. It does what we want it to do without requiring us to support a lot of extra functionality or complexity. Continue reading