Tara Z. Laver and Chris Burns 2014-02-11 10:59:41
Observant attendees at the CoSA/SAA Joint Annual Meeting in New Orleans last August may have spotted some participants sporting Mardi Gras beads adorned with a frog pendant. These weren’t giveaways for competing in some Louisiana swamp people food challenge; rather, they were hard-won badges of honor for those who participated in the Manuscript Repositories Section’s Jump In project, an initiative to encourage archivists to take the first steps in caring for electronic records. The response to the project was so positive that we have decided to organize a second round of the initiative. If you thought about participating in the previous round but the timing wasn’t right, now is your chance to make good on your best intentions. Read on for additional details about how you can participate. The Jump In project came out of the section steering committee’s decision in 2011 to focus on electronic records issues. At the 2012 section meeting in San Diego, our program featured a series of lightning talks followed by a breakout discussion group centered on how the section could help repositories to begin work in this area. Fortuitously, OCLC Research’s Senior Program Officer Ricky Erway was just releasing her report, “You’ve Got to Walk Before You Can Run: First Steps for Managing Born-Digital Content Received on Physical Media.” Her work provided further impetus and a blueprint for the Jump In initiative, which launched in November 2012. The Jump In initiative invited archivists to use Erway’s report as a guide to survey collections in their repositories for computer media and to submit a short report about their results. Those taking part had the chance to win free tuition for a oneday SAA Digital Archives Specialist (DAS) course, one of three publications from the SAA Bookstore, or the opportunity to share their survey results on a panel at the 2013 Manuscript Repositories Section meeting.Our goal for this project is to encourage institutions to tackle these big questions by taking one step at a time and to build a community of archivists who face similar challenges. This initiative supplements the existing tools, workshops, discussion forums, and efforts from other SAA component groups to assist in dealing with digital content by giving archivists an incentive and forum for addressing these important challenges. Round One Results When the project was initially rolled out last year, we weren’t sure how it would be received. We sensed that many institutions needed and wanted to get started, and we hoped that our initiative would give some of them reason to do so. Twenty-three repositories ultimately participated, including colleges and universities of all sizes and types, religious and corporate archives, a presidential library, and an archives at a private K–12 school. Their survey results are available at http://www2.archivists.org/ groups/manuscript-repositories-section/ jump-in-initiative-2013-results. As a culmination of the year’s activities, five of the Jump In participants—Ashley Todd-Diaz (Emporia State University), Krystal Thomas (Florida State), Tim Binkley (Southern Methodist University, Perkins School of Theology), Gloria Gonzales (University of California, Los Angeles), and Pamela Nye (Westminster Schools)— presented an informative, interactive, and well-attended session moderated by Erway at the section meeting in New Orleans.Anne Thomason (Earlham College) was the winner of the free workshop registration; and Emporia, Northwestern University, and Texas A&M University all received a recent publication generously donated by SAA. The first round of Jump In encouraged institutions to take their first steps and, in some cases, begin to build a digital archives program. Participants noted that the idea of having a “buddy system” made taking these first steps more manageable. The participating repositories identified more than 4,573 pieces of media, including floppy discs of all sizes, zip drives, flash drives, hard drives, EZ drives, jaz drives, servers, Cds and DVDs, laser discs, mini digital audio and video cassettes, and magnetic tape with a storage capacity of more than 20 terabytes.2 Many reported that much of what they found was commercial Cds and DVDs, including recovery discs, software, and “packages” or published material, as well as blank discs. Participants employed a variety of methods to conduct their survey. Some worked in teams of staff and students; others delegated the task to graduate assistants, while lone arrangers undertook the task on their own. A few chose to use existing accession description, finding aids, and catalog records to identify collections containing digital media. Several participants noted that they gained a greater overall knowledge of their repository’s holdings. The survey also provided concrete numbers for storage and hardware needs, giving them greater authority and credibility when developing plans with their IT departments and resource allocators.Further, some participants found a surprising lack of born-digital materials, giving them the basis for bringing the issue of electronic records to the attention of their administration. Besides adjustments in collecting, others noted the experience made them more aware of the need to work very intentionally with donors and educated them on how records creators were storing, managing, and deleting files. They also concluded that they need to rethink their accessioning and processing procedures to account better for digital media. Most also reported a lack of equipment to access files and noted their next steps were to acquire a clean computer and write blocker to work further with the files they had identified. Jump In, Too/Two The process for the second iteration of the initiative—Jump In, Too/Two—is much the same as the first. Pledging to participate and then submitting your survey and a short report about your experience will get you entered into a raffle to win tuition to a oneday DAS course, provided again with SAA’s generous support. Selected contributors also will be invited to present their experiences in a lightning-round panel at the section’s business meeting at the 2014 Annual Meeting in Washington, DC. Those who pledge to complete the project can communicate with other participants for additional support via a listserv. Participants should focus on surveying materials in their holdings. The assessment may be of entire holdings, a group of collections, or just a single collection. Drawing from the OCLC report, participants should take the following steps to complete the survey: • Locate computer media in any physical form. • Record the location, inventory number, type of physical medium, and any identifying information found on labels or media such as creator, title, description of contents, and dates. If no identifying information exists, indicate this. • Record anything that is known about the hardware, operating systems, and software used to create the files. • Count the number of each media type, calculate the total maximum amount of data stored in each medium, and then calculate the overall total for the collection. The completed survey should accompany the essay about the overall efforts and findings.Essays must be a minimum of four hundred words. See http://www2.archivists .org/groups/manuscript-repositories-section for additional guidelines. Although not a requirement, participants are also encouraged to prioritize collections for further treatment and begin the technical steps for dealing with readable media. The follow-up publication from OCLC, “Walk This Way: Detailed Steps for Transferring Born-Digital Content from Media You Can Read In-House,” coauthored by Julianna Barrera-Gomez and Ricky Erway, provides useful guidance for these next steps.3 Participants must be from an institution without an electronic records program in place; be members of SAA, but do not need to be members of the Manuscript Repositories Section; and must let the section know by January 15, 2014, of their intent to participate. Participants are required to submit an essay describing their efforts, their completed survey, and photographs of both the person who conducted the survey and the objects surveyed by May 1, 2014. The documents will be posted on the section’s microsite. Questions about the project and new entries should be addressed to Manuscript Repositories Section Chair Tara Laver at email@example.com. The steering committee of the section would like to thank Ricky Erway of OCLC Research and her advisory team who put together the report, SAA Executive Director Nancy Beaumont and the SAA staff, and our Council liaison Bill Landis for all the support and assistance they provided for this initiative. Notes 1 http://www.oclc.org/content/dam/research/ publications/library/2012/2012-06.pdf. 2 Because we did not require that the survey instrument be submitted and not everyone included their numbers in their reports, these numbers are incomplete. 3 http://www.oclc.org/content/dam/research/ publications/library/2013/2013-02.pdf.
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