01/15/20

The term that was

Seeing as it is January 15, I don’t think that I am too late to share a recap of my first semester at Simmons. I taught two classes: LIS438 “Introduction to Archival Methods and Services”, and LIS448 “Digital Stewardship.” Both courses were very interesting and I felt more comfortable as the semester progressed. Despite some technical difficulties with using software we all made it through successfully- truly the joys of academic computing know no bounds…but that’s a topic or another post. My students were great and I was pleased to see many of them engaging the material deeply and producing solid work on their assignments.

In addition to teaching, I spent some time visiting new places around Boston and connecting with new colleagues in the area. I went to the JFK Library for the first time as well as the Massachusetts State Archives, Massachusetts Historical Society, and the Simmons University Archives just across the quad from my office. Thanks to everyone at these institutions for welcoming me and showing me around!

Back in September, I hosted a Teach-In on Climate Change and Archives at Simmons. This was the start of a conversation in our field that demands our full attention and I am grateful to the work of Itza Carbajal and the ProjectARCC folks for putting together such a great set of resources to facilitate these conversations. The teach-in was a success with local archivists joining SLIS students and faculty in our discussions about the future of archives on a warming planet and the role of memory work in the 21st century. Our event in Boston was just one in a global network and was featured in Archival Outlook.

That concludes a non-exhaustive list of what I got into during fall term. It’s exciting to feel more connected to a new regional archival community and I can’t wait to see what this season will bring. I’ll leave you with a longform article recommendation that a friend shared with me, A scandal in Oxford: the curious case of the stolen gospel. It combines so many of my favorite things: Classics, archives, ethically grey antiquities markets, and Oxford. Enjoy!

08/6/19

New Position (Plus Summer Highlights)

I am writing this post from my new office at Simmons University School of Library and Information Science where I am beginning as an Assistant Professor. I am beyond excited about this next chapter in my career and eager to explore all that the university and greater Boston area have to offer. I can’t wait to get to know new colleagues and visit all of the incredible archives, libraries, and museums around here! I’ll be posting again with more detail about my position, courses, and syllabi soon.

Since I’m here, I figured I’d also share some relevant highlights from my summer so far. With a change of position and move looming, I made sure to get out and visit a few placed in the DC area I had not been to before. Among these were the Steven F. Udvar Hazy Center, part of the Smithsonian’s Air & Space Musuem. This was a fascinating space, full of incredibly rare and unique planes and related artifacts, including civilian aircraft, military and space equipment. I will share one photograph of a vintage computer, a UNIVAC 1232 which helped track and manage US government satellites through 1990 (?!?).

UNIVAC 1232 computer

I did spend some time looking at the Enola Gay and considering it’s representation in the space. The tour guide I heard gave much more context than the object label which was woefully short. The Enola Gay has been covered far more thoroughly than I ever could (for example here and here), and I will only add that it’s deeply troubling that the visible text is all that could be agreed upon in the midst of the controversy. I hope that soon we can reach a place as a country where difficult conversations are possible not only about the atomic bomb and the end of World War II, but also the myriad pressing issues of the day including racism, bigotry, homophobia, and misogyny. Honestly the Enola Gay deserves its own post so I’ll have to get to that next.

During my parents’ final visit to DC before my move, I took them to the National Museum of African American History and Culture for their first time (my second). This is an amazing museum that everyone should go to as soon as possible. The image below is of a very striking object that made me pause: a guard tower from Angola Prison, founded on the grounds of a plantation which held enslaved people and remains open as the largest maximum-security prison in the US.

Guard Tower from Angola Prison, on display at the National Museum of African American History and Culture.

Finally, I attended the Archival and Education Research Institute (AERI) 2019 last month in Liverpool, UK. As always, this was an amazing institute and I was so happy to see old colleagues from around the world while also making new connections. The talks and workshops were excellent, as was the Beatles tour which I attended with much anticipation. The smile on my face in front of the gate to Strawberry Fields, an orphanage where John Lennon used to hang around as a kid, says it all.

The author standing in front of Strawberry Fields gate in Liverpool, UK.

That’s it for now. I’m getting settled at Simmons and can’t wait for the school year to begin! If you are reading this and ever find yourself in the Boston area, get in touch!

09/12/16

Fall Update: Teaching and Conferencing this Week

Greetings, dear readers. It’s been a while but I have been doing a lot of different things this summer! Now that the semester has started I can share the syllabus for the course I am teaching. It is my first time being 100% in charge of my own class and so far (two weeks in) I am really enjoying it. The course is INST643: Curation in Cultural Institutions. Here is a link to the syllabus. I put in a lot of work designing this course- let me know what you think in the comments!

In unrelated news, I will be travelling to Denver, CO this week for the 8th Plenary Meeting of the Research Data Alliance. This will be my first RDA meeting, and comes after I was awarded an RDA/US Data Share Fellowship this summer. For this fellowship, I am studying the use of controlled vocabularies in agricultural information access systems. I am super excited to see old colleagues and make new ones at this conference. Look for me in the poster hall Thursday, Friday, and Saturday.

03/3/16

Amsterdam and IDCC

Last week, I traveled to Amsterdam to attend and present at the International Digital Curation Conference. I wrote a post about the conference here on the Archives Lab site but I wanted to add a more personal touch here. Amsterdam was a beautiful city which I was happy to explore in between conference events.

Being me, I had to find an archive or library to slip into. I ended up popping in at the Staadsarchief, Amsterdam’s City Archives. It was a beautiful building which houses a few exhibition spaces as well as information about the UNESCO World Heritage sites in the area, including the entire city canal ring. The lower exhibition includes some of the city’s founding documents including the charter. It was a real treat!

Staadsarchief, Amsterdam, NL

Staadsarchief, Amsterdam, NL

As always, I was inspired by the conference and excited to attend IDCC again in the future. Thanks to everyone who stopped by my poster. Here’s a picture of it, via Twitter, and a link to it via the conference website.

09/4/15

New Position!

I figure that the first week of classes and the beginning of Labor Day weekend is a good a time as any to make a quick post about my new position. In July, I formally began work as a Postdoctoral Scholar in the College of Information Studies at the University of Maryland. The primary project I am working on here is a collaborative effort between iSchool researchers (myself and Ricky Punzalan) and the staff in the Knowledge Services Division of the National Agricultural Library. We are working together to develop a digital curation program for scientific data at the library.

Currently, the Knowledge Services Division, or KSD as it is known internally, is working on a number of systems related to the management of scientific data on USDA projects and one of our goals is to develop some policies and plans to support this work in the long-term. I am currently working on our first paper which I hope to share on this blog soon! Stay tuned, there’s more to come…

05/13/15

In which something I co-authored appears on the internet

Last week, an article I co-authored with Ixchel Faniel and my dissertation advisor Beth Yakel was finally published in the Journal of the Association for Information Science and Technology (JASIST).  The article reports on the results of a survey we conducted of 1,480 academic authors who cited ICPSR data in peer-reviewed publications, and is part of the larger DIPIR project which I was a part of for more than two years as a research assistant while in graduate school.

In the paper, we present a literature-based model to represent the relationship between data quality and user satisfaction with data in a reuse context. We tested this model with our survey data, using multiple regression analysis. The results of our survey indicate that data completeness, data accessibility, data ease of operation, data credibility, and documentation quality all correspond significantly with data reuser satisfaction. These findings suggest that repository managers should look to these areas when creating or updating guidelines or policies for data deposit and evaluation.

The paper is live on the JASIST website here. It’s not open access 🙁 but I’m really proud of this work! Email me if you want to talk about it or any of my other work.

03/20/15

Dissertation: Defended

I am happy to report that yesterday I defended my dissertation! It was an incredible experience and I am relieved/proud/happy/tired/overwhelmed/excited all at the same time.

In the interest of posting something to this blog every month (which I try to do), and in order to give everyone a chance to get a bit of a window into my work, here is the title and abstract of the dissertation.

Dissertation Defense

The Changing Landscape of Digital Access: Public-Private Partnerships in US State and Territorial Archives

This dissertation examines the network of public archives and private sector organizations engaged in the work of digitizing historical records.  It focuses on the recent expansion of public-private partnerships involving US state and territorial archives and their effects on citizens’ access to digitized materials. It seeks to understand the ways in which government archives engage with the private sector around digitization of records documenting birth, death, land ownership, and other events central to life in a democratic society.

I employ a theoretical framework combining ideas from archival studies, government information, public finance, and economics. I argue that archival materials are public goods as understood by economists and public policy scholars, and assert that this designation merits a new perspective on government archives. The dissertation project employs a mixed-methods research design, combining a survey, interviews, and document analysis to follow the trajectory of these partnerships, from the motivations of each group of organizations through contract negotiation, records selection, digitization work, challenges, and the implications for access to digitized government records.

My results demonstrate widespread engagement between state and territorial archives and private sector organizations. More than 75% of survey respondents reported that their organization engaged in public-private partnerships. These partnerships largely focus on genealogical records which contain information about individuals. This makes sense from a business standpoint but threatens to undermine the public goods designation which protects government archives from market forces. I identify the negotiation period as a time when archivists have learned to leverage their unique holdings in order to advocate for their institutional interests. Through information sharing among government archives, they work to obtain the best contract terms on behalf of their holdings and users. I also highlight the impact of public records and freedom of information laws on the interactions between public archives and private firms.

This dissertation documents an information environment in transition. The number of partnerships has increased in recent years but research has not kept pace. This project is the first comprehensive study of public-private partnerships involving state and territorial archives in the US, and serves as a basis for future work.

01/8/15

ARCHIVES 2015 Call for Student Paper and Poster Presentations

Below is the call for Student Papers and Posters for the Graduate Student sessions at this year’s SAA Conference. I am a member of the Student Program Subcommittee this year, let me know if you have any questions!

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The 2015 Student Program Subcommittee is accepting proposals for two special sessions dedicated to student scholarship during ARCHIVES 2015 in Cleveland, Ohio, August 16-22, 2015. Work from both master’s and doctoral students will be considered.

Graduate Student Paper Session: The work of three current archives students will be selected for presentation during a traditional open session format.

Graduate Student Posters: Individual posters may describe applied or theoretical research that is completed or underway; discuss interesting collections with which students have worked; or report on archives and records projects in which students have participated (e.g., development of finding aids, public outreach, database construction, etc.). Submissions should focus on research or activity conducted within the previous academic year (Fall 2014-Summer 2015). Student Chapter posters may describe chapter activities, events, and/or other involvement with the archives and records professions. Poster dimensions: 32 inches by 40 inches (may read vertically or horizontally).

Further details regarding these sessions, including the proposal form, are available at http://www2.archivists.org/am2015/program/student-call.

Proposals are due on February 2, 2015.

10/30/14

Upcoming Conference- ASIS&T Annual Meeting

Next week I will be at the 77th Annual ASIS&T Annual Meeting in Seattle, WA. I am participating in the Doctoral Seminar and am excited to attend this conference where I presented a paper last year (Kriesberg et al. 2013). This year’s program is here, it looks like a great set of sessions.

If you are going to be in Seattle, leave a comment or drop me a line- see you there!

ASIS&T Annual Meeting 2014

09/30/14

Dissertating

Seeing as it is the last day of September, I feel I am overdue for an update on here about what I’ve been up to. This summer was very busy! I attended three conferences, collected a majority of the data for my dissertation, and wrote as much as I could. I am very nearly done with my data collection and am currently working on analysis while also making progress on other areas of the dissertation.

The fall semester is in full swing here in Ann Arbor and I am currently serving as the Graduate Student Instructor in SI629: Access Systems for Archival Materials. Here is a course decription. Other than this, I am writing as much as possible! The picture below should give you a good sense of where I’m at as I write this post.

Seated portrait of a man with a beard writing a document.

This is not a photograph of me. But look at that chair. And that beard.

With accommodations as luxurious as this, it’s no wonder I’ve been a writing fool…and now before I make any more nonsense jokes about anonymous historical figures posing for pictures composing text at small desks, I will mercifully end this post and return to my dissertation.