AERI 2015 offers 70 papers in 25 sessions. Paper abstracts are organized by session.
Session 1: Perspectives on Archives and Human Rights
Social Justice and Information Research: The Growing Focus on Social Justice in Archival Research and Library Research, and What They Can Teach Each Other / Paul T. Jaeger (University of Maryland)
The central roles of information, information professionals, cultural heritage institutions, and information research in fostering and advancing social justice have recently begun to receive significantly increasing attention. Within the past year, Archival Science, Library Quarterly, Library Trends, and Advances in Librarianship have all published or announced forthcoming special issues or volumes devoted to the topic of social justice, and social justice was the theme of the 2015 ALISE conference.
Part of this increased focus on social justice in information research ties to the overall trend of more organizations, professions, and governments viewing information as a social justice issue with vast array of roles that the Internet and related technologies play in the everyday lives of many individuals around the world. As information access, literacy, and inclusion now are necessary for education, employment, and civic participation in many places, the nature of information as an issue of social justice has begun increasingly evident.
Information research is, quite appropriately, extraordinarily well positioned to research the roles of information, information professionals, and cultural heritage institutions in social justice. The archival research has primarily focused on the roles of archives in documenting and preserving materials related to social justice issues or the role of archival collections in addressing a social justice problem in a specific community. In library research, the research has generally studies the ways in which public, academic, and school libraries promote social justice in their communities or the ways in which library skills and collections can support the social justice work of other organizations.
These parallel and growing bodies of research study related kinds of initiatives driven by shared beliefs in the power of information professionals and cultural heritage institutions to promote justice. Yet, thus far, few connections have been made between the social justice work of archives and the social justice work of libraries. To hopefully encourage such dialogue, this presentation will consider the definitions of and approaches to social justice employed by archives and by libraries, explore the ways in which archival research and library research each approach issues of social justice, and propose ways in which the two streams of research can learn from and build upon one another to craft a larger scholarly narrative about the impact of cultural heritage institutions on social justice.
Rights in Records: the Implementation Challenge / Sue McKemmish (Monash University)
In our AERI 2014 paper, Anne Gilliland and I reflected on our engagement in research in Australia and the states emerging out of the former Yugoslavia relating to the role of recordkeeping and archiving in human rights and social justice contexts, and in post-conflict societies. We described how this research has led us to re-think participatory archiving. Based on our research findings, a review of relevant critical literature in archival studies, and our own immersive experiences over many years as archival and recordkeeping researchers, and as educators and practitioners, we presented an integrated set of rights in records that acknowledge and respect the interests of the different agents who are involved or implicated in records and recordkeeping processes. We also presented the set of guiding principles that informed the development of the suite of rights. Our focus in the 2014 paper was on conceptualising a radically different archival culture and practice. We acknowledged that fully implementing this suite of rights and its guiding principles in the context of current mainstream archival culture and practice would be highly challenging if not impossible as it would be dependent upon the transformation of professional culture, priorities and practices. However some of the rights are more immediately achievable and their implementation in the short-term would contribute to the long-term transformation of practice. This presentation will propose long- and short-term action agendas with reference to local and global contexts. It will explore both long-term transformative actions and more immediate approaches to partial implementation of the suite of rights in participatory archives. It will also explore how the guiding principles might be used to re-structure existing archives along more participatory lines.
Collections that Counter Symbolic Annihilation: Uncovering the Affective Impact of Community Archives / Michelle Caswell (UCLA)
Although there has been much work published that assumes that independent community archives have an important impact on communities, little research has been done to empirically assess this impact. This research paper will report on the results of a series of qualitative interviews with South Asian American academics regarding their affective responses to the South Asian American Digital Archive (SAADA), an independent nonprofit community-based organization that operates the website www.saadigitalarchive.org.
Previous research has adapted the concept of “symbolic annihilation” from feminist communications scholarship to fit archival studies. In the field of communications, “symbolic annihilation” denotes how strong women characters are absent, grossly under-represented, maligned, or trivialized by mainstream television programming, news outlets, and magazine coverage. The concept has since been taken up to describe how marginalized groups are misrepresented or absent in a variety of symbolic contexts, from media to museums to tours of historic sites. In archival studies, symbolic annihilation denotes how members of marginalized communities feel regarding the absence or misrepresentation of their communities in archival collection policies, in descriptive tools, and/ or in collections themselves. The proposed study will further explore this concept in archival studies by empirically assessing how members of one particular ethnic community affectively respond to both absences and misrepresentations in mainstream repositories and attempts to counter such absences and misrepresentations through independent identity-based community archives.
While the proposed research is currently in its initial stages, it aims to both provide empirical data about the affective impact of community archives on community members and further develop theoretical concepts regarding silences, symbolic annihilation, and representation in archival studies.
Session 2: Archival Education in the Digital Age
Preparing the Next Generation of Records and Information Management Professionals? / Donald Force (University of Wisconsin Milwaukee)
Records and information management (RIM) is a growing need for many organizations. RIM professionals contribute to making organizations more effective and efficient, and therefore, more profitable. Moreover, RIM professionals also help reduce certain risk for organizations, such as legal or compliance. Despite the increasing need for RIM professionals, the future of the RIM professional remains in flux. There is a clear divide between expectations of employers for what constitutes a RIM professional and educational programs that try their best to prepare students to be these professionals. In short, the state of RIM education in academia has received little attention. Educators in archival studies continue to examine the nature of archival education but have overlooked the unique nature and needs of RIM professionals. Drawing on research that compares the activities and duties of RIM job announcements with RIM syllabi and topics at RIM conferences, this presentation evaluates the current state of RIM education in academia and discusses the future of the RIM professional. The presentation will explore the growing schism between the archives and RIM professions in North America and the implications of this division for archival studies programs, such as the School of Information Studies at the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee.
To What Extent Does the Curriculum at Higher Learning Institutions in South Africa Embrace Records Stored in Networked Environments? / Mpho Ngoepe (University of South Africa)
The need for education in archives and records management cannot be over-emphasised especially in this era of technological developments. Education can help to empower archivists and records managers in tackling the challenges of managing records created in networked environments such as ensuring security, authenticity and integrity of records. In view of the tectonic shifts that have taken place within Africa, particularly South Africa and the use of social media in innovative ways, archives and records management professionals’ demands have changed. Additionally, the pressure for accountability is increasing. In the past there has been general weakness in accountability mechanisms and there is hope that new opportunities are brought about by digital access. Therefore, there is a need to align the curriculum at higher learning institutions in South Africa to also embrace records created in networked environments. This study will examine the archives and records management curricula in different educational institutions in South Africa and investigate the extent to which they address the changing digital environment. First, the websites of all 25 public universities in South Africa will be visited to identify schools offering archives and records management programmes. This will be followed by content analysis of the curricula of universities that offer archives and records management programme from the website. Lastly, the faculty members responsible for teaching these programmes will be interviewed. It is hoped that the study will inform curriculum development and review in the area of electronic records management at the universities in South Africa. It is recommended that the study be extended to the rest of universities in the Africa.
Bringing Digital Curation Projects into the Archives Classroom: Approaches and Strategies / Richard Marciano and Michael Kurtz (University of Maryland)
Archival education programs increasingly confront the need to provide classroom and field study experiences that enable students to apply archival theory in hands-on, real world applications. This is particularly the case in the arena of digital archives and curation, where potential employers have an expectation that graduates of archival education programs will be fluent in all aspects of the management of digital information. In this presentation, we shall discuss current initiatives at Maryland’s iSchool that illustrate the intersection of education and research in preparing students for careers in the archives profession of the digital 21st century. We offer strategies that link classroom instruction and digital research projects (often multi-disciplinary) in creating holistic approach to archival education.
Session 3: Archival Histories
Writing Social History of Socialist Yugoslavia: The Archival Perspective / Vladan Vukliš (University of Banja Luka)
It has not been until recently that we could talk about a noticeable trend in research focusing on the social components of the 45 years long history of Second Yugoslavia (1945–1991). These components present themselves as possible research topics, such as the history of social relations, structures, labor, workers’ self-management, industrialization, social stratification, class conflict, housing, mass culture, consumption etc. While most of these issues inspired ongoing debates, it was not until the 1980s that a small number of historians started paying professional attention to the topics already studied by sociologists and philosophers. However, this newfound interest was quickly abandoned in the 1990s, as dominant historical narratives in now former, war-torn Yugoslav republics, developed a negative stance towards recent socialist past.
What is more important, historiography in (former) Yugoslavia was, and still is, dominated by a classic positivist paradigm, focused on political history, major events and leading personalities. But there seems to be a slow shift towards a modern socio-historical perspective. Increasing numbers of historians are turning to the new paradigm. A few of them, interested in the post-1945 period, turn to social and cultural history of Socialist Yugoslavia.
If this new trend in research is to be placed on solid ground, the first task for archivists should be to identify, appraise and describe on this basis. When analyzing the actual state of records important for the study of social history, three major categories can be discerned: 1 – records of “socio-political organizations” (the Communist Party, the Socialist Union and the trade unions), 2 – government and judicial records, and 3 – records of economic enterprises. Each of these groups has its specific importance, a different set of current conditions and a different history of treatment by its creators, custodians and archival institutions. The state of the second group is well known. From governments and ministries down to municipal councils, fonds are well preserved, the vast majority of them transferred to the archives, and a significant part available for research. On the other hand, problems with the third group are also well known. As a consequence of the wars in the 1990s, recession, and privatization, vast amount of records from the former Yugoslavia’s “industrial giants” has been lost. But the first group mentioned above, that of the political organizations and unions, should be considered to be the most important one from a socio-historical perspective, given the fact that it was the work of these organizations that initiated, interconnected, or at least analyzed all important social processes. A detailed assessment shows us that the entire body of fonds of this provenance is far from being well preserved. The majority of fonds seem to be incomplete or missing in total, especially at the lower levels. Beyond reevaluating and describing the state of these records in order to support current and future scholarship, this paper seeks to make some suggestions that could lead to the positive changes in archival practice, and a possible remedy for the situation.
Translated Versions of the Dutch Manual and Their Influences; Especially the Chinese Case / Shigekazu Yanagimachi (Kyushu University)
Archival Tradition of each Nation: Archives are historical and geographical reality. Each nation, or even each entity has its own archival practice; thus there could be infinity of archival traditions and theories.
Problem of Archival Babeology: In our globalized and globalizing world, in which all peoples of all languages communicate one another, we encounter others; we encounter other peoples of different traditions, different ways of living, and different ways of organizing the environment. We encounter other archival traditions. Other archival traditions are not self-evident. We often have difficulty of understanding others, thus other archival universe. Even the same word frequently used in Archival scene sounds differently, means something else. Michel Duchein, Eric Ketelaar, and Bogdan-Florin Popovici talk about the Babel-ology in Archival Science.
Dutch Manual: In 1898, for the first time in the history, the archival theory was codified in a book, redacted in Dutch: Handleiding voor het ordenen en beschrijven van archieven, which is often called Dutch Manual.
Its translated versions: This Manual was translated in German (1905), Italian (1908), French (1910), Bulgarian (1912), English (1940), Chinese (1959), and Portuguese (1960). In 1910, the first Congress of Archivists and Librarians was convocated in Brussels. Many nations sent their delegates to the Congress; the archival principles such as “respect des fonds” or “respect of the first order were discussed, adopted, and diffused in more global archival communities. This Congress was following the principles articulated in the Dutch Manual, and it became a starting point for the globalization of archival principles. As Theodore Schellenberg called it “a bible for modern archivists”, the Dutch Manual has influenced considerably each nation’s archival tradition.
Japanese situation: Japan has a long history, thus has had archival practices for a long time, in the midst of political power shifts among regional lords, emperors, Kuge, Samurai, and temples. Since the modernization of Japan (after 1853), the Western archival practices have been introduced, with much difficulty. The National Archives of Japan had not been established until 1971. Archival legislation was fully instituted only in 2009. The Dutch Manual has never been translated into Japanese. Archival concepts have not been clearly articulated in our language. We are just beginning to realize the importance of this discipline.
Chinese translation and its consequences; what we can learn from Chinese case: In our neighbors’ Nation, Dutch Manual was translated into Chinese in 1959 by China Renmin University Archival Studies department. In spite of differences, Japan and China have lots of common cultural elements; Japan has learned and introduced Chinese since Ancient time. Two Nations share, even if partially, writing system and classical conceptual paradigm. In order to elaborate Japanese system of archival thinking, we have lots to learn from the Chinese case. I try to analyze and evaluate Dutch Manuals’ influences, especially in the case of Chinese translated version and evolution of Chinese archival history to reflect on the possibility of Japanese translation, future of Japanese archival practices, and a Universal archival theory.
The Affective Archivist: The Multidirectional Affective Interplay Between Archivist and Collections / Luke Bohanon (UCLA)
The introduction of postmodernist and deconstructionist theory changed the archival field as both archivists and scholars came to recognize the existence of agency behind the shaping of archival records; the myth of the archivist as an impartial custodian of records was exposed. Archivists recognized the extent to which their experiences, ideologies, convictions, and professional motivations influenced their practices. Despite the recognition of the intrinsic subjectivity of the profession as constructed through the biases of both the institution and the archivist, archival scholarship has a tendency to focus on the mechanics of theory rather than the personal and experiential motivations, both conscious and unconscious, of the archivist. Much of the field’s literature has explored the necessity for justice and activism as well as offered frameworks for their incorporation, but there has been little work that focuses on the forces that influence the archivist. Affect, one such influence, is often discussed indirectly through the topics of justice and activism, as well as through trauma and reconciliation. This paper will actively explore how affective issues influence archivists.
Using qualitative information gathered from willing, practicing archivists, as well as scholarship from cognate fields, the proposed paper will explore how archivists view affect as it relates to themselves, their profession, and their collections in order to examine how the multidirectional interplay of affect between archivist and collections influences the archival profession. Some of the questions this paper will explore include: How do archivists view records when their value is derived through affective associations with specific people or events? What role do archivists see affect having in the archival profession? Do archival records exert affective influences on archivists and, if so, what are the results of those influences? Through exploring these and other questions, the proposed paper will help archivists recognize how they and their collections mutually influence one another throughout the archival process.
Session 4: Archives and the Body
Testimony, Abjection and the Texture of Torture / Mario H. Ramirez (UCLA)
In this essay, I will examine the disjuncture between textual instantations of violence typically found in human rights documentation and, specifically, testimony, and the more corporeal textures of torture that are generally present in forensic studies of the aftermath of repression. Besides exploring the limitations of the realities articulated and consumed by the human rights community, I am moreover interested in attempting to grasp the blood, bone and gristle extremes of torture and violence insofar as they are evidentiary expressions intimately tied to the recorded-ness of a human rights violation. In tandem, I aim to address the viability of locating archival evidence outside the limits of the word and speculate on the enunciativeness of the “fleshy materiality of tortured bodies” and the ways in which they provide for parallel testimonies of human rights violations. Beyond seeking to locate a trace of the body in the archive, I am interested in how the body can embody the human rights record and how we can cross boundaries of praxis that delimit how and when we proceed to “archive.” DNA technology, forensic practices at mass graves, and a general accounting of the organic materiality of torture, death and violence are phenomena that have become integral parts of evidentiary and juridical processes surrounding human rights violations. Therefore, these practices, and their descriptive representations of the material, are not outside the scope of the archivable. But moreover, how do we take a page from their emphasis on the agency of things and account for this in an archival praxis of torture and therefore enflesh the word? How do we then account for the body as an integral part of the archive and render the trace a fleshy presence? Can we retain the materiality of the tortured body while negotiating the limit-text of the human rights report? How do our conceptions of the human rights record and its capacity to account for the act of torture shift once we account for the flesh of the abject?
“Eugen Sandow, a Titan in Muscle and Thews”: the Victorian Freak Show Strongman and his Twentieth-Century Queer Archival Bodies / Ann Garascia (UC Riverside)
Nineteenth-century freak show strongman Eugen Sandow is best remembered for his perfect physique, which became a symbol of commercial, fin de siècle, heterosexual masculinity. However, his popular performances had transgressive consequences: Sandow was also an icon of subcultural queer masculinity, a status that persisted into the twentieth century. In 1947, self-proclaimed informal historians Gerard Nisivoccia and Angelo Iuspa recycled Sandow’s nineteenth-century freak show promotional materials to produce scrapbooks of his life, which were sold out of Iuspa’s 7th street home in Newark, New Jersey. As the first publications to include openly erotic photography of Sandow, the curating, collating, and disseminating of these materials indexed vibrant queer subcultures in Newark and the US.
This paper charts the history of Sandow’s materials, from Victorian freak show, to the Newark collection, to their current acquisitions by various repositories. I argue that Sandow’s active archival afterlife demonstrates how the Victorian freak show has vitally shaped contemporary queer archival practices and perspectives. Through Nisivoccia and Iuspa’s work, Sandow initially surfaced as a touchstone for a queer Italian American consciousness specifically legible to Newark, a city whose sexual landscape was splintered by class, racial, and ethnic segregation. Transcending localist politics, their attempts to build this comprehensive collection drew Sandow into national conversations about sexuality and historical visibility. Nisivoccia and Iuspa’s collection embodied the promises and perils of documenting and archiving queer histories: their efforts reanimated the Victorian freak show strongman to make him the centerpiece for tense twentieth-century debates over sexology, obscenity, visibility, and accessibility in queer emancipatory politics. The Sandow materials have since vanished or been acquired by special collections, libraries, and even domestic collections. This case study highlights the vexed relationship between grassroots and traditional archival resources and practices. Different models of archiving have scattered the legacy of Sandow’s once-perfect body into serendipitous pieces found in unlikely places. Full of dispersals, disappearances, and dead-ends, the saga of Sandow’s freak show materials rewrites the language of ideal embodiment underpinning archival principles of fonds, original order, and provenance to illustrate how archives construct and present queer bodies of knowledge.
This paper works toward theorizing a model of archival work I call “freaking” the archive, which addresses how archives construct and transmit, but often fail to account for, knowledge. “Freaking” the archive pulls from literary, queer, disability, performance, and visual studies to construct innovative, unusual, and socially responsible archives that complicate how we conceptualize archives. Comprised of primary source materials from the Victorian freak show, and their afterlives in contemporary performance and visual arts, these “freak” archives exceed and disarray the orderly barriers of time and space archives typically produce and preserve. No longer an apolitical and unchanging body of knowledge, the archive becomes a fluid space founded on ever-changing collections of bodies, objects, texts, and memories. Attuned to ethical and political complexities of archival work, “freaking” the archive affirms that any archive is an active and vibrant site of collaboration and contestation that produces new models for more inclusive and just human relations.
Archival Bodies as Nomadic Subjects: (Un)Becomings & Reconfigurations / Jamie Lee (University of Arizona)
Individual embodiment can be considered an archival practice. Through a transdisciplinary frame, I approach ‘the archive’ as a concept, a location, and a practice. Such an approach allows me to highlight the particular—embodied—ways in which the human record is conceived, collected, organized, and preserved. In this presentation, I draw on my practical work to develop the Arizona Queer Archives along with oral history interviews that I have collected of queer- and trans-identified individuals to suggest that individual embodiment can be considered an archival practice and that archival practice can itself also be considered an embodied act. Both elements of this equation are about (un)becomings and have implications for archival methodologies. I will share my close readings to highlight my development of a Queer/ed Archival Methodology (Q/M) as a fluid and flexible framework to assist archivists to develop archives for and with multiply-situated communities and peoples.
The archives, as concept, location, and practice, ingests peoples’ memories and histories and, in the process of archivalization, can make accessible those assembled histories that may reinforce the dominant narratives. By contrast, the process of archivalization may also or instead highlight those assembled histories that resist normativizing forces to reveal those less normative or altogether non-normative records—bodies of knowledge—that are more intimate, queered, non-dominant. The archives, as the body within the process of (un)becoming, negotiates this terrain to make visible normalized knowledges as well as those subjugated knowledges. Although archival practice can becomes sedimented in its everyday use, it can also be unsettled in everyday use. The stories that the archives tells, then, reflects the performative nature of bodies in motion still connected to their histories, but also with momentum gathering in the interstices of past, present, and future.
In developing archival collections, I have experienced the shifting histories of living embodied individuals whose processes of telling also expand and contract the potential of the stories themselves. One story with competing histories and multiple bodies offers an instantiation of the argument I am making here. This understanding of body-as-archives/archives-as-body is revealed in the oral history interview from one gender-queer poet who, in his story of becoming/unbecoming/becoming, describes his transition from female to male. His narration is not linear and ‘neat,’ but rather a messy one of multiplicities and incompleteness. In his story of ongoing unbecoming and transition, he refuses to locate himself precisely on one point of the spectrum of gender, sexuality, anatomy, and desire. Embodied subjectivities that are shared in ways that subvert the assumed dominant structures of archive and body can open up radical possibilities much like the rhizomatic work of somatechnics. The radical possibilities of ongoing shifting histories and the instabilities of (un)becoming are at play in the stories and records of the archives. He demonstrates how the body is an archives. In terms of archival practice as embodiment—the archives is revealed as a space that can hold a living history that is (un)becoming even as it has been collected, appraised, preserved, and accessed that only an archives conceived as (un)becoming could hold.
Session 5: Studies in Social Media
@Archivist_Community: Social Network Analysis and Archivists on Twitter / Edward Benoit III (Louisiana State University) and Jennifer Stevenson (University of Wisconsin Milwaukee)
As a profession, archivists rely heavily on professional support and networks since many work as lone arrangers. The development of national, regional, and local organizations such as the Society of American Archivist, the Midwest Archives Conference, and the Louisiana Archive and Manuscripts Association, filled the profession’s needs for decades. As technologies developed, these organizations leveraged them for better communication and networking among archivists with the introduction of email listservs, websites, and discussion forums. Despite the technological platform, archivists continue relying on professional networking, and are increasingly moving toward independent platforms, such as Twitter, to fulfill their needs.
Social networks allow individuals to connect with individuals and groups with whom they share common interests either personally or professionally. Unlike previous studies focused on archival repositories, this study explores and analyzes the Twitter network of individual archivists. Applying social network and content analysis, the study highlights the clustering trends including, but not limited to, geographic, institutional, organizational, and topical. The purpose is to better understand how archivists communicate. Businesses conduct similar studies to learn information about their consumers. For archivists, understanding the communication paths and content will provide a means to awareness of the profession and interest in content.
This study will measure the effects of Twitter usage among archivists in order to begin to identify and evaluate social media for future use for the archive community. The study will analyze the statistics to provide quantitative evidence of what is going on “behind the scenes,” and the correlation to the content of the tweets and the number of responses.
The sample includes archivists who use Twitter from around the world, but is limited to those who tweet in English. The sample is constructed following a modified snowball technique beginning with 5 archivists with over 1,000 followers. The social network will continue building through collecting data on the initial 5 archivists’ followers and who the initial group follows. The process continues for a minimum of 3 levels or generations of followers (the follower of the follower of one of the initial group). The sample excludes any user who cannot be verified as an archivist through analysis of their profile description, or comparison with organizational directories (such as SAA), but includes archival graduate students and academics (each of which represents further delineations of the sample population).
Using social network analysis (SNA), a database will be constructed to build the social network, nodes, ties, identify the relationships, create the measurements for the various weights which will connect a number of different ties. UCINET software will be used to conduct the social network analysis. The consideration of various weights and connections to a number of ties will provide an insight into how the archival community uses Twitter.
(In)visible Colleges: Discourses from the Digital Humanities Blogosphere / Matt Burton (University of Pittsburgh)
The digital humanities as a field, discipline, and community of practice, use many novel modalities of informal communication. This paper reports upon a large scale analysis of digital humanities blogs, looking at their content and their infrastructural dynamics as scholarly communication. Digital humanities scholars use blogs to discuss the essential nature of the discipline, specific technological and methodological issues, how to manage a classroom, research at conferences, and even their favorite recipes. This discursive space constitutes an *(in)visible college* in the digital humanities.
(In)visible colleges are networks of scholarly communication simultaneously visible and invisible depending upon the vantage point. From the perspective of *formal* scholarly communication, such as evaluation for hiring, tenure, and promotion, blogs are generally an invisible form of academic writing. From the perspective of *informal* scholarly communication, such as hallway conversations, conference gossip, and email, blogs are highly visible. This (in)visible quality emerges from the intersection of technical properties and social factors.
The *open web* is a particular sociotechnical assemblage with the following technical properties: *open standards*, *open access*, and *open publishing*. Open standards are the non-propriety and publicly documented technical specifications that allow systems to share data and information. Open access means web content is retrievable by anyone, anywhere without technical restrictions or paywalls (note: this does not imply open licensing). Open publishing means there are no barriers to putting content on the web, meaning there is no editorial control or peer review (note: this does not mean all websites are open, just the platform as a whole). These technical properties set conditions of possibility for new modalities of scholarly discourse (and the study of that discourse).
The technical properties of the open web afford new modes of scholarly communication, but do not determine them. Scholarly communities have social and cultural factors imbricated in a mutually constitutive relationship with the technologies by which they interact. The digital humanities community has embraced the open web, especially blogs, as a platform for communication. Digital humanists blog at a pace and scale unprecedented in the humanities, and possibly in the academy as a whole. This *visibility at scale* challenges the traditional methodologies we use to to study infrastructure and scholarly communication.
This paper seeks to answer the questions: What are digital humanities scholars writing about on their blogs? What are the methodological dynamics and tensions in generating data from the open web? I present a topic model of nearly 40 thousand posts by digital humanities bloggers, explore how the results inform new models of informal scholarly communication, and discuss implications of web archives of the (in)visible scholarly record.
From Transaction to Interaction: The Shifting Nature of Government Recordkeeping in an Age of Social Media / Christopher Colwell
Social media applications are increasingly being used by government agencies to transact official business with their various communities. In an Australian Government context these sites may be records. Records that exist outside the boundaries of the organisation to which they relate, and which created them, unless they are somehow at a later date captured into organisational systems, but are still subject to relevant legislative processes such as Freedom of Information and recordkeeping obligations (Hesling 2014).
While existing outside the organisation which has created them, these records enable cooperation and interaction with the communities with which the organisation needs to communicate. However, these interactions do not necessarily represent a clear or transparent business transaction. By its very nature social media is reconfiguring our notions of transparency and accountability (Scott and Orlikowski 2012).
This paper draws on some initial themes from my own research to explore how organisational processes and the proprietary and socially mediated nature of social media may affect our notions of records, transactions, accountability and transparency in relation to government recordkeeping in an age of social media.
Hesling, Elisa. 2014. “Records, social media and the right to access: the social media conundrum.” Records and Information Management Professionals Australasia National Conference, Adelaide, S.A., 8 September 2014.
Scott, Susan V, and Wanda J Orlikowski. 2012. “Reconfiguring relations of accountability: Materialization of social media in the travel sector.” Accounting, organizations and society 37 (1): 26-40.
Session 6: Pedagogical Approaches
Migrating Memories: Diaspora, Archives and Human Rights / Anne J. Gilliland (UCLA) and Hariz Halilovich (Monash University)
This paper will provide a critical analysis of emergent themes, innovative pedagogical approaches, and lessons learned in an experimental graduate course entitled Migrating Memories: Diaspora, Archives and Human Rights. This face-to-face course, collaboratively taught as a series of day-long weekly seminars at UCLA in October and November 2014 by faculty members from UCLA (Gilliland, archival studies) and Monash University (Halilovich, anthropology) explored the (re)construction of migrants’ memories and identities as distinct transnational and translocal practices taking place in both private and public domains, in reality and imagination, and in the realms of real and cyber space. Building upon relevant intersections between their respective research interests and disciplinary backgrounds, Gilliland and Halilovich sought to expand the current scope and applicability of archival studies professional and research education to the study and documentation of the diasporic experience, especially where diaspora is a consequence of war, genocide and forced displacement. The course attracted students from the master’s programs in library and information science and Latin American studies, as well as from doctoral programs in anthropology, Chicana/o studies, education, English, history and information studies.
Students were introduced to the significance of memory in establishing diasporas and explored various forms and practices, both tangible and intangible, of memory and memory work in migrant and refugee communities across generations: from oral histories and testimonials to performative enactments of memories (e.g., commemorations, exhibitions, art, literature, and film) to the establishment of more formal memory structures such as archives, libraries, museums, monuments, and documentary and print production. Employing fiction, creative non-fiction and documentary film as well as critical works, the course was consciously designed to move across humanities and arts as well as social science disciplinary perspectives. This pedagogical approach was also intended to encourage awareness of and receptivity to the many ways in which memory can find expression, to integrate participants’ personal backgrounds and motivations, and to encourage creative research and production (e.g., creative writing, art and music) as alternative forms of capturing and expressing the diasporic experience.
Considering Memory in the teaching of Archives: A Survey and Analysis of Memory Studies Pedagogy in the United States / Jeannette Bastian (Simmons College)
Beginning in the late 20th century, Memory Studies gradually evolved from an area of interest to social historians into a distinct area of academic pedagogy touching many disciplines while developing a singular lens of its own. Courses in Memory Studies can be found in a variety of disciplines but there are relatively few in archival programs. Rather, memory issues are often implicit, rather than explicit components of archives courses. The interdisciplinarity of memory studies, however, offers exciting opportunities for synergy with archival education as well as raising questions about the nature of the relationship between memory and archives.
This paper reports on an ongoing survey and analysis of memory studies courses offered in academic programs in the United States. Using over forty syllabi from a variety of programs as the primary data set, the survey includes an analysis of readings, programs, topics and assignments primarily culled online. A secondary data set analyzes conclusions reached by peer-reviewed articles about the emergence of Memory Studies as an academic discipline.
The final portion of the presentation relates the teaching of memory studies to the teaching of archives. The shifting role of memory in light of the emergence of memory studies holds implications for archival pedagogy, not least of which is examining the changing role of memory in the understanding of archives and records.
Session 7: Access to Government Archives
State Archival Law in 2015: A Content Analysis of Statute and Comparative Study of Statutory Change / Eleanor Mattern (University of Pittsburgh)
In a 1983 issue of the American Archivist, George W. Bain published a study of the “state of the art in archival law,” evaluating how and to what extent state public records laws address a set of 18 legal concepts. Observing statutory gaps and weaknesses, Bain concluded that the “majority of states can stand improvement in their law, some in a radical fashion” (p. 173) and he questioned when and even whether these improvements would be made.
More than 30 years later, Bain’s work is a useful but undeniably dated resource. This paper reports on the progress of research that updates Bain’s study to reflect the contemporary landscape of state archival law and how digital records in the workplace have shaped and altered statutes. This study implements Bain’s content analysis approach to evaluate the level of comprehensiveness of the state law to an expanded set of legal concepts, using a scoring system of “0” indicating “no mention” in the law to a “3” indicating “detailed and explicit coverage” (p. 164). This presentation focuses on the twelve states that Bain found to have the weakest public records statutes at the time of his writing, gauging changes across his original set of legal concepts and conceptual additions to state archival law since 1983.
If Submissiveness Ceased It Would be All Over with Lordship / James Lowry (University College London)
If submissiveness ceased it would be all over with lordship.” A command, given by the Duke to Renata in Pier Paolo Pasolini’s last film, Salo; or the 120 Days of Sodom, takes place in a discrete moment that crystalises the political analogy of Pasolini’s masterpiece: it is a command to engage in coprophagia. The scene is made discrete by the silences that flank the command, the cinematography – long shots that put the spectator at a distance – and the mise-en-scene wherein the actors are arranged at the edge of the room – the viewer is set amidst them as a spectator and therefore an accomplice in Renata’s abuse. The complicity of the spectator takes on new meaning in view of the films socio-political setting. In transposing Sade’s scenario to the Repubblica Sociale Italiana, Pasolini articulated fascism’s inherent sadomasochism. Christopher Roberts has proposed that Pasolini meant to extend this analogy to the entire history of socio-political organisation. Pasolini invites us to consider how power is constituted and maintained. In Renata’s abuse, we see that power is given up tacitly and buttressed by our inertia. In extrapolation, let us consider Rousseau’s observation that the social contract is ‘perhaps never formally stated… everywhere tacitly admitted and recognised’. We are governed and governable through our tacit acceptance of a form of government, its institutions and processes. For Ranciere, ‘The social bond is maintained by this endless manufacture of acquiescence, which… in public assemblies and courts goes by the name of persuasion’. But as Stirner wrote, ‘If submissiveness ceased, it would be all over with lordship’. This paper will consider the political significance of access to information mechanisms such as Freedom of Information legislation and open data portals, through the lens of Stirner’s anarchistic ‘egoism’. Darch and Underwood have argued that opening government information (specifically, pushing for Freedom of Information as a right) is part of a neoliberal agenda for smaller government. This paper suggests that opening information has a more radical potential – the potential reverse the roles of sadist and masochist in the social ‘contract’.
Selection for Digitization by Private Companies: Partnerships or Encroachments on Appraisal Practice? / Adam Kriesberg (University of Maryland)
Archivists understand the concept of appraisal as a core tenet of archival practice. The appraisal process determines which materials are included in the archives and which are left out. This paper presents research on the increasingly privatized access systems for government records (managed by companies such as ProQuest and Ancestry.com) and considers how the relationship between the public and private sector is changing archival processes, specifically selection and appraisal. It argues that when records are digitized through public-private partnerships and other relationships between archives and private companies, this constitutes an appraisal process that takes place with significant input from private employees, not archivists. Digitization partnership projects are driven by the business needs of private companies rather than archival appraisal theory. Drawing on survey and interview data collected from government archivists in the United States and representatives from private sector organizations that operate internationally, this paper presents an overview of the relationship between archives and the private sector and considers the implications of privatization on archival theory and praxis.
Session 8: Archives, Records, and Human Rights
Off the Record: The Production of Silence in the Guatemalan National Police / Tamy Guberek (University of Michigan)
What happens when a new source of records – a cache of documents of one of the main perpetrators of state violence, no less – suddenly becomes available in a country where historical memory is still in formation and justice for past crimes is still pending? This study analyzes surviving police records from the Historical Archive of the National Police (in Spanish, Archivo Historico de la Policía Nacional – AHPN). The AHPN holds valuable information about state surveillance and violence, and has been used for important research and trials. To complement those efforts, this research reviews individual records sub-collections, as well as analyzes a sample of the archive “population” as a whole, and asks: is there evidence of systematic denial, cover-up, dismissal, and censorship in this massive collection of surviving records? Are there less deliberate silences, which nonetheless serve to keep aspects of history off the record? Indeed, the study finds evidence of silence in the surviving records that the PN produced using a multitude of mechanisms– internal practices of writing death reports, top-down micromanaging of the press, hiding detainees from courts and families, and use of disingenuous human rights rhetoric. In particular, it focuses on how certain police information policies and recordkeeping practices were consistent with macro political agendas and state projects. The findings of this study suggest that production of silences in records is an integral part of the historical explanation about how repression and violence in Guatemala persisted. Ultimately, this study emphasizes the need to understand what these historical records — or any source of information — hold and hide, in order to promote more valid and powerful consumption of them.
Embodying, Performing, and Moving the Record: Artistic Interventions in the Archives / Kathy Carbone (UCLA)
In March 2013, visual artist Garrick Imatani and poet Kaia Sand were selected for the inaugural City of Portland Archives & Record Center’s (PARC) Artist-in-Residence Program in Portland, Oregon, USA, through an award of a public art project by Portland’s Regional Arts & Culture Council. The artist residency is the first in a series for this archive, with the goal of artists creating work in any media that engages and/or is a result of working with the archive’s collections and archivists. Imatani and Sand have been collaboratively engaging with, responding to, and using one of PARC’s collections, the Police Historical/Archival Investigative Files (a.k.a. The Watcher Files), a collection comprising thousands of surveillance documents collected by the Portland Police Bureau on civic and activist groups in the 1960s, 70s, and 80s. A significant part of the artists’ work in this residency is acknowledging and addressing silences in the archival record and the archive. Since January 2013, I have been conducting an ethnographic study of this residency program that explores the experiences and actions of the archivists, artists, and a public arts manager involved in the residency. As well, my study examines how these individuals, and others with whom they collaborate within this particular archival and public art milieu, conceptualize and ascribe meaning(s) to archival records and processes and the archive.
This paper will first trace a life history or biography of these records, beginning with a brief discussion of the records’ creation and use within the Police Bureau, to their anonymous donation to and use by the Portland Tribune newspaper, to their acquisition and management by the archivists at PARC. Then, the paper will turn to the artists’ work, concentrating on how the artists are conceptualizing the records and the archive and transforming records into works of art and poetry. Imatani and Sand envision their work as an addendum to the records, a way to illustrate some of what is missing in the institutional record and the archive as well as investigate what is there. In collaboration with some of the individuals who were under surveillance and whose lives are caught in the records, the artists have created literary and artistic interventions in the forms of poetry objects, sculptures, and spoken word performances that combine official and personal memory, and that talk back to, annotate, and fill in some of the silences and gaps within the archival records. Throughout this discussion of the artists’ works with the records, this paper will also contemplate how archival records as works of art and poetry move and circulate through time, space, and a variety of contexts, and through this circulation and re-contextualization, bring into view what kinds of social relations can occur and histories accumulate between records, individuals, communities, and the archive.
The Impact of Accessing Records on Care-Leavers / Wendy M. Duff (Presenter), Heather MacNeil, Karolina Zuchniak, and Janel Cheng (University of Toronto)
Over the past decade “social justice” has increasingly been the object of study in a multitude of academic disciplines and professional fields of practice, including archives. Archives feature regularly in controversies over the weight and responsibility of the past and archivists suggest that records play an essential role in shaping common understanding about past injustices. However, the precise channels and depth of their impact remains poorly understood. There is a need to probe and delineate the social justice impact of archives as discussed by Duff, Flinn, Suurtamm and Wallace (2013).
Children labeled “mentally defective” and “disabled”, or deemed difficult in Scotland were often placed in residential schools and children’s homes. Though policies such as the Children Act of 1948 emphasized the need to support children’s best interests, abuse occurred within the residential establishments. As many children were never given an outlet to express their grievances at the time, claims have surfaced of corporal punishments, beatings, and force-feeding (Abrahms 1998). No national standards or requirements were in place to assess children’s welfare, and no public accountability. Starting in the mid-1980s, there has been increased public concern and debate related to the abuse of children in residential care as the Kincora and Leeways “scandals” started to focus attention on the issue (Sen et al. 2008, 414). Public concern further heightened in the 1990s by the cases of Frank Beck (Leicestershire) and the “Pin-down scandal” in Staffordshire (Corby et al. 2001). Of note is the government-commissioned Children’s Safeguards Review, which led to the publication of the Kent Report in 1997 providing evidence of different forms of abuse in residential and foster care settings. This review was followed by a number of internal and external inquiries into the issues (Sen et al. 2008, 419). Recently, in 2004, the Scottish Parliament commissioned an independent review of residential school abuse, and in 2007, the Historical Abuse Systemic Review: Residential Schools and Children’s Homes in Scotland 1950 to 1995, or the Shaw Report, was published. The Shaw Report (2007) highlighted the tragic consequences of poor recordkeeping and recommended that the government “commission a review of public records legislation which should lead to new legislation being drafter to meet records and information needs in Scotland.” (p.7). The government subsequently created relevant legislation to implement more coherent and comprehensive recordkeeping practices. It also commissioned a report entitled Time to be Heard: A Pilot Forum (2011), to test the appropriateness and effectiveness of a confidential forum in giving survivors an opportunity to recount their experiences.
This paper will discuss the impact of poor recordkeeping on the ability of survivors to learn about their past and seek legal redress. It would draw on various literatures that discuss the impact of records on care leavers as well as interviews with professionals who support care leavers in their search for records in Scotland, Scottish archivists working in this area, and Individuals who supported the work of the two commissioned reports.
Session 9: Digital Preservation
Break-up Letters and the Cold Shoulder from Blogademia / Carolyn Hank (University of Tennessee, Knoxville)
Just as we encounter orphaned works in the print realm, the growth of social media and lower barriers for publishing to the Web contribute to a new breed of “orphaned” works. Abandoned, in the specific context of blogs, is possibly more accurate, as authorship is known, whether published to under a real name or pseudonymously. This presentation reports on a longitudinal study, on-going since 2011, that examines such abandoned blogs, characterized as blogs that remain publicly discoverable and available after they are no longer actively published or updated. Applying a content analysis approach, reported are findings from a review of final posts published to approximately 400 inactive scholar blogs. It examines what, if any, message is left behind at the assumed end of the blog’s life cycle. Such messages may be seen as one indicator of creators’ intentions or assumptions for their blogs’ continued persistence. For a clear majority of these blogs, there is no farewell post or “note tacked to the door,” with the blogs simply ending abruptly. A minority do leave a message as to where the blog has gone. Themes that arose from this analysis of “farewell” posts include intentions for archiving or to come back to the blog at a later date. Additionally, findings will be shared that report on a sort of Lazarus effect observed between data collection periods, where blogs once dormant, and assumed “dead,” become active again. This presentation concludes with preliminary findings from a survey of bloggers’ attitudes and reactions as to the continued persistence of their respective “abandoned” blogs in respect to their own personal blog preservation, or “unpreservation,” preferences.
Of Parts and Wholes: Revisiting the Significant Properties of Digital Objects through the Lens of Design / Kari Kraus (University of Maryland)
The belief that the past can be faithfully recovered from historical fragments that survive in the present has had numerous literary champions: Rainer Maria Rilke’s headless statue of Apollo is made conceptually whole again through the power of synecdoche in “Torso of Archaic Apollo”; Wilhelm Jensen’s relic of a young woman in bas-relief becomes the means to reanimate the streets of ancient Pompeii in Gradiva; and William Blake’s miniscule grain of sand is a deep-time microcosm of the universe in “Auguries of Innocence.” Heritage stewardship practices likewise reflect this part-whole epistemology: a steeple might serve as the only surviving witness to a razed cathedral; a salvaged movie trailer the only testimony to an otherwise lost film; a peripheral device the only hardware component available to stand in for a retro game system.
Adopting the archival terminology of “significant properties” to refer to those parts of a digital artifact with greatest cultural salience, I explore what it might mean to design with the identification, durability, preservation, and reuse of those fragments or components in mind. Drawing on interviews with video game developers and research into how individuals identify the constituent parts of objects—including broken, obsolete, and semantically ambiguous objects—I distill a set of design principles and discuss their potential application to computer hardware, software, and three-dimensional realia.
Session 10: Studies in Records Creation
Emergence: Archivists’ Engagement with New Documentary Forms / Robert Riter (University of Alabama)
All histories of archival theory and practice are linked to corresponding and interweaving histories of documentary forms. Records, in their own particular material and evidential forms, present unique critical and evaluative challenges. This engagement and reading furthers the development and refinement of archival questions, which in turn, informs the development and application of archival conceptualizations, practices, and treatments.
Each generation of archivists is confronted with its own material and record challenges. The emergence of new, and evolution of existing, documentary forms requires archivists to ask challenging, though fundamental, questions of records. To what extent does a newly identified/recognized documentary form conform to or challenge the profession’s definition of what is a record? What is its informational/evidential/representational capability? What preservation and administrative challenges does the form present? These are among the questions that archivists ask.
While this aspect is a common condition of archival work, particular periods in our profession’s history are uniquely fruitful in providing a context for developing an understanding of the nature of documentary emergence and the activities that follow. The founding era of the archival profession in the United States is one such context. In addition to the concerns associated with the formation of a professional infrastructure, the period of the 1930’s through the 1960’s was witness to the emergence and increasing maturation of moving image, photographic, and audio records, as well as the increased automation of existing record types.
This paper offers a study archival emergence during this formative period. While this is an artifactual history, this is also a history of archivists’ reactions to, and encounters with, these forms, and of how objects challenge and influence the development of archival concepts and methods. In this study patterns of emergence are traced, placing emphasis on how documentary forms enter into the archival consciousness and into discourses about records. Secondly, reactions and confrontations are documented and analyzed through engaging the following questions: How did archivists engage new and changing archival forms? What types of questions did archivists ask? What evaluative and analytical approaches were applied?
In addressing these two elements, this study documents a specific archival context and set of relationships, illustrates dynamics of archival emergence, and offers a broader discussion of how archivists engage in dialogues with artifacts.
The Creation of Records Using Software as a Service (SaaS) Applications: A Contextual View / Weimei Pan (University of British Columbia)
Technological innovations over the history of human beings (e.g., clay tablet, paper, typewriter, computer, Internet) often have huge impacts on business and communication practice, and records creation. Accordingly, records creation and maintenance practices have to be reexamined and adjusted to accommodate changes these technological innovations may bring about. These reexamination and adjustment ensure that records created in the context of new technologies can be managed in such a way that their evidential nature can be protected.
One recent technological innovation is the shift to “cloud computing”. Within cloud computing is an emerging software delivery model called Software as a Service (hereafter SaaS). According to NIST, SaaS is the capability “to use the provider’s applications running on a cloud infrastructure” via a network, primarily, Internet, through a thin client interface or a web browser on a pay-per-use basis; the underlying cloud infrastructure is transparent to the consumers and the consumers do not manage or control the underlying cloud infrastructure, including network, servers, operating systems, storage, or even individual application capabilities. SaaS shares the characteristics of cloud computing: on-demand self-service, scalability, elasticity, and measured service. Academic and industry studies show that the adoption of SaaS applications is growing steadily over recent years. Yet, it is constantly acknowledged by scholars from different fields that cloud computing poses great challenges to data, information, documents, and records created and stored in the cloud, such as data lock-in, data confidentiality/auditability, trans-border data flow, security, and privacy. There is an increased body of literature examining the implications of cloud computing on records. However, most of these literature aim to offer advise and guidance on the evaluation and selection of cloud service from a record perspective; there is paucity of studies systematically researching the implications of cloud computing on existing records creation and maintenance practices.
The proposed paper intends to discuss the preliminary findings of a doctoral research study focusing on the creation and maintenance of records using SaaS applications. More specifically, it will present the implications of using Software as a Service (SaaS) applications on records creation and records maintenance. It is hoped that this review will stimulate further research of records in the cloud environment.
Study in Documents and the Modern Diplomatic / Eliot Wilczek (Simmons College)
The document as an object of study is a key characteristic of archival scholarship. The Study in Documents section of Archivaria has provided a venue for this document-centered scholarship. For this presentation, I will discuss the results of a study that I completed with Patti Condon to examine the nature of the Study in Documents articles and their role in archival literature. The purpose of this research is to understand the contribution of these articles to archival scholarship. Further we aim to understand what these contributions say about the field’s literature. We have completed a content analysis of all Study in Documents articles (1985–Present) to discern patterns of research within these articles, as well as citation analysis to see how these articles have influenced the field. We have also analyzed the authors’ professional positions in order to examine patterns of authorship from practitioners and scholars within the archival community. Using this data, I will place these findings within the 1970s and 1980s emergence of the modern diplomatic, a research approach that primarily uses historical research methods to gain a rich understand of the history and provenance of records. Archival thinkers such as Tom Nesmith, Terry Cook, and Hugh Taylor conceived of this research as a core component of archival practice that is scholarly in nature. This scholarship centers on the record and sits between professional practice and theoretical scholarship.
Session 11: Archival Description and Access Systems
Archival Description in a New Technology Environment / Jinfang Niu (University of South Florida)
Since its creation about two decades ago, EAD has played a vital role in publishing archival finding aids online. Despite its success, EAD has been criticized on various aspects. EAD was created to convert paper finding aids into online format, thus it imitates the content and layout of paper finding aids and employs a document-centric approach which is very different from the record-centric approach used by most other metadata schemas. An EAD finding aid contains not only metadata, but also formatting and structural information such as lists and paragraphs. This incompatibility with other metadata standards makes it difficult to convert EAD finding aids to other metadata formats and causes interoperability issues. In addition, users, especially novice users, have trouble understanding the archival jargons used in EAD finding aids, and become lost in the complex hierarchical structure of finding aids. Some researchers have also pointed out that the monolithic EAD files with a deep hierarchical structure makes it difficult to directly access particular components without accessing the whole hierarchy first. Notwithstanding these criticisms and the shifting technology environment, the most recent revisions of EAD by the Technical Subcommittee for Encoded Archival Description and the Schema Development Team are mostly minor adjustments and do not address most of these problems. This presentation proposes two solutions to overcome these limitations. One solution is to modify the current EAD schema based on the entity-relationship model defined in the Australian series system. The other solution is to replace EAD with another standard, the Open Archives Initiative Object Reuse and Exchange (OAI-ORE), which can be used to produce more flexible archival descriptions in linked data format. This presentation is based on a paper published in the journal Archives & Manuscripts.
Controlled Vocabularies: Why Archives Need Them More Than Ever? / Zdenka Semlič Rajh (University of Ljubljana)
In the field of records management and archives, we can very early find tendencies to provide faster access to documents, including the problems of the creation of headings, thesauri, classifications and creation of indices of the archival finding aids. These tendencies have been exercised in different ways, which led to the development of various systems for managing content of documents, both in classical as in electronic form. Encountered methodological problems were solved individually, while looking for a good solution and thus creating own system. However, these systems are sufficient only to provide faster access to documents described in traditional paper based finding aids. With the introduction of new IT solutions, especially in building mutual archival databases such method is not only unsuitable, but also inefficient and ineffective.
Systems for content identification may be systemized according to the purpose, objectives and implementation to a thesaurus, thesauri and classifications. Each of them has its own internal logic of the creation and use. Their importance within the contents of archival value lies in the rational placement into the system of managing the whole of archival material and also in the system of professional work. Thesaurus, thesauri and classifications are in fact crucial in the arrangement, description and transfer of records and archives.
Without a doubt, we can assert that the descriptors represent an important tool in the process of the creation of objective information on the archives. As such, they serve different purposes in the system of arrangement, description and use of the preserved archives. Therefore, the values of individual descriptors must be standardized in both content and also in terms of the creation of their recording in the system. For this reason, it is good that the Slovenian archival service continues with good practice of overtaking and importing of descriptors from trusted external sources and their incorporation into the Slovenian archival information system. In the case, the import from external sources is not possible or not meaningful, it is necessary to create them in the process of capturing of data freely but in accordance with the needs and demands of professional standards. In doing so, archivists must follow the rules of capturing of data in the respective system. Connectivity between the descriptors themselves or descriptors and other entities in the information system must be done so that there will be no misunderstanding as to the content as well as the appearance whether in the process of their capturing, amending and use. Archivists are to decide in which cases they will use additional descriptors and how many they will use.
The objective in establishing a unified system of descriptors should be the preparation of guidelines for creation of descriptors and thesaurus at the contents of archival value, which can be used in practice for the description of archives by any software tool. Since it is likely that the software tool will change, it is necessary to provide such a processing of the contents that will not be affected by the change of the system.
Infrastructure for Supporting Exploration and Discovery in Web Archives / Jimmy Lin (University of Maryland)
Web archiving initiatives around the world capture ephemeral web content to preserve our collective digital memory. However, unlocking the potential of web archives requires tools that support exploration and discovery of captured content. These tools need to be scalable and responsive, and to this end we believe that modern “big data” infrastructure can provide a solid foundation. We present Warcbase, an open-source platform for managing web archives built on HBase, a distributed “big data” store. Our system provides a flexible data model for storing and managing raw content as well as metadata and extracted knowledge. Tight integration with the Hadoop platform provides powerful tools for analytics and data processing. Relying on HBase for storage infrastructure simplifies the development of scalable and responsive applications.
Session 12: Archives and Cultural Contexts
Recordkeeping in the CNMI: A Case for Consideration of Cultural and Political Contexts, along with Economic Urgency / Cecilia Salvatore (Dominican University)
In order for archivists and records managers to be responsive to the needs of Pacific Island communities, Evelyn Wareham pointed out that they must pay particular attention to the cultural and political contexts of Pacific Island societies. As a result of years of colonialism, these societies display a certain degree of distrust of materials recorded, organized, and preserved by those who are not indigenous to the islands. Furthermore, with a strong, oral tradition, they implement different ways of recording and documenting their culture and activities. Wareham suggested that archivists and records managers must be sensitive to these. In the modern economy, however, I posit that it is critical that these societies begin to adopt effective methods of recordkeeping and records management.
This paper describes preliminary research that was conducted to further understand recordkeeping practices and perspectives in the CNMI and to begin to initiate dialogue about the critical nature of effective recordkeeping in the modern economy. As a commonwealth of the United States (similar to Puerto Rico), the CNMI should adhere to general guidelines about recordkeeping and access to information that were developed in the United States. For instance, it should adhere to the Freedom of Information Act. In a formal assessment of the state of cultural heritage resources and recording of cultural memory in the CNMI, conducted by the author in 2010-2011, it was evident that it was much removed from that of the rest of the United States. This paper describes results from a survey of specific government entities in the CNMI, such as the Commonwealth Health Center, the Northern Mariana Islands (NMI) Museum of History and Culture, the Department of Public Lands, and the NMI Archives. The survey included questions that were grouped into two categories. The first category of questions sought to identify perspectives on recordkeeping and the culture of recordkeeping in the government entities. The second category of questions expanded on the Generally Accepted Recordkeeping Principles (GARP) of the Association of Records Managers and Administrators (ARMA) and asked survey participants for their perspectives on these principles. The second part of the research will help to develop methods of recordkeeping that will be sensitive to the cultural and political contexts of the CNMI.
Curriculum Development for Archives and Records Management in Thailand: the Challenge of an Emerging Profession / Waraporn Poolsatitiwat (University of Liverpool)
Thai higher education has faced many difficulties since the Asian economic crisis hit Thailand in 1997-1998. A particular problem has been the apparent inability of universities to prepare graduates for employment. Although the Thai National Education Act 1999 was implemented as a significant mechanism to help solve this problem, it can be argued that in most degree program including archives and records management program, the curriculum currently taught in universities in Thailand still needs to be developed to “meet the characteristics of the new global professional and the new knowledge economy” (Pimpa 2011, p.275). It is therefore necessary to propose a model for curriculum development suitable for preparing new professionals in an evolving area of professional practice like archives and records management. However, to be successful in this aim, the following factors have to be considered.
Firstly, the model has to comply with the higher education regulations implemented by either Ministry of Education or the Office of the Higher Education Commission (OHEC) and specifically the Thailand Qualification Framework (TQF). Much research e.g. Blackmur (2004), Koller (2010), Allais (2007), Fernie and Pilcher (2009), Allais (2011), and Raffe (2013) suggested that the idea of national qualification framework did not work well with curriculum design in higher education and its failure have been apparent in most developing countries where it has been adapted.
Secondly, a curriculum has to adopt an effective idea regarding professional training. One of the most prominent models that may fit with training new emerging profession like archivists is that proposed by Reid, Dahlgren, Petocz, and Dahlgren (2011). This model focuses on professional knowledge, learning for work, professional identity, and professional pedagogies.
Thirdly, it has to consider the factor which contributes to success of an archival curriculum. Curriculum and training courses in the archival field need to be achieved a balance between theory and practice. Most archival educators e.g. Uhde (2006), Tibbo (2006), Nesmith (2007), and Turner (2008) conclude that the greatest difficulty in designing archival curricula is getting the right balance between what archivists should know (theory) and providing practical experience to work as a professional archivist.
After collecting data from literature and semi-structured interviews, three main factors have been found that may influence the development of archival curriculum in Thailand. First, the character and work competences of Thai archivists may be shaped by the five domains of learning outcomes, which are required by the TQF, as long as there is an effective tool to assess those learning outcomes. Second, the perception of Thai people regarding the identity of Thai archivist plays important role to the knowledge and skills they should have for being archivists and pedagogies should support them. Finally, disagreements between Thai academics and practicing Thai archivists regarding the balance of practical experience and theory required is the main obstacles to creating an effective professional model for training Thai archivists.
Development of Innovative Talents Cultivation Mode on Archival Education in China / Bing Zhang, Ning Zhang, and Qing Ma (Renmin University of China)
The Paper briefly reviews the history of archival education in China. According to the changes of the demand for professionals in the information society, with a case study of archival education in School of information resource management of Renmin University of China, the paper proposes to develop an innovative talents cultivation mode on archival education, which is an integration of teaching ideas, teaching processes and methods, teaching management system and mechanism, which reflects the growth pattern of innovative talents on professional archival education.
Session 13: Perspectives on Visual Archives
Studying the Visual Epistemologies of Digitization: A Theoretical and Methodological Framework / Zack Lischer-Katz (Rutgers University)
Following an intense period of digital library research in the 1990s, the last decade and a half has seen digitization emerge out of an experimental access technology to become accepted as a technique for preservation. While the standards and best practices for digitizing a range of visual materials are still developing, many media archives conduct digitization projects as part of their ongoing preservation work. However, copies are never neutral representations of their originals, but depend for their “quality and nature” on the judgments of preservationists (Edmundson, 1998). In effect, access to the visual documents of the past will be increasingly shaped by the judgments made by preservationists today. Recent scholarship has begun to conceptualize digitization as a social phenomenon in itself, suggesting that digitization projects embed traces of their cultural and historical circumstances in digital copies (Mak, 2014) and that resulting collections of digital surrogates should be treated as archival records (Conway, 2014). Taken together, these conceptualizations of digitization, and the current ascendance of digitization in remediating access to visual documents in our society, leads to important questions about the epistemological conditions in which digitization is practiced: What assumptions do preservationists hold about the nature of knowledge and how do they construct knowledge around their practices of digitization? In investigating these questions, my dissertation research seeks to gain new understanding into the epistemic assumptions of preservationists, as well as how digitization emerges as an institutionally-sanctioned and legitimized practice.
My research sets out to offer a rich description of the knowledge processes and epistemic assumptions around the digitization of visual materials. Three New York City-based media archives were selected as sites for conducting semi-structured interviews and participant-observation with preservationists directly engaged in sites of digitization projects. This research incorporates a discourse analytic approach to study the discourses of preservation in documents for digitizing visual materials (such as standards and specifications), which is integrated with an interpretive phenomenological approach (Smith, et al., 2009) that analyzes preservationists’ lived experiences of digitizing visual materials.
This presentation will outline theoretical and methodological frameworks for my ongoing dissertation research. The first part will discuss the relevant literature to conceptualize the nature of visual information and the remediation of visual documents. In the second part, I will discuss issues related to my theoretical framework, which is situated in the sociology of knowledge of Berger and Luckmann (1966), and outline my methodological framework. In the final section of this presentation I will report on the initial analyses of the data collected and discuss emergent implications for archival studies.
Berger, P. L., & Luckmann, T. (1966). The social construction of reality. New York: Anchor.
Conway, P. (2014, April 20). Digital transformations and the archival nature of surrogates [Electronic copy]. Archival Science, in press.
Edmundson, R. (1998). A philosophy of audiovisual archiving. Paris: UNESCO.
Mak, B. (2014). Archaeology of a digitization. Journal of the Association for Information Science and Technology, 65(8), 1515-1526.
Smith, J. A., Flowers, P., & Larkin, M. (2009). Interpretive phenomenological analysis. Los Angeles: Sage.
Limitations and Improvements in the Archival Management of Photographs / Gina Rappaport (University of Maryland)
Describing Photographs Using the KBI Theory / Melvin Hale (Emporia State University)
Photographs have routinely been afforded second-class status in library studies and archival studies, as opposed to that of primary resource. Photographs, particularly documentary photographs, are potentially rich repositories of cultural information, but due in part to their non-linear construction and multi-subject matter content, as objects of classification, they have been overlooked and/or used primarily for topical and illustrative purposes throughout the social sciences.
In this presentation I will introduce the KBI theory of visual perception, and demonstrate how it can be used as an epistemological tool to examine and produce reliable knowledge claims from photographic artifacts. Photographs often suffer from lack of contextualization. The KBI construct, comprised of know, believe, and imagine, will be used to unpack several documentary photographs. KBI holds that visual perception is an individual construct, and that ways of seeing incorporate a priori empirical knowledge, heuristic beliefs, and aesthetic contemplations. The archivist can produce rich narratives from photographic material by situating the narrative in a format that is compatible with visual thinking.
Session 14: Methods and Approaches to Study Archives
The Relationship Between People and Recorded Knowledge: Insights from Ethnomethodology / Ciaran Trace (University of Texas Austin)
First developed by sociologist Harold Garfinkel in the mid-twentieth century, ethnomethodology is a form of social theory that studies how social order is possible. In particular, ethnomethodology studies how people’s social world (a world comprised of everyday objects, action, and interaction) is constructed, accomplished, and maintained. The fundamental premise of the paper is that ethnomethodology is an appropriate worldview from which archivists, and other information scientists, can study the nature of documents and document work. The paper will provide an overview of the intellectual roots of ethnomethodology, situating this perspective in relation to the disciplines of sociology and phenomenology. The core concepts of ethnomethodology will then be introduced as a means of articulating what this perspective brings to our understanding of the way that society is accomplished. Finally, a selection of key studies will be examined in order to highlight important ethnomethodological findings about the particular relationship of documents to human actions and interactions.
Crossing the Three-Wire Bridge: Mediating Methodologies Between Communities / Belinda Battley (Monash University)
This paper will explore the challenges inherent in the process of developing a research methodology that will meet academic requirements as well as the needs of the several different communities participating in my PhD project. My research re-examines archival description in the archival multiverse, using a mediated community partnership research methodology from a critical theory standpoint, and asks how a community outside traditional institutional structures can take control of their records of collective memory. I take a Records Continuum perspective, which sees multiple potential perspectives, needs and outcomes inherent in records. A critical theory approach aims for transformation and empowerment for the communities involved, so their needs must be central, and therefore my methodology must take an inclusive approach. As the researcher, I am an insider and mediator between the participating communities.
Three main communities are involved in this research: The Auckland University Tramping Club (AUTC), the archival academic community, and the archival practice community. The AUTC community is an integral part of the research, and therefore the methodology used must meet their needs. Similarly, both the archival community and the academic community are integral, so again their methodological needs must be met if the research is to be acceptable to them. The complexity of negotiation of methodologies is increased by the wide range of group and individual viewpoints contained within each of the communities. Re-negotiating my position within the communities as I become a researcher also has strong potential effects, both on my research itself and on my ongoing relationships within the communities, and these also need to be taken into account.
Working with communities to which I belong brings its own challenges, including questions of avoiding coercion and bias while not discounting valuable potential sources of information. These challenges must all be successfully met for the project to succeed. This paper will describe the challenges I have found and the ways I am meeting them so far, including the use of interpretive methods, open communication, inter-community translation, humour, negotiation, checking back, and analytical autobiography.
“We Care! Do You?”: ACT UP Records, Feminist Ethics, and Radical Care / Marika Cifor (UCLA)
Just visible over the top of a drag queen’s blond bouffant is a sign reading “We Care! Do You?” in black marker. I feel as though this question is directed to me as a scholar, archivist and user, and as if I am actually standing there in the middle of the crush of hundreds of AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power/Los Angeles (ACT UP/LA) protestors. This black and white image of a March 1989 “zap” of Cedars-Sinai Hospital for their refusal to build a desperately needed AIDS ward is part of the ACT UP/LA Records at the ONE National Gay and Lesbian Archives. The named “we” of the sign’s message is created, enacted, and performed by this queer gesture of resistance. The image documents and acts as a gesture of care demanding a reciprocal gesture to alleviate suffering. Echoing in the archives it calls for a response that is attuned to affect. This paper applies a “feminist ethics of care” framework as introduced by Caswell and Cifor to delineate the role of ACT UP records, the archives they live in, and archivists who care for them. An ethics of care emphasizes the multiplicity of ways people are linked to one another and to larger communities through webs of responsibilities. This approach to ethics emphasizes “particularlity, connection, and context,” rather than abstract moral principles and favors empathy to situational demands. Through this case study I advocate that we all pay greater attention to care—what it is, who does it, who needs it, how it is distributed and circulated, placing care at the center of archival work. Focusing on four key relationships in one collection—archivist and record creator, archivist and record subject, archivist and record user, and archivist and community exposes how archival relationships are essentially affective in nature and that archivists have ethical responsibilities based on these affective relations.
Care is an apt framework for addressing ACT UP. Care is both the feeling of concern and attachment, and acts of providing what is necessary for the health, maintenance, and protection of someone. ACT UP cared literally and figuratively for those impacted by HIV/AIDS in radical ways. Their records demonstrate that queer gestures and geographies of care can transcend commonly recognized structures of care as gentle and soft by creating and performing gestures care that are tough, militant, and radical. Radical care is captured in content of the records—anger and caretaking in demonstrations to sex as communal care—and in the function of the ACT UP archives. Caring demands a new archival ethics.
Session 15: Examinations of Digital Archives
President Barack Obama’s Birth Certificate is Trustworthy: An Empirical Investigation of User Digitized Archival Document Trustworthiness Perception / Devan Donaldson (Indiana University)
No person’s birth certificate has generated as much attention in recent history as that of Barack Obama—the forty-fourth President of the United States of America. The birth certificate controversy stems from concern over the President’s citizenship as well as the format and presentation of the document. Despite efforts by staff of the Department of Health of the State of Hawaii to verify the trustworthiness of the birth certificate, skepticism regarding the document, at least at some level, persists. Interestingly, no empirical research on trustworthiness perception regarding the document exists. This paper describes a study aimed at measuring user digitized archival document trustworthiness perception for President Obama’s birth certificate using the Digitized Archival Document Trustworthiness Scale (DADTS). Seventy members of the Genealogical Society of Washtenaw County (GSWC) evaluated DADTS in relation to Obama’s certificate. Results suggest high and positive digitized archival document trustworthiness perception for President Obama’s birth certificate among the study participants. Implications for understanding and measurement of user digitized archival document trustworthiness perception are discussed
Archival Realism in Digital History Projects / David Kim (Occidental College)
Through the critique of the identity’s “essence” in critical race/ethnic studies and the digital humanities’ interrogation of the objectivity of data in digital knowledge production, this paper examines the “archival realism” of digital history projects that provide access to archival materials of various minoritarian histories in the US. While digital tools and platforms certainly offer broader, and often more interactive, access to archival collections, digital archives are also, crucially, knowledge representations that inherit and advance cultural values. This paper looks beyond the rhetoric of inclusion and access for the minoritarian archives, in order to locate the layers of the “archival grain” (Stoler, 2009) that are reassembled through digital maps, exhibits, and visualizations. Using Digital Harlem: Everyday Life 1915-1930 (http://digitalharlem.org/) as a case study, it argues for the importance of the archival studies’ functionalist approach to historical evidence in challenging the “archival realism” that abounds in the current moment of the digital archive fever, in which the archives’ evidential authority is often considered to be simultaneously self-evident and revealing of hidden truths. By activating the field’s longstanding attention to the processes by which records are created and arranged, this paper addresses the cultural politics of representation in the ‘data-ization’ of the archives in digital knowledge production.
Stories of Impact: The Role of Narrative in Understanding the Value and Impact of Digital Collections / Diana Marsh (University of British Columbia) and Ricardo L. Punzalan (University of Maryland)
Session 16: Archival History
Thomas Jefferson and the Art of Recordkeeping of His Time / Jane Zhang (Catholic University of America)
There might be no better person than Thomas Jefferson as the topic of study to observe the practice of recordkeeping of America at the turn of the nineteenth century. Born in 1743, he came of age a decade before the start of the American War for Independence, and lived through the decade of the American Revolution and several decades into the Early Republic before he died in 1826. He practiced law, ran his family plantation, served as a public official, and lived a life as a philosopher, writer, historian, diplomat, scientist, innovator and more. Above all, he was a meticulous record keeper all his lifetime.
Jefferson’s preoccupation with recordkeeping started early, ran deep, and lasted long. Early in his life, he kept separate records in memorandum books of expenditures, observations, technical notes, and climatological phenomena. All his lifetime, he wrote, copied (using copying machines of his time), and maintained his correspondence “with painstaking care”. He showed a strong interest in copying and publishing historical records as a means of long-term preservation and wrote to his historian friend: “let us save what remained: not by vaults and locks which fence them from the public eye and use, … but by such multiplication of copies, as shall place them beyond the reach of accident.”
The proposed paper will draw on evidence from Jefferson’s papers and related publications to discuss his recordkeeping practice as an example to understand the art of recordkeeping of his time. The research will consult Thomas Jefferson Papers at the Library of Congress, Jefferson Library Collections at Monticello, the Papers of Thomas Jefferson published by Princeton University, and other related publications.
Trailblazer: Harold T. Pinkett, Archivist-Historian / Alex Poole (University of North Carolina Chapel Hill)
My paper will focus on Harold T. Pinkett, the first African American professional at the National Archives (1942-1979). Elected a Fellow (the first African American) of the Society of American Archivists (1962), Pinkett also edited the American Archivist (1968-1971, again, the first African American to hold the position) and served on SAA Council (1971-1972, still another first). The Society of American Archivists renamed its Minority Student Award for Dr. Pinkett in 1999. This paper shall restore Pinkett to a place of deserved visibility among current archival professionals. It will situate Pinkett among his professional peers as an archivist, historian, and administrator while underscoring the importance of his series of “firsts.” The Society of American Archivists encourages proactive measures with respect to diversity and social justice; scholarship on persons such as Harold T. Pinkett represents just such a salutary intervention.
Industrial History Through Collection Genres: The Origins and Early History of Manuscript Collections at the Hagley Museum and Library / Erik Nordberg (Michigan Technological University)
This research examines the founding and early development of the Hagley Museum and Library in Wilmington, Delaware. The institution was founded in 1953 by Pierre S. du Pont, former president of the E.I. du Pont de Nemours chemical company and chairman of General Motors. Formed originally as the Longwood Library to house family papers, books, historical manuscripts, and records relating to early du Pont family business enterprises, it merged with a du Pont industrial museum at the site of the company’s former powder works in 1961 and became an active collector of business manuscripts. Initial work focused on the organization and cataloging of du Pont’s personal library and processing of the manuscript material dating back to the family’s roots in pre-revolution France. From the start, however, the mission and vision of Hagley staff was to broaden its manuscript acquisitions beyond du Pont businesses to include other significant industrial business ventures in the Mid-Atlantic region of the United States.
Through its early history, Hagley confronted a variety of conflicting interests revealing the inherent differences in collecting and describing personal manuscripts, historical business materials, monographs, and the records of an ongoing multinational corporation. In addition, the enterprise engaged in an active conference and publication program, as well as a internationally significant research fellowship program with the University of Delaware. Hagley staff were recruited from fields reflecting these varied needs and interests, some assuming important leadership roles in the field of archives and records management.
This case provides a useful contrast and comparison to other significant American collections of business and industrial manuscripts. For instance, the Baker Library at the Harvard Business School in Cambridge, Massachusetts was established decades earlier than Hagley to serve the nation’s first-ever graduate school of business and economics. It’s “case method,” in which student undertake analyses of real-world business problems, required access to a variety of business information, data which was collected and preserved in Baker Library’s collections. Alternatively, manuscript collections within the National Museum of American History, formed in 1955 as part of the Smithsonian Institution, reflect a museum approach in which important industrial manuscripts were acquired while gathering objects and artifacts for interpretive exhibits.
Although the mission, funding, and archival collecting activities of repositories for business records change over time, an examination of their establishment and early work highlights important differences in each institutional context which continue to affect their selection of manuscript material for permanent preservation. In the case of the Hagley Museum and Library, an initial collection developed around a singular family and its core industrial enterprise became the setting for a deliberate effort to collect and preserve regional industrial records. This research not only reveals aspects of archival practice at this specific institution but can inform appraisal and selection theory and future collecting in the topical area of business and industrial manuscripts.
Session 17: Access, Classification, and Privacy
Reimagining Archival Access: Building Search Engines for the Archival Enterprise / Douglas W. Oard (University of Maryland)
The traditional role of a search engine is much like the traditional role of a library: generally the objective is to help people find things. Archives, by contrast, sometimes need to limit what may be seen, when it may be seen, and by whom it may be seen. Born-digital records such as email pose two new challenges that drive us outside what present access control processes can reasonably accommodate, however. First, the size of the collections are growing at an astounding rate. For example, the Clinton administration generated around 32 million emails from the Executive office of the President, but it has been estimated that the Obama administration will generate a billion. Second, records that could be opened now are often intermixed with records that require protection and with vast quantities of non-record material, but without any obvious way of efficiently determining which items are in each category. This large-scale intermixing poses a dilemma: the only way we can protect what must be protected is to deny access to what could, and properly should, be seen. If we are to develop archival access systems in the future that are worthy of the name, we will need search engines that act less like a library and more like an archive. In this talk, I will introduce the idea of “search among secrets” in which the goal is to help some users find some content while protecting some content from some users (or from some uses). We’ll start by looking at how two such processes actually work today: review for privilege in e-discovery, and review for redaction in declassification. We’ll then draw on those examples to begin to think through how to balance risks as a matter of policy, bit affordability and effectiveness might be balanced with the help of automation, and how we might measure how well we are doing at striking the balances we have sought to achieve. I’ll conclude with an invitation for archivists and information retrieval researchers to begin to think together about how best to address these challenges, and a few thoughts on what we need to learn from each other in order to do so.
Who Controls the Bits: Enabling Access to Authentic Born-Digital Records while Protecting Sensitive Data / Cal Lee (University of North Carolina Chapel Hill)
Archivists are increasingly obtaining materials through the acquisition of media such as hard disks, removable magnetic and optical media, as well as processing backlogs of materials that are stored on such media. The bitstreams stored on digital media often contain personally identifying information, records of communication, location data, and other forms of data that can be deemed by relevant stakeholders to be sensitive. There are many potential approaches to preventing inadvertent access to such sensitive data, including permanent destruction, redaction at the time of request, filtering through user access systems, and enforcement of temporary access restrictions (i.e. closure periods). All of the above approaches depend upon methods to identify the specific patterns (e.g. names, numbers) that are considered sensitive.
I will discuss various forms of information that can be personally revealing: not just patterns such as social security numbers, but also more seemingly mundane traces such as geographic coordinates, network path information and social media artifacts. I will also elaborate methods and tools for providing access to born-digital data while removing or masking sensitive information. Finally, I will suggest implications for both the workflows of archivists and potential future directions for archival researchers and educators. This presentation will report on work of the BitCurator Access project (2014-2016), which is funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
Looking at Classified Information: Archival Infrastructure as Cultural Technique / Stacy Wood (UCLA)
Classified information is a category of record deemed by a government agency or body to contain information considered sensitive. This form of information has a unique relationship to archival theory and practice, shifting and challenging persistent expectations of public knowledge and accountability. The current normative sets of protocols governing the confidentiality, integrity and availability of that information have come into being through an ad hoc process with roots in the first World War. Through a series of Executive Orders, Legislative Acts and legal precedent, the infrastructure of classified information has expanded and contracted. Historians, political scientists and those in science and technology studies have looked into classified information primarily as a source of frustration, carefully monitoring the declassification process in hopes that more information will expand existing narratives or augment lost scientific knowledge. Those in archival studies have confronted classified information as a problem both of management and professionalism. While there is a tradition in both media studies and science and technology studies of focusing on the material features of bureaucratic structures and systems of documentation, for the most part the attitude towards classified information can be largely summed up by Ben Kafka’s statement about historians who have discovered all sorts of interesting and important things looking through paperwork, but seldom paused to look at it. This paper seeks to move beyond seeing government structures, and specifically archival bodies as institutional frames, for the production and transmission of documents and instead identify the infrastructure of classified information as a cultural technique that is materially constituted and expressed through executive orders, legislative acts, manuals and various apparatus for marking, transmission and storage. The concept of cultural techniques has seen a resurgence in recent German media theory, focusing primarily on the relationship between technologies and users. When used as a theoretical tool to address bureaucratic systems, this concept expands notions of secrecy, openness and agency and allows for a focus on the complexity of socio-techno-legal systems. Cultural techniques due to this iterative and distributed process of enactment naturalize themselves, and in the process this naturalization serves to erase its historical and cultural contexts. Leveraging the concept of cultural techniques allows us to move beyond the characterization of classified information as an anti-epistemology, for the complexity of a system in which operations, subject performing operations and the object being manipulated are constituted mutually and iteratively. Executive Orders, as one of the primary foundational pieces of the classified information infrastructure are a generative source of multiple epistemologies. Classified information facilitates a particular form of knowing which is intimately related to identity, status and temporal and spatial orientations.
Session 18: Perspectives on Being an Archival Academic
Talking is Very Old, Writing is Not: Archival Writing and Personal Strategies / Richard Cox (University of Pittsburgh)
There has been an explosion of new research and writing about archives in the past generation. Nevertheless, both archival academics and practitioners often find it difficult to engage in successful writing strategies. Indeed, writing is hard work, and doing it in a way that leads to publication is an even harder task. The title of this paper comes from Margaret Atwood: “talking is very old, writing is not. Most people learn to talk when they are infants, but many people never learn to read. Reading is decoding, and in order to do it you have to learn a purely arbitrary set of markings, an abstract formula.” Since reading is essential to good writing, the challenges of learning to write are obvious. In this presentation, I am drawing on many years of experience in writing and publishing, as well as considerable reading of writers’ memoirs, advice books on writing, literary studies, and other perspectives on the experience of writing in order to offer a set of approaches that can be pursued in a lifetime of scholarship and practice. Writing is a craft or art to be learned, and learning demands attention to the audience, having clear objectives, being an avid reader, and the ability to accept criticism and to learn from such criticism. Writing is something that can be learned over the course of a career, but it is not measured solely in getting tenure or achieving the rank of professor. Even with the deluge of books and articles about archives, archivists, and archival work, we have substantial gaps in archival writing. And these gaps are not just topical (although we have plenty of those). While archivists incessantly write for each other, there are large segments of the public, other disciplines, and their own faculty colleagues who they ignore – making understanding of the archival mission all that more difficult to achieve. Fortunately, the tools and resources for improving one’s writing are both broad and deep; discipline and realistic strategies are all that are required to improve one’s writing and, ultimately, to achieve success in publishing.
Negotiating a Career as an Archival Academic / Sigrid McCausland (Charles Sturt University)
Gaining your PhD is the first step towards an academic career. It is a significant personal achievement, but your future achievements will often be as part of a team and in a competitive environment. Academic employment today is precarious and universities are complex organisations which can be difficult to understand. Reaching your goal of a tenured or continuing position will require persistence and the development of skills in areas beyond archival research and teaching. At this point you may be a mentee and later in your career you may become a mentor to newer entrants to the field. In all your work as an academic relationships with colleagues and with university administrators as well as with students will be critical to your success.
This paper draws on the literature of career preparation and the experience of early career professionals, in particular the work of Marian Hoy (2010), to sketch a roadmap for the beginning archival academic. It also draws on the author’s experience of the Australian academic environment over the last three decades.
Hoy, M. (2010). Through their eyes: Experiences of early professional learners in collecting institutions. (PhD), University of Canberra.
The Contribution of Archival Studies to the i-School Movement? / Gregory Leazer (UCLA)
The new Schools, Departments and Colleges of Information—the iSchools—are relatively new phenomena in universities. Most iSchools, whether they acknowledge it or not, are the outgrowth of two merged forces: many started as professional training programs for librarians, and the embracing of information technologies, especially those such as the Web that began to transform social and academic life with the period of most rapid change occurring in the 1990s.
This paper attempts to answer the question of “what is the contribution of archival studies to the iSchool?” A study of archival practice, and the training of archivists, makes the following contributions:
- Expanding the definition of information, and uses. Schools of information have focused on a narrow range of information resources. Librarianship and information science both have presumptive models of information types, particularly books in the former, and scholarly or professional resources in the latters. Archival studies contributes to theories of evidence, of cultural shaping and use of records, and the contribution of various documentary forms to the development of knowledge. By broadening our understanding of information resources, archival studies gives further definition to the basic phenomena that is the presumptive focus of a field dedicated to information.
- Preservation of and access to the full cultural record. Understanding the role of archivists in providing access to diverse document types within the cultural record leads to an understanding of the kinds of values and ethics of information professionals. Masters programs at the center of many iSchools have struggled to define the various “information professions”; archival studies helps shape an iSchool perspective on these professions by contributing to the core values associated with ethical access to information for various kinds of communities.
- Expansion of traditional user groups. Archival studies can serve as a model for rethinking the kinds of audiences that traditionally use our information services. Archives have begun to reach out to new kinds of people who use archives. Perhaps more importantly, this work has lead to developments about the ways we conceptualize the communities who use our various systems and the assumptions we have about information users. The field of archival studies provides iSchools with enlarged sense of professional settings and occupations.
- Archives, information systems and information retrieval (IR). Important questions remain unanswered about the characteristics of diverse record types for the development of information systems. Traditional IR practice is focused on short items whose principal features is relatively simple declarative language, particularly on the web. Understanding the characteristics of archival documents—fragmentary narratives with complex associations—could lead to the development of improved information retrieval systems.
- Contributions to interdisciplinarity and to scholarship. Phrases like the “archival moment” and the “archival turn” indicate a general trend toward archives within the humanities and social sciences. These include investigations of memory practices, representation of cultural minorities in the historical record, the role of curatorial voice, human rights and access to documentation.
Ultimately, recognizing the contributions of archival studies to iSchools will lead us to a fuller articulation of the identity of iSchools and setting them on surer conceptual footing.
Session 19: Issues in Moving Image Archives
Authenticity and Value In Situ: A Case Study of Appraisal and Preservation Practices of Digital Moving Image Archives / Asen O. Ivanov (University of Toronto)
In this paper, I will present my dissertation research on appraisal and preservation practices of digital moving image (film and television) archives. To this end, I will discuss the goals and the theoretical arguments motivating my study. I will describe the conceptual framework I have developed to systematically analyze appraisal and preservation practices of digital moving image archives. And I will conclude by outlining my plans for operationalizing this conceptual framework within the context of a comparative, qualitative case study research design. In doing so, I will present for debate three overarching arguments. First, I will argue that appraisal and preservation in digital archives must be understood as kindred practices. This is because the question how to best describe the “significant properties” of digital materials for the purpose of digital preservation is inseparable from the question what is valuable about digital materials and necessarily must be preserved. Second, I will argue that an analysis of appraisal and preservation practices of digital archives could be enhanced significantly by drawing on the theoretical and methodological insights of the field of contemporary practice theory. Lastly, third, I will argue that practice theory informed analysis of appraisal and preservation practices could enrich our conceptual knowledge of the way in which work gets done in digital archives, but more importantly, could make an important contribution to the larger debate of whether the determinations of authenticity and value of archives are more accurately described as products of organizational practices or stem from the inherent properties of archival materials.
Film Archives at Moments of Crisis: The Sporadic Development of Motion Picture Preservation in the United States / Brian Real (University of Maryland)
Much of the development of major motion picture archives in the United States has been connected to a series of international crises. The government has seen American cinema – and Hollywood feature films, especially – as a way to reaffirm American cultural identity at home at times of external threat and to gain sympathy and approval abroad. This has resulted in the government often funding film archives and preservation activities in reaction to global challenges, and then usually retracting this funding after these moments are over.
This includes the government’s decision to fund the Museum of Modern Art Film Library and create a National Film Collection at the Library of Congress during World War II, then the cessation of this funding after the end of the war. Likewise, plans to create American Film Institute and its preservation activities started with plans to use national cinema abroad for propaganda purposes during the Cold War, and federal funding for the Institute ending several years after the fall of the Soviet Union.
Beyond arguing that the rise and fall of government support for preservation activities has been clearly linked to national crises, the presenter will also show how this support has shaped what has been saved, with most federal funding going towards saving Hollywood films until the 1990s.
Developing a Pedagogical Framework to Prepare Archives Professionals for Effective Management of Audiovisual Archives / Karen F. Gracy (Kent State University)
Current graduate programs in moving image archiving have well-developed curricula, encompassing the theoretical underpinnings and practical skills necessary for students pursuing careers as audiovisual specialists in various environments (from traditional LAMs to other entities where effective management of audiovisual materials is required). These curricula were developed without the guidance of a set of shared competencies or curriculum guidelines, because such guidelines did not exist. Even today, there are no national or international standards for developing audiovisual archiving curricula. Thus, each program reflects the particular organizational views of its developers and faculty, ranging from trained conservators, to film historians, to traditionally educated (records-oriented) archivists, to information science educators. With no generally agreed-upon set of core competencies, there can be great variation in what students take away from course offerings at the graduate and continuing education levels.
This paper argues that AV archiving has now reached a state of maturity that would allow educators and professionals to collaboratively develop a set of shared principles and a pedagogical framework to guide further development of curriculum. This framework would describe the domain of AV archiving and establish a set of core competencies from which educators could draw to create new courses and workshops or revise existing curricula. Competencies can be practical skills, such as knowing how to handle particular types of media, or they can be soft skills such as building support within an institution to support media preservation. The competencies could also differentiate between basic and advanced levels of expertise and indicate the role of practical experience in educational programs. As part of the paper, the presenter will review other curriculum modes and provide a definition of core competencies. She will also present a preliminary outline for the moving image domain and several exemplars of competencies at various levels of expertise.
Session 20: Data Curation
Open Government, Government Administrative Data and the Record Keeping Role in the UK: New Research / Elizabeth Shepherd (University College London)
Professor Elizabeth Shepherd, UCL Department of Information Studies, London Researchers at UCL in the Department of Information Studies are engaged in several research projects which focus on the management of records and administrative data in the public sector. This paper will report interim findings of research using government administrative data (part of an Economic and Social Science Research Council-funded five year project, ADRC-E) which seeks to promote wider research access to, and innovative linkage between, datasets held by UK government departments and agencies, thereby transforming the way data are currently converted into knowledge and evidence for public and economic policy. Early findings from a case study focusing on students’ educational data will be discussed. This research (carried out by Shepherd with colleagues, Dr Oliver Duke-Williams and Alexandra Eveleigh) draws upon in-depth interviews with academic researchers across a range of social scientific disciplines, data collection agents, civil servants responsible for assessing and administering access requests, and representatives from charitable foundations who commission research using government administrative data.
I will be able to present some preliminary conclusions. I will also report on findings from another project, part of INTERPARES Trust, which is looking at the management of records and information in an open government environment, in particular in local government, and provide some analysis of similarities and differences between the two cases.
Data Sharing Across Disciplines: Communicating About Data in an Interdisciplinary Research Group / Morgan Daniels (Vanderbilt University)
Data sharing and reuse has become a priority for many grant funding organizations, research institutions, publishers, and individual researchers. The potential for new combinations and analyses of data to reveal novel patterns and findings has made data sharing an important concern across a spectrum of research topics and methods. Methods for sharing research data range from person-to-person correspondence about data to datasets added to repositories created for a given discipline, data type, publication venue, or institution. These methods permit various kinds of communication about data as well, from informal communication to the standardized metadata and documentation required by some repositories. Data sharing infrastructure is being developed through the collaboration of numerous stakeholders, often from a particular research context with a deep understanding of the practices they intend to support. Anticipating the needs of interdisciplinary data reuse, however, is more complicated.
This study examines the ways that members of an interdisciplinary research team share their data with each other and, in particular, the ways they communicate about the data they collect in order to make datasets meaningful and usable to other researchers in the team. This presentation is based on interviews and observations with members of an academic research team examining people’s responses to water quality problems in a community in the developing world. They are environmental scientists and sociologists using both observational data, collected from a variety of instruments, and interview data, obtained from members of the community. While team members understand how to use shared data emerging from their own disciplinary methods, they have a difficult time understanding how to analyze the data created by their colleagues: the sociologists are unsure how to make use of the environmental science data, and vice versa. By uncovering the communication tactics of this team, this presentation will shed light on some of the necessary elements for making data reuse possible outside a single discipline
The Concept of Provenance as Portrayed in Traditional Archives, Digital and Data Curation, and Computer Science, or How Archivists Can Talk to Each Other and Still Talk to Technologists / Lorraine Richards (Drexel University)
The concept of provenance as a controlling principle in archival theory and practice has remained the profession’s mainstay for generations (Bearman and Lytle 1985; Nesmith 1993). However, in recent decades we have seen the term “provenance” expand to represent the capture of contextual and chain of custody information within digital environments as well as acting as a principle of arrangement in traditional, paper-based environments. Continuum theorists speak of “multiple” and “parallel” provenance (Evans et al. 2005). Post-modern and post-colonial thinkers have developed notions of “social provenance” in communities of records (Bastian 2006) and “provenance as ethnicity” (Wurl 2005). In fact, with the advent of digital curation and digital preservation, “provenance” has also come to refer to a specific type of metadata (Hedges et al. 2012). Even computer scientists use the term to represent the granular scientific workflows that support the development of scientific data sets (Amsterdamer et al. 2012). This paper will present a comparative view of a variety of conceptualizations of provenance being used in traditional archives, digital preservation, digital and data curation, and computer science. The goal is to improve the ability of archivists and digital curators to communicate better among themselves, as well as with the information technologists and computer scientists with whom they work when engaging in digital and data curation activities.
Amsterdamer, Y., S. Davidson, D. Deutch, T. Milo, J. Stoyanovich, and V. Tannen. “Putting Lipstick on a Pig: Enabling Database-Style Workflow Provenance.” Proceedings of the VLDB Endowment 5 (4), 346-357. Available at http://arxiv.org/pdf/1201.0231.pdf.
Bastian, J. “Reading Colonial Records Through an Archival Lens: The Provenance of Place, Space and Creation.” Archival Science 6:267–284.
Bearman, D. and R. Lytle. “The Power of the Principle of Provenance.” Archivaria (1985) 21: 14-27.
Evans, J., S. McKemmish, and K. Bhoday. “Create Once, Use Many Times: The Clever Use of Recordkeeping Metadata for Multiple Archival Purposes.” Archival Science (2005) 5: 27-42.
Hedges, Mark, Tobias Blanke, Stella Fabiane, Gareth Knight, and Eric Liao. “Sheer Curation of Experiments: Data, Process, Provenance.” Journal of Digital Information, 13 (1) March 2012. Available at: https://journals.tdl.org/jodi/index.php/jodi/article/view/5883/5890. Date accessed: 06 Feb. 2015.
Nesmith, T. Canadian Archival Studies and the Rediscovery of Provenance. Metuchen, New Jersey: Association of Canadian Archivists and SAA, 1993.
Session 21: Race, Gender, and Archives
Out of the Archival Closet: Opening the Historical Record to Black Lesbian Lives / Dalena Hunter (UCLA)
This presentation will present findings gathered via ethnographic methods for the dissertation. The dissertation explores how archives capture black lesbian experiences and how those materials are subsequently used. It employs comparative case study design at June Mazer Lesbian Archives, Schomberg Center for Research in Black Culture, and Lesbian Herstory Archive and interviews with archivist and researchers. The dissertation asks: how does record keeping culture affect black lesbian presence in archives and how do researchers access black lesbian materials and employ them in their research? The dissertation explores how recordkeeping cultures create or exacerbate silences in the historical record and how scholars navigate gaps when they access black lesbian archival records.
The dissertation asserts that epistemic violence in archival theory and practice can be located and rectified through a reflexive archival practice. Microaggressions, counternarratives, and intersectional identity are borrowed from critical race theory to explore moments of silence in the creation, collection, and activation of archives. The concept, “cultures of dissemblance” is borrowed from black feminist studies to explore how black lesbians react to and/or participate in archival silences. Secondly, the dissertation investigates how researchers navigate silences in the archival record. It hopes to contribute to postmodern archival scholarship and ethnic and gender studies scholarship that explores the connection between dominant historical and cultural narratives and recordkeeping cultures.
Speaking the Unspeakable: Sexual Disclosures in Chicano Oral Archives / Robb Hernandez (UC Riverside)
In 2003, Chon Noriega and Rita Gonzalez published, “An Undocumented History: A Survey of Index Citations for Latino and Latina Artists,” a study which examined three major art history index search engines and commonly used Twentieth Century American art textbooks to identify the Latina/o presence in visual studies scholarship. Their data revealed a more insidious project at work, a project that routinely “undocumented” Latina/o artists in American art history. While this study laid the groundwork for the award-winning book series, A Ver: Revisioning Art History, a series committed to the critical contributions of U.S. Latinas/os in American art and culture, it also revealed that just two artists of Latin American descent were frequently cited in survey textbooks–Felix Gonzalez-Torres and Judith Baca. Although this representation is meager by comparison to the vastness of Latina/o visual expression in general, it is fascinating to note that those artists “documented” were working in gay, lesbian, and feminist modes of address.
While “post-identity” remains an undeniable strategy in Latino contemporary art exhibitions of late, in my talk I want to think through the pervasive role of queerness as an idiom and episteme. That is, how might we explain this phenomenon? What is US Latina/o Art History told through its queer archives of sexual and gender transgression? How can we imagine the field without perpetuating a compulsory heteronormative eye? How do we make space for sexual knowledges and differences that defy salient versions of “gay” and “lesbian” identities? Those that were engendered by barrio speak? By the charla?
To do this, I will foreground my findings when I served as a research associate for the Smithsonian Archives of American Art in 2010. Contracted to develop a digital exhibition in anticipation of the Archivos Virtuales collection’s conversion to a Web 2.0 platform, I fielded over 60 oral history transcripts from U.S. Latina/o artists. What I discovered were the ways in which queerness pervaded these confessional sites shaping the exchange between interviewer/interviewee and the intensifying the gap from which queer sexual knowledge manifests. I attempt to register these curious and haphazard detours, moments in the oral archive when sexual difference is bared, homosexuality encountered, contact zones breeched, and Chicana/o aesthetics interpenetrates queerness brought into relief with audio recordings and interview transcriptions. That is, the way that “other” sexualities interceded and “touched” the early careers of renowned Chicana/o visual artists, such as: Carlos Almaraz, Barbara Carrasco, Harry Gamboa, Jr., Carmen Lomas Garza, Benito Huerta, Luis Jimenez, Gil “Magú” Lujan, and Frank Romero. By stressing these moments, I want to reconsider how US Latina/o art history is written, which archives are appraised, and what vision of Latinidad must not only be seen but also, heard.
Session 22: Participatory Archiving
Connecting the Disconnected: Developing a Participatory Archival Design Methodology / Joanne Evans (Monash University)
The Australian archival and recordkeeping community does not (or perhaps should not) need another Royal Commission to highlight disconnects and dysfunctions with current archival access frameworks when it comes to individuals and communities dealing with identity, memory and accountability crisis. A succession of inquiries and reports over the past two decades (at last count 80+) have called for better archival and recordkeeping systems and improved access regimes, for those who experienced forced or otherwise removal from their families into institutional or other out-of-home ‘care’ as children. Those searching for their records, along with those who help them, must continually cope with a plethora of patchwork systems, as they try to piece together an archive of their experiences. While some incremental improvements, through funding of documentation and indexing projects within individual institutions and/or for particular communities, has occurred, methodologies to substantially and sustainably reform and transform recordkeeping and archival systems and services are lacking.
Much discussion at AERI over the past 7 years of the power of archives to enfranchise, disenfranchise, empower and oppress has identified the key challenge of enabling recordkeeping and archival practices and systems which better reflect and represent a multiplicity of voices and viewpoints. There is recognition that a neat alignment of documents in files in boxes on shelves in an archival repository belies the complexity of the lives and messiness of the actions and decisions contained therein, and often misrepresents the stories of the records themselves. Acknowledging this complexity, embracing the messiness, making the connections and the disconnections, revealing the presences and the absences, requires archival and recordkeeping infrastructure which can effectively and efficiently continually bring pasts into the present, capture rich and varied representations of the here and now into the future, and invite and sustain rather than limit participation.
This paper will outline the aims, concepts, methods and challenges of a research program to develop a participatory archival design methodology. Funded by an Australian Research Council Future Fellowship in 2014, this research aims to iteratively develop a reference model of participatory recordkeeping and archival services, constructed around principles of co-creation, metadata interoperability and consciously embracing the spiritual and emotional, alongside the physical and intellectual, dimensions of records. With inclusive and value sensitive design principles informing both research and archival and recordkeeping system design an integrated and iterative set of conceptual, empirical and technical studies will be undertaken to co-design with members of communities experiencing identity, memory and accountability crises an integrated access network for the post-hoc reconstruction of identity and memory from extant archival records, and a life story archive system for children currently in care. The ultimate aim is to increase the capacity of recordkeeping and archival systems to be tools of healing and reconciliation, rather than of continuing oppression and trauma.
Beyond Folksonomies: Assessing the ‘Participatory Turn’ in Archival Studies / Patricia Garcia (UCLA)
The term “participatory archive” is used to describe archival projects that invite users to participate in a variety of archival processes, such as providing descriptive metadata or contributing archival materials to help improve collections. Optimistic about the affordances of networked technologies, a large majority of projects seek user engagement in an online context through web-based interactive platforms. However, optimism about the affordances of networked technologies and the new possibilities they provide for working with archival sources should not allow the movement toward online participatory archives and the call for increased public participation to go unexamined.
While the types of participation that archival projects request vary, the wide-range of archival processes that participants complete are monolithically described as “participation.” Thus, while archival institutions have extensively encouraged user participation, the nature and forms of archival participation need further analysis and articulation. This paper examines the relationship between participatory culture and information organizations and proposes a framework for assessing how and in what ways an archival project facilitates participation.
Disaster and Dissent: Participatory Action Research and the Community Archive / Virginia Luehrsen (University of Texas Austin)
In this paper, I will present a pilot study from my work in central Texas that utilizes participatory action research in the construction of a community archive being designed in the aftermath of a natural disaster. Participatory action research (PAR) is a methodological approach based upon a constructionist epistemology that allows for community members to be integral to the creation and management of their archive, and the information it contains. PAR involves facilitating community conversations and problem solving, including how information, objects, and meaning are variably constituted. This pilot study forms the foundation of my dissertation proposal, and helped guide me towards the use of information practice as a theoretical perspective to ground my work. While results of PAR are not meant to be generalizable, I will share my process and methods, and how it can be used to overcome community dissent in the stressful aftermath of disaster. Finally, I will discuss the opportunities PAR affords, as well as some of the setbacks I encountered, including ongoing dissent within the field for a non-positivist approach to research.
Session 23: Evaluating Archives in Digital Space
Retrospective Technological Biography and Temporal Change in the Infrastructure of Personal Digital Recordkeeping / Patricia Galloway (University of Texas Austin)
I propose a study of how graduate students create and manage their own digital archives over time, based on examining a group of personal information management plans created by students in a class designed to introduce digital recordkeeping to archives students and drawn from the years 2007, 2008, 2009, and 2013. The plans have been analyzed for several specific aspects of personal records management, including history of computer and computer application use, functions of digital records kept by the student, structures created to manage records, file naming conventions, file formats, and history of records creation and loss. The reports were created in response to an instrument provided to students to guide their report preparation, although students were not obliged to adhere strictly to the instrument, and it was not intended to be prescriptive, but descriptive of what students actually had done, were doing, and wished to do. These reports provide baseline information about long-term management of personal digital archives, including detailed information about hardware and software used and especially retrospective technology biographies, as recorded by people mostly in their twenties, nearly all of whom had been using computers since at least high school and (as the years advanced) as early as elementary school. The paper contrasts the students’ views of personal recordkeeping with the conclusions of other researchers and research projects, with an eye to the current speed of change in personal recordkeeping habits and an emphasis on technological infrastructure and the persistence of hardware and software choices over time.
The Embedded Archivist: The Case of the Collaborative for Historical Information and Analysis / Tonia Sutherland (University of Alabama)
The Collaborative for Historical Information and Analysis (CHIA), a global digital humanities project, aims to link world-historical data in the social sciences, natural sciences, and humanities; allow researchers to draw new connections and conclusions from analyzing large-scale aggregated datasets; and provide for the long-term preservation of historical data from 1600 to the present. Although CHIA’s data is open and external researchers may use it for their own purposes, currently CHIA collaborators maintain one primary collective research goal: to answer questions and address concerns about the creation and propagation of social inequality in human communities worldwide.
Some of CHIA’s main challenges include sustaining the documentation of and increasing the quality and dependability of data; building robust, comprehensive ontological tools to address the heterogeneity of data and the complexity of multi-scale analysis; and reconciling the need to create a centralized data resource with the need for distributed computing and storage. Surmounting these challenges has required assembling an effective group of interdisciplinary theoreticians and developing a worldwide community of scholars to aid in data collection and analysis.
CHIA also aims to create a world-historical data archive. As such, the project highlights the complexities of fashioning data archives at global scales which involve vastly different groups of actors. This paper, presented through the lens of a participant-observer, addresses the nuances of the role of the archivist embedded in a global, collaborative, information-centered project. The research calls for situating archival awarenesses as essential components of any such project moving forward. Collaborative research projects such as CHIA, which leverage archival raw data to change the way humans understand our world, are just one of many areas where there is an emerging demonstrable need for archival intervention. These research communities, largely understudied, are on the rise; here, there are opportunities for archivists to serve and steward as we move into an increasingly collaborative and global era.
The “Right to be Forgotten” in the Public and Private Records of Google / Safiya Noble (UCLA)
Google is a site of considerable contestation over its control in indexing, organizing, classifying, and archiving information. In this paper, I extend previous work on the damage of misrepresentations of vulnerable populations, including racialized minorities and children, to include policy analysis and discussion about the removal of misrepresentative information, particularly when such content is profitable to Google. These policies, generally understood as “the right to be forgotten,” have been established in the European Union and extend to Google and its European domains (e.g., google.de, google.fr). However, Google is still indexing and archiving links about people and groups within the EU on its domains outside of Europe, such as in google.com, opening up new challenges to the notion of national boundaries of the web, and how national laws extend to information that is digitally available beyond national borders. These laws, however, generally ignore the record keeping that Google does on individuals and organizations that are archived and shared with third parties beyond Google’s public-facing search results.
The goal of this work is to recognize and name the neoliberal discursive communication strategies used by Google to circumvent or suppress its record-keeping of the public through surveillance, particularly in its privacy policies and responses to Right to Be Forgotten public policy. This paper also illuminates the intensified damage to vulnerable populations that stem from Google’s control and circumvention of privacy and the right to be forgotten. As I have previously argued, Google is at one moment implicated in prioritizing predatory misrepresentations of people because it is profitable, such as algorithmically privileging sexualized information about women and girls because it is profitable (Noble, 2013). Challenging content on the web under the auspices of the right to be forgotten must extend beyond the take down of personal information, and beyond erasing the memory of past acts from the web. I argue that the right to be forgotten includes the recognition of all forms of records that Google is archiving, and sharing with third parties, both visible and invisible to the public.
Session 24: Interrogating Digital Archives
Putting Public Controversy to Work: Smartphone Architecture and the Archival Profession / Roderic Crooks (UCLA)
The archival community, including professional organizations, should engage in advocacy work with regard to public controversies around new forms of records and recordkeeping practices, specifically those related to smartphone architecture and surveillance. This presentation uses one such controversy, the circulation of potentially revealing data created by minors via mandatory one-to-one tablet programs in public schools, to point out how archival theory can guide and potentially make productive use of public concerns and how the professional bodies of the archival field might meaningfully shape discourse and subsequent policy actions. First, this presentation uses a detailed, rich case study to describe the origins of one such controversy through a detailed study of a single one-to-one tablet computer program in the Los Angeles Unified School District. Based on class observations, photographs, and interviews with teachers, students, and administrators as a one-to-one program was rapidly rolled out over two consecutive school years in a South Los Angeles public high school of approximately 500 students, this project examines the variety of ways that a specific iteration of smartphone architecture (Apple’s iPad tablet and set of school-mandated apps) functions in the context of institutional recordkeeping, including classroom instruction, school discipline, and evaluation. Data generated by the use of tablets and apps in the school’s daily routines — e.g., instruction, discipline, evaluation, discipline — circulated largely beyond the reach of individual instructors, school administrators, or district personnel. In effect, data created by teachers, students, and administrators were only rarely and partially accessed through educational activity within the school, but completely accessible for analytics, aggregation, resale and market research. The bulk of processing and capture took place offsite, accomplished by private companies operating remotely. Second, this project reviews the general contours of the public controversy over the program as it played out in the regional and national press as a dispute over privacy and the appropriate role of technology. While policymakers and teachers’ unions expressed competing visions of public education and disputed the suitability of this particular one-to-one tablet computer program, all sides ignored surveillance concerns and overlooked a number of sites of student data capture, immediate implications of new regimes of recordkeeping, and potential conflicts with existing law. Finally, this project suggests ways that the broader archival community can meaningfully engage in this disputed and contentious terrain. Archival theory can help to crystalize inchoate public concerns over surveillance and ubiquitous data capture by defining smartphone user data in terms of networked records; introducing concepts of co-authorship and co-creatorship to student records creation; and extending ideas of communities of records to nuance claims based on technical utility. Archival professional bodies might increase their standing and relevance in the eyes of a perpetually indifferent public by explicitly engaging with these frequent controversies, particularly since they will likely continue to accompany the proliferation of smartphone architecture in many domains of everyday life.
The Archival Reference Knowledge Framework as an Assessment Tool for University Archives Websites / Jonathan Dorey (McGill University)
This paper will present the results of my doctoral work, a two-phase study on the user-friendliness of university archives websites in Canada. The goals are to determine how we can operationalize the Archival Reference Knowledge (ARK) (Duff, Yakel, & Tibbo, 2013) framework to systematically investigate the websites of university archives and to determine undergraduate students’ expectations of Canadian university archives websites and the barriers they face when accessing these. I have gathered quantitative data about all Canadian universities with an archives website, in French and English (n=81) and asked undergraduates to answer a questionnaire on their expectations, the barriers they face, and the relative importance of various information features present on archives websites.
One issue that relates to websites as an entry point into the collections rests with the ability to locate these websites. Subject access is still scant (Beattie, 1990; Beattie, 1997; Daniels & Yakel, 2010) due to a lack of standardized controlled vocabularies and a lack of resources for archivists to provide such detailed descriptions. Access tools such as finding aids often don’t fulfill the needs of users (Yakel, 2002) or are simply too difficult to find online (Tibbo & Meho, 2001). A lack of education in archival terminology and practices forces users to rely on library education and search paradigms, which skew their expectations regarding archival retrieval systems (Yakel, 2002). The ARK framework seeks to address many of these elements by articulating the types of knowledge needed to conduct good reference work and provide exemplary service to users. This framework can be used to assess existing archives websites and determine how user-friendly they are.
A previous analysis of archives websites was performed, based on the Archival Intelligence model (Yakel & Torres, 2003). Archival Intelligence served as a basis to articulate the ARK framework. Bromley (2010) examined 30 American university archives websites and found that the three dimensions of the Yakel’s (2013) AI model are either not fully addressed or not addressed in a systematic way. For phase one, the selected websites are analyzed using an adapted version of Bromley’s coding structure, combining features found in Katte (2002) and Gillispie (2005). The new coding structure is remapped to the ARK framework, with additional elements stemming from the ARK framework, e.g. contact information, instructional tools.
In phase two, a questionnaire was developed using the Archival Metrics Website/Access Tools survey as a basis. The first section of the questionnaire contains thirteen of the twenty original questions. Minimal changes were made to reflect a general assessment instead of an assessment of specific institutional websites. The other questions were dropped because they focused on features that were not the relevant for this doctoral study. For the second section of the questionnaire, respondents are asked to rate the importance of the elements identified during phase one on a Likert scale. The data from phase two will be used to re-examine the assessment tool from phase one and determine which weight, if any, to give to each of the information features.
In Interfaces We Trust? Exploring Preservation of Personal Financial Information Among Young Adults / Robert Douglas Ferguson (McGill University)
The Canada Revenue Agency recommends individuals retain their personal financial records for at least 6 years. Yet service providers with e-billing options provide limited long-term storage and access to records, frequently for as little a single calendar year. Leading researchers in personal digital archiving argue that online services are often unreliable solutions for long term preservation and access to virtual possessions despite the web becoming the place where many individuals access and store their personal content (McCowan & Nelson, 2009; Lindley et al, 2013; Marshall, McCown, & Nelson, 2007). Despite this known issue, the growing popularity and availability of e-billing furthers the trend of the Internet becoming the default location where people view and retrieve their personal information, including their personal financial information.
The purpose of this paper is to explore whether young adults (ages 18-26) compensate for the limited archival features included with e-billing in relation to their personal collections of financial information, such as for account statements, bills, and receipts. To date, few studies have specifically explored personal financial information management or personal digital archiving related to financial behaviours (Vines et al, 2011; Vines et al, 2012; Kaye et al, 2014). Previous studies have focused on older adults populations and report a persistent and strong attachment to paper records for tracking personal finances. To date, no studies have explored whether young adults, who are typically early adopters of information technologies, fully embrace e-billing and information technologies to manage and preserve their personal collections of financial information.
This paper presents data gathered through a set of semi-structured interviews. During these interviews, participants gave the researcher a guided tour of their personal collection of financial information in their home. During the tour, participants were asked to provide an overview of the contents and structure of their personal collection of financial information including the spaces and tools they use. Participants were also were asked to describe the lifecycles of their financial records and discuss typical problems they encounter when managing, preserving, and retrieving items from their collection.
Results will be analyzed using Grounded Theory (Glaser & Strauss, 1967; Charmez, 2006) to describe the extent to which young adults actively back up their personal financial records, particularly those records which are “born digital”, and the extent to which young adults depend on interfaces to fulfill short and long term archival functions for their personal financial information. Results of this research provide some insight into how information technologies or services can be expanded to assist individuals with the management and preservation of their electronic financial records. This research also aims to construct a set of recommendations for young adults that can help them establish a foundational but flexible practice for preserving financial information for their future.
Session 25: Understanding Archives in Museums
Researching Archival Environment: Methodology / Tamara Štefanac (University of Zagreb)
Doctoral thesis entitled “The Conceptualization of Archival Materials Held in Museums” investigates curators’ understandings of archival and documentary materials held in their museums (i.e. rather than in archives). Museums are special heritage environments where concerns with authenticity, originality, personality, information, education and entertainment intertwine. It is argued that the point where these concerns intersect is the curator, and that how the abovementioned concerns are approached is conditioned by his or her educational background, opinions, interests, professional practices. In current archival and museology practices archival materials in museums are described according to the differing professional standards that are accepted in individual repositories. It is also possible that materials are managed and described using some other descriptive standards if it is left to the curator to decide how they should be managed, described, exhibited and used. By choosing one descriptive standard over another they are choosing one form of access over another. How to research on this choice making? Consequences of chosen approach are clearly seen but state that preceded choices is in fact in the realm of personal cognition. How to research this state? What methods are best suited for research of this kind? How to gain insight into curators’ standpoints regarding documentation they produce in the course of their research, exhibition planning and project management activities? This paper presents methodology that is employed in abovementioned research (doctoral dissertation), and discuss about process of the research, encountered obstacles and questions what methodology is fruitful when researching archival environment and record management systems in non-archival institution. Methods discussed here are content analysis, in-depth interviews, authoethnography, ethnography and surveys.
20 Questions, Artifact Edition: Understandings of Provenance in Museums and Archives / Sarah Buchanan (University of Texas Austin)
Provenance is a central concept in archival studies as well as in archaeological curatorship, with each discipline defining it in similar terms. These definitions each reflect an attention to chronology and origin which has shaped the ways in which repositories collect and manage artifacts. In the archives field, the principle of provenance is acknowledged as a foundation for archival description standards that have been created and applied on a national scale. While its application in particular contexts has been challenged over the last century, provenance has also expanded conceptually from its early articulations to now encompass a range of datapoints that are sought-after by researchers who may interact with both artifacts and the archives created separately as documentary evidence. Katharina Hering, writing in the Journal of Digital Humanities (2014), likens archival provenance to historical source criticism, emphasizing how the archivist’s pursuit of one or both is spurred by an obligation to provide accurate metadata in finding aids and catalog records. Museums have participated in the archaeological endeavor over the last century in their roles providing stewardship for artifact collections, including such post-excavation activities as conservation, cataloging, and exhibiting. Particularly over the last decade, so too have museum curators increased the level of scrutiny toward existing and potential collections, and these efforts focus on discovering and documenting objects’ provenance, as well as their provenience, a sister term in archaeology. Still, while museums and archives approach provenance with a common respect for its value as a collections management principle, the ways in which they undertake provenance research are different and revealing. This presentation will explore an aspect of my dissertation research that considers how collecting institutions communicate provenance, particularly as a component of exhibits and digital collections. It will illustrate the emergence of provenance research from its own origins in art history and its present-day expressions in museums’ and archives’ online collection descriptions.
Archivists and Digital Asset Managers: Collisions from a Museum Context / Anthony Cocciolo (Pratt Institute)
While archivists have been developing methods to appraise, accession, arrange and describe born-digital records, a new class of professionals—the digital asset manager—has developed. The digital asset manager sees her role as creating a repository of assets that can be easily and efficiently reused by staff. Given the closeness of this role to the archivist, this case study will explore the question: what issues arise between archivists and digital asset managers when they are working together in the same organization? To study this, the researcher spent one year as a participant observer at a major art museum located in the northeast United States. He found that indeed tensions do exist firstly because the digital asset manager and archivists do not recognize the different roles each is playing and hence enter a kind of competition. Secondly, this tension stems from an intellectual disagreement about how digital record keeping will play-out over the next several decades. The study will conclude with suggested ways of moving forward so that both digital asset managers and archivists can further their respective missions.