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Archive for 2006

  • Is Open Data the Point?

    I've been thinking about the biblioblogosphere's reaction to Casey Bisson's decision to use the $50,000 he was awarded by the Mellon Foundation for his work on WPopac to purchase LC bibliographic data and open it up to anyone who wanted to take a crack at it. Yes, this is a "Good Thing," and valuable to the library community as a whole, but I feel like there are some things we're overlooking. Dan Chudnov and I seem to agree, but I'm not going to go so far to damn those who herald this as a "new era." It's a little premature to say where it will go, but I have to admit that I'm occasionally confused and often a little bit insulted by some of the talk surrounding this issue. I wonder how interesting all the bibliographic data of LC is to begin with. What's in the dump paid for by the Mellon Award money? I'd guess monographs and serials, and probably audiovisual materials.
  • The State of Open Source Archival Management Software

    It's been a while since I've written here, but other responsibilities at both at home and work have kept me busy. To get back into the swing of writing regularly, I thought I'd take a look at one of the biggest hot-button topics in archives this year: the development and release of open source archival management systems. Between this year's and last year's SAA conferences, there were three sessions that, at least in part, dealt with the development of open source software for archives. In turn, this reflected the three major projects that archivists have been developing: Archivists' Toolkit, Archon, and ICA-AtoM. Archivists' Toolkit is the oldest of the three projects; the first meeting and project proposal date from 2002. It may very well be the best funded of the three projects, as it received a $847,000 grant from the Mellon Foundation. However, it also seems to be the least mature, in my opinion, as I've not seen a live demo that's publicly accessible.
  • MARAC Friday Afternoon Report

    The mid-Atlantic archivists are in a brief recess between now and the final session of the day, and it's been thoroughly interesting to say the least. I missed the caucus meetings this morning, unfortunately, but the plenary session was well worth it because it's got the gears turning about archival access systems even though it wasn't directly about them. Paul Israel of the Edison Papers Project spoke at length about Edison's legacy and collaboration with others. The talk emphasized that Thomas Edison was much more than a great inventor and owed a great deal of his success to his entrepreneurial nature, which I didn't know much about. While we didn't get to see him give us an interactive presentation of the site, I noticed how exhaustive the digital edition was. While the architecture of the site is a little confusing for me, there's so much content I didn't know where to begin or even what to search for! The series notes are a great way to browse through the collection, though.
  • Morristown Calling: MARAC Fall Meeting

    I'm at the Westin Governor Morris in Morristown, New Jersey for the MARAC Fall Meeting. I just got back from visiting the Morris Museum with a few folks, and now I'm enjoying the (expensive) wireless connection here. This time around I don't know so many folks here, so shoot me an e-mail or comment if you're in attendance. Expect a more detailed post soon; I'm exhausted from being up early to catch Amtrak!
  • Library Camp East post-mortem

    I know this post is well overdue, but the last few weeks have kept me extremely busy. Library Camp East was amazing; fun, thought-provoking, and inspiring. John Blyberg and Alan Kirk Gray (as well as the rest of the Darien Library Staff) did a heck of a job preparing for all of us descending into the auditorium. They even gave me a cool mug that my co-workers envy. I also finally got to meet Dan Chudnov and Casey Bisson, whose blogs I've followed for a while now. Jessamyn West and John posted nearly exhaustive lists of posts by LCE attendees for reference. (For what it's worth, Jessamyn also tips her hat to ArchivesBlogs and apologizes for us not meeting at two conferences so far. I share the blame!) Fortunately for my readers, I have precious little to add in terms of comments (although I tagged some Library Camp-related links on Unalog). I actually was called into service to lead a session by accident (I happened to be scratching my nose), but I was happy enough to moderate the discussion on how techies and non-techies can learn to talk to each other.
  • ArchivesBlogs 2.0

    After doing some frantic hacking this week I'm happy to announce that I've unveiled the second major revision to ArchivesBlogs. Other than a change in color, I have added the subscription list in the sidebar using a slightly modified version of Dan McTough's Optimal browser for OPML.The OPML file it renders is also the subscription list used by Plagger. Anyhow, let me know what you think. I'm sure there are some kinks that need to be ironed out. I'm off to Library Camp East early tomorrow (a 4:05 AM train out of DC). I hope to write-up a post-mortem soon after.
  • On what "archives blogs" are and what ArchivesBlogs is not

    I had fully earmarked addressing Thomas G. Lannon's "Archive Blogs" post on Documenting Sources, his blog, for over a week now after discovering it in my requisite vanity search of Technorati. Other things (even reading) have kept me busy, though, hence the unintentional neglect. I've had plenty of time to reflect upon it at this point, so I might as well respond to some of his points. He first asks the following: What is an Archive Blog? This should be a crucial question as the growing field of "blogs about archives" offers up posts stretching from the recent SAA conference to South Carolina Gamecocks. Perhaps it would it be helpful to make a distinction between official blogs relating to news and services from archival repositories and personal blogs written by people who happen to work in archives? It is an important question indeed. When I came up with the idea for ArchivesBlogs (and when I was still calling it "Planet Archives"
  • SAA 2007 Session Proposal: The Changing Nature of Description and OPACs

    During the Description Section meeting at this year's SAA conference, I made an informal proposal for a session concerning the changing nature of OPACs, changes in the library cataloging world, and the impact of those on descriptive practice in archives and manuscript repositories. I'd like to invite any of you, if you're interested, to let me know if you'd be interested in assisting me with putting together a proposal on this topic. A small group of us met briefly after the Description Section meeting and discussed the possible formats and areas of discussion. We determined that a seminar-style discussion seemed most appropriate, with perhaps a brief presentation on a specific area presented by the panelists on a given aspect of these issues. Possible areas for presentation and discussion include: The changing nature of the OPAC in the library world: open-source, problems with vendors, adding Web 2.0-like features (the "next generation of finding aids" session at this year's conference included good examples of this) The impact of changes at LC and the OCLC/RLG merger: LC's decision to end creating series authority records, rumors of abandoning LCSH, decreased importance of cataloging in general to LC administrators, the future of NUCMC and ArchiveGrid The impact of Meissner and Greene's "
  • Coming soon: ArchivesBlogs 2.0?

    After two weeks of use, Plagger has proven itself to be pretty resilient. I've been asking myself how I can make ArchivesBlogs even better, and I've finally got a few ideas. A site redesign. I'd like different colors. Categorizing the feeds, e.g. separating blogs by individuals from repository blogs. This will probably end up with me creating a couple of Plagger configurations and dumping them into different subdirectories on ArchivesBlogs. Better support for tags. It'd be nice to pull them out and have automagically linked Technorati tags. Scrubbing HTML from the feeds to create valid XHTML for the syndication page(s). Plagger supports the Perl module HTML::Scrubber so it seems. This is a Big Deal to someone like me. Adding a directory - most likely in OPML - for as many blogs about archives and archivists as possible since it's just not possible to do that for some blogs using Plagger. The most straightforward example are archives with blogs that are part of a library-wide blog and therefore don't have their own feeds.
  • ArchivesBlogs news: Disappearing Blogspot Blogs

    ArchivesBlogs has been going strong for over a week now. If you use Blogspot and had a blog previously syndicated by ArchivesBlogs, your content may be temporarily unsyndicated. The specific problem is HTTP 502 error, which seems to indicate a problem with a proxy server at Blogspot. In any rate, they should return soon enough -- it would be nice to have the 9 blogs back!
  • ArchivesBlogs update: service links

    I've upgraded Plagger (the software behind ArchivesBlogs) to the latest version and it's allowed me to add service links to, unalog, digg, Reddit, and Technorati. I suppose I could add more (ma.gnolia, Furl, etc.), but I'll hold off doing that for the sake of cluttering the interface for the time being. If you have any service links you'd like to see, let me know and I might be able to hack something together.
  • Announcing ArchivesBlogs

    Since my last post about syndicating blogs about archives, I've played around with the idea and different software packages to do it, including Planet and Plagger. I'm happy to announce that after a few days work I was able to put something together. ArchivesBlogs is an aggregator for blogs about archives. It runs Plagger and updates hourly, outputting HTML, RSS, Atom, OPML (for import into other aggregator), and a FOAFroll. The site design is simple, but i'm happy with it. I took whatever archives blogs I knew about and added them, so if you know of any others or you want yours removed, let me know.
  • Report from SAA: Archival Solidarity and International Cooperation

    The Archival Solidarity Session was really great and generated a lot of dialog. It was originally organized by Nancy Marrelli of Concordia University (Montréal), but she couldn't make it on account of a family emergency. Trudy Huskamp Peterson led the discussion in her place and did a wonderful job. Essentially, Archival Solidarity is a project involving the ICA's Section of Professional Associations that concerns "international archival development" through bilateral projects. There are several major issues at play. First, existing methods of international development are not working for archival projects, either because of bureaucracy in general or archives being of lower priority in comparison to needs such as sanitation, adequate health care, and the like. We identified that one of the most critical aspects is the lack of communication or methods to share information. There is no central "hub," formal or informal, that allows archivists to share information about assistance needed or offered. The International Fund for Archival Development (FIDA), coordinated by the ICA, was supposed to serve as such, but apparently operational issues prevent it from working effectively.
  • Report from SAA: Give Me Free WiFi

    I'm at the Hilton Washington, the site of the SAA conference. I've registered and picked up my free totebag. I, and others, have bemoaned the lack of connectivity in the conference area. Wireless is only available in the lobby, so it seems, and it's rather pricy ($5.95 for 4 hours or $9.95 for 24 hours). I know archivists are often thought of as being technologically behind (whether we are is a Pandora's box that I won't open in this post), but I feel that some sort of net access is necessary at every conference. I'm just barely able to get it through my cell phone, which is how I'm posting now. Unfortunately, I get no reception on the conference floor so I needed to make my way up to the lobby anyhow. I missed the Standards Committee meeting since I was a little late and I didn't want to barge in since the doors were closed. It's nearly time for the Archival Solidarity session, which sounds interesting to me since I'd like to get involved in ICA.
  • Conference Time

    I'm one of several bloggers attending the SAA conference the rest of this week. Nothing against CoSA or NAGARA, but I'm attending the conference for the organization to which I belong. My schedule is pretty packed, and if you're one of us be sure to attend the Description Section meeting since I'm running for Vice-Chair.
  • SocketsCDR Audio Zine 3 out soon!

    I'm going to be on the latest installment of the SocketsCDR audio zine, curated this time around by Rebecca Mills of The Caution Curves. Sean, the SocketsCDR label honcho, just posted the cover artwork for it and it looks like a great line-up, including friends like The Plums and Stamen & Pistils. This will be my first release in a while (other than the collab CD with myself, Cotton Museum, and Actual Birds on Casanova Temptations). More details will follow, naturally.
  • Various Artists - SocketsCDR Audio Zine 3

    Curated by Rebecca Mills. Featuring The Plums, The Left Hand Can, Amy Domingues, Stamen & Pistils, Facemat, Monolith Zero, Derek Morton/Katie Gately, Hugh McElroy, Secret Mirror, Power Bottom Orchestra, Elmapi, and The Rub.
  • Upgrading Kubuntu Breezy to Dapper

    Upon hearing about yesterday's release of Kubuntu 6.06, I decided to upgrade from the previous release, Kubuntu 5.10. I'd like to say that it went off without a hitch, but it didn't. It did, however, go mostly well, and I realized that my problem was that I continued to use applications while Adept installed the new packages. I couldn't install all the packages, and I ended up with a minorly disfunctional kernel that wouldn't allow ndiswrapper to load properly, preventing me from using my internal wireless card. Once I rebooted (and used a spare PCMCIA wireless card to gain connectivity), I was able to finish installing the rest of the packages that had not finished properly and rebooted again. Everything pretty much worked, but I'm having to tweak some lost settings, most notably in KMail. Other than that, it's been working out fine!
  • RLG + OCLC = Clog Roc?

    The technical services world has been in an uproar lately, between LC's decision to stop creating series authority records (particularly since they didn't consult PCC members beforehand) and the fallout after Calhoun report. We might as well have another drink, because as reports (along with several others), OCLC and RLG are about to merge. It's mindblowing to think that RLG employees did not find out any sooner than the rest of us, and that either organization has yet to consult its members. However, RLG plans to do so, but it will be interesting to see how this pans out. In particular, some folks worried about the merging of data and the future of RedLightGreen. I know it's not considerably better, but they seem to be overlooking Open WorldCat.
  • Change of Platform

    Nearly a year ago I switched from Wordpress to Drupal. I chose to switch back, partially because it was capable of doing way more than I needed it to! I thought I didn't want to be limited by blog software, but apparently that's not a terribly huge concern anymore. The old site had frightfully little content (three posts in Dalliance, a few personal posts, and links to papers). I'm redoing my non-blog site with PURLs since I don't have access to an e-prints server to which I can upload my varied previous academic work. Anyhow, the important stuff is soon to come, with Dalliance possibly moving to another host (probably Anything linking to one of the papers or my code snippets will be edited as needed.
  • An updated version of Nick Gerakines'

    A little over a month ago, Nick Gerakines posted a Perl script to be called from a Procmail configuration file. It seemed to work pretty well, but the anal-retentive cataloger/standards geek in me decided to pass the results through a feed validator. It failed in a few key areas: missing version attribute in the rss tag, improper guid and link tags, and a pubDate with a non-RFC822 date. These all seemed pretty easy to fix, so I went ahead and made some changes. My fixes are a bit inelegant, but they create valid RSS 2.0. It was pretty trivial to add an RSS version number and to fix the guid error; the latter just required adding the isPermaLink="false" attribute to that tag. However, Nick's original code required parsing the pubDate tags to determine when to kill data that was over 6 hours old. I didn't want to be bothered parsing an RFC822 date with this, so I moved that information into a category tag.
  • Secret Mirror / Cotton Museum / Actual Birds - Secret Actual Dog Museum

    Recorded live on WCBN.