millinery

Oct. 26th, 2012 10:17 am
deborah: the Library of Congress cataloging numbers for children's literature, technology, and library science (Default)
My built-in china cabinet has long since ceased to be a cupboard to showcase hand-me-down wineglasses and become a closet for hats. Now I've outgrown that space, and my coat closet, too, has become overridden with hatboxes. Veils and feathers, fascinators and caps, boaters and fedoras.

What I'm saying is that I have a lot of hats.

I have almost as many metaphorical hats, though sadly they lack the trimmings of the physical kind. Usually I juggle my professional interests adequately, although every fall I come to terms anew with the reality that, for three months, my contributions to Dreamwidth are what I give up to make room for teaching. This year is slightly tighter than usual, because of membership on the Odyssey Award committee, but at least much of the time spent listening to audio books is time that would otherwise be dead space.

In any case, here is a description of the 48 hour period of which I'm currently in the center.

  • Yesterday morning, go to work as a digital archivist, where I've been having more opportunities to code of late as I've been contributing fixes and features to a blacklight/Hydra digital library portal we will be launching Any Day Now, and where I've been helping to manage our Open Access Week activities.
  • Leave after a short day to teach two sections of the children's and young adult SFF class I teach with Amy.
  • Get home at nearly 11 PM, go to bed, and wake up at 4:30 AM (on a gorgeous, starry autumn morning, Orion and Jupiter high in the sky) to catch the early train to New Haven for code4lib New England, where I'll be presenting on
  • On the train I'll be listening to audio books for the Odyssey Award committee;
  • when I return home I have some reading to do for Kirkus Reviews.


I do like hats. I like how they look and how they feel, how each one makes me into a slightly different person. But sometimes having so many gets a little complicated.
deborah: The management regrets that it was unable to find a Gnomic Utterance that was suitably irrelevant. (gnomic)
Over on the Tufts DCA blog today I am asking people to talk about your concerns (or lack of them) about preserving your own personal materials.

I hope people respond, because that will be a distraction from the post I want to make but don't have time to make about representation and race, and about someone who makes a list which is intended to show "the breadth and incredible range of YA literature" should be doing better than 1 author of color on a list of 32 books. I don't want to make that post because I don't want to single out the individual in question for hammering the final nail into the coffin of my patience.

(I should also credit [personal profile] catwalksalone for the wonderful and wholly appropriate new userpic, from her wonderful batch of Diana Wynne Jones icons.)
deborah: the Library of Congress cataloging numbers for children's literature, technology, and library science (Default)
I like those rare moments when children's literature overlaps with digital archiving and preservation. Do you children's literature people remember Jacqueline Briggs Martin and Mary Azarian's beautiful Caldecott winner Snowflake Bentley? The University of Wisconsin at Madison has digitized the Bentley collection!

Wilson Alwyn Bentley (1865-1931), famous for his photomicrographs of snow crystals, prepared sets of glass lantern slides of dew, frost and ice crystals. ... Shortly after, the Library obtained partial funding through the Friends of the Libraries, University of Wisconsin-Madison, to preserve the physical collection and provide web access.


Gorgeous pictures of snowflakes made available through a dspace repository.

And what about those moments when my obsession with accessibility overlaps with my profession? Disruptive Library Technology Jester posted on Friday "UDL: Universal Design... for Libraries?" There's not much meat to that post, except an encouragement to think about universal design in a library environment. Maybe we can start a trend!
deborah: the Library of Congress cataloging numbers for children's literature, technology, and library science (Default)
YES YES YES. An excellent post by Dorothea at Book of Trogool, inspired by Dan Cohen, about sustainability and chasing the shiny.

As I've had occasion to mention, scholars generally and humanists in particular have a terrible habit of chasing the shiny. [...]

The answer to this conundrum is not, however, "avoid the shiny at all costs!" It can't be. That will only turn scholars away from archiving and archivists. To my mind, this means that our systems have to take in the data and make it as easy as possible for scholars to build shiny on top of it. When the shiny tarnishes, as it inevitably will, the data will still be there, for someone else to build something perhaps even shinier.

Mark me well, incidentally: it is unreasonable and unsustainable to expect data archivists to build a whole lot of project-specific shiny stuff. You don't want your data archivists spending their precious development cycles doing that! You want your archivists bothering about machine replacement cycles, geographically-dispersed backups, standards, metadata, access rights, file formats, auditing and repair, and all that good work.





YES. We need to be working well with the people responsible for interfaces -- but we need not to be building those interfaces ourselves. (Hopefully, I will soon have exciting news about a project that follows these guidelines. I'm not going to make an announcement until we have it right, though. *g*)
deborah: the Library of Congress cataloging numbers for children's literature, technology, and library science (Default)
Yesterday, in the Tufts Digital Collections and Archives blog ([livejournal.com profile] tufts_dca), I talked about our newly-launched institutional repository, Tufts eScholarship. I'm very optimistic about the success of our IR, though there has been a lot of conversation in the IR world about what makes institutional repositories fail. The number one reason I'm optimistic about our IR: it's not what purists would call an institutional repository.

I'd like to buy university digitization efforts a Coke and teach everyone how to work with each other: cut for length )

The decisions leading to this wonderful conjunction of circumstances all predate my presence here at the university by many years. I'm talking about this not to toot Tufts' horn, but to push this vital idea of collaboration. Even now, I see so many institutions in the repository space that have entirely orthogonal approaches within their own organizations. The people digitizing images aren't talking to the people digitizing texts aren't talking to the people dealing with digital records aren't talking to the people doing institutional repository. Sure, maybe you would never use the same software platform or workflow approaches for all of these efforts. But maybe you will. Maybe instead of getting six different perfect software packages, you will find something that is good enough for all of you, and uses only one license, a smaller number of technical support staff, and something which will continue to be supported by your university even if hard economic times make some of the digital collections look less important.

Heck, I'm looking at this entirely selfishly, and you should too. In tough economic times, digital archives might go by the wayside. Open access institutional repositories are still untested. But management of the university's digital records is never going to be unnecessary. Work with other people instead of merely alongside them, intertwine your jobs, and you will not just save your institution money and resources, but you will increase the number of ways in which you are vital. Job security FTW.
deborah: the Library of Congress cataloging numbers for children's literature, technology, and library science (Default)
Oh, happiness. The open access, peer-reviewed fan studies journal Transformative Works and Cultures has just released its debut issue. A large crowd of volunteers and contributors has worked very hard to make this happen -- neither editor of the journal has institutional support, so their achievement is particularly impressive.

Of course I'm thrilled about adding a new open access journal to scholarship. Both the social sciences and humanities have far too few OA journals. And of course, I'm particularly smug about some of the things I brought in. DOIs might not seem such a big deal to those of you who are librarians and archivists, but think about how difficult it can be to have your library's databases provide links to material on the open web. And of course, from a preservation perspective DOIs will keep our articles accessible even if the infrastructure changes. For example, if we change our backend software so it is no longer the Open Journal Systems, our URLs might change but our DOIs will remain the same. Once we have the requisite number of published issues, I look forward to seeing our journal indexed in a large variety of indexing and abstracting services.

But one of the most exciting things about this journal is that it is fully multimedia, taking advantage of the online medium -- and of the journal is prepared to stand behind its assertions of fair use for some of the multimedia clips used. For example, Francesca Coppa's "Women, Star Trek, and the Early Development of Fannish Vidding" embeds both images and video, and Bob Rehak's "Fan Labor Audio Feature Introduction" includes audio clips from a workshop discussion at the 2008 Console-ing Passions conference that was inspired by the Gender and Fan Culture discussion (in which I was a participant) and Henry Jenkins' blog in 2007. And even the journal software itself encourages participatory culture; the software allows (and we encourage) commenting by readers.

Press Release )

The call for papers for No. 2 is available as an .rtf file here. Do disseminate widely!
deborah: the Library of Congress cataloging numbers for children's literature, technology, and library science (Default)
Sustainability and Revenue Models for Online Academic Resources is a new report by Ithaka "sets forth a systematic understanding of the mechanisms for pursuing sustainability in not-for-profit projects". They say some very smart things, including "Assuming that grant funding will always be available is not likely to lead to a successful sustainability plan." and "Project leaders need to adopt a more comprehensive definition of ‘sustainability’.... It is incorrect to assume that, once the initial digitisation effort is finished and content is up on the web, the costs of maintaining a resource will drop to zero or nearly zero." (Emphasis mine.) They say some other things which I don't exactly disagree with but I think need to be carefully defined, such as "The value of a project is quantified by the benefits it creates for users", which needs to be carefully defined in an archives world where the value it creates for users might be "long term preservation of rarely accessed materials to benefit the global scholarly community". (At Open Repositories 2008, I heard a lot of conversation and presentations where people assumed that digital resources which weren't being heavily used had no value. As an archivist, I say them nay -- much of what we are preserving we are preserving for the future.)

But in any case, I read the report thinking "that's just what I've been saying". I'm thrilled that major reports are coming out discussing these issues.
deborah: the Library of Congress cataloging numbers for children's literature, technology, and library science (Default)
I've made a conscious choice not to try to become a Big Name Blogger in librarianship and archives. I've got too many strings to my bow already -- I am not a Bagthorpe! Unless maybe I am Jack. -- and it would be too much work to maintain that constant level of intelligent back-and-forth. Of course, there are negative side effects to not pushing my blog out there in the world. Sometimes I say something which I think is really important about sustainable digital preservation and I wish other people would contribute to the conversation so we can have some back and forth and develop the idea, and it doesn't happen.

Luckily, I'm not the only person talking about long-term economic sustainability. Brian Lavoie's "The Fifth Blackbird: Some Thoughts on Economically Sustainable Digital Preservation" is a good article I think everyone else in the field should read.

(Still, I'm going to be using my Operational Preservation Matrix for the next new project we start up here, and I'm going to keep track of how well it works to develop it further. Even if no one but me is interested, I think it's awesome.)
deborah: the Library of Congress cataloging numbers for children's literature, technology, and library science (Default)
[Tagged as, among other things, otw, because even though I am dealing with these issues as a professional I think that The Organization for Transformative Works is very well-placed to be one of the few organizations prepared to confront operational preservation from the outset. After all, the OTW has to deal with one even more frightening aspect of operational preservation: it is an entirely volunteer-run organization which promises perpetual preservation. It takes a lot of planning and commitment to be prepared to follow through on a commitment like that. Luckily, the OTW has both.]

Introductory thoughts on Operational Preservation )

I would love to get comments from the community on this, because I truly believe that this could be a very useful model for organizations designing digitization projects. I know I'm going to prompt my institution to follow this matrix for all new digitization efforts.

Problem Statement: When an archivist deposits material in a digital archive, he or she often has assumptions that object is preserved in perpetuity, just as it would be worried a physical object. Depositors of digital material often have the same assumptions, as do institutional administrators. However, the assumptions of the software development and maintenance community do not assume permanence on the same scale in which archivists are accustomed to providing permanence. Moreover, administrators (and archivists) often have unrealistic assumptions about the labor and costs involved in daily operational maintenance to provide digital preservation, which are -- if not higher -- certainly different from the operational maintenance costs for providing physical preservation. Even worse, many digital preservation projects are funded by limited-duration soft money instead of out of an operational budget.

Or, in a nutshell, we need to remember that Digital preservation has an ongoing operational cost which cannot be provided within the archive.

Operational Preservation: To that end, I am proposing this matrix for new preservation and archival projects to see if they have thought of the requirements necessary for permanent preservation.

Anything calling itself a digital preservation project has to be prepared, in perpetuity, to provide all items down the left-hand column for all of the items in the top row. Funding is really a redundant item -- by "Labor", I mean funding for staff to provide all of the work involved, and "Physical facility" is really something which can be provided by funding -- but the fact that digital preservation requires ongoing operational money is too important to ignore. By "Bureaucratic support" I mean policies and procedures in place which support the operational business of preservation at an organizational level.

Operational Preservation Matrix
Labor Physical facility Bureaucratic support Funding
Existence of the datastream
in a file system or database
. . . .
Object access via handle/doi/uri . . . .
Maintenance, repair, and upgrade
of hardware (server, disk, etc.)
. . . .
Maintenance, patching, and upgrade
operating system
. . . .
(The following tasks are not as
essential, but still very important)
. . . .
Rolling forward file formats . . . .
Transferring data to more modern
repository and software tools when appropriate
. . . .
Modernizing user interface as appropriate . . . .


(Of course, traditional preservation of physical objects is also an ongoing operational cost. Physical objects require extensive physical facilities with narrow environmental limitations, they require re-housing and repair, they require maintenance and supervision. But these ongoing operational tasks can be performed by archivists with traditional skills. The technological operational tasks of a digital archive often can't be performed even by technologically-trained archivists, because the institution will have specific requirements about who is able to, say, maintain the network.)
deborah: the Library of Congress cataloging numbers for children's literature, technology, and library science (Default)
All these papers will eventually be available in the Open Repositories 2008 conference repository. I'm linking to all of the placeholders; papers should be up soon.

This will be very limited liveblogging, because I'm typing in the conference and dictating betwen sessions, so I can't say much. Hopefully I'll get some good fodder for my upcoming sustainability post.

Keynote:

Repositories for Scientific Data, Peter Murray-Rust )

Session 1 – Web 2.0

Adding Discovery to Scholarly Search: Enhancing Institutional Repositories with OpenID and Connotea, Ian Mulvany, David Kane )

The margins of scholarship: repositories, Web 2.0 and scholarly practice, Richard Davis )

Rich Tags: Cross-Repository Browsing, Daniel Smith, Joe Lambert, mc schraefel )

Ow. I'm not doing this for the next session. I can blog at the breaks.
deborah: the Library of Congress cataloging numbers for children's literature, technology, and library science (Default)
Some library, book, archives, records, baseball fandom, and government information musings and links just so I can clear the tabs out of my browser again: Cut to save your screen real estate )
deborah: the Library of Congress cataloging numbers for children's literature, technology, and library science (Default)
I've been getting increasingly concerned about what I see as a too-shallow view of sustainability in digital preservation. There's been a lot of lip service paid over the last few years to preservation, and I have certainly heard talks by grant-funding agencies in which they explained that they are now only funding grants which have sustainability written into the grant structure. Yet time and time again, I see soft money being awarded to projects for which the project administrators clearly have only the vaguest idea of what sustainability really means in a software environment.

I don't see this as anyone's fault, mind you. Software developers and IT folks aren't used to thinking of software projects in terms of Permanence. In the traditional software world, the only way something is going to be around forever is if it's going to be used all that time -- for example, a financial application which is in constant use needs to be constantly up. But archival digital preservation has a very different sense of permanence. For us, permanence might mean that you build a digital archival collection once, don't touch its content again for 10 years, but can still discover all of its preserved content at the end of those 10 years.

Meanwhile, in Internet time, a project which has been around for two years is clearly well past its prime and ready to be retired.

Repository managers are putting all of this great work into the repository layer* of preservation: handles and DOIs, PRESERV and PRONOM, JHOVE and audit trails and the RLG checklist. But meanwhile, all of these collections of digital objects -- many of them funded by limited-duration soft money -- are running on operating systems which will need to be upgraded and patched as time passes, on hardware which will need to be upgraded and repaired as time passes, on networks which require maintenance. Software requires sustenance and maintenance, and no project which doesn't take into account that such maintenance requires skilled technical people in perpetuity can succeed as perpetual preservation. Real sustainability means commitment from and communication with the programmers and sysadmins. It requires the techies understand an archivist's notion of "permanence", and the librarians and archivists (and grant agencies) understand how that a computer needs more than electricity to keep running -- it needs regular care and feeding.

(This, by the way, is one of the reasons I'm so excited by the OTW Archive of One's Own and the Transformative Works and Cultures journal. The individuals responsible for the archive and the journal *do* have a real understanding of and commitment to permanence down to the hardware and network provider level. Admittedly, it's a volunteer-run, donation supported organization, so its sustainability is an open question. But it's a question the OTW Board is wholeheartedly investigating, because they understand its importance.)

*I'm somewhat tempted to make an archival model of preservation that follows the layered structue of the OSI model of network communication. Collection policy layer, Accession layer, Content layer, Descriptive Metadata layer, Preservation Metadata layer, Application Layer, Operating System layer, Hardware layer. Then you could make sure any new preservation project has all of those checkboxes ticked. Sort of an uber-simplification of the RLG Checklist, in a nice, nerd-friendly format.
deborah: the Library of Congress cataloging numbers for children's literature, technology, and library science (Default)
Just a quick note: I have a big girly crush on Brewster Kahle, and he's not even here.

Opening Plenary on getting books online )

Interoperability panel )

Jonathan Zittrain on privacy )

Joanne Kaczmarek on the RLG Audit checklist )

This isn't every presentation that I liked, but most of the others I enjoyed were displays of clever software products, hardware display, or metadata tools (though I am fasincated by the project of "Exploring Erotics in Emily Dickinson’s Correspondence with Text Mining and Visual Interfaces") and I'm not sure how much there is to blog on them.

Oh, also, to my fellow presenters. If you are going to do a demo, get some capture software and make a video of yourself doing the demo. You're all either computer or library professionals, and should know better than to trust internet connections, computers, and A/V systems to work on demand. The demos that were pre-recorded went smoothly, and for many of the live demos we lost any real understanding of the software because you gut hung up on the failing demo.
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