Friday, October 12, 2012

Day of Digital Archives

Today is the second annual Day of Digital Archives, which seeks to:
raise awareness of digital archives among both users and managers. On this day, archivists, digital humanists, programmers, or anyone else creating, using, or managing digital archives are asked to devote some of their social media output (i.e. tweets, blog posts, youtube videos, etc.) to describing their work with digital archives. By collectively documenting what we do, we will be answering questions like: What are digital archives? Who uses them? How are they created and managed? Why are they important?
For me, this particular Day of Digital Archives was -- with the exception of this blog post -- completely devoid of digital archives.  I'm visiting my parents at the moment, and today has been more about talking with my mom and dad, driving around, buying food, and going through stuff (physical objects, not digital files or emotional issues) than anything else.  However, I do have a few minutes in which to dash off a quick post, so I'll outline the things that I've during the last five working days:
  • Since 2006, my repository, the New York State Archives, has been using OCLC's Heritrix-based Web Harvester to capture state government Web sites.  We've now documented three (!) gubernatorial transitions and a host of other changes in state government, so now is a good time to step back, assess what we've captured, and determine whether we should capture specific sites more frequently, less frequently, or at roughly the same rate, so a colleague and I have been sifting through a subset of our captured sites and preparing a draft report and recommendations. 
  • Our preservation copies of our Web captures are housed in OCLC's Digital Archive, and we're starting to explore the possibility of using the Digital Archive for remote storage of some of our other electronic records.  OCLC's Digital Archive documentation is pretty good, but it doesn't answer all of our questions, so earlier this week, one of my colleagues and I sat down for a conference call with an OCLC staffer.
  • I put together the first draft of a document that discusses the basics of electronic records disaster preparedness, particularly for small organizations that aren't likely to have full-fledged disaster preparedness or business continuity plans, and outlines how to salvage and stabilize damaged electronic media in the wake of a disaster.  Several colleagues are currently reviewing it.
That's what I did at the office.  I've also been focusing on a couple of extracurricular projects:
  • I coordinated the assembly of a session proposal for the 2013 joint annual meeting of the Council of State Archivists and the Society of American Archivists that focuses on records management and digital preservation in cloud computing environments.
  • My former colleague Jim Tammaro is now teaching an Advanced Archives Management course at SUNY Buffalo, and next Tuesday I'm speaking to his students about archival preservation of Web sites and social media content; in addition to various policy issues, I'm going to highlight Heritrix, HTTrack, and various other tools.  I began working on my slides and handouts several weekends ago, and I'll put the finishing touches on them tomorrow and Sunday.
  • At the upcoming Mid-Atlantic Regional Archives Conference (MARAC) meeting in Richmond, Virginia, Paul Wester and Arian Ravanbaksh of the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) and I will be taking part in a session focusing on the recent Presidential Memorandum on Managing Government Records.  Paul and Arian will talk about the memorandum, which heavily stresses the need for appropriate management of federal electronic records, and NARA's efforts to provide advice and guidance to federal agencies seeking to comply with this directive.  I'll discuss the implications of the memorandum for state governments, and I devoted a couple of evenings to pulling together an initial outline and compiling background statistics re:  recent changes in state archives staffing levels in the MARAC region.

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