Category Archives: Digital Archives

Taking Access to the User Online

Yesterday morning I participated in the Library 2.012 Virtual, Worldwide Conference. It was my first conference presentation experience, and even though it was totally virtual and I did not have to stare into the eyes of my attendees I still got those nerves right before I started. However, everything went smoothly and I got some very nice questions at the end of my presentation so I gauge it a success!

I would highly suggest this conference for any student wanting to have presentation experience. There is NO COST attached to the presentation (well besides your time & effort). I gave my presentation from my home computer with my cat sitting next to me as moral support. Also the presentation software is very easy to use especially if you are an online student use to online collaboration.

I have decided to share my slides with you all here as well. I’ll add some annotations to explain some of the pictures. If you would like to listen/watch the actual session it was recorded and can be found on the Library 2.012 website.

In case some of you haven’t seen a picture of me before!

A South Asian American is another with a heritage of Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan, or Sri Lanka.

An entity on SAADA was a contributor, author, or subject. I created entries for a few South Asian women who came to America for medical degrees in the early 20th century.

It is hard to see, but the “code” looks like this:
* [ The South Asian American Digital Archive]
The phrase after the url is what is displayed as a hyperlink on the Wikipedia page.

After my first day working on these Wikipedia links, we had a user come in from one page I edited and he looked at 4 pages on the website and stayed for 14 minutes! Almost instant results on my work.

If you like the Gandhi/Tolstoy connection, please check out the archive! Indian revolutionaries interacted with other revolutionaries around the globe including the Irish!

The graph is the nifty metrics one gets as a Facebook admin for a page. The high point on the graph is for the week of 9/17-9/23 when SAADA reached 4,916 people. That week 5 posts were published. Of which one was a picture, two were educational posts and two were updates about the archive.

Our Achilles heel of user engagement. The effort of interacting with users on Twitter is almost nonexistent and our numbers reflect our lack of effort

You get what you put into social networks is the lesson here.

During the Q& A I also suggested looking into Flickr and Pinterest (which is the subject of an upcoming post). Both of these platforms could be a big boost. Pinterest is a very interesting service to look into. Archives, libraries, and museum that have interesting visual collections could be a big hit on the site. There is even a history category that these materials fall into and that can be easily browsed allowing browsing users to discover your materials. However, there are myriad copyright issues when considering this route so I’d closely read the terms of agreement before adding material or even putting much thought & energy into it.

I hope more library students take advantage of this conference in the future! Please if you have any questions about my presentation or about presenting at Library 2.012 in general leave a comment.



Filed under Archives, Conference, Digital Archives, Library School

The Summer of Two Internships

Today  my student ALA chapter posted a blog entry I wrote about my experience this summer interning with the Theodore Roosevelt Digital Library and the South Asian American Digital Archive.

Also please check out all the other posts written by other UW iSchool students and their experiences in many different types of intern positions! The variety is pretty awesome.

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Filed under Digital Archives, Library School

The Similarities of 1912 and 2012

Today my blog entry about my first month interning with the Theodore Roosevelt Center was published. I discuss the similarities I found between the discourse used in the election of 1912 (when Theodore Roosevelt ran as a third party candidate) and the election of 2012.

100 years has passed, but we are still fighting some of the same battles. Frank Harper, Roosevelt’s secretary, would recognize many of our country’s problems today and I think he’d respond in the same way. Yes we have made some great strides forward in areas that the Progressive Party stood for, but others are right back where they use to be. Though it makes me sad to see history repeating itself, these common problems also help to create a bond between us and those people who lived, worked, played, and suffered a century ago.

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Filed under Digital Archives, Public History

Creating History

As my time as a history undergraduate I rarely adventured into the area of truly original research. There were times where I explored overlooked or untold portions of a well known story or I even attempted to reinterpret a very well known aspect of history. However, I never ran into the barrier that I have recently found in one of my archival internships this summer. I believe I have found an historical narrative that has not yet been told or given its due consideration. As a very recent student of history, I should find this exciting. This is a scholar’s dream. However, as a new information professional I am equal parts excited, horrified, guilty, and bewildered.

What exactly have I stumbled upon? The mostly untold story of South Asians in the Seattle area especially during the early 20th century. I saw mostly because some historical institutions like the Wing Luke Asian Museum are beginning to correct this oversight. However, every time I try to learn more about the Asian population in Seattle or dig into local repositories I’m hit with an abundance of information on Chinese, Japanese, Filipinos, and the more recent Vietnamese immigrants, but the information on South Asians is minuscule. I feel like I am chasing a ghost. I know they were here and I know they took jobs similar to most Asian immigrants at the beginning of the 20th century, but their memory has not been as fervently preserved as others.

The exercise of trying to dig up historical documents about these men has really driven home how much of a responsibility we as archivists, librarians, and historians have in creating the historical record. Take for example Doug Chin’s book Seattle’s International District: The Making of a Pan-Asian American Community. Chin mentions the anti-Asian riots that took place in Vancouver, British Columbia in the fall of 1907 which were mostly carried out against Chinese and Japanese immigrants. However, Chin does not mention the 1907 Bellingham, Washington riot that expelled the town’s South Asian population. With this small exclusion Chin has solidified the former incident more firmly in the historical narrative of the Pacific Northwest, but has further washed the latter from our memory(67-68).

As the summer progresses I hope to chase down my research ghost and help to build the historical narrative of the experience of South Asians in western Washington at the beginning of the 20th century. This research project will also stick with me as a cautionary reminder of just how powerful not mentioning an aspect of history is as including it.


Update: Before publishing this post I’ve received many responses to my research inquires from local repositories. These responses only back up my initial findings that really no historical narrative exists for these immigrants. My hypothesis is that these men did not form lasting communities so there were no impulses to save or create a lasting community memory. These men either voluntarily left or were pushed out due to anti-Asiatic sentiments. Does this hypothesis seem sound? Could an historian still create a narrative for this group even with so little archival evidence?

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Filed under Digital Archives, Local History

Personal Digital Preservation: Part 2 Theory into Practice

I tried to give myself the best chance of success or the best chance to get a quick sense of accomplishment and chose a smaller collection of digital photographs to begin my project. According to the Library of Congress’s information on personal archiving, there are four suggested steps to take when working to preserve your digital photos.

1.) Identify where you have digital photos

2.) Decide which photos are most important

3.) Organize your selected photos

4.) Make copies and store them in different places

Identify where you have digital photos

This part was quite easy since I am targeting a certain folder of photos that have already been moved off of my camera’s SD card and saved onto my laptop. However, once I have worked through my backlog of photos I will need to once again look on my camera for photos that still only exist on my SD card as well as my cellphone that has probably hundreds of photos on its internal memory that I have not bothers to transfer to my laptop.

Decide which photos are the most important 

Time to get rid of all those duplicate, fuzzy, and um pointless photos. Going through this portion of the process reminded me of David Weinberger’s Everything is Miscellaneous. He rightly states that “since our cameras apply names like ‘DSC00165.jpg’ to our photos it’s easier to keep bad photos than to throw them out”. When I first read that passage I could only chuckle and nod. I am guilty of keeping more photos than I should just because comparing and then committing to deleting one of the photos is a heavy responsibility.

However, I did delete many photos from my vacation photos. I got rid of all those duplicates (with and without flash, with different white balances set, just a bit more focused or centered). I also deleted many pointless photos (if I can’t remember why I took the photo less than a year later then I really do not need to commit to keeping it forever).

Organize your selected photos

The meat of the project! As long as you do not need to pick out the best photo of a flower out of 20 possible choices, this step will most likely be the most time consuming. This step might also become somewhat repetitive. I would suggest listening to music, watching a movie, or watching a television show while you add metadata to your photos.

Time to get rid of those horrible camera created names and actually give your photos descriptive names. Now this can be accomplished in a variety of fashions depending on your personal information management style and how you personally like to name files. You can incorporate location, date, subject, or just describe what is in the photo. I went the last route since my photos will remain in a file that identifies the photos within as vacation photos from Cannon Beach, OR. My file names might not be scientific or up to library or archive standards, but I will know what the photo is and so would most anyone else.

Next it is time to add your metadata! I did not use any fancy programs. I opened my folder of photos and then went photo by photo and right clicked then selected the properties menu. Under the details tab, I could add title, subject, keywords, and comments. For my more visual learners, here is a screen shot of the metadata I added for one photo:

Properties Menu for photo

I had keywords for the place, significant objects or people in the photo, and more generic terms like “beach”. When it comes to keywords you can use as many or as few as you like. I always try to strive for a middle ground and only add keywords for the important aspects of the photo (for example if there is a food stand in the background of a photo, but obviously you and your friends are standing around a statue of some historic persona I would not add “food truck” as a keyword). In the comment section I added a more narrative  description of the photo sometimes placing the photo in context of a sequence of events that the title, subject, and keywords won’t convey otherwise.

Make copies and store them in different places

After completing all of that metadata, first give yourself a pat on the back then get all those pictures saved on different types of media pronto! What this means is to save your photos on different types of storage devices such as SD cards, flash drives, CDs, DVDs, external hard drives, in the cloud, or on a social media site such as Facebook, Flickr, or Instagram. If your photos are new you can incorporate your metadata creation into your “sharing” habits by processing your photos during the same chunk of time you would have devoted to uploading to these sites. I know my comment section reflects my captions from Facebook.

The Library of Congress also suggests keeping your copies in different locations. Maybe store a flash drive at a relative’s house or in a safety deposit box or a fire proof safe. LOC also goes as far as suggesting you keep a physical manifest of your photos with other important documents (this may help in remembering which photos are saved in what formats and where physically you have them).

Final Thoughts

Also remember every few years you need to check on your photos! You need to make sure you can still access them and that your storage devices are still working. You may also need to migrate your photos to new media. CDs as a storage media might not be around for much longer so photos saved on this media might need to be transferred to it a new media. Also make sure that your photos are saved in an open format (.jpg or .tiff). Also make sure your metadata shows up on other computers (plug your flashdrive with the folder of photos into someone else’s computer and see what shows up). In the future you may need to learn how to change the format of your photos to keep them current with file format changes.

I know this all seems like a big investment of time and energy (and in many cases money), but it will be well worth it some day when you can share these photos instead of bemoaning the hard drive crash of 2015.


Filed under Digital Archives, Digital Perservation, Project

Personal Digital Preservation: Part 1

In the library, archive, and museum professional world (the LAM world) digital preservation is a hot topic and one that I am very interested in. I have always loved viewing history from a very personal stand point. My bibliographies for my history papers in undergrad always had a diary, biography, or autobiography among my other more scholarly or pertinent sources. So even before I set my eyes on studying library science, I would sit and ponder how historians would get their hands on such personal sources in the future. I know my very boring and at times angsty high school diary only exists in LiveJournal if it is even still there. I actually have very little personal or professional writing that exists in the personal world. All of my thoughts are recorded in bits.

I know this scares the daylights out of many of my LAM brethren. I have heard whispers of a new dark ages when all of our digital documents will gone. Either we won’t be able to access them or the bits will be corrupted and irretrievable. These dire predictors then usually turn to the nearest library student and announce that “Your generation will have to figure out a solution to this situation”.

Well here I am doing my part to solve the problem. This week while I am relaxing between quarters of library school, I have decided to take a good look at what I am doing to help preserve my digital documents. I have decided to focus on my digital photos since besides being uploaded to Facebook I do very little with them. My only saving grace is that I separate groups of photos by event and do not just dump all of them into one mega photos folder.

Much of the work I have ahead of me is renaming the picture files from the automated names given by my camera to something more descriptive and then adding extra metadata. My next step is to make sure I have several copies on different types of media (the LOCKS step).This way later viewers will know where my photos were taken, why they were taken, and who are in them.

Readers, if you would like to help preserve your photos, videos, blogs, or documents for the future I would start by visiting the Library of Congress’s website devoted to personal archiving. There are also two videos put together by LOC concerning preserving digital photos that I viewed that helped to get me motivated and on the right track. The first is a bit corny, but shows the type of metadata that should be added to photos. The second video is a recording from a personal archiving day during Preservation Week 2010.

I will report back later with my experience adding metadata to my personal photo collection. Hopefully I will have tips and advice for you all. Remember if we want to save our history for the future we all need to have a hand in it. We can not just assume someone else will save it all later. We all need to have our own little digital box of photos stashed away.

Continued in Part 2 Theory into Practice –


Filed under Digital Archives, Digital Perservation, Project

A Daughter of Two Worlds

The professional world I am trying to carve out for myself is an odd one and sometimes I wonder if I am doomed to be forever a daughter of two different worlds of thought.

As this blog proclaims my passion is history and I believe everyone should easily have access to it. However, I elected to pursue a Masters of Library and Information Science and not a Masters of Arts in History or even Public History. Why did I do this?

Well one word: Archivess

Let’s make that two words: Digital Archives

I believe that both creating digital archives focused on digital preservation and digitization of print materials will bring history to the people where they are — online.

I was turned on to this idea actually in a class categorized as an introduction to the field of Public History during my undergrad. I worked as an intern in both a traditional archive setting creating finding aids and a digital archive (we called it a digital memory project). I loved my work at the digital archive and it brought me the library and information science world.

However, when I dig into the archival world through blogs and tweets I feel as if archivists are viciously defending their profession from others like public historians. It gives me an uneasy feeling since I seriously considered going down that path or even pursuing both an MA in Public History and a MLIS.

My doubts have been eased to a degree by a recent post in The Signal. Butch Lazorchak “daydream[ed]  about a time (ideally in the not-so-distant future) when librarians, archivists and museum professionals rule the world.” I too daydream about such a time especially when these three groups release embrace each other as all being Information Professionals and not pointing out the differences of our day to day operations.

I hope as a proceed especially in the digital preservation area of the profession that I will meet liked minded collaborators and get to work with a wide range of my fellow LAM brethren.

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Filed under Digital Archives, Professional musings, Public History