South Bay Room
Monday July 9, 2012
Experiments in Cultural Heritage: Archives at the Nexus of Convergence
This presentation reports ongoing research underway at GSLIS, Simmons in the area of Cultural Heritage Informatics, focusing specifically on the often ambiguous role of archives and records. With the assistance of IMLS and NHPRC grants, GSLIS has been developing a cultural heritage informatics curriculum that includes experimental convergence projects with cultural heritage sites in the New England region. Each of these sites includes library,k archival and museum materials, each of these sites has expressed the desire to connect and converge its holdings digitally and each identified a specific digital project to model a convergence product.
Preliminary results from these sites not only indicate the many problematic issues and difficulties of convergence but also indicate the ambiguous nature of archives themselves within this type of cultural heritage setting. While the concept of convergence suggests a blurring of the traditional boundaries between record, object and artifact, and the affordances of technology accomodate that blurring archivists themselves need to be central players in redefining the cultural archive.
This presentation will explore these issues, offering preliminary results from the cultural heritage sites. It will analyze and further probe the questions of cultural archives raised by these experiments.
Public Histories, Digital Tools, and Disciplinary Boundaries: Teaching Digital Public History in LIS
The convergence of archives, library, and museum collections and practices suggests an opportunity for LIS to assert leadership in a number of areas. Among these are critical thinking skills and information literacy with special attention to an emerging and engrossing digital environment in terms of collection, access, and production. Recent meetings of both the American Historical Association and the Modern Language Association included a large number of panels on specific aspects of digital humanities and digital humanities projects that seemed at times to stray from disciplinary boundaries and cross into the domain of LIS , specifically archival theory and practice, without acknowledgement.
My research presentation for AERI highlights collaborative work with a fellow doctoral student at GSLIS, Noah Lenstra, to research and develop a course in digital public history within an LIS program. The course draws on archival theory and practice and prepares students to develop critical thinking skills and innovative ways to implement and advocate for collaborations among the many stakeholders in the realm of digital humanities scholarship, research, and practice. Our particular focus is public history understood as a collaboration involving diverse and disparate publics working together to “make the past useful.” Course readings and assignments acknowledge the many stakeholders and potential collaborators and turn a critical and disciplinary eye to provoke and facilitate student discussion of issues such as the archival record, memory, historical consciousness, and what the LIS professional brings to digital public history and, more broadly, digital research collaborations. I am particularly interested in provoking critical discussion and soliciting feedback from colleagues at AERI that can help us strengthen and substantiate this type of course in archives curriculum and more broadly, LIS curriculum.
Archival Institutions Online: Connecting with Users in Social Media
This presentation will highlight the results of a two-part study completed during the 2011-2012 academic year investigating the range of approaches and decision making processes archives and special collections libraries take when engaging in social media platforms and online communities. The initial project involved collecting Twitter updates for 34 archival institutions over the course of a month and performing content analysis to identify different strategies in action. A subsequent round of interviews with staff members at archives involved in social media activities sought to dig deeper into the decision making process around social media engagement in these types of organizations. Initial findings from this research suggest that archives are engaging in a range of activities on social media that promote accessibility to institutions and collections, but that perhaps the burden of continuing social media and online engagement too often rests upon the shoulders of a few staff members.