Teaching with the Good Stuff: Educational Strategies for Archives, Libraries, and Museums
Fifty staffers from PACSCL member libraries gathered at the Academy of Natural Sciences Library on February 6, 2013 to learn about four emerging organizations for special collections professionals. Information on these organizations is being maintained on the site to assist area professionals in identifying organizations with related aims.
ARCHIVISTS BEING AWESOME is a new series of DVAG get-togethers for archivists in the Delaware Valley. ABA gives an opportunity for local archivists to learn more about each other by hearing short discussions of current projects. These projects could include traditional archival duties (such as processing, preservation, appraisal, donor relations, etc.) done in novel ways to meet novel demands. Other potential projects of interest could include outside-institution work that promotes archives in some way. So far, there have been three meetings of ABA, each featuring three or four speakers who talk for 10-15 minutes on a given subject of their choosing. PACSCL board members could interact by offering to be host institutions for ABA meetings, encouraging their staff to participate in meetings and attending/presenting at meetings themselves. For 2013, ABA organizers hope to vary the format of meetings by having themed talks, film screenings, happy hours and other new and exciting programs. (Laurie Rizzo, University of Delaware)
Not a new one but very important for area archivists: THE DELAWARE VALLEY ARCHIVISTS GROUP: 200+members strong, with active programming, and prime movers behind the popular Archives Month Philly. More information here: http://delawarevalleyarchivists.org/
CODE4LIB MIDATLANTIC is a Philadelphia Area/Tri-State chapter of the Code4Lib organization. Code4Lib isn’t entirely about code or libraries — it is a volunteer-driven collective of hackers, designers, architects, curators, catalogers, artists and instigators from around the world, who largely work for and with libraries, archives and museums on technology “stuff.” It originated in the fall of 2003 as a mailing list when a group of library programmers decided to create an overarching community agnostic towards any particular language or technology, and has since grown to be a international organization with chapters all around the world. Expanding on this, in 2007 Code4Lib also started the Code4Lib Journal, where user-contributed articles on technology, cataloguing, et al are published under a US CC-BY license.
Code4Lib Mid-Atlantic itself was formed in October 2012 as a local chapter of code4lib to help bring together the like-minded from Philadelphia and greater Tri-State area (and if you’re further out, that’s cool too). The goal of the organization is to connect these individuals to find new ways of collaboration, to share ideas and technology, and to generally foster a sense of collaboration and community.
Code4Lib is a unique organization in that it functions in true democratic form — things get done because people share ideas, step up to lead, and work together, not because anyone is in charge. Community decisions are made by holding open votes, (e.g. on who gets to present at our conferences, where to host them, etc.) and by discussion and agreement on the mailing lists.
For members of PASCSL, interest in Code4Lib would most likely be the same as why members join Code4Lib in the first place – as an open forum where technology “stuff” (from the practical to the fanciful) can be discussed; as a place where great and glorious project plans can be shared, scrutinized and advised; and as a place where questions both large and small can be answered.
More information about Code4Lib Mid-Atlantic can be found here: http://wiki.code4lib.org/index.php/Code4lib_Mid-Atlantic
More information on Code4Lib as a whole can be found here: http://code4lib.org/about (David Uspal/Laura Bang, Villanova)
DELAWARE VALLEY DIGITAL HUMANITIES GROUP: Do you think that good things can happen when we combine the humanities and technology — both in the broadest sense? The Delaware Valley Digital Humanities group is new, formed in Fall 2012. We minted the following mission statement at our first meeting:
We are developers, scholars, curators, educators, designers, and others
Representing universities, libraries, archives, museums, cultural institutions, digital media innovators, and others.
As individuals, we each boast different digital media competencies and interests and are united by an irrational exuberance of the willing — willing to learn, to teach, to collaborate, to create, to pitch-in.
As a group, we represent a friendly peer network of novices and experts alike, dedicated to the exploration of new ideas, tools, and best practices in the world of digital humanities via forums, workshops, meetups, happy hours and whatever else suits our fancy. (Matt Herbison, Drexel)
THE PHILADELPHIA AREA CONSERVATION ASSOCIATION (PACA) is a regional group comprised of conservation and preservation professionals in the greater Philadelphia area. Its mission is to promote knowledge and a sense of collegiality for its members while expanding the knowledge, understanding, and appreciation of conservation for the public. PACA aims to fulfill this mission by offering events that enhance or compliment the daily work of a conservator and preservation professional, social gatherings, and a listserv to post events of interest to the greater Philadelphia area conservation and preservation community, as well as to have discussions about professional issues. This is a new organization that started with a series of discussion about two years ago and passed its Bylaws in December 2011. In its short life, PACA has held ten events engaging conservators and preservation professionals from several areas such as conserving the Calder statues at the top of City Hall, moving the Barnes collection, and building conservation laboratories. (Ian Bogus, University of Pennsylvania)
More information about PACA: http://pacaphiladelphia.org/
(Update: processing is now complete for the second phase of the Hidden Collections project. View finding aids here.)
Belfield, a historic home once occupied by famed Philadelphia painter Charles Willson Peale and his family, was also home to descendants of several of Philadelphia’s most prominent families until the late 20th century.
The papers — totaling more than 100 linear feet and spanning four centuries — document members of the Emlen, Fisher, Hall, Lindley, Logan, Meigs, Wister and other families and were still housed in their original packing boxes. That would be boxes that previously held cases of candy bars and liquor.
Project processors Celia Caust-Ellenbogen and Michael Gubicza, aided by project manager Holly Mengel and project archivist Courtney Smerz, were able to create order out of this chaotic collection by using strategies based on Mark Greene’s and Dennis Meissner’s 2005 “More Product, Less Process” article as part of PACSCL’s “Hidden Collections” project supported by a grant from the Council on Library and Information Resources. That project has created a searchable database that contains its 140 finding aids, as well as dozens of others contributed by PACSCL members and ones produced by a similar project, the Hidden Collections Initiative for Pennsylvania Small Archival Repositories.
As part of processing the Belfield Papers, Celia, Michael and Courtney created a finding aid, a wonderfully entertaining blog post, and a collection of 209 images on Flickr (including images of some family recipes carefully tested by the project archivist — check out the “picnic turnovers“!)
Although the Belfield papers are at the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, Belfield itself is on the campus of another PACSCL member, La Salle University, where English professor James Butler is its chronicler. As Butler’s book on Belfield was going to press in the 1990s, he learned of this collection and, as he put it, “I was given permission to open a few of the liquor boxes and to peer into the absolute chaos of their contents, but unfortunately some of those disorderly contents were medical records of still-living people. Things would have to be sorted before I could dig further. My book came out, but I thought of it as ’Belfield’: An Incomplete History….”
Now processed and available for research, the Belfield Papers will shed light on a range of topics relating to local history, historic preservation, women’s studies, the history of medicine, to name a few. And Professor Butler is poised to hit the boxes for the second edition of his “Belfield”: A History.
Courtney Smerz also comments: ” Having spent over two years prepping collections for minimal processing and working with processors to process those collections, I can say confidently that the Belfield papers was one of our most challenging ventures and definitely our greatest success! This was a collection that was truly hidden and 100% inaccessible for research. There was no way to even know who or what was documented in the collection, let alone know in which disorganized box to look first. That there were medical records was the least of our worries! The collection was processed in less than 4 hours per linear foot. Though its post processing arrangement is general, for sure, it is now appropriately housed and completely accessible. The Belfield papers ranked high on the survey and did not disappoint in processing. This collection is chock full of information on lots of interesting topics that would never have been known without minimal processing, and we’re hopeful that they will be of good use to many scholars. “
Explore the Belfield Papers and the Hidden Collections project:
- Belfield Papers finding aids
- Belfield Papers blog post
- Belfield Papers photo set on Flickr (including “Picnic Turnovers”)
- Hidden Collections finding aids database
- Hidden Collections project website
In June 2010, PACSCL welcomed more than 400 members of the Rare Books and Manuscript Section (RBMS) of the Association of College and Research Libraries, a division of the American Library Association, to Philadelphia! Collaboration was the conference theme, and PACSCL’s 25 years of cooperation was one of the models examined. Events took place at the Doubletree Hotel, in the heart of Center City, as well as at the Chemical Heritage Foundation and the American Philosophical Society in Old City. Attendees had many opportunities to get to know the city and PACSCL’s member institutions. The links below include audio from the conference presentations.
Conference website: http://rbms.info/conferences/preconferences/2010/index.shtml
Schedule with links to audio: http://rbms.info/conferences/preconferences/2010/schedule.shtml