Friday, October 31, 2008

The Friday Abstract: Look Ma...No Sunlight

Just when I thought it was safe, I saw another Archivist ad transcript hit my inbox. My anonymous source continues to feed me these transcripts, even though I have yet to actually see the ads that parody Apple's Get a Mac advertising campaign featuring a Mac and PC personified.

This ad is titled "Look sunlight." Sunlight, archives, meh...I can relate.

Librarian Dude
: Hello, I’m a Librarian.

Archivist Guy: [Enters scene holding large yellow box; places it on floor] And I’m an Archivist.

LD: What do you have there, Archivist?

AG: It’s a little gift from the Administration.

LD: Cool. What is it?

AG: It’s the "Artificial Sunlight Lamp - 300 watts of Vitamin D,” says right here on the box

LD: I see that. But what’s the reason for all this?

AG: It’s kind of a long story, but essentially Administration had promised us a new room with windows since our current work area has absolutely no windows and therefore no sunlight. Anyway, that plan did not fall through because some other department had quote-unquote priority. Whatever that means.

LD: Bummer.

AG: Yep, so instead of us working under oppressive fluorescent bulbs all day long, and basking in the glow of our lovely LCD monitors, the fine people in Administration bought us this Artificial Sunlight Lamp.

LD: Wow.

AG: Yesiree! They even threw in sunglasses, a pair for all staff members.

LD: Sweet.

AG: By the way, Librarian, do you know what department got that room?

LD: Oh you mean that large corner office with the floor to ceiling windows that overlooks the park and football field beyond, and at 3:15 sharp in the afternoon a beautiful shaft of golden sunlight pours in? That one?

AG: Yes, that one…

LD: Ahem, don’t have a clue.

AG: Oh.

[Fade to black]

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Archivist Jobs That Sizzle (i.e. do not suck)

A former colleague of mine told me about MARAC, the Mid-Atlantic Regional Archives Conference. I visited MARAC's website and its job opportunities page, and I found a job posting at Fordham University in New York City that actually sizzled.

I read the position title, responsibilities, qualifications - and there were words and terms that told me an evolution in thinking was occurring. I copied the entire job posting below, highlighting in bold those elements that caught my attention.

According to the contact person, Carlie McCarthy, who replied promptly to my questions, the position was entering the candidate interview stage and was only open to US citizens (being a Canadian citizen, this news was a bummer - does anyone know more about visas that librarians and archivists can get to work in the US?).

In any case, check out the points I highlighted. What do you think? Is this an Archives 2.0-ish position in the making, something other institutions should follow? I love the qualifications, especially the last one. A willingness to learn and implement new technologies and new skills.

Sign me up!

Fordham School of Law

Post date: September 9, 2008

Closing date: Until filled.

Position title: Archivist/Digital Specialist

Position in Leo T. Kissam Memorial Library, Fordham School of Law, Lincoln Center.

Organizes the historical records of the Law School.
Oversees the creation of an institutional repository for collecting, storing, preserving and disseminating the institution's digital assets.
Participates in the digitization of Fordham Law archival material.
Participates in cataloging and other library projects as needed.
Works under the direction of the Head of Cataloging.

MLS or equivalent preferred.
Experience with organization and processing of archival materials.
Experience with digitization of archival materials and with storing, preserving, and providing networked access to digitized and born-digital material.
Knowledge of metadata schemas and the principles of controlled vocabulary.
Ability to develop written policies, procedures, and processes.
Excellent organizational skills, the ability to work with great accuracy and with meticulous attention to detail.
Ability to work cooperatively, effectively, flexibly and independently.
Willingness to learn and implement new technologies and new skills.

Salary: Commensurate with experience.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

What the....Another Archivist Ad?

Librarian Dude: Hello, I’m a Librarian.

Archivist Guy: And I’m an Archivist.

LD: Archivist, I am so glad you’re here. I’m just about to unveil the library’s new welcome sign.

AG: “WELCOME TO THE LIBRARY.” Gee, that sign is very big and colourful. Patrons will see it from miles away.

LD: Well, that’s the whole point. When people see this sign, they will know that this is their library and they are welcome to drop by.

AG: Fascinating concept.

LD: I’m sure there are archivists who would be interested in such a sign. If you like, I can hook you up with the design—

AG: No, no, no, Librarian. We archivists don’t do marketing. No, no. We’re all about serious research. Serious research in the archives. Besides, if people really need us, they will find us. Eventually.

LD: Speaking of which, where are the archives located?

AG: Oh, that’s easy. Just go downstairs, turn left, then turn right. Walk down the hallway and go through the second door on the right. Not the first door now, the second door. Ask to be buzzed in and head straight down the hallway and turn right. You’ll see our office door there.

LD: You sure you don’t need a few signs with arrows?

AG: Nope.

LD: I could make a few if you--

AG: No, no, that’s fine. Just watch your head when you round that second corner.

[Fade to black]

Monday, October 27, 2008

What Library 2.0 Can Teach Archives 2.0

Michael Stephens, blogging over at Tame the Web, has posted an interview he had with Special Libraries Associations' IT Bulletin Digital Focus in which he discusses, among other things, his views and predictions on Library 2.0. Although long, it is still a very good read, filled with ideas that those in the archives profession contemplating Archives 2.0 should consider.

I mention Stephens' blog post because in the past few weeks there has been a healthy discussion in the Archives blogosphere about Archives 2.0 - what it could be, what it could do for archives and archivists, what it would mean to researchers and future users - and the Archives profession in the Web 2.0 era.

Kate over at ArchivesNext started the discussion with her interesting blog post "Archives 2.0?" and several other bloggers (including yours truly....wink wink) made thoughtful comments. Be sure to read the blog post and comments - and submit a comment as well.

As someone who has been calling for change in Archives in regards to Web 2.0 adoption (its values and ethics and technology usage) both from this blog and currently from this dismal unemployment chair, I believe these discussions on Archives 2.0 is the correct course of action. But these discussions must be followed up with concrete strategies.

Archives 2.0 will not be Library 2.0. Archives 2.0 will not merely mirror the actions taken by our colleagues in libraries. No, Archives 2.0 must grasp the values and ethics of Web 2.0, understand the Web 2.0 technologies, and then muster up the courage and envision how these elements can solve the problems facing archives and archivists.

Friday, October 24, 2008

The Friday Abstract: Another Archivist Ad

"They'rrrrre baaaaack!" So said the email I received from my anonymous source. More archivist ads in the spirit of those popular "Get a Mac" ads, Apple's marketing campaign. I still have not seen any even though I poured over hours of YouTube footage. In the end, I did not have to, really, because our dedicated anonymous source has seen them, and is transcribing them as I type. She sent this one to me, hot off the presses, so to speak. Here goes:

Librarian Dude: Hello, I’m a Librarian.

Archivist Guy: [Enters scene pushing a cart with a large mechanical device on it] ....And I’m an Archivist.

LD: Whoa-ho, Archivist, what do you have there?

AG: This, my Librarian friend, is the Super Ultra Air Purifier Ionizer.

LD: That is awesome, Archivist. I'm really impressed.

AG: Why thank you, Librarian. You see, every few days—more times than I care to admit, actually—the facilities department forgets there are archivists working in our windowless rooms and often shut off the air ventilation system.

LD: Yikes!

AG: Yes, it gets pretty bad when you’re surrounded by dusty material. The burning eyes, stuffy nose, headache, nausea, flu-like symptoms – it ain’t a pretty sight, as they say.

LD: Well, why don’t you start up the machine?

AG: Good idea! [Flicks switch. Motor roars like an air plane engine]

LD: [Shouts above noise] Wow! That’s strong, Archivist!

AG: [Shouts above noise] Breathe in the fresh, ionized air, Librarian!

LD: [Shouts above noise] Hey, hey, Archivist, the private papers you were accessioning are blowing down the hallway. Shut off the machine!

AG: I can’t! I can’t! [Runs after papers, exits scene. Heard in the distance.] Stop, come back. Don’t step on those; they’re not garbage!

[Fade to black]

The horror....the horror.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

5 Ways to Stay Sane

Economic meltdown, Wall Street greed, corruption, scandal, wars, unemployment, stress - there are plenty of news stories and frightening images to make one despair or, worse, go insane. Thankfully, there are a few easy steps to take ride through the storms around us.

According to Foresight, a UK Government think tank, there are effective habits and behaviours that people can adopt to remain physically and mentally fit.

Steps to happiness

Developing relationships with family, friends, colleagues and neighbours will enrich your life and bring you support;

Be active
Sports, hobbies such as gardening or dancing, or just a daily stroll will make you feel
good and maintain mobility and fitness;

Be curious
Noting the beauty of everyday moments as well as the unusual and reflecting on them helps you to appreciate what matters to you;

Fixing a bike, learning an instrument, cooking – the challenge and satisfaction brings fun and confidence

Helping friends and strangers links your happiness to a wider community and is very rewarding

[Source: TimesOnline]

Friday, October 17, 2008

The Friday Abstract: Those New Archivist Ads

Have you seen those new archivist ads circulating the Web? Me neither. But a kind reader has, and she sent me a transcript. The ad is apparently a funny spoof of the popular Apple ads that feature a ‘cool’ Mac guy and a ‘grumpy’ PC guy. With that image in mind, here is the transcript.

Librarian Dude: Hi, I’m a librarian.

Archivist Guy: Hi, I’m an archivist.

LD: Hey, Archivist, why do you look so gloomy?

AG: Well, you know, Librarian. Everyone is talking about you guys. I mean, you librarians are everywhere nowadays. On TV. On posters. And especially on the Web with all your fancy blogs and wikis. Us archivists, meanwhile, we’re busy, well, archiving.

LD: Well, actually, there are plenty of great archivist blogs out there—

AG: Please don’t patronize me, Librarian. No pun intended. We both have the same degree, right. We both serve the public. [Librarian nods in agreement] But somehow, somewhere down the line, one of us got the short end of the stick.

LD: Now I don’t think that’s necessarily true—

AG: Oh, please, Librarian. I read the blogs. I see what some of your more eminent colleagues are doing. You have librarians playing video games in public libraries, doing creative, fun activities; while others write cool dissertations on Second Life and the benefits of blogging, and worse still you have an anonymous librarian—God, anonymity, I hate it—writing the most popular library blog in the history Library Journal, that prestigious magazine of yours.

LD: Whoa! Archivist, you need to calm down. Your blood pressure. You should really—

AG: No, no Librarian. You won’t tell me what to do! I already know what I do.

LD: Really important stuff, I bet.


[Awkward silence]

AG: Phew…I think I better head back to the basement now. Bye, Librarian.

LD: Just watch your first--


LD: --step

[Fade to black]

Wait a minute! I've been had!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

From Canada to London: How Twitter Opens (Conference) Doors

As Twitter matures and empowers people, users of the micro-blogger service are finding more ingenious ways to communicate. Twittering or sending tweets (updates) about conferences or live events, such as the Presidential debates, are gaining in popularity.

Earlier this morning, I was following the tweets emerging from Internet Librarian International 2008, held this year in London, England. In particular, I was following librarian and blogger Michael Stephens and his tweets, while one of his colleagues, Michael Casey, was speaking on a panel.

At one point, Stephens highlighted a panel member's point (not Casey, but someone named Thomas), who said: "Some people are Librarian by attitude...LIS edu is not necessary for all."

I found the statement very intriguing for numerous reasons, which I will not delve into today. But I am certain long-time readers will have an idea. (Is being a librarian or archivist really only an attitude, or is it a combination of theory and training?)

I replied to Stephens' tweet with the following: "What if you are LIS grad but do not possess a librarian attitude? What should one do?"

The point was not necessarily to receive a response or to even debate the statement (I mean, these are pro-bloggers, after all, they are busy people in the middle of a conference, so I wasn't expecting a response).

To my surprise, however, Stephens and Casey both replied to my tweet and panel members started to discuss the question I had asked, revealing once again the power of Web 2.0 in general and Twitter in particular.

How cool is that?

While the statement regarding librarian attitude and education and the question I had asked still require more thought (and perhaps a dedicated blog post), I was pleasantly surprised to see that Twitter leveled the field, whereby someone in Canada could influence the direction of a conference in London.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

EDUCAUSE Street Cred

I was ego-surfing the other day--you know, ego-surfing, typing your name into Google and finding out who's talking about you, who's linking back to your site, that sort of vain late night activity--and so, like, I googled my name, right, and guess where I appeared? On a link pointing to the EDUCAUSE website!  Yep, you guessed it, yours truly, on EDUCAUSE.

EDUCAUSE is a nonprofit association whose mission is to advance higher education by promoting the intelligent use of information technology, so says its website.  Now, I was located--or, rather, my profile was located--on a page listing current McGill staff members.  Now that's odd, considering I am no longer a McGill employee (though I have absolutely no opposition to be one again, but I digress).  But nevermind that slight mistake, what really is cool--and I mean real cool--is that the website recognized me as an Archivist-Electronic Records AND Blogger!

It's enough to make me forget my miserable cold!

Friday, October 10, 2008

The Friday Abstract: Love is a Time Machine

British band Oasis released its latest album "Dig Out Your Soul" on October 6, 2008.  I am very happy to report that the new album is almost a return to form, with catchy lyrics, heavy guitar chords and an anthemic, ambitious sound that made Oasis the band it is today - and one of the biggest bands in the world.

The first single from the new album is called The Shock of the Lightning, a wild ride of a song.

Take a listen and have a look.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Lost Without You

We've become so dependent on our computers that when they go awry, as in infected by a virus, or break down due to normal wear and tear, we become lost without them. Yesterday afternoon, I received a phone call from the computer repair shop where I had taken my virus infected machine to be cleaned. The news was bad but could have been far worse.

It appears that all of my Microsoft Windows XP files had become fatally infected and corrupted. The entire operating systems was dead. A complete hard drive re-format and re-installation were required. Luckily, the repair shop, using a bit of techno-wizardry, was able to extract several personal and professional files (around 3 gigs worth), scanning and cleaning them in the process.

I am big amateur Photoshop user. You can see my handiwork across this blog if you are viewing this post at The DIGITAL Archive. The header and sidebar graphics, custom brushes, silhouette shapes, all mine. They took me hours, sometimes days to design. All lost, I feared as I witnessed the virus spread across my hard drive like fire in a pool of gasoline.

But, again, thanks to some fast-thinking on behalf of my reliable (and now $200 richer) repair shop, I have my personal and professional files back. Not all, mind you. I lost fonts. Yes, fonts that I had found over the past two years. All gone. But I will rebuild, this time bigger and better - and backed-up!!

Many of you reading this process and organize archives. We maintain original order, preserve records for posterity. For example, I researched, wrote and talked about e-records management and digital preservation.

But I wonder if we, individually, have taken the time to examine and insure the safety and security of our own personal archive, our digital archive, where we, using our PCs or Macs, create and store a multitude of files in a myriad of file formats in essence creating and storing memories in text, audio and video?

Are we making sure these critical files are safe, secure, backed up, either on external hard drives, CDs/DVDs, or perhaps even in the cloud using online storage services such as Google Docs or Apple's Mobile Me?

Think about it.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Annoyed Librarian Sells Out, Reveals Motives not Identity

So the librarian collective known as the Annoyed Librarian has parted ways with Blogger and joined forces with Library Journal, where their new blog, called, well, the Annoyed Librarian, is hosted. The apocalypse is near, ladies and gentleman. Never mind the economic meltdown. This is a true sign.

Why did they leave? A lead writer explains:
I might have been bored with fame, but I'm never bored with fortune.
While the Annoyed Librarian collective sells out to the Man, in their own words, and seeks fortune more than fame (heck, I'd love some fortune cuz these Google Adsense ads ain't paying me squat [c'mon folks share some click love]), they nonetheless have not revealed their true identities.

What a crock!

Thursday, October 02, 2008

A Farewell to Data: Virus Update

I dropped off my infected computer to the local repair shop. It does not look very good for my data, sadly.  I had made backups, so all is not entirely lost. But there will be some missing files. And plenty of hours spent on recreating my setup once the computer returns from the repair shop.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Virus Slams into DIGITAL Archive

From the department of "I guess it was bound to happen sooner or later." Late this afternoon, my computer was infected with a virus. Clicked something I should not have clicked. An innocent looking file...with a deadly .exe extension. And that was all she wrote.

Not happy. Not happy at all.

about the author

I am an information professional, researcher, and writer with over eight years experience in the information services field with experience in information and communication technology.

I have a B.A. in History and a Master's in Library and Information Studies and working on a Web and Multimedia Design certificate.

I believe that empowering people with information can enrich lives and transform the world.