CUA CHIM Forum Update: Call-For-Posters Submission Deadline Extended

The Department of Library and Information Science at the Catholic University of America will be hosting the Cultural Heritage Information Management Forum on June 5, 2015.  This year’s Forum will include a poster session.  Call-For-Posters: Cultural Heritage Information Management Forum at the Catholic University of America, posted on January 31, 2015, outlined the specifications for submitting poster proposals to the Forum Planning Committee.

Since the original press release, the CHIM Forum Planning Committee has elected to officially extend the poster proposal submission deadline to March 15, 2015.  All subsequent call-for-posters announcements and related information releases will reflect this change.  All other “important dates” related to the Forum and call-for-posters remain the same, including the March 23, 2015 notification of proposal acceptance.


For more detailed information on submitting a proposal, please refer to the original blog post.  Those seeking further details about the CHIM Forum itself may refer to the event website.

As always, questions and concerns can be answered by contacting the CHIM Forum Planning Committee.


Important Changes:  Deadline for poster proposal submissions has been changed from March 2, 2015 to March 15, 2015.

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Rethinking Oversize Materials in Archival Collections

icfa

Written by Deena Gorland, ICFA intern (Fall 2014); Edited by ICFA staff

Due to previous experiences working at the Smithsonian Institution and the National Geographic, I was relatively well-prepared for the challenges inherent in processing substantial quantities of oversize materials in the Image Collections and Fieldwork Archives (ICFA) of Dumbarton Oaks. Certainly, I was cognizant of how large format materials present a unique challenge to archives, since their physical size requires different organizational and storage needs than normal-sized documents (e.g., personal papers and correspondence).  In addition, the oversize items in ICFA has been intellectually separated from their parent collections; therefore, the context or relationships between the items was lost and needed to be restored.

Starting in 2011, ICFA staff conducted a re-assessment of its oversize architectural drawings, tracings, and rubbings, primarily to evaluate their current storage environments and state of preservation, as well as to determine their history and relationship…

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Primary Sources: K-12

As an intern in the History of Medicine Division of the National Library of Medicine, much of what I do relates to the digitization of analog materials. Digitization increases access when people who are unable travel to the physical item  can see the materials virtually from any computer. This is great news because getting information to researchers is of highest priority.

But the term “researcher” may conjure up a mental image that is not reflective of the demographic I personally consider the most interesting beneficiaries of digitized primary sources – K-12 students. How kids react to and learn from digitized historic materials is fascinating, as are the methods of presentation and usage employed by their teachers.

In late June, I had the opportunity to sit in on a workshop that focused on exactly this. Hosted by the Exhibition Program at the National Library of Medicine, the 2014 Teacher Institute brought together school librarians from throughout the region. The little group was gregarious, taking very seriously their responsibilities of review and commentary on current NLM online resources and the drafting of future NLM online resources for K-12 education.

The information exchange between the school librarians and the exhibitions team was incredible; the discussion was eye opening and candid. I was impressed by the significance of allowing students to interact with primary sources to engage their developing skills of critical thinking, analysis, and synthesis. Although the academic exercises crafted around the materials are carefully constructed for student advancement, the documents themselves were made for entirely different purposes. As students interact with and absorb the information presented by primary sources, they aren’t simply pulling answers from the text – they are reading smudges on the pages, creases to the corners, and notes in the margins.

With my archival background, I comprehend how to organize materials for those seasoned professionals defined by the term “researcher.” This is inadequate mediation for K-12 students. As my understanding of how teachers effectively integrate primary sources into the classroom grew, so did my understanding of the archivist’s role in the process. Because K-12 students cannot synthesize the raw information as seasoned professionals can, primary source materials must be vetted and structured for classroom use. This starts when the repository decides what materials to digitize and develops suggestions for the presentation of and interaction with those materials. It is from these resources that educators facilitate and structure the learning process through activities, lesson plans, and carefully selected primary sources.

Primary sources carry a feeling of “realness” and opportunities for abstract thinking. These experiences are difficult to gain through a textbook and test, but are incredibly enriching to the educational process. Digitized primary source materials serve students just as they serve traditional researchers – the physical materials are unlikely to ever be accessed by any students, but dozens of students can simultaneously access a single document virtually.

To be truly useful for K-12 students, a little extra (and specific) processing is necessary for digitized materials. Yet there is a surprising lack of literature available to archivists on how to do this. The National Library of Medicine is fortunate enough to have an Exhibitions Program with experts in interpretation of cultural heritage materials. But most repositories do not have the resources to support such a program. Although it seems almost unfathomable to add additional responsibilities to already overextended archivists, we as a profession must begin to consider K-12 students as part of our patron base – our researchers. And we must begin developing best practices for how to serve them.

 

By Kelsey Conway

Cultural Heritage Information Management Forum Next June!

The Department of Library and Information Science has just announced that it will host the Cultural Heritage Information Management Forum in Washington, DC on June 5, 2015. This forum, which will serve as an arena for CHIM practicum project presentations, addresses the growing body of research and scholarship in the digital cultural heritage discipline.

The Program Planning Committee invites poster proposals on topics related to the forum theme. They include but are not limited to

  • Infrastructure for collection sharing, research, and access
  • Creation of digital collections
  • Access to digital cultural heritage collections
  • Outreach and engagement of users
  • Stewardship of cultural heritage collections
  • Partnerships and collaboration
  • Sustainability and funding models

Submissions will be accepted between February 2, 2015-March 30, 2015 and are open to all researchers, practitioners, and students in the cultural heritage discipline.

Stay tuned for more information about this upcoming forum!

 

 

My Very First LIS Symposium

This post was started last week. But, what with due dates, work, papers, and snow storms, it kinda didn’t get done. So, here it is, for your enjoyment!

A few weeks ago, I gave a poster presentation at CUA’s 6th annual Bridging the Spectrum symposium. And while this wasn’t my first LIS conference/symposium/get-together, it was — in fact — my first time presenting at one. My topic? Identifying Thesauri Selections of Repositories of Digitized Medieval Manuscript Collections.

Symposium Poster (1)

Thrilling stuff. Really, it is! Click the image for a larger format. You can also access the image through the symposium website at http://lis.cua.edu/symposium/2014/posters.cfm

My poster session was a great success. Loads of interested symposium attendees stopped by, asked good questions, and seemed generally interested in the topic at hand (namely, just what sort of thesauri do digital collections of medieval manuscripts use and why do they use them?) Now, fair reader, I can sense your budding excitement as you read this. Wish you had been there to see the poster in action? Well, look no further! A fellow cohort member was kind enough to capture my spiel on camera.

And while I could prattle endlessly about my survey, the interesting findings, and the possibilities for future research (if anyone reading is in a position to offer grant money, I won’t say no), I’d rather focus the environment of the symposium itself.

As with any profession, the work that we do as graduate students, as librarians, as information pros can sometimes be overwhelming. And when the responsibilities start to build up, we can bury ourselves in our own little worlds, focusing on the mountains of work that require our attention. I think that this is precisely why symposiums are so important: they allow us an opportunity to step away from our work and to be around similarly-focused professionals who wish to share their accomplishment in a public forum. Thanks to the many panelists, poster presenters, and attendees, I had the opportunity to learn about a whole host of new and interesting studies that are going on as I type this. Everything from indigenous modes of recordkeeping among the Sioux people to new approaches to faculty engagement at research libraries was on display. Conversations simmered at every table and the Twitter conversation was at a continual boil for most of the day (for those interested, check out #cualis14. Some great comments and a link to the Michael Edson’s keynote presentation, video is now available at CUA LIS’s homepage). While I won’t use the word ‘impossible,’ it would have been pretty difficult to have walked away from this event without feeling revitalized, fascinated, and totally revved up for the future of the Library and Information Science discipline.

After having such a wonderful time learning about new research, studies, and initiatives, I began to wonder about what some of the other motivations for attending conferences, symposia, and other LIS events. I was somehow reminded of John Falk’s “The Museum Visitor Experience: Who Visits, Why and to What Effect?” In this essay, Falk identifies several classes of museum patrons, including Explorers, Facilitators, Professionals/Hobbyists, Experience Seekers, and Rechargers, all of whom have a variety of legitimate but unique reasons for attending museums. While the format, structure, location, attendees, and overall attitude of a conference is different from a conventional museum, can some parallels be drawn between museum attendance and conference attendance? Some attend to expose themselves to new innovations in their given field while others attend to develop their professional calling or individual passion. Others still attend to meet others and make professional connections, others yet use conferences as an opportunity to refresh their professional outlook and workshop ideas & projects. While the comparison may be tenuous on first pass, it may bare up with increased consideration.

But still: the conference as a cultural engagement is an interesting idea.

Regardless, the Bridging the Spectrum symposium was a great experience. In the future, I would highly recommend attending. Major thanks to CUA and the Department of Library and Information Science for their efforts to organize such an awesome event.

Digitizing Toys

We’ve all revisited fond childhood memories of favorite toys: the life-size Barbie with hair you could style, the GI Joe that came with a real functioning parachute (!), or that one RC Car that could do flips. These memories are certainly accompanied by that nostalgic longing, that sense of long-gone fun that could never be appreciated in today’s modern world. Could you even explain the fun you had to someone so removed from your childhood memories? Now, try explaining your favorite childhood toys to someone 250 years later…

Oh, the memories of staying up late to play with my… bee hive smoker?
(Photo from Richard Balzer Collection; http://www.dickbalzer.com/Toy_Lanterns.254.0.html)

The Richard Balzer Collection — a self-declared Wunderkammern of visual entertainments — does just that. The collection hosts a plethora of toys, shadows, peep shows, phenakistascopes, zoetropes, and more, providing a rather interesting insight to the various modes of entertainment from a by-gone era.

But more than that, the collection website offers Flash animations of many of the moving entertainments, allowing modern day viewers to see just what audience members would have seen nearly 200 years ago.

Apparently, lions eating children was entertainment back then.
(Photo from Richard Balzer Collection blog; http://dickbalzer.blogspot.com/)

The animation element of the Balzer Collection site illustrates an interesting element of these antiquated novelties: accessibility and interoperability. Usually, these terms are used with regard to more modern media such as cassettes, film, and computer files and the ability to understand or use them once they have fallen from popular use or become obsolete. However, an important element of properly understanding these visual entertainments is not only comprehending the remaining physical artifacts. To really understand what was experienced, these objects have to be seen in the context in which they were intended to be seen, which is to say: in motion. And while we may be able to conceive of these objects as moving entertainments, if we cannot experience them as they were intended, a key part of the experiential knowledge of the objects is lost. And even though we may not have the complex spinning apparatuses or the rear-lighted peep show cases that are required, the Balzer Collection has employed GIF technology to ensure a proper migration into a format that is useable in our current tech environment.

Be sure to check out the Richard Balzer Collection. They also post a blog for updates to their collection and their ever-increasing collection of animations. A tip-of-the-hat to Huffington Post for bringing it to my attention.