First Parish in Brookline (FPB) Archives Project to bring 300 years of history out of the woods…

by Elizabeth Cousins, Archivist, First Parish in Brookline

 

Chapter One: First Steps on the “road of yellow bricks.”

Lyon Chapel at FPB, named after William Henry Lyon, Sixth Minister, is a lovely space where spirits are moved, ideas are exchanged and plans put into action. This is where ‘archives talk’ evolved into the Archives Project, driven by several factors: In 2012 the basement flooded. The rescued records were moved to premium space that administration could put to other use since our parish is growing; I, a trained Archivist, finally had time to commit to volunteering; and, FPB is anticipating its’ Tercentennial in 2017. During coffee hour over several Sundays, parishioners, the Minister and committee members expressed interest in access to historical records for a variety of reasons. These reasons in turn became the driver for joining Digital Commonwealth. Certain record series have high informational value for ongoing planning, strategic initiatives and reference purposes. We want to digitize these series so multiple committee members can access them remotely, so that Dr. Rev. Sherblom can search sermons by keyword, and to enable parishioners and the community at large to discover and explore our 300 years of evolution as a community of worship and social action.

During the Digital Commonwealth Conference (2014), I spoke with BPL Digitization Services staff. I described where the records were on the continuum of arrangement and description. In preparation for developing work plans for our processing priorities, I wanted to obtain their spreadsheet to capture required metadata before processing is begun. As it turns out, the spreadsheet is being revised, and the actual first step is submitting the online application for digitization servicesDONE!

The next step is a Team site visit, scheduled for early July. I’ll report on my second step down the “road of yellow bricks” next month!

Want to get more involved with Digital Commonwealth? We’re looking for members to sit on the board, starting terms in July. If you’re interested in taking on this role, please send current Digital Commonwealth President Karen Cariani (karen_cariani@wgbh.org) a resume or short bio and a statement of interest.

Statements of interest should include:

  • A statement of commitment to be active on a committee (and which committee you are interested in, if you know )
  • A statement of commitment to attend at least half of the board meetings in person and others on the phone. Board meetings are once a month for about 2-3 hours at a time and location agreed to by everyone on the board, (currently last Monday of the month from 9-12)
  • A 2 year commitment to serve on the board
  • The possibilty of serving as an officer at some point

I am not a board member of the Digital Commonwealth. In fact, until the 2014 Annual Conference, I had never attended a Digital Commonwealth event. However, when I showed up, along with three other guests, at the May 2014 board meeting, I was welcomed quite warmly.

Board Members Margaret Morrissey, Jacob Edwards Library, Southbridge; Kim Cochrane; Henry Whittemore Library, Framingham State University; Nancy Heywood, Massachusetts Historical Society; Karen Cariaini, WGBH; Elizabeth Thomsen, NOBLE network; Ellen Dubinsky, Clement C. Maxwell Library, Bridgewater State University and Joe Fisher, O'Leary Library UMass, Lowell. Photograph by Sadie Roosa of WGBH.— at American Antiquarian Society.
Board Members Margaret Morrissey, Jacob Edwards Library, Southbridge; Kim Cochrane, Henry Whittemore Library, Framingham State University; Nancy Heywood, Massachusetts Historical Society; Karen Cariaini, WGBH; Elizabeth Thomsen, NOBLE network; Ellen Dubinsky, Clement C. Maxwell Library, Bridgewater State University and Joe Fisher, O’Leary Library UMass, Lowell. Photograph by Sadie Roosa of WGBH.— at American Antiquarian Society.

The term board meeting makes it seem like it should be extremely formal, possibly even stodgy; however, I got the distinct impression that, although everyone there took the proceedings very seriously, they weren’t just going through the formal motions. These were real people doing real work.

At the meeting we discussed the previous month’s annual conference, the activities of the outreach committee, a plan for debugging the integration of the repository’s new website with the older member site. Being right there during the conversation, it was very easy for me and my fellow guests to add our two cents or volunteer bits of our time to help out. I can guarantee that I would never have participated as much if I had only read about it in the newsletter; that extra barrier of sending even one additional email in response to a call for volunteers would be enough to stop me.

Now, clearly I’m very excited to be part of this whole process, but I can see why others might have reservations. That’s why I truly want to encourage you to sit in on even just one meeting. That’s not very much of a commitment, is it? And in that one meeting, you’ll be able to see the best way for you to participate based on your own schedule: whether it’s sitting on the board, volunteering for a committee, or helping out with only one local event. As a volunteer-run organization, we need our members to participate, and I hope you’ll consider doing so by sitting in on a future board meeting. The next meeting will be on June 23 from 9:30-12 at the MLS building in Marlborough (225 Cedar Hill Street, Suite 229 Marlborough, MA 01752). If you plan on attending, please contact Karen Cariani at karen_cariani@wgbh.org.

Submitted by Sadie Roosa, WGBH

Developing a Born-Digital Preservation Workflow

Presenters: Bill Donovan and Jack Kearney, Boston College

Bell Tower image
Postcard image of the Boston College Bell Tower, ca. 1930-1945. From the Tichnor Brothers Postcard Collection at the Boston Public Library.

Our presenters described the workflow followed to access records on an external hard drive included in the personal papers of Irish soprano and harpist Mary O’Hara, their first dive into the sea of digital preservation. They described how workflows start as baseline best practices. What happens when the unanticipated occurs? Hearing about the steps taken at Boston College to appraise, ingest and clear unanticipated hurdles along the way reinforced that processing plans/workflows are a starting point. What you find when you open the files can and will drive changes to workflows – sound familiar? Tags: Writeblocker, UNIX, 8.3 Constraint, Fixity (software), Identity Finder (software), XENA tool, Policy writing, FITS tool, JHOVE tool, LOCKSS, DP in a box, Digital Forensics.

Digital Commonwealth 2.0: It’s Alive!

Presenters: Steven Anderson and Eben English

Despite the migration to our new platform in Fedora and Hydra literally happening while we met, our intrepid presenters gave before & after comparisons of the repository website with its streamlined visual presentation and enhanced search capabilities. If you haven’t already, check it out!

Rapid Fire Inspiring Projects

Benjamin Sewall Blake jumping, ca. 1888. From the Francis Blake photographs at the Massachusetts Historical Society.
Benjamin Sewall Blake jumping, ca. 1888. From the Francis Blake photographs at the Massachusetts Historical Society.

Presenters: Christine Clayton, Worcester Art Museum (WAM); Abigail Cramer, Historic New England (HNE); Sean M. Fisher, Department of Conservation (DCR) and Recreation and Rebecca Kenney, Massachusetts Water Resources Authority (MWRA); Larissa Glasser, Arnold Arboretum Horticultural Library (AAHL); Nancy Heywood, Massachusetts Historical Society (MHS); Michael Lapides, New Bedford Whaling Museum; Sara Slymon, Turner Free Library

WOW! Our presenters offered up a smorgasbord of formats, collections and projects they undertook to make records available to their users. For some, their users were internal, like the WAM, which digitized exhibition catalogs, HNE digitized their collection of photographs by Nathaniel Stebbins, DCR and MWRA digitized 8800 images, the largest collection undertaken by Digital Commonwealth so far. AAHL digitized a collection of glass plate negatives…the results? Unanticipated revenue streams – from interior decorators, increased hits on websites, object provenance authentications, access to the identities of early American movers and shakers as reported in contemporary newspapers, accessible Town Reports and High School yearbooks. Several of these projects are still in the pipelines, so not yet searchable on the Digital Commonwealth website.

Submitted by guest reporter Elizabeth Cousins, First Parish in Brookline.

All the latest news from the Digital Commonwealth of Massachusetts!

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Updates for March, 2014

2014 Annual Conference: April 8, at Holy Cross

“Practically Digital: Doing What it Takes”

The 8th Annual Digital Commonwealth Conference

Hogan Center

College of the Holy Cross, Worcester

2014 conference registration

Join us at the Hogan Center at Holy Cross in Worcester for another great annual conference. This year’s theme is: “Practically Digital: Doing What it Takes”.

Featuring Keynotes by Melissa Levine and Liz Bishoff
 
 
Doors open at 8:00am and sessions run from 9:00am – 4:00pm.
Registration and complete information available here:

 

Repository Migration: completion set for April 8!

That is correct, the migration of our repositories in DSpace and Omeka is scheduled for completion the day of the Annual Conference! The folks at the BPL are actively working on completing the final OAI feeds from our Omeka site (http://digitalcommonwealth.org/collection-tree). The final objects from DSpace (http://repository.digitalcommonwealth.org) are being moved. And the DC news blog has already been copied over to a new server space at the BPL  (http://blog.digitalcommonwealth.org/). Finally, we have been busy copying and updating information pages from Omeka to the Wild Apricot membership site (http://members.digitalcommonwealth.org/).
All of this work is slated for completion by April 8! In time for an official public release at the Conference! After that, we will terminate the DSpace and Omeka sites and the  digitalcommonwealth.org URL will point to the new Hydra repository at the BPL, currently accessed @  https://search.digitalcommonwealth.org/
This may sound like a confusing mish mash of overlapping websites and digital repositories — but not for very much longer!! After April 8 we will have one repository site, one member informational site, and one news blog site — three separate URLs for three very distinctive purposes. Hooray!! Hooray!!

 

DPLA: Gates Foundation Grant

Digital Commonwealth will be hosting 3 upcoming workshops to prepare public libraries to contribute content to the Digital Public Library of America (DPLA) as part of a Gates Foundation Grant recently awarded to the DPLA.
In these workshops, public librarians will learn how to work with Digital Commonwealth to select content for digitization and/or identify existing digital content, digitize new content and provide metadata and contextualization for that content, and determine potential themes for DPLA
Bread and Roses Strike Exhibitions (http://dp.la/exhibitions), such as this exhibit concerning the Bread & Roses Strike in Lawrence:
The workshop dates have been scheduled:
  1. Wednesday, April 16, 9:30am – 4:30pm at Boston Public Library (Application deadline is April 9, 2014, 5pm)
  2. Wednesday, June 18, 9:30am – 4:30pm at Jones Public Library, Amherst, MA
  3. Wednesday, July 16, 9:30am – 4:30pm at SAILS Inc., Lakeville, MA
The ideal candidates for these workshops will be public librarians who deal with local history, genealogy and similar unique content. If interested, registration is now available.

 

Board Members and Volunteers!!

A call will go out at the Annual Conference for volunteers to join the Board of Directors and help with projects. Two board members are resigning due to new jobs they have received. Our current Vice President, Anne Sauer, is leaving Tufts for a position at Cornell. And our current Treasurer, Ryan Hanson, is leaving the Newton Public Library for a job at a private company in Boston. Joe Fisher will fill in for Ryan as Treasurer, but the board has yet to determine a VP replacement.
These are exciting times for Digital Commonwealth, and if you have an interest in serving as a volunteer or would like to recommend someone else, please send an email to digitalcommonwealth@gmail.com.

!! Check out our recent Blog Posts !!

The Public Library of Brookline’s Digitization Experience
Anne Reed, the Assistant Director for Administration at the Brookline Public Library offers this blog post about the library’s experience preparing and submitting materials to the BPL for digitization:  http://blog.digitalcommonwealth.org/?p=216

 

Digital Commonwealth Movers & Shakers 2014
Congratulations goes out to Tom Blake and Kristi Chadwick, current and former board members, for their inclusion in this year’s Library Journal list of “Movers & Shakers” for 2014:
http://blog.digitalcommonwealth.org/?p=233

 

Metadata Creation is a GAAS!
Timely tips and sage advice about metadata creation from Amy Benson, archivist at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University and a recent consultant for the Digital Commonwealth. Read all about it in her guest blog post:

 

School Librarians and Digital Commonwealth at MSLA
Digital Commonwealth board members conducted a presentation to teachers at the recent MSLA conference about using DC lesson plans and incorporating DC and DPLA images in the classroom:  http://blog.digitalcommonwealth.org/?p=242

 

Sincerely, Digital Commonwealth
Copyright © 2014 Digital Commonwealth. All rights reserved.
Contact email: digitalcommonwealth@gmail.com
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