Archive for the ‘Archives’ Category
Trevin Wax, an alum of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (the institution for which I work), is giving away 10 free books during the Christmas season. One of them is the stellar history of SBTS written by Dr. Greg Wills and published by Oxford University Press. Dr. Wills was a frequent user of our archives as he was writing. In fact, He worked here so often, I considered purchasing a cot for one of our storage areas to name “The Greg Wills Cot of Historical and Archival Dedication.”
All that to say, if you would like to win a copy of Wills’ superb institutional history, stop by Trevin’s blog and register to win.
It was announced today within the Archon forum that Archon and the Archivists’ Toolkit will be integrated in order to combine the best features of both. I will be watching this project with much interest. I have tried both applications, and I have a definite preference for Archon. I sincerely hope that this strengthens Archon, rather than weakening it.
I can think of strengths that could be gained from this integration. A GUI could be a nice addition. The folder view in Archivists’ Toolkit is nice as well. I also hope that these development efforts will also lead to a new platform that supports union catalogs from the outset.
There are dangers in the combined efforts as well, in my opinion. I hope that the nice, clean PHP code used in Archon doesn’t get mucked up with some sort of integration with Java, which I hate with a passion. I think using a great deal of Java would slow development and reduce the ability of many to do customization. Did I mention that I hate Java? I also hope that development isn’t stymied due to a lack of competition. Competition is always good, even when it’s between open source products. I also hope that Chris Prom’s influence on the project is undiminished. Chris’ two American Archivist articles on the EAD Cookbook and user interactions with finding aids set up a solid research foundation for the entire Archon project. Without his research, the project would not have been as good as what it is.
Still, this project holds promise, and I think the outcome will probably be good for archivists.
Handbrake has been around for quite some time. It is a free and open source video conversion tool that is available for Windows, Apple, and Linux. In previous releases, Handbrake was merely a DVD ripper that many people used to convert DVDs for use on their iPods, PSPs, or cell phones.
I have used it before, but I never really considered it a good candidate for use in an archives because it just converted DVDs. However, the latest version (0.9.3) of the software makes it an ideal solution for using in an archives, because it now supports video format conversion. In other words, Handbrake will allow you to convert videos between formats. Their developers state on the wiki that “HandBrake can accept almost any sort of video file you can throw at it, although with exotic fare, things can sometimes be a little rough around the edges.” It is able to encode videos as MP4, MKV, M4V, OGM, and AVI.
Handbrake also includes a nice set of presets for encoding to devices like iPhones, iPods, and gaming consoles. Do you want to add an iPod friendly copy of some historical video you’ve converted to DVD to your institutional repository? You don’t want to take the time to learn what all of the different audio and video encoding options are? That’s not a problem, because Handbrake has them baked right in.
One other nice feature Handbrake offers is a command-line interface. What this effectively means is that with just a little bit of script-fu and a spare workstation, you can convert a whole mess of video files. Of course, you could also do this the easy way, because the graphical interface has a nice queue available as well.
This morning’s Twitter outage illustrates the reason that social media archiving is needed. Notice also in the article updates that both Live Journal and Facebook were having problems as well. No one knows when this type of outage could be catastrophic and result in substantial data loss. And that can happen. Even organizations that generally take data preservation seriously are susceptible to data loss and serious downtime. For example, LFPL was pouring water out of their servers just yesterday.
Now, today’s outage appears to be caused by a denial-of-service attack, so data loss will probably be minimal. But other types of digital catastrophes can cause data loss, and the data lost may be culturally and sociologically significant.
By the way, if anyone needs ideas for what to do while Twitter is down, here’s a few suggestions. They beat working on a Twitter archiving app right now. Can’t connect to the API.
My friend Robbie Sagers addressed the topic of social media preservation in a post on Justin Taylor’s excellent blog today. In light of Robbie’s post, I thought I would point out a poster on Blogger Perceptions on Digital Preservation that was presented at the Joint Conference on Digital Libraries back in 2007. Some of the more interesting data from the poster includes:
- Over 43 percent of the respondents attempt some self archiving of their blogs
- Nearly 71 percent of the respondents believed that their blogs should be archived
- Nearly 50 percent of respondents believed that preserving the audio and video embedded in a blog was important
- Over 30 percent of respondents believed that archives and libraries had an obligation to preserve blogs in general
Today, one of my colleagues found the following in an August 10, 1805 entry in the Minutes of the Elkhorn (KY) Association of Baptists (Volume 1) which we have in our manuscript collection.
Quere from Glen’s Creek. Is it right for Baptists to join in an assembly at Barbecues on the 4th of July? Answered No.
I may have some repenting to do
I count it my great pleasure to work where I do. At the James P. Boyce Centennial Library, I have the distinct pleasure of being able to work with archives, various types of special collections, and technology. The job perfectly fits my personality type.
One of the additional pleasures of working at this particular library is the name itself, for its namesake was possibly the greatest bibliophile in the history of the Southern Baptist Convention, James P. Boyce. He left his library to the institution, and I have the distinct pleasure of working with many of these books on a daily basis. I cannot do justice in describing either the breadth of his collection or the the physical beauty of the volumes he possessed. They are beyond remarkable, so I will not even sully their worth with my worthless banter. To appreciate them, one has to see them, feel them, and smell them. If you would like to do so, I invite you to stop by during our working hours.
Since this coming year marks the 150th anniversary of the establishment of Southern Seminary, I thought I would share here a brief account of Boyce’s love for books of all types. This particular quote was written by his daughter and is drawn from the biography that his colleague and best friend wrote of him.
His library was a source of great pride and enjoyment At one time it bade fair to be a remarkably large collection for a private individual Most of his books were bought before the war in after years he could buy little beyond those necessary for his studies and could seldom afford to indulge any longer in lovely bindings and rare editions I consider this one of the greatest tiials that loss of fortune brought upon him He still indulged himself occasionally but then only for our benefit At New Year he always presented each member of the family with either the complete edition of some author’s works or single works well bound and illustrated I have seen him sit for hours with a book catalogue in his hand marking the books he would like to buy and really seeming to get great enjoyment out of merely seeing what was to be had if he could afford it He was charmed to show his books to friends He and Colonel Durrett were constantly in each other’s libraries and often exchanged books I have heard him say that it caused him positive pain to see beautifully bound or illustrated books and not be able to possess them He seldom went down town without going to a book store where he could indulge himself in glancing over the new works He bought his theological books with a view to giving this part of his collection to the Seminary He was devoted to children’s books would read them with interest and was greatly given to making presents of them to his little namesakes and other child friends The last gift he gave was a book bought at Pan and sent to a little grand niece He gave his oldest daughter when a child the prettiest and the best books suitable to her age In fact she was really possessed of quite a little library when only a baby The Nightcap Stories Kollo Books Grimm’s Fairy Tales the Arabian Nights and even some French books were provided for her long before she had learned the alphabet He took great pains to have only good illustrations in a book he purchased believing in this way he might cultivate the taste for good drawing and painting.
– Memoir of James Petigru Boyce, D.D., LL.D. Late President of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louiseville, Ky By John Albert Broadus
At the most recent ALABI meeting, I presented a session on Archon and the Archivists’ Toolkit. It was a really basic session. I included a brief overview of open source software in general as well as an overview and comparison of both Archon and the Archivists’ Toolkit. I closed by offering several questions to help determine which piece of software might meet an archivist’s needs.
If you are looking for a really simple comparison of the two systems, you can find my presentation here.
I just wanted to mention a couple of things in relation to preserving blogs. First, I wanted to thank Marty Duren, formerly of the influential Baptist blog SBCOutpost. Marty now blogs at ie:missional (I’m not sure what ie stands for, but I hope he’s not endorsing the web browser that dare not name it’s name.) Marty was taking down his SBCOutpost blog, and he graciously provided me with a full digital copy of the blog. I like to think of it as SBCOutpost 2.0, because Marty used to have a Blogger blog before he was converted to WordPress. SBCOutpost is now at version 3.0 as a collabroblog.
Second, I think I am getting closer to an answer on how to grab blogs and store them in a way that will ensure that their arrangement remains intact. I also think that I have a solution for how to ensure that various iterations are distinctly recorded. In other words, I believe that I will be able to do for blogs what the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine does for regular sites. Better yet, I believe I can do it with entirely free software. I also think that this solution can be used for other web resources. We will see how it turns out, but at this point I have reason to be very hopeful. At this point, I am more concerned with preservation than access. I need to preserve all these “wet blogs” before they dry up.
In my previous post on wet blogs (ie. Baptist blogs), I noted that I would be doing a series of posts dealing with preserving wet blogs (and blogs in general). I just wanted to point out a couple of people that seem to have similar concerns.
First, Marty Duren posted today about the relationship between blogs and traditional denominational media outlets. He argues that media outlets such as Baptist Press should be more open to publishing blogs and bloggers on their sites. Marty rightly recognizes the influences of blogs on denominational life.
Second, Timmy Brister, Owen Strachan, and Tony Kummer have developed a collaborative blog project called Said at Southern Seminary. The project aggregates blogs from many bloggers related to the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, and publishes content on a variety of issues. Appropriately enough, you can find out more about the project at its About page. While this project in no way guarantees the permanence of blogs or blog content, it demonstrates the concern of some bloggers for bringing together blogs related to a common object of love.