Archive for the ‘Access’ Category
I am spending today at a Solinet workshop in Lexington, KY. The workshop deals with digital imaging. So far, it’s been fairly informative. Probably the most helpful aspect of the workshop thus far has been the discussion of the scan once methodology for digitizing images. We also received some pretty helpful handouts that have some nice tables that describe the file formats, resolution, and bit depth that you should use for master, intermediate, and access files. I may try to reproduce the tables on here later as it is pretty common information, but the way it was arranged was helpful. I am sure I will be using these tables in the archives.
- Cox, Dwayne. "The Rise of Confidentiality: State Courts on Access to Public Records During the Mid-twentieth Century," American Archivist 68 (2005): 313-322.
Dwayne Cox's article describes the gradual shift that occurred in American jurisprudence with regard to public records. This article was the second article on this topic that Cox has published in American Archivist. Prior to the late 1800s, America upheld the English common law tradition that stressed that access to public records was dependent upon demonstrating "a 'direct and tangible' interest in the information." American law shifted, though, as more and more people began to believe that access to these records was a right for citizens. As the push for access increased, more and more types of records were deemed confidential. Cox sets forth the history of legal cases regarding public records in the United States.
Several salient points emerge from Cox's article. The situation Cox describes seems to suggest that courts were more likely to say that businesses had a tangible interest than individuals. Of course, this would not be that surprising since businesses often have the extra money needed to pursue legal action. Cox notes that Kentucky was one of the most staunch adherents to the common law standard (It's just interesting to me because I live in Kentucky.) It also seems to me, from the article, that often the requirements for confidentiality were applied unevenly and often in defense of the government's interests, rather than the public's good, not that these two things have to be exclusive of one another. Finally, Cox notes that the laws that restrict access to records are often given names that stress the openness of records, which is a practice that he detests.
- Ericson, Timothy L. "Buidling Our Own 'Iron Curtain': The Emergence of Secrecy in American Government" American Archivist 68 (2005): 18-52.
This article was the 2004 presidential address at the Society of American Archivist's annual meeting. Ericson begins his address by contending that the U.S. Government had created an "iron curtain" of secrecy around records. He seems to rely heavily upon Daniel Patrick Moynihan's Secrecy: The American Experience0 in this article. Ericson recounts several recent examples of government secrecy, and then he points out that many archivists have been largely silent on the issue of government secrecy, despite archival literature and ethical codes that urge archivists to provide access. He divides efforts at government secrecy in the U.S. into three distinct periods: 1774-1870, 1870-1940, and 1940-2004.
Ericson points out that government officials were conducting secret business even prior to the American Revolution by making transactions for munitions under cover of secrecy. The signing of the Declaration of Independence was a secret event, and Washington's administration, the First Continental Congress, and Congress all kept classified and secret information. The extent of secrecy increased with events like the trial of Aaron Burr and the advent of new munitions technologies during the Civil War. The apathy of Americans in general and government officials in particular toward public records also contributed to many records remaining secret with little to no public outcry.
During the second period, American legislators tailored their legislation regarding secrecy after procedures that were used in Great Britain. Because of various concerns to national security, more and more types of records became classified, including records such as patents. Ericson seems to equate some civil liberties issues, such as anti-sedition legislation and censorship legislation, with government secrecy. Ericson believes that during the third period, "Conspiracy, loyalty, and secrecy became the forces that fed off one another and led to the extablihsment of the uncoordinated approach to informaton security that today is scattered throughout the federal government." Executive orders from the president authorized a great amount of classified information. The Atomic Energy Act (1946) and the National Security Act (1947) fostered the creation of much classified information. Ericson notes that even the budget of the CIA was classified until 1987. Ericson concludes by urging members of the SAA to become informed on these issues, to cooperate with other groups that encourage access to records, to encourage public official to grant access to records, and to become active in promoting civil liberties.
“Navigating Ambiguous Waters: Providing Access to Student Records in the University Archives” Review
- Chute, Tamar G. and Ellen D. Swain. "Navigating Ambiguous Waters: Providing Access to Student Records in the University Archives," American Archivist 67 (2004): 212-233.
The authors of this article point out that archivists' fear of compliance with Federal Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) will probably have a negative effect on the amount of information about students that is available for historical research in the future. They recount the history of the development of FERPA. They note that most legislators have not considered the negative effect on research that the FERPA legislation produces. They point out that very few publications on archives have addressed the issue, despite the fact that many archivists struggle with knowing how to apply FERPA. The authors surveyed a large number of university archives, and they supply the processed data from these surveys in the article. Their conclusions from the surveys are that most archivists are unsure exactly how to react to FERPA, and the way institutions seek to coordinate adherence to FERPA with access to records differs widely from institution to institution.The authors conclude the article by urging that archivists become involved in lobbying for greater access. Additionally, they urge that the SAA should establish best practices guidelines that would instruct archivists in how to comply with FERPA and grant a great degree of access to records for research purposes.
I like digitization. I like for people to be able to access books and other resources remotely. I understand that digitization costs money. I know that the various vendors who digitize usually need to get some sort of return on their investment. But this is ridiculous. Logos Bible Software company is willing to sell the “J. A. Broadus Preaching Collection,” a digital collection of three John A. Broadus books, for the low, low price of $59.95. That’s the price with $15.00 off, folks. They assure you it’s a bargain, too. They could “only locate a single copy of Sermons and Addresses anywhere on the web–available used for $100!” They should have looked harder. Alibris has five copies right now, the most expensive of which is $34.95. They are also willing to sell you A Treatise on the Preparation and Delivery of Sermons as part of the package. All well and good. The only problem is, there are already two free, standards-compliant, online editions of the work here and here (you can also get this free). Both of these editions are older than the Dargan-edited edition that Logos is offering.
Look, I know Logos probably has major $$$ invested in equipment, workers, and the like. Still, I think the price on this software is a little exorbidant. I am willing to bet that
- Logos paid nothing for the books, because they used copies from a theological library.
- Logos paid nothing for the copyright, because they are in the public domain.
- Logos could probably sell three of the collections at that price and more than make up for any amount of money it cost them to have an employee scan the books.
I know there are attendant costs with digitization, but it seems crazy to me to charge that much for something that libraries are trying to provide for free. If you are going to charge a good bit, provide a good bit of content. For example, Baptist Standard Bearer’s Baptist History Collection costs $59.95, but you get 43,298 pages with it.
Of course, the whole discussion brings up the concept of the invisible web, because the library versions of Broadus’ work are buried or non-existent in a good Google search, while Logos’s product is the second entry. Libraries need to do a better job of bringing their digital resources to the fore so that these types of digitization ventures do not occur.