The Bigger Picture: Visual Archives and the Smithsonian
Posts tagged with: Web/Tech
- At long last, the tale of how a California Gray Whale skeleton made it into the collections of the National Museum of Natural History. [via Smithsonian Science]
- The Library of Congress offers 50 digital preservation activities that you can do. [via The Signal: Digital Preservation, LOC]
- Congratulations to the Digital Public Library of America which welcomed 360,000 unique visitors and 1.5 Million API calls since it launched in April. [via InfoDocket]
- With the help of the public, the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery will be putting on an exhibition on yoga, Yoga the Art of Transformation. [via DCist]
- More 3-D awesomeness! Amanda Ghassaei of instructables.com has figured out a way to turn any MP3 into a physical record using 3-D printing. [via Retina, Smithsonian Magazine]
- Want to know how 3-D scanning is done at the Smithsonian? Watch the video below to find out. [via Smithsonian Science]
- A new video from the Library of Congress profiles the Packard Campus for Audio Visual Conservation in Culpepper, Virginia. [via The Signal: Digital Preservation, LOC]
- Another awesome digitization project, the Balboa Park Commons is an online archive of over 20,000 digitized materials from seven different San Diego museums. [via PetaPixel]
- Secretary G. Wayne Clough shares his reminiscences of his childhood in rural Georgia at the National Museum of American History's Agricultural Innovation and Heritage Archive. [via Pam Henson, SIA]
- If you are in New York City before September 2nd, be sure to check out the exhibition, Photography and the American Civil War, at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. [via PetaPixel]
- As new archivists head out into the workplace, digital preservaion knowledge and skills are a must. Alison Langmead and Brian Beaton, at the University of Pittsburgh talk with with Library of Congress about their approach to teaching about digital preservation. [via The Signal: Digital Preservation, LOC]
- Images of Apple products are seemingly ubiquous, but have you ever wondered how the images were taken? Photographer Peter Belanger gives us peek into what goes into taking these iconic images. [via PetaPixel]
- If you are in Washington, D.C. next week, you may want to check out musician Ian MacKaye's talk at the Library of Congress on personal digital archiving and the need to educate creators and users to steward our digital cultural heritage. [via Effie Kapsalis, SIA]
- The realistic birds made from paper and watercolor paint by Johan Scherft are wonderful; perhaps if he were alive today ornithologist and painter, John James Audubon, would certainly have appreciated them. [via Colossal]
- With hundreds of film rolls in the Smithsonian Productions collections, "The Unseen Seen" project by Austrian photographer Reiner Riedler in which he takes images of film rolls is really facinating. [via PetaPixel]
- In New York, the gatherings of archivists and their exciting collections are exposed. [via The New York Times]
- Smithsonian magazine has a trifecta of wonderful things to share: "How Do You Scan a 3-D dinosaur?"; "Starving Settlers in Jamestown Colony Resorted to Cannibalism"; and "We Had No Idea What Alexander Graham Bell Sounded Like. Until Now." [via Smithsonian magazine]
- Back to where it all began, CERN is recreating the first website. [via Andrew Whitesell, SIA]
Earlier this Spring, Phase I of the Collections Care Preservation Fund's Born Digital Survey came to a conclusion with the completion of the physical inventory, and programmatic examination of the participating units. The roughly eight month project yielded a number of results that will help the Institution better understand the scope of born digital collections materials in its repositories. However, the completion of this initial phase also serves as a strong reminder that there is still much more work to be done.
In total, the physical inventory documented over 12,000 pieces of media. This total is certainly not absolute, and the ongoing acquisitions of born digital resources has already made the number outdated. However, it was important to begin the process of dealing with these vital pieces of the historical record with a better idea of what the units have. The following graph will give a better indication of what types of materials were identified, and which represent the majority of the survey's findings:
A major component of the physical inventory was a basic condition assessment of each piece of identified media. A simple scale was used whereby items were given a score of 1-5, with "1-No visible damage" constituting the best possible outcome. 99% of items scored a 1, with less than 200 items being identified as containing some minor or major visible or physical damage. The majority of issues were scratches on optical discs, or problems with how the media was stored. Another issue encountered was the "bubbling" of adhesive labels on CDs and DVDs. This is a common problem and can prevent the media from being read.
Along with the work that remains to stabilize and properly manage the items identified during this survey, the Smithsonian as a whole should be expecting their born digital collections to continue to grow at a significant rate each year. Over the past five years, a sharp increase in these types of collections material has been observed, and with the digital age continuing to thrive, the possibility of exponential growth is genuine.
Upon a basic review of the material being accessioned in the last couple years, discussions with both collecting specialists and archivists from SI units, and with an eye on current ongoing projects across the Smithsonian, future acquisitions of born digital material will likely include a large percentage of digital images, digital video, and computer aided design (CAD) files. While images have been coming to the archival units for some time, the advances in digital video have already begun to present a new set of challenges for repositories due to their complex nature and large file sizes. In the same respect, construction projects around the Institution generate a sizeable amount of CAD files that present equally unique challenges.
In the end, the execution of this survey also helped lay the foundation for future work to be performed, as well as creating a greater awareness of born digital materials, and the proper ways to manage them. Through in-depth discussions between the contractor and staff members at the participating units, the general understanding of basic best practices for born digital collections material has improved, as well as the level of overall care and consideration for current holdings and the future additions.
Eventually, we are hopeful that these materials will no longer be limited to a simple physical item description as floppy disks, DVDs, CD‐ROMs, flash drives, hard drives, and other physical media, but instead as digital photographs, letters, drawings, blueprints and plans, diary entries, speeches, lectures, interviews, videos, research data, emails, and other collection material, that happen to be in digital form. Not only will this be keeping with basic archival descriptive principles, but it will also provide these historical records the attention they deserve, allow for greater accessibility, and for long term preservation.
- Disk Diving: A Born Digital Collections Survey at the Smithsonian, The Bigger Picture blog, Smithsonian Institution Archives
- Digital Video Preservation: Further Challenges for Preserving Digital Video and Beyond, The Bigger Picture blog, Smithsonian Institution Archives
- Digital Dilemma: Preserving Computer Aided Design (CAD) Files, The Bigger Picture blog, Smithsonian Institution Archives
- Seems like keeping digital images on you memory card and never transferring them to your computer has a historical anticedent: Undeveloped used film in old cameras. [via PetaPixel]
- Born digital records abound in archival collections the world over, Donald Mennerich, a Digital Archivist at the New York Public Library, talks about the work and tools he uses to preserve these records. [via The Signal, Digital Preservation, LOC]
- The State Library of North Carolina and State Archives of North Carolina has released a redesigned, streamlined and mobile friendly digital preservation education site. [via Effie Kapsalis, SIA]
- Each person works at the Smithsonian has their own story to share about how they wound up there, Michelle Selvans, a planetary scientist in the National Air and Space Museum’s Center for Earth and Planetary Studies, shares hers. [via AirSpace, NASM]
- A reunion of all the living United States Presidents occured yesterday at the dedication of the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum in Dallas, Texas. [via Prologue: Pieces of History, NARA]
- Tools of the trade, a look into the Book Conservation Lab at the Smithsonian Institution Libraries. [via Unbound, SIL]
- Words of inspiration for photographers from Joel Sartore, National Geographic photographer. [via PetaPixel]
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