Let’s do a quick exercise. Think back to your last Google image search. Can you remember what you were searching for? Can you remember the reason you were looking? Can you remember what you found, and how you used it? I’ll go first. According to my search history, around 2 weeks ago I conducted a hunt for images of Monstro the Whale from Disney’s 1940 animated adaptation of Pinocchio. I’ll keep the reasons to myself, but you can see one of the results for yourself in this blog post. Final question – did you happen to investigate the copyright status of whatever you found? I’m betting not, and you’re far from alone. I certainly didn’t, and I know that you can filter results by usage rights. What’s my excuse?
In honor of Moogfest, next week’s fantastic electronic music/art festival in North Carolina (that I wish I was going to), this month I wanted to highlight some CUA connections to not only early electronic music, but also to Bob Moog himself, the inventor of the legendary synthesizer, and the person after whom Moogfest is named.
Would you believe that CUA was once a pioneering institution for experimental music? Founded in 1961 by Professor Emerson Meyers, the university’s Electronic Music Laboratory housed the most state-of-the-art recording equipment of the time, including one Moog synthesizer. This particular unit was one of the first manufactured; indeed, the School of Music was so eager to procure one that official manuals were not available at the time of purchase. How, then, did they figure out how to operate what was then a completely new kind of instrument? They wrote directly to Moog, who replied with pages and pages of technical instructions and hand-drawn diagrams that we still have here at the Archives. Faculty then used these documents to create in-house manuals for the equipment in the studio. Continue reading “The Archivist’s Nook: Provoking the Canon – Moog, Meyers, and Experimental Music”→
It’s been awhile! This week, we’re going to talk about what has traditionally been an elephant in the digital archives room. That’s right – I’m talking about email.
First of all, consider offices of the past. Maybe you have filing cabinets and hanging folders; perhaps you have interoffice mail and external correspondence. I know I’m stating the obvious, but the common element here is paper, and as I mentioned in a previous blog, we’re pretty good at dealing with that. But let’s be frank. Do you have a work email account? Do you use it for official business? Do you see where I’m going with this? In the past, would that business have been conducted via paper correspondence? If so, what are you currently doing with those emails? Printing them? Nothing at all? What should we be doing? This stuff is important – you’d think we’d be doing something.Continue reading “The Archivist’s Nook: DELETED – Email Archiving, or Offices in the Age of Spam”→
Join us at Mullen Library on September 16th for CUA’s first Wikipedia Edit-a-thon! In conjunction with the Know Your Campus guided tour taking place later that evening (which you should totally hang around for), the library will be opening its doors to students and the wider community to usher in the Fall semester, eat some free food (thanks, AGLISS!), get to know one another, and get to know our neighborhood. The subject matter – Brookland, the experts – you!
So what exactly is an edit-a-thon? In short, it’s an event where a group of people get together with the goal of editing Wikipedia content for a specific topic in a short space of time. Subjects can have significant cultural importance (like Asian-Pacific American Artists, or closing the Wikipedia editor gender gap by expanding content related to art and feminism), but we’re starting a little smaller. We want to improve content related to the Brookland neighborhood right here in Washington, DC, and will be adding articles about landmarks and famous residents, copyediting existing pages, inserting links to other Wikipedia pages, and adding and checking citations to ensure that information is reliably sourced. The point is, though, that we all have something unique to contribute. Continue reading “The Archivist’s Nook: Giving Brookland the Edit-a-thon It Deserves – Community Building Through Wikipedia”→
The Archives has several different media types in its holdings, and some of these, such as magnetic tape, are much more susceptible to degradation than paper. Audio cassettes and open reel tape can, over time, become sticky and difficult to play without causing irreparable damage, if stored in less than perfect conditions. They can also suffer data loss when exposed to magnetic fields (this can happen just by storing cassettes close to high-powered speakers), and digital media can suffer data rot. CUA Archives decided to get ahead of the game here; since our audio materials are still in good condition, why not duplicate them for preservation and access while we still can?
In the last two weeks we’ve covered paper and web pages. My job here is done, right? Wrong! Sometimes, we receive collections containing not just paper, but floppy discs, flash drives, and even entire computers. The list goes on. How do we go about processing this stuff?
To begin, it’s essential to have not only data carriers, but also players. Ever seen one of those elephant graveyards? We have something similar in our facility, but with old technology instead of, um, bones. Of course, older hardware was never designed to work on modern computers. We get around this by sticking to external USB drives whenever possible, and using an external control board for 5.25 floppies (FC5025, oh my!) that effectively duct tape an old IDE interface onto, you guessed it, USB.
Did you know that you can alter a computer file simply by opening it? Don’t believe me? Just right-click your desktop and arrange the icons by “last modified”. The very act of saving that last click is an archival deadly sin. Sometimes a piece of media will let you prevent alteration by flicking a switch on the item itself (3.5 floppy discs) or by covering a hole with a piece of tape (5.25 floppy discs). With other carriers, though, you can be fresh out of luck. What can we do about this? In short, by borrowing techniques from law enforcement. Software like Forensic Toolkit (FTK) in conjunction with write-blocking hardware has been used to gather evidence of computer crime for years. Why not apply that technology to archives work? In spring 2015, CUA Archives set up its own digital curation workstation for this very purpose. Continue reading “The Archivist’s Nook: Digital Curation – Sent from the Future to Write-Protect You”→
My previous blog entry covered the digitization of physical things. Well, paper at least. We’re pretty on top of that! You take a page, scan it, and kablammo – it’s online, so to speak. But how do we deal with records that are already digital, like, say, web pages? Do we print them? Stick them in folders? What would that even look like? 136 billion pages, apparently. Granted, CUA’s site is tiny compared to the internet as a whole, but you get the general idea.
As John Shepherd wrote in last week’s blog, the first few years of the 2000s saw Catholic University getting its digital feet wet in collaboration with other members of the Washington Research Library Consortium (WRLC). The products of that collaboration (since christened “Boutique Digital Collections”) are still amongst our most utilized online resources. The success of that project inspired the Archives to expand into a more fully realized digitization program, but it was not until 2014 that the will and resources coalesced to allow us to move forward.