Posted by: stackedfivehigh | October 29, 2011

Wrapping up the conference

I attended a couple more sessions that focused on electronic records management. I know, a little heavy on the e-recs, but it’s an important area.

One of the sessions, “Born Digital Records – Moving from Theory to Practice,” discussed the efforts at Tufts University for implementing a more comprehensive electronic records management program. One of the main points the speaker emphasized was that doing something is better than doing nothing. It can be overwhelming to develop an electronic records program, especially because of changing formats, standards, etc, but a basic program is better than no program at all, even if it’s not as comprehensive as you’d like. Some of the technology that was used – not necessarily recommended, but that at least has potential, includes: Dspace, Duke University’s Data Accessioner, ArchNet, and Archivists’ Toolkit.

Another speaker during that session discussed the needs of another university for implementing a larger digitization program; a basic program was already in place. This speaker emphasized the benefits of formal guidelines and boundaries for the program, the inclusion of all interested and relevant parties to relevant committees, and ensuring that a program is simple to follow for the next set of people who will need to follow it.

Another session focused on implementing a digital asset management system – here we again had the emphasis on open source, open access, interoperability, and open standards. An important bit of guidance – if your DAM system does not fit seamlessly with your workflow, it’s probably not right for your organization.

“Creating and Maintaining Web Archives” was really interesting to me. Capturing and archiving entire websites can be quite difficult; the service offered by Archive-IT seems pretty awesome, in that they will do extensive capture and retention for you. This is becoming popular for research – no one wants to have the online sources for their dissertation disappearing, right? Aside from a subscription service to do your capture and retention, there was discussion about storage, copyright concerns, and the difficulties of capturing multi-media content.

Last session – and the one that was actually unrelated to electronic records management (mostly) was about online learning and telecommuting for archival internships and work. I said it was mostly unrelated to electronic records because while that wasn’t the focus, it is one of the areas of archival work that lends itself to telecommuting.  The take-away from this session was that there are growing opportunities for remote work/internships/education in archives. There is no substitute for hands-on processing of a box, of course; reference work isn’t really something you can do away from the archives, and security has to be a priority.

So, that was MARAC’s Fall Conference. What I took away from it? A much greater electronic records understanding, some new avenues of research to explore (namely the various software programs mentioned in the sessions), and many hours spent looking at the archived web content on Archive-IT. It’s pretty interesting. I also learned that I should mix up the sessions I choose a bit more. The electronic records emphasis was useful, but it got to be a bit much. I’m looking forward to the next conference already. In the meantime, back to homework.

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