Python for Archivists: Breaking Down Barriers Between Systems

2017 January

Working with a multitude of digital tools is now a core part of an archivist’s skillset. We work with collection management systems, digital asset management systems, public access systems, ticketing or request systems, local databases, general web applications, and systems built on smaller systems linked through application programming interfaces (APIs). Over the past years, more and more of these applications have evolved to meet a variety of archival processes. We no longer expect a single tool to solve all our needs and embraced the “separation of concerns” design principle that smaller, problem-specific and modular systems are more effective than large monolithic tools that try to do everything. All of this has made the lives of archivists easier and empowered us to make our collections more accessible to our users.

Published in Practical Technology for Archives  Issue 7

A Sustainable, Large-Scale, Minimal Approach to Accessing Web Archives

2016 October

In recent years many archives have expanded to preserve the web among other formats in their traditional collecting areas. Yet, unlike traditional formats, the best way to make web archives available to researchers is not with boxes and call numbers, but in their original environment — an Internet-connected web browser. This post discusses how at the University at Albany, SUNY, we are providing minimal access to this new type of archival material together with other formats that originated with the same creators.

Posted by the Archive-It Blog

Setting up and Scoping Web Crawls with Archive-It, 5.0

2016 July

This module describes how to do a web crawl using Archive-It.

Available at the Congressional Papers Roundable-Electonic Records Committee Blog

Practical Digital Forensics at Accession for Born-Digital Institutional Records

2016 January

Archivists have developed a consensus that forensic disk imaging is the easiest and most effective way to preserve the authenticity and integrity of born-digital materials. Yet, disk imaging also has the potential to conflict with the needs of institutional archives – particularly those governed by public records laws. An alternative possibility is to systematically employ digital forensics tools during accession to acquire a limited amount of contextual metadata from filesystems. This paper will discuss the development of a desktop application that enables records creators to transfer digital records while employing basic digital forensics tools records’ native computing environment to gather record-events from NTFS filesystems.

Published in Code4Lib Journal  Issue 31

XQuery for Archivists: Understanding EAD Finding Aids as Data

2014 October

XML has long been an important tool for archivists. The addition of XQuery provides a simple and easy-to-learn tool to extract, transform, and manipulate the large amounts of XML data that archival repositories have committed resources to develop and maintain – particularly EAD finding aids. XQuery allows archivists to make use of that data. Furthermore, using XQuery to query EAD finding aids, rather than merely reformat them with XSLT, forces archivists to look at finding aids as data. This will provide better knowledge of how EAD may be used and further understanding of how finding aids may be better encoded. This article provides a simple how-to guide to get archivists to start experimenting with XQuery.

Published in Practical Technology for Archives  Issue 3

Nicholson Baker Would Like Us to Be Angry

2013 March

Unpublished paper I wrote in graduate school for a preservation class. It argues that Nicholson Baker's criticism of microfilming newspapers is muddled in misunderstanding and that the more effective argument against this practice is that preservation microfilming often ignores access concerns. The argument I like best in this piece is that use, not just time, is what damages acidic newsprint.

Is EAD A Red Herring?: The Path to Innovative Online Archivial Information Systems

2012 December

Unpublished paper I wrote in graduate school on online finding aids.

The Most Interesting Place: the Eastern Mediterranean and American Cultural Knowledge

2012 June

This study addresses how nineteenth-century Americans perceived the lands of the Eastern Mediterranean. The project rests upon a detailed examination of American primary school geography textbooks that enjoyed widespread circulation during the century. The lack of an effective education apparatus in the period rendered American students incredibly reliant on their textbooks. These texts reflect the general common knowledge of the region shared by most educated Americans. Additionally, this study draws support from a thorough analysis of travel accounts that were extraordinarily popular during the period. These works offered Americans a chance to explore vicariously the most interesting lands of the Levant.

Nineteenth-century Americans sought to locate their essential place, meaning and mission within a universal system of world processes. Geography authors fulfilled this social need by providing students with a systemized structure of knowledge about the Eastern Mediterranean. This framework enabled students to address the complex realities of the region in a simplified and palatable manner – a process that also used to satisfy various social pressures. This episteme of the Eastern Mediterranean provided the context for Americans to regulate their self-meanings and cultural missions in the nineteenth century. Often, the concepts of this knowledge structure took the form of dichotomies which acted as defining antitheses. Students located themselves within these oppositions which became constructs of Sameness and Otherness. The structured framework of knowledge about the Levant provided the setting in which these processes played out. Thus, the people, places, and practices of the region were marked as aspects of “us” and “them” – of heritage and Otherness.

Unplublished master's thesis.