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October is American Archives Month, a time when Smithsonian archivists and conservators reach out to scholars, researchs, fellow professionals and the public to stir up conversations about the Smithsonian’s collections of archival and historical records and to highlight the many individual Smithsonian archival units responsible for maintaining these rich and complex documentary resources. Organized by the Smithsonian Institution Archives and Special Collections Council (SIASC), the annual Smithsonian Archives Fair highlights vast collections of archival and historical records at the Smithsonian. Staff from over a dozen different archival units will showcase some of the Smithsonian’s archival treasures as well as current projects and programs through a 31-day blog-a-thon, lectures, Ask The Smithsonian in-person and online events, and - new this year - a film series. Descriptions and locations for all the Archives Fair events are at www.si.edu/siasc/archivesfair2012 or click on a link below.
The Archives Fair is the highlight of our month long celebration. So save the date!
Archives Fair 2012
A statement from the Georgia Secretary of State on Thursday, September 13, announced the closing to the public of the State Archives as of November 1. This would also include the layoff of some employees of the Archives.
According to this NPR story, the closure would make Georgia the first state in the nation without publicly accessible archives.
Working to solve this digital preservation dilemma became the focus for Doug Reside, Digital Curator of the New York Public Library, along with Mark Horowitz, Senior Music Specialist in the Library of Congress Music Division and curator of the Jonathan Larson collection (see a related blog post). With Mark providing access and expertise about the collection, Doug was able to uncover previously hidden Larson materials by the use of digital forensics techniques (see this blog post interview with Doug Reside about this collaboration).
A newish service from Amazon that might be useful to more than a few folks around here: Amazon Glacier
Amazon Glacier is an extremely low-cost storage service that provides secure and durable storage for data archiving and backup. In order to keep costs low, Amazon Glacier is optimized for data that is infrequently accessed and for which retrieval times of several hours are suitable. With Amazon Glacier, customers can reliably store large or small amounts of data for as little as $0.01 per gigabyte per month, a significant savings compared to on-premises solutions. -- Read More
Barry H. Landau, the once-esteemed collector of presidential memorabilia, was sentenced seven years in federal prison Wednesday for stealing thousands of historic documents from archives and libraries in Baltimore and up the East Coast. The 64-year-old was also ordered to pay roughly $46,000 in restitution. No sentencing date is yet set for his 25-year-old accomplice, Jason James Savedoff, who, like Landau, has pleaded guilty to theft of major artwork and conspiracy charges.
If something is where it's supposed to be, can you still call it a "discovery"? Suzanne Fischer, in the Atlantic, says "no."
It's an interesting discussion about cataloging archival material and the work that is, by necessity, still on the shoulders of researchers, spurred by the recent reporting of the "discovery" of a medical report filed by Charles Leale, the first doctor on the scene when Abraham Lincoln was fatally shot at the Ford Theater.
In the case of the recent press on the Leale report, the report had not yet been catalogued, cutting off discovery for ordinary researchers searching with finding aids and online catalogues. It's very possible, of course, with the volume of material that archives hold, for a particular professional to not know exactly what the repository holds. This is because archivists catalogue not at "item level," a description of every piece of paper, which would take millennia, but at "collection level," a description of the shape of the collection, who owned it, and what kinds of things it contains. With the volume of materials, some collections may be undescribed or even described wrongly.
From The Verge,
"As the publication world is dragged, kicking and screaming, into the digital world, a lot of complex issues come up. One of the most important, especially for librarians and archivists (not to mention students of history looking to the future), is the question of preservation...The problem, says Barbara Galletly reporting for Digital Book World, is that the foundation for such a transition has not been properly laid, digital preservation is a largely chaotic, random affair right now, and the metadata itself is unstable."
In National Archives thefts, a radio detective gets his man
Goldin exposed what authorities have called “one of the most egregious instances of theft” from the National Archives, where the government preserves billions of historic documents, photographs and recordings. On Thursday, that investigation is scheduled to culminate in the sentencing in Greenbelt’s federal court of a longtime Archives official who has admitted to stealing nearly 1,000 recordings, many of them rare.
In dusty library, a link to heroic past
An engraving inside a medical text depicting the baptism of Jesus in the Jordan River, at Brown University's library, in Providence. The engraved print, unearthed in a rare collection of books that once belonged to a student in the 1700s, was by the American Revolution icon Paul Revere, and is only the fifth copy known to exist.
Conservatives defend cuts to Archives Canada
Responding to criticism that budget cuts are undermining the ability of Library and Archives Canada to preserve Canada's documentary heritage, a spokesman for Heritage Minister James Moore said Thursday that efforts to digitize the collection will give Canadian taxpayers greater access while saving them money.