Winter/Spring 2008 Newsletter

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Section Activities and Projects

Call for Nominations

If you are interested in serving as a member of the steering committee or vice chair/chair elect, or would like to nominate someone for one of these posts, please contact Section Chair Julie Herrada,
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Acquisition and Appraisal at the 2008 Meeting

Join us in San Francisco for the 2008 SAA Annual Meeting.  The Acquisition and Appraisal Section will meet Friday, August 29, from 12:00-2:00. Following the business meeting, Jim Jacobs, Data Services Librarian Emeritus, University of California San Diego and a co-creators of, will discuss the extreme challenges for preservation of government information in the digital age and offer some surprisingly simple and familiar strategies.

The meeting has much to offer section members.  Two section-proposed sessions, “Digital Donors: Agreements, Rights, and Donor Relations in the Electronic Environment” and “Ethnic Archives” were also accepted.  Whereas most previous presentations have concentrated on the technical perspective of how to preserve, present, and describe born digital materials, “Digital Donors” will focus on donor-relations and agreements and how they are affected by the collections’ being digital.  Participants include presenters Pat Galloway, University of Texas School of Information, and Menzi Behrnd-Klodt, archivist, attorney, and consultant, and chair Rob Spindler, University of Arizona.  Participants in “Ethnic Archives” will discuss the challenges of and strategies for collecting manuscript and archival material from traditionally underrepresented groups and establishing repositories that offer a balanced collection that truly reflect these communities.  Presenters include Sal Güereña, Director of the California Ethnic and Multicultural Archives at the University of California, Santa Barbara and David George-Shongo, the first  archivist of the Seneca Nation in New York.  Brad Bauer, Hoover Institution Archives, Stanford University, will serve as chair.

In addition, section leadership endorsed its maximum of two sessions, and both were accepted:  "We're Ignoring That: Collection Development and What Not To Collect" and “Trash or Treasure?  Experiences with Deaccessioning and the Implications of Digitization.”  We hope to see you there!
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New York Public Library Purchases Burroughs Papers

The New York Times reported on March 1 that the New York Public Library has purchased for an undisclosed amount the William S. Burroughs archive from Robert H. and Donna L. Jackson of Shaker Heights, Ohio. The purchase for the Henry W. and Albert A. Berg Collection of English and American Literature includes manuscript and typescript material drafts of published and unpublished works, correspondence, collages, diaries, notebooks, and photographs. Most of the records from the 1960s and 1970s have never before been seen.
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National Anthropological Archives Acquires Helen C. Rountree Fieldnotes on Southeastern Indians

The professional papers of Dr. Helen C. Rountree, an expert on Pochahontas and author of numerous works on the Algonquian-speaking Indians of the Southeast, will be made available to future researchers at the National Anthropological Archives. According to the NAA website, the collection "includes fieldnotes, correspondence, and audio cassette tapes relating to her fieldwork."
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Library of Congress Receives Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater Archives

The Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater has donated its records to the Library of Congress.  The collection includes Ailey’s personal papers, musical manuscripts and orchestrations, black-and-white photographs of Ailey's ballets, audiotapes, and programs of performances.  Since its founding in 1958, the AAADT has performed in 71 countries on 6 continents. The Library's website indicates that some portion of the collection will be digitized through a partnership between AAADT and the Library with monies from a Save America's Treasures grant.

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ICPSR Seeks Classic Social Science Data for Archiving

Many, and perhaps most, studies that have been conducted since the beginning of modern social science research have not been archived. As part of its ongoing commitment to augment its social science data collection, ICPSR has partnered with leading academic and archival institutions to identify and preserve classic social science data through a new partnership project called the, Data Presentation Alliance for the Social Sciences (Data-PASS). Data-PASS is a project led by ICPSR in collaboration with The Roper Center at the University of Connecticut, the Odum Institute at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the Harvard-MIT Data Center of the Institute for Quantitative Social Science at Harvard University, the Henry A. Murray Research Archive of the Institute for Quantitative Social Science at Harvard University, and the Electronic and Special Media Records Services Division, of the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA). The project is supported by an award from the Library of Congress as part of the National Digital Preservation Program.

ICPSR and its Data-PASS partners are identifying, acquiring and preserving many of these important collections. One of ICPSR's strategies for identifying important social science studies that have not been archived is to review historic National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health awards that supported the collection of original social science research data. ICPSR is also asking individual researchers from the social science research community to compile a list of the most significant studies in their disciplines or areas of expertise.

Important social science data are defined as meeting at least one of the following criteria:

  • theoretically and/or methodologically ground breaking
  • representative of national, important regional, or understudied populations
  • part of a major policy evaluation
  • part of a seminal collection
  • tied to unrepeated or rare events

Please contact Darrell Donakowski ( at ICPSR to learn more about this project or to suggest a classic social science study.

Amy Pienta, Ph.D.
Acquisitions Director
ICPSR, University of Michigan
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Regional Digital Heritage Advisory Committee Releases Guidelines for Selection Criteria for Digitizing Collections

The Regional Digital Heritage Advisory Committee's Guidelines for Selection Criteria for Digitizing Collections is developed at the Western New York Library Resources Council under the auspices of a Library Services and Technology Act grant from the New York State Library to help libraries and archives determine whether or not digitization provides a feasible and beneficial platform for their collections. While individual collections necessarily will face specific problems when digitizing, these Guidelines can help any organization recognize and address universal issues that must be considered when converting holdings into electronic form for the Internet.

The criteria are broken down into "Administrative" and "Operational" concerns, and are further formulated to address important questions regarding organizational mission, information value and appraisal, audience and access, over-all feasibility of goals, the scanning process, and post-scanning and maintenance issues. Within these categories, there is always an emphasis on general feasibility, organizational support, costs, staffing issues, and the quality and content of the records themselves.

Because the digitizing process necessitates the involvement of many experts within a given organization, it is essential that the Guidelines be examined and filled out by such a diverse group as archivists, reference librarians, collection development and information technology staff, and administration, for example -- people whose areas of expertise would allow for multiple perspectives on the variables involved in deciding the particular costs and benefits of digitizing.

These Guidelines can serve as a more traditional selection criteria for institutions that are prepared, financially and structurally, to digitize, but have no particular collection in mind. The various points to consider presented in the Guidelines ought to give an organization an idea as to which collection(s) might be the most viable in today's electronic universe.

It is also advisable to utilize these Guidelines both before initiating and after completing a digital project. In this way, an institution might better clarify some changes that can serve to produce the next digital project more effectively.

Conversion into electronic format is neither particularly easy nor inexpensive. While not meant to dissuade institutions from digitizing, the Guidelines, and perhaps the differing answers received by the many people involved in this step of project planning, will underscore particular areas deserving of attention.

There are no "correct" answers, but a preponderance of "disagrees" or marked conflict in responses to any particular criterion indicates that discussion and investigation must ensue in order to guarantee that the organization possesses the resources to adequately digitize, exhibit, and maintain its on-line collection, thus benefiting the institution itself as well as the public at large.

The full version of the selection criteria is available on the project website.
Heidi Bamford
DHP Regional Archivist
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Workshops and Courses of Interest

MAC Fall Symposium on "More Product, Less Process"

The Midwest Archives Conference plans to hold a fall symposium (Oct. 6-7)  on Mark Greene and Dennis Meissner's American Archivist  article "More Product, Less Process: Revamping Traditional Archival Processing." Details are apparently still being worked out, but the symposium will reportedly offer in-depth discussion on applying Green and Meissner's techniques for reducing archival backlogs by rethinking processing.  Through lecture and small group discussions the symposium will focus on the implications of applying these techniques in various archival settings and within the spectrum of document types, as well as potential effects on security, preservation and access.

Page last updated June 14, 2006.