Day of DH Wrap Up

Technically, Day of DH ended yesterday… but as I didn’t get home until midnight last night, I thought I’d do a quick wrap-up this morning.

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On the way out of NCSU’s McKimmon Center, the Davidson College contingent spotted a familiar sight – looks like we’re not the only folks who love solar dancing animals/ plants!

As mentioned in my previous post, after the SNCA conference ended for the day,  Chelcie Rowell (the Digital Initiatives Librarian at Wake Forest University’s Z. Smith Reynolds Library) and I met with Skip Elsheimer of A/V Geeks. A few pictures of the Skip’s work set-up, which he was kind enough to show us:

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The meeting with Skip and Chelcie definitely helped solidify a few ideas that I had been vaguely tossing around… both Chelcie and I are interested in planning a Piedmont-ish Home Movie Day event for a few reasons – for one, we’re both interested in preservation and film as a medium in general. But the main reasons we’d like to have this event are:

  • Connecting with new audiences. Home Movie Days are designed to have people engage with home movies (or even more broadly, amateur films of any sort), whether by sharing their own, watching others, or a combination of both. Having a college library and archive play a large role in a Home Movie Day allows us to reach people who may not otherwise come through our doors, both on campus and in surrounding communities. While I was living in Boston, I volunteered at two Mass Memories Road Shows, which are public history photo digitization events that UMass Boston plans in conjunction with community organizations. I loved working at the Stoughton and Provincetown road shows so much that I actually considered flying back up to Boston from Charlotte in order to be a “roadie” at the Irish Immigrant Experience show back in November. The road shows are amazing not just because they build this fantastic digital collection of personal photographs, but because of the interaction with the community. People come to the road shows to share their photographs but also the stories related to those images – every contributor fills out an information sheet that accompanies each image, and the roadies ask prompting questions (such as who is in the photo, where and when it was taken, etc.), both before and during the scanning process. I heard amazing stories and met wonderful people at the road shows I worked at, and I think every roadie I’ve talked to has similarly said that the people and the community are the best parts of the day. If Home Movie Day can provide a similar sense of community and connection, I think it’ll be an incredibly successful and enjoyable event.
  • Preservation advocacy and awareness.  As an archivist, I think getting people thinking about preservation of analog and digital formats is always a good thing, and HMD’s can serve as both entertainment and educational events.
  • Speaking of preservation, I think HMD can be a useful prompt for us to think about our own collections. We do have some analog and digital A/V in the archives, and we don’t have a formal preservation plan as of yet. Definitely on our to-do list already, but planning an event like this would force a timeline (and, as a person who has a history of procrastination and is ever-busy, forcing the timeline is often a blessing).
  • Archival advocacy. As mentioned above, this kind of event has the possibility to connect with new audiences, and one possible outcome of that connection could be changing the way that people think about archives. Many people may not know what an archive is or what it holds, but if they do, they might think of us as anti-social dust-lovers. The work of librarians and archivists is about PEOPLE, first and foremost – we  help connect users with the information they need, in the most broad definition of the job. Generating “good PR” for archives and letting people see that we do many things is good for our individual institutions, good for the profession as a whole, and ultimately good for our users.
  • Curricular tie-ins. I can think of a few ways that a Home Movie Day might complement academic departments at Davidson – art, film and media studies, anthropology, history, and digital studies, to just name a few. I think a Home Movie Day would be a really interesting opportunity to discuss amateur film as a primary source, and how questioning and investigating that source might work.
  • Skip also brought up the Home Movie Registry, a sort of union catalog of amateur films. I think it would be amazing to contribute to that work, and I’m sure other archivist and librarians ears perked up at the words “union catalog”…

After the meeting with Skip and Chelcie, I wandered around in downtown Raleigh for a bit, which led to checking out this cool city farm:

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Then, I drove to Durham to grab dinner with a friend (and eat amazing hush puppies at Watts Grocery):

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 presetAfter devouring tasty food, I hit the highway heading west towards Davidson.

Overall, I enjoyed the experience of liveblogging (and reflective blogging, like this entry) – while it made for a bit of a chaotic conference day, having my thoughts and takeaways recorded as they’re happening made for much fuller notes than usual (much more food for thought!). My Day of DH might have been more “typical” if it had been recorded on this Monday or Wednesday instead of this Tuesday, but the changeability of my role is not only something I greatly enjoy, but something that I think is typical of many of us who work in Digital Humanities/ Studies/ Liberal Arts.

Incidentally, I completely forgot to mention it in my other updates, but during the plenary luncheon/ business meeting at SNCA yesterday, I was elected as Member at Large! I’m very excited to get more involved with SNCA and have a chance to meet more archivists within the state – if yesterday’s mini conference was anything to go by, the membership is comprised of some very friendly and funny folks.

SNCA in the Afternoon: tours, apps, partnerships, A/V preservation

Afternoon sessions at SNCA – I’m watching/ listening to Sean Mulligan present “A Walk in the Past: Promoting the Archives Through the Use of Campus Tours.” Very relevant to my work at Davidson, as I’ll be giving my first campus tours later this week (to new job candidates), as well as a fuller, more focused tour in October (to alums of one of the fraternities). We’re also trying to get into the realm of smart phone app tours – there’s a possible collaboration on the table currently involving fragrant plants on campus, and I’ve been putting out feelers to faculty to see if there’s a possible class partnership out there. Nothing confirmed yet, but fingers crossed!

Anyway, another picture of slides:

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Mulligan’s presentation really focuses on how getting physically out of the archives can help connect the archives to your community – his tours are primarily given to freshman at UNC-G, and some of these students will then visit the archives to ask follow up questions. As someone about to give these kind of tours, I think his tips on making sure you have a narrative (as opposed to just dropping unconnected facts), using visuals (such as photographs), planning your route, and connecting tours with current courses, events, or anniversaries are excellent to keep in mind.

The other speaker in this session is Linda Lashendock, who’s presentation is called “One Woman Shop: Connecting User to Archival Video.” The lack of best practices in A/V preservation is problematic (Lashendock mentions that we’re decades away from having practices really developed), but nearly every college/ university archive holds some sort of A/V material. How are we preserving older physical formats (and by extension, what are we doing with the digitized use copies), and how are we storing, cataloging, using, etc. etc. born digital material? I feel woefully unprepared for planning for this – even as a person who focused on digital preservation more than physical during my graduate study and worked in DH-ish positions for the past two years or so. But not only does Davidson have older A/V formats that need care and preservation, the institution is creating more and more digital visual material. We need to think about this…

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So, that’s the end of the last session at SNCA! Post-conference, I’m actually heading to a meeting related to this last session – along with my collaboration partner, Chelcie Rowell, I’m heading to A/V Geeks in downtown Raleigh to meet with Skip Elsheimer to talk about planning a Piedmont Home Movie Day for the fall. HMD is not strictly an archives/ library thing – according to the website, its:

Home Movie Day events provide the opportunity for individuals and families to see and share their own home movies with an audience of their community, and to see their neighbors’ in turn. It’s a chance to discover why to care about these films and to learn how best to care for them.

Chelcie and I are interested in planning an area HMD (actual event location TBD, but Western Piedmont-ish definitely), as both an outreach and general archival advocacy event, but also as a way to engage with people in the area who may not be archival users of our institutions. HMD could be a collecting event, or a film festival, or a series of education workshops on A/V preservation… or all of those! In any case, if you’re in the central North Carolina area and want to help plan or be involved in any way, email me (!

As a side note, wow I have never typed so much during a conference before! I usually take notes on a Google doc and Tweet occasionally, but today I’m taking notes (on a Google doc and also on my phone), Tweeting (from my own and from Davidson’s archives account), and writing these entries. I was explaining that to a friend via text during a session break, and he made this #tooaccurate comment:


What I didn’t learn in grad school

The speaker at SNCA’s annual meeting plenary luncheon was Sarah E. Koonts, the Director of the North Carolina Division of Archives and Records. One of the main issues touched on was archival advocacy, a skill that, as Koots mentioned, most of us didn’t learn in graduate school. As a recent grad (May 2013), I certainly didn’t learn exactly how to “do” advocacy. So, a few resources for how to figure that out:

  • Library Advocacy Unshushed: Values, Evidence, and Actions – an edX MOOC from the University of Toronto. The course is just about to end, and although I signed up for it at the start, I haven’t had much of a chance to check out the materials yet (so many tasks!). However, the little bit I’ve been able to glean has been interesting, and I love the idea of a MOOC focused on a topic that definitely didn’t receive it’s full due in my own graduate education.
  • The Society of American Archivists’ Committee on Advocacy and Public Policy (CAPP). I just heard about CAPP from a comment from Erin Lawrimore during the plenary luncheon. I haven’t had much of a chance to check this out yet, but definitely a good way to get involved and learn more about how to advocate (and to get out there and actually DO some advocating).
  • Professional organization involvement – as touched on with SAA & CAPP, getting involved with a group of others in the profession is a great way to get new ideas, and to enact ones you have. I just got an email from Zach Coble about signing up for Editor-at-Large shifts for dh+lib. I served as an Editor-at-Large for the Fall 2013 term, and I thought it was an amazing way to keep up with news and projects from across DH and library/ archival fields.
  • Blogging! This is my first Day of DH, and also my first experience with live-blogging (boy have I live-tweeted, though). Like many archivists, librarians, and other DH-ers, blogging is something I do somewhat regularly on a professional basis, for Davidson’s Archives & Special Collections blog. Koonts mentioned the This Day in North Carolina blog during her talk, and it seems like a really great outreach effort. Other resources I’m going to look at for ideas and inspirations: NARA’s Citizen Archivist Dashboard (also mentioned by Koonts), and the blogroll of NC archival blogs on SNCA’s website.

Right now I’m sitting in the afternoon student lightning round session, listening to Samantha Crisp describe implementing LibGuides for manuscripts collections at UNC-Chapel Hill’s Louis Round Wilson Special Collections Library. As Davidson thinks about ways to make our finding aids (and collections in general) more findable, LibGuides might be an interesting option to experiment with… and speaking of advocacy and outreach, Patrick Dollar’s lightning talk was on “Public Relations and the Archives at UNC-Chapel Hill.” Here is one of his closing slides, with some great conclusions:

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SNCA Part 1: North Carolina and the Digital Public Library of America

So, my Day of DH is certainly a little bit different than my “average” work day – rather than being in my office at Davidson College, I’m in Raleigh for the Society of North Carolina Archvists (SNCA) annual conference.

I’m currently at the second session of the day, “North Carolina and the Digital Public Library of America,” watching Lisa Gregory from Digital NC talk about how content gets into the state service hub.

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Earlier today, I gave a short presentation on Davidson’s recently rolled-out Islandora instance, as part of the “Publishing and Managing Digital Collections without CONTENTdm” session. Here’s the Prezi I made for that (click on the image to go to the presentation):

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Next up: plenary luncheon and business meeting!


Since October 2013, I have been serving as as the Associate Archivist at Davidson College, a small liberal arts school located about 20 miles north of Charlotte, North Carolina.

It’s a newly created position so there’s a bit of flexibility, but my work is sort of a blend between “traditional” archivist duties (see: processing collections, answering reference questions, and outreach) and an outward-facing digital role (see: tons of social media and blogging, partnering with faculty and staff on digital projects, and serving as the archives point person for the college’s new Digital Studies program). For a more in-depth look at what a somewhat typical week looked like for me two months ago, you can read the “A Week in the Life of an Archivist” post that I wrote for Davidson’s Archives & Special Collections blog.

Before joining the staff of Davidson’s E.H. Little Library, I worked as a project producer/ research assistant at the Berkman Center for Internet & Society‘s metaLAB (at) Harvard project, as a research associate at the Massachusetts Historical Society‘s Adams Papers Editorial Project, as the first on-staff archivist and records manager at the Nichols House Museum, and as an intern at many, many places.

I’m interested in digital humanities/ studies in the curriculum, cross-departmental and cross-institutional collaborations, data curation, digital libraries and archives, and the relationship(s) between history, memory, and pop culture. I tweet occasionally (@christianlamb), and blog about things less often (

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