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Last week, Vicki, Craig, and I traveled to Greensboro for the Society of North Carolina Archivists (SNCA) Annual Conference. UNCG hosted both days of the conference and it was a great opportunity to spend time with and learn from colleagues from all over the state. Thursday’s lunch-time plenary speaker was Kate Theimer,author andblogger. Kate is a visionary in the archives world and it was wonderful to hear her perspectives on future trends in archives.
“Putting Your Patrons to Work: Crowdsourcing Success Stories” was the first session on Thursday. Lisa Gregory spoke of the North Carolina Family Records Online project. This project uses flickr to transcribe digitized vertical files that get very high use by genealogists and family historians. Lisa explained how the digitized materials are tagged on flickr asking people to transcribe them in the comments. A script then emails the comments back to the archivist who then makes a text file to be loaded into CONTENTdm. Lisa explained that she does not do any quality control but has found that people who do this type of transcription usually have an interest and enthusiasm for what they are doing and are usually very accurate. Michelle Czaikowski of the State Library also described a project using flickr. NCPedia encourages people to tag their own pictures on flickr that apply to all things North Carolina. Lastly, Tom Flynn of Winston-Salem State talked about accessioning and outreach in the cloud. Using SnapCrowd, Tom encourages students to submit and tag themselves in pictures at various campus events. His mode of encouragement is to attend events with a big sign with the address where you can email your photos. I think this is an interesting and interactive way to get students involved in documenting their experiences at the University. Although the potential for abuse is obvious, Tom is pleased with the overall success of the project.
“Managing Copyright for Digital Collections: Strategies from Three Recent Digitization Efforts” featured projects from the NC Digital Heritage Center, UNCC, and Duke. Maggie Dickson of the North Carolina Digital Heritage Center spoke of the City Directory digitization project. She documented the extensive research she did to make sure that the directories are in the public domain and available for display. Kristy Dixon of UNCC described the ongoing work to get permission to digitize the Eugene Payne Cartoon Collection from the Charlotte Observer. Lynn Eaton of Duke University described the extensive copyright investigation and requesting of permissions for the ROAD project and Ad Views both of which are very large digital projects that highlight advertising. This really was an impressive and daunting presentation that illustrates the work it takes to investigate copyright as well as the great benefits that come from the digital projects that come of this work.
Thursday’s sessions ended with the SNCA business meeting. Our very own Craig Fansler was elected as a Member-at-Large for the board and my work as Archives Week Committee chair was extended for two years. The night ended with a reception at the Greensboro Historical Museum. This was a great opportunity to spend time with colleagues, walk through the museum, and honor one student and one professional in the field. it was a great day for North Carolina archivists!
Friday began bright and early with a the opening speaker Ralph P. Ganis. His speech “Tarheel Jesse: the Document Trail of the Outlaw Jesse James in North Carolina” highlighted the work he has done in NC archives to prove a connection between Jesse James and the James Gang and North Carolina. I must say, the speaker’s enthusiasm and love of archival materials was infectious. Following this speaker and the poster session, I attended the session “Architects, Scientists, and Mobile Apps: Reimagining Archival Engagement” featuring three archivists from the NCSU Special Collections Research Center. Kristen Merryman described the Cultivating a Revolution digital project. Focusing on the agriculture holdings of NCSU collections, this digital project is an ideal resource for the agriculture students and faculty but it is not as highly used as the Special Collections team would like. Kristen offered some tips to get out on campus and promote the collection to both traditional and non-traditional users. What was said over and over again in this session is that you must go to your audience and not expect the audience to always come to you. She suggested stopping by faculty office hours to have a chat about your collection. She also mentioned going through applicable finding aids with professors and highlighting what exactly is in there and how it could be used in their classes or research. Emily Walters presented about NCSU’s extensive architecture collection. Emily again reinforced the need to meet their users in their own space. “Pop Up Library” is the idea of taking drawings and blueprints to the school and space where users are. Design students have taken advantage of having some of the 40,000 original drawings of American Modernist architecture showing up in their space for a short amount of time.Genya O’Gara’s topic covered “Red, White, and Black: Commemorating African American History at NC State”, a mobile app-led tour of NC State campus focusing on African American history. Originally inspired by WolfWalk, Red, White, and Black meets people in their own space and with familiar technology. It is one thing to read through a box of papers in the Special Collections reading room, but to stand in the spot where a campus event took place and listen to an oral history or see an archival photo of an event has a lot more impact. This event has been immensely popular and the content is growing as people add their experiences on the topic.
I’m sure you will hear more on these sessions and more from Vicki and Craig. I had a fantastic time, learned a lot, and had a great chance to network with North Carolina archivists. I’m happy to chat more about these sessions.