Curious about how the MIT Libraries are working to archive and preserve the digital record and primary sources for the Institute? Check out Digital Archivist Kari Smith’s recent blog post, which explains the current process and describes some software tools that are being considered. Be sure to stay tuned as the life-cycle experiments hosted by the Libraries’ new Digital Sustainability Lab further assess and test use cases and solutions.
Preservation + Conservation
There have been spooky happenings in the Maihaugen Gallery this Halloween. A medieval chant book, originally from the fifteenth or sixteenth century, has inexplicably transformed into a Harry Potter-inspired Monster Book of Monsters! Come see the enormous leather-and-wood-bound book complete with scary demon face, vicious teeth, and dismembered body parts. Rumor has it that the book will disappear soon after midnight on Halloween, so see it today!
Please note: No library users were harmed in the creation of the Monster Book, and all fun was had under the care and supervision of the Libraries’ expert Preservation team.
Do you have videos of family events, audio recordings of music recitals, or other personal audiovisual treasures?
Save your recordings and share your audiovisual history with your family and community by transferring recordings from obsolete formats such as cassette tape and VHS onto digital media. You can use equipment in the Lewis Music Library, as described in a recent IS&T News article, or contact vendors such as MIT Audio Visual Services.
“Saving our Heritage for the Next Generation” is the slogan of UNESCO’s 2013 World Day for Audiovisual Heritage, observed on Sunday, October 27.
Nancy McGovern, MIT Libraries’ Head of Curation and Preservation Services is the recipient of the Preservation Publication Award given by the Society of American Archivists (SAA). The award will be presented at a ceremony during the Council of State Archivists and SAA Joint Annual Meeting in New Orleans, August 11–17, 2013.
The award recognizes her work as volume editor of Aligning National Approaches to Digital Preservation, and the work of Katherine Skinner (the series editor). Published by Educopia Institute in 2012, Aligning National Approaches to Digital Preservation provides a comprehensive synthesis of current thinking in the field of digital preservation and proposed methods of action and cooperation that “support the preservation of our collective cultural memory.” The publication, which is available freely as a PDF, contains a collection of peer-reviewed essays that were developed by conference panels and attendees of the 2011 “Aligning National Approaches to Digital Preservation” (ANADP) conference in Tallinn, Estonia.
Jana Dambrogio will join the staff of the MIT Libraries in September as the new Thomas F. Peterson (1957) Conservator. In this role she will manage MIT’s special collections conservation program–planning and executing conservation treatments for the physical maintenance of rare books, archives, and manuscripts. She will also contribute to the Libraries’ overall preservation strategy.
Dambrogio comes from the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) where she has been a senior conservator since 2004. In addition to her work at NARA, she brings an impressive array of experience from consultancies, fellowships, and internships at other well-known national and international institutions such as the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the UN, the Vatican Secret Archives, the Folger Shakespeare Library, and Houghton Library at Harvard University.
“Jana is an experienced and innovative conservator who is prepared to continue the high level of commitment, notable ability, and passion for conservation that we have been fortunate to have in this position,” said Nancy McGovern, MIT Libraries’ Head of Curation and Preservation Services.
The Libraries conservator position is endowed by generous long-time MIT Libraries’ supporter Thomas F. Peterson, Jr. (Class of 1957).
As members of the National Digital Stewardship Alliance (NDSA), a consortium of over 145 leading government, academic, and private sector organizations committed to long term preservation of digital information, the MIT Libraries are pleased to announce the NDSA’s release of the inaugural National Agenda for Digital Stewardship.
MIT Libraries’ Director of Research, Micah Altman, played a key role in the creation of the document, serving on the NDSA Coordinating Committee, contributing as a joint author, and formally introducing the report at the Library of Congress’s annual Digital Preservation conference. Nancy McGovern, MIT Libraries’ Head of Curation and Preservation Services, also contributed to the report, and is leading a related project on digital repository self-assessment.
The National Agenda’s purpose is to highlight emerging technological trends, identify gaps in digital stewardship capacity, and provide insight into the work needed to ensure that today’s valuable digital content remains accessible and comprehensible in the future.
“Digital stewardship is vital for the authenticity of public records, the reliability of scientific evidence, and the enduring accessibility to our cultural heritage. Knowledge of ongoing research, practice, and organizational collaborations has been distributed widely across disciplines, sectors, and communities of practice.The agenda identifies the highest-impact opportunities to advance the state of the art, the state of practice, and the state of collaboration in this rapidly changing field,” said Dr. Altman.
The 2014 Agenda integrates the perspective of dozens of experts and hundreds of institutions, convened through the Library of Congress. It outlines the challenges and opportunities related to digital preservation activities in four broad areas: Organizational Roles, Policies, and Practices; Digital Content Areas; Infrastructure Development; and Research Priorities.
MIT and Harvard libraries will play a role in ensuring a new generation of library school graduates will be prepared for jobs in digital stewardship. The universities were jointly awarded a 2013 Laura Bush 21st Century Librarian Program Grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) that will fund a pilot program to help recent graduates gain the skills, experience, and network needed to begin successful careers.
“There’s a real gap between students graduating and the skills they need for available jobs. The program aims to bridge that gap,” said Nancy McGovern, head of curation and preservation services for MIT Libraries, and a co-author of the grant proposal.
The program will mirror a national digital curation residency program developed by the Library of Congress, but it will be the first of its kind in the Boston-area. Over the course of two years a total of ten residents will get hands-on experience in projects that involve digital library collections, long-term preservation, and accessibility of digital assets. Recent library school graduates will have a chance to apply for the program that will give them the opportunity to work with a host institution in the Boston-area, and network with other area institutions, industry leaders, and peers.
“It’s an exciting opportunity for the MIT Libraries to participate in raising awareness, and building community and competencies in this field,” said McGovern.
McGovern will coordinate the development of the program’s curriculum, in collaboration with Andrea Goethals, manager of digital preservation and repository services for Harvard Library, and lead author of the grant proposal. The first year of the grant will cover planning and preparation. The program will welcome the first cohort of residents in fall 2014.
MIT and Harvard will also work closely with a similar grant-funded project in New York led by the Metropolitan New York Library Council and Brooklyn Historical Society. See the full list of 2013 Laura Bush 21st Century Librarian Program Grant recipients.
You may recall that MIT Libraries launched a new fellows program in October, 2012. The fellows have been involved in a number of library activities since they started and now Helen Bailey, Fellow for Digital Curation and Preservation, wants to share her experience. She has started a blog, Life Cycles of the Bits and Pages, that will chronicle her time as a fellow in the MIT Libraries. Check it out to learn more about her projects.
Preservation Week is almost here! What’s Preservation Week, you ask? It was created in 2010 by the American Library Association to highlight the importance of preserving library and cultural heritage collections.
Celebrate Preservation Week, April 21st -27th, with a series of events hosted by Curation and Preservation Services of the MIT Libraries. Events are open to all, but some events require registration due to limited seating.
For details about these events and more information on Preservation Week, please visit the MIT Libraries Preservation Week web page.
Save the Music! Transforming MIT music collections for future use
Monday, April 22nd, 2013, 2-3pm
MIT Room 14N-132 (160 Memorial Drive)
Please register for this event
Webinar: The Preservation of Family Photographs
Tuesday, April 23rd, 2013, 2-3pm
MIT Room 14N-132 (160 Memorial Drive)
Webinar: Personal Digital Archiving
followed by Q+A with Kari Smith, MIT Digital Archivist
Wednesday, April 24th, 2013, 2-4pm
MIT Room 14N-132 (160 Memorial Drive)
Where Science Meets Artifact: An Inside Look at
the Role of Conservation Science in Preserving Cultural Heritage
Thursday, April 25th, 2013, 3-4pm
Presented by Shannon Taylor, MIT ’13 and Dr. Katherine Eremin, Patricia Cornwall Conservation Scientist at the Harvard Art Museums’ Straus Center for Conservation and Technical Studies
MIT Room 56-114 (21 Ames Street)
A new exhibition exploring the extraordinary connection between the MIT mind and music has opened in the Libraries’ Maihaugen Gallery.
Noteworthy Connections: Music in the MIT Libraries delves into the holdings of the Lewis Music Library and the Institute Archives and Special Collections, to reveal MIT’s diverse musical interests, the accomplishments of its talented students and faculty, and the rich history the Institute’s musical groups and clubs.
The exhibit will be on view in the gallery until December, 2013. Visit the gallery:
10 a.m. – 4 p.m.
The fall exhibit in the Maihaugen Gallery showcases a unique collection on view to the public for the very first time. Magnetic Resonance: Four Centuries of Science from the Vail Collection offers a look inside MIT’s Vail Collection—one of the world’s most important collections of books on magnetism, electricity, animal magnetism, and lighter-than-air travel.
The collection includes foundational texts in the history of science and technology, rare titles from the late 15th-19th centuries, works of popular science, and thousands of rare pamphlets and articles. It was given to MIT in 1912, by Theodore N. Vail, president of AT&T and a member of the MIT Corporation. The exhibit marks the 100th anniversary of the Vail Collection’s arrival at the Institute and celebrates the generosity of Thomas F. Peterson, Jr. (MIT 1957), who supported a three-year project to unlock the potential of this stunning collection. Every title has been fully cataloged, essential conservation work has been performed, and the Vail Collection can now be shared with the world. Visit the gallery, attend an event, or explore the collection online.
Behind the Scenes: Conserving and Exhibiting the Vail Collection
Wednesday, October 17, 1pm–2pm, Maihaugen Gallery (14N-130) MIT’s book conservator, Nancy Schrock, discusses conservation treatment and display of the Collection. The talk begins in the gallery and proceeds to the Wunsch Conservation Lab.
Witches, Magic, and Monsters: The Spooky Side of MIT’s Vail Collection
Friday, October 26, 3pm, Institute Archives (14N-118) A Halloween-inspired look at the creepier side of the Collection. Online registration required.
The Scientific Conversation and the Vail Collection: Gallery Talks & Tours
Thursday, November 8, 11am–noon, Maihaugen Gallery (14N-130)
Wednesday, November 28, 3pm–4pm, Maihaugen Gallery (14N-130) Exhibit curator and rare books program manager, Stephen Skuce, leads a tour and talk about the exhibit.
MIT’s Vail Collection: From the Lodestone to the X-Ray
Friday, November 16, 10:30am, Institute Archives (14N-118) A presentation by rare books program manager, Stephen Skuce.
What will the future of academic librarianship look like? The MIT Libraries have a few ideas. With the launch of a new fellows program, the Libraries are taking an active role in shaping the future of the profession. The MIT Libraries’ Fellows Program was created to provide exceptional, early-career library professionals with the opportunity to contribute to program areas of distinction and strategic priority in a dynamic academic research library. Out of a pool of over 175 accomplished applicants, two fellows were chosen for two-year fellowship positions. Helen Bailey was appointed to the position of Library Fellow for Digital Curation and Preservation, and Mark Clemente was appointed to the position of Library Fellow for Scholarly Publishing and Licensing.
“The fellows will work with and learn from their MIT Libraries’ colleagues who are recognized leaders in these fields,” said Ann Wolpert, Director of Libraries. “Developing programs which contribute to the wider academic and research library community, as well as the real-world opportunities here at MIT, will position these highly talented fellows to advance in both the profession and their careers.”
Helen Bailey, the digital curation and preservation fellow, will report to Nancy McGovern, Head of Curation and Preservation Services, a highly respected leader in the field of digital curation and preservation with a well-established national and international reputation. Under McGovern’s direction, Bailey will work on a range of activities related to the long-term management of digital content, including participating in the Libraries digital content management initiative, contributing to an ongoing scan of community standards and practice for digital curation and preservation, the development of outreach materials to raise awareness about good practice, and conducting an experiment to recommend a solution for a specific curation or preservation need.
Mark Clemente, the scholarly publishing and licensing fellow, will report to Ellen Duranceau, Program Manager in the Office of Scholarly Publishing and Licensing (OSPL). Duranceau has led the Libraries efforts in support of the MIT Faculty Open Access Policy and provides copyright and scholarly publishing assistance to the MIT community. She also consults broadly with universities on scholarly communication policies and practice. Working with Duranceau, Clemente will contribute to the work of the OSPL in the areas of copyright advocacy, intellectual property, open access, and rights retention. Clemente will participate in enhancing and expanding a repository collection of open access papers under the MIT Faculty Open Access Policy and will develop and carry out projects to advance the implementation of the Policy.
Bailey and Clemente both bring strong skills and backgrounds in library science to their new roles. Bailey has a B.S. from Florida State University, an M.S. in Information Studies from the University of Texas at Austin, and a Certificate of Advanced Study in Library and Archives Conservation. Since 2010 she has been a preservation specialist with the Dartmouth College Library. Clemente has a B.A. from American University and a M.S. in Library Information Science from Simmons College. He most recently served as a digital collections assistant at Boston College’s O’Neill and Burns Libraries.
Both fellows will have the opportunity to expand their skills and experience in ways that position them to excel and lead in the research library profession. The Fellows Program was made possible with support from The Director’s Fund for Library Excellence.
Boston’s MBTA celebrates its 115th birthday this Saturday, September 1. Check out the article from the August 28, 1897 issue of Western Electrician describing the design and construction of the new subway and extolling details such as overhead arc lighting, pine wood ticket booths, and brass handrails on the stairs. “The traveler will find his ‘open sesame’ to be a five-cent piece, which he will hand into the ticket office and will receive in exchange a ticket which will entitle him to a ride…”
All issues of Western Electrician owned by the MIT Libraries have been digitized and are freely available online through the Internet Archive.
The MIT Libraries are involved in collaborations that look at the broad range of digital content that universities and other organizations produce, and at ways to make content accessible across generations of technology.
The Libraries’ head of curation and preservation services, Nancy McGovern, was recently involved in an international conference that gathered more than 125 delegates from more than 20 countries at the National Library of Estonia, to explore how to create and sustain collaborations to support the preservation of our collective digital cultural memory.
An outcome of the conference is a guide written for a broad audience that includes librarians, archivists, scholars, curators, technologists, lawyers, researchers, and administrators at many different types of cultural organizations.
Aligning National Approaches to Digital Preservation was edited by Nancy McGovern, and published by the Educopia Institute. It describes successful collaborative strategies and articulates new models that may help organizations work together for their mutual benefit.
The Cambridge Historical Society is hosting its fourth annual Open Archives Tour, July 9-12, 2012. MIT is participating along with eleven other organizations throughout Cambridge.
With the theme Famous and Infamous, each archive will delve into their collections to display unique materials, including photographs, correspondence, ephemera, and more, offering a rare look inside some of Cambridge’s most fascinating archives. There will be twelve archives featured over four days (three per day).
Tours and Dates:
July 9, 5:00-8:00 pm
City Collections, featuring
- Cambridge Historical Commission
- Cambridge Room of the Public Library
- Cambridge Public Works Department
July 10, 3:00-6:00 pm
Harvard Collections, featuring
- Harvard University Archives
- Houghton Library at Harvard
- Schlesinger Library at Harvard
July 11, 5:00-8:00 pm
Cultural Collections, featuring
- Mount Auburn Cemetery
- Cambridge Historical Society
- The Longfellow House – Washington’s Headquarters National Historic Site
July 12, 3:00-6:00 pm
MIT Collections, featuring
- MIT List Visual Arts Center
- MIT Institute Archives & Special Collections
- MIT Museum
For more information and reservations, contact: 617-547-4252 or www.cambridgearchives.org
Tito Sierra, MIT Libraries’ Associate Director for Technology, has been appointed to the Digital Library Federation (DLF) Advisory Committee for the Council on Library and Information Services (CLIR). During his two-year term, Sierra will work with five other committee members to advise the DLF director on program activities, initiatives, and strategy.
CLIR’s Digital Library Federation is a network of libraries and related agencies pioneering innovative uses of information technologies and community expertise to extend collections and services. DLF has promoted work on:
- Digital library structures, standards, preservation, and use
- Archives for electronic journals
- Aggregation services for digital collections
- Digital library services that expand access to resources for research, teaching, and learning
Gallery Talk with Roberto Rosa
When: Friday, May 11, 2pm
Where: Institute Archives (14N-118)
In conjunction with the Glass at MIT: Beauty and Utility exhibition, Roberto Rosa from Serpentino Stained Glass will discuss stained glass art and artists, and his work in the restoration and conservation of historic stained glass.
Rosa has restored windows in some of America’s most prominent buildings including the Massachusetts State House and Trinity Church in Boston. Most recently, he was the chief conservator for thirteen opalescent glass windows at Salve Regina University in Newport RI, designed by John La Farge.
After Rosa’s talk there will be time for questions and viewing the exhibit in the Maihaugen Gallery. This event is free and open to the public.
When: Thu, April 26, 2:00-3:00 pm
Digital photos are fragile and require special care to keep them accessible. But preserving any kind of digital information is a new concept that most people have little experience with. Technologies change over time and become obsolete, making it difficult to access older digital photos. Learn about the nature of the problem and hear about some simple, practical tips and tools to help you keep your digital photos safe. This event is part of the American Library Association’s Preservation Week.
For more information, please contact: Ann Marie Willer.
When: Tue, April 24, 2:00-3:00 pm
Do you want to save an old family quilt, a wedding dress, or T-shirts and flags from your fraternity or student club? A conservator will present this webinar on how to care for the various types of textiles found in family collections including clothing, flags, furniture coverings, and framed textiles. The session will cover how to safely store and display textiles and how to determine when the services of a professional conservator are needed. This event is part of the American Library Association’s Preservation Week.
For more information, please contact Ann Marie Willer.
MIT’s Libraries were recently chosen to be the stewards of the personal archives of noted linguist, political activist, and Institute Professor emeritus Noam Chomsky. The significant collection spans a long and distinguished career, beginning when Chomsky joined MIT in 1955 in the Research Laboratory of Electronics, through his years as a professor in the Department of Modern Languages and Linguistics, then as Institute Professor.
Often referred to as “the father of modern linguistics,” Chomsky revolutionized the field of linguistics and paved the way for transformational grammar and universal grammar. His book Syntactic Structures (1957) was considered groundbreaking. He also made significant contributions to the fields of psychology, cognitive science, philosophy of language and philosophy of mind.
“It’s fitting that Professor Chomsky’s papers will remain at MIT as a resource for future generations of scholars. He revolutionized the way we think about the linguistic sciences and the cognitive mechanisms of language acquisition, and his ideas in many realms have had profound influence on scholarship and public discourse here at MIT and worldwide,” MIT President Susan Hockfield said.
Over the years, Chomsky has been awarded numerous prizes, including the Kyoto Prize in 1988 and the MIT Killian Award for the academic year 1991-1992. Most recently, he won the Sydney Peace Prize in 2011. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
“Over the last fifty years, Noam Chomsky has not only created the building blocks of linguistic theory and understanding, but has built a remarkable and unique department of Linguistics that has nurtured several generations of linguists who have taken their MIT experience into and across the globe. It is wonderful that Noam’s papers, which span this long period of growth and development, will be available to scholars for many years to come,” MIT Dean of Humanities Deborah Fitzgerald said.
The collection also reflects Chomsky’s political activism and outspoken support for freedom of speech and social justice. He was once quoted as saying, “If we don’t believe in freedom of expression for people we despise, we don’t believe in it at all” (Guardian (UK), Nov.23, 1992).
He has authored numerous works on the topic, including American Power and the New Mandarins (1969), Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media (1988), Failed States: The Abuse of Power and the Assault on Democracy (2006), and Hopes and Prospects (2010).
The addition of Chomsky’s personal archives, and a large portion of his personal library, augments a small existing collection of Chomsky’s papers already in the care of the MIT Libraries’ Institute Archives.
“With this addition, the collection will be a complete archival resource that will provide researchers with unique insight into Professor Chomsky’s thinking, and the development of the field of linguistics, as well as his views on significant issues in social activism from post-WWII through current day,” MIT Institute Archivist Tom Rosko said.
Staff from the MIT Libraries and Institute Archives and Special Collections are in the beginning stages of transferring material to the Archives. Initial work in organizing the Chomsky collection will occur this year, with additional work on improving access to the collection, including online access to portions of it, continuing over the next several years. When the work is done, scholars will have unprecedented access to an enormous depth and breadth of material from one of the world’s most renowned linguists and top intellectual minds.