tuning in, June 2015

As usual, it’s been a minute, but here’s a recap of some of what I’ve been up to professionally in the new year:

I got promoted! As of July 1, 2015, I’ll be a Librarian II, which means I’m a faculty member on the path to permanent track status…which means I have to deliver more conference presentations, publish peer-reviewed articles, serve on University and regional or national committees, invent the ultimate audio format…no, not that last thing, but I’ll have to work hard and a lot, and then demonstrate my impact on the University community, as well as the libraries and archives professions. I’m up for the challenge, for the next three years at least, at which point my Peer Review Committee will tell me to proceed, or I’ll pursue the first job title I ever dreamed of wanting:  trash collector. Standing on the back of a moving truck and leaping off to heave stuff from barrels and cans into it still seems appealing.

In the Hornbake Digitization Center (HDC), I hired, trained, and supervised three new student digitization assistants, one of whom has graduated and accepted a job at Sirius XM in DC, where he’ll manage the digital audio archives. The newbies joined four assistants with seniority, and they’ve collectively formed the best crew I’ve managed, because they’ve taught each other various procedures, communicated clearly with each other and me, and collaborated effectively on time-sensitive projects. Digital Conversion and Media Reformatting (DCMR) HDC adjusted its focus in 2015, moving from mostly in-house production to a balance of in-house production and quality inspections of vendor-produced digital files. DCMR manager Robin Pike arranged for $xx,000 worth of vendor digitization projects last year (and she’s acquired $xxx,000 for them this year!), so in addition to transferring magnetic tapes and scanning photographs and texts, assistants have been looking at and listening to tens of thousands of files that vendors produced, to ensure that the files are complete and free of errors. I’m proud of what we’ve accomplished recently, especially because the detailed inspection of such a volume of files has been so acute, and we’ve been firm about refusing work that isn’t good.

I’m improving at delegating tasks – it’s a less egocentric and more empowering method, I think, than trying to control and do it all – and my assistants have proved themselves capable of completing acceptable work with some substantial up-front guidance (e.g., like 10/15-minute project meetings) but minimal later involvement.

The folks at Lost in the Stacks, “the only Research Library Rock’n’Roll show!”, broadcast on 91.1 WREK at Georgia Tech in Atlanta, interviewed me this spring about my work in HDC and about audio preservation in particular. It was a thrill to be on the show and to speak with my friend and former UT Austin classmate Wendy Hagenmaier. We worked together on the podcast iSchool You, so it felt fitting to be on the air together again.

At the joint meeting of the Mid-Atlantic and New England regional archivists in Boston in March, I dug walks around Boston Common, getting lost in the hotel under construction, and hanging out with my close old UMass friends Derek and Pam (and Peanut, their beagle). The conference, or at least the sessions I attended, were so-so, and hey, sometimes that’s how it goes.

Later in March, The Multi-Media Archive: Stewardship and Use of Audiovisual Media Documenting Contemporary Art History symposium at the Smithsonian Archives of American Art was much more rewarding. Learning about common and complex audiovisual materials in archives, and what stewards and users of those archives desire in regards to the preservation of and access to them, was pleasurably enlightening. I learned something too from Megan McShea about how to deliver a measured, rich, and minimally humorous slide presentation talk.

April, often maligned as the cruelest month, was fruitful:  I began serving on an advisory panel for a small northern college’s NEH grant proposal; I showed a few digital videos from UMD’s collections at a DC/MD/VA Association of Moving Image Archivists party; and I bought a sweet new Trek 7.2 bicycle to commute to and from work.

My 12-month service to the University of Maryland Libraries as co-chair of the Emerging Technology Discussion Group concluded in May. It wasn’t difficult work – it involved booking rooms and scheduling Libraries staff to make presentations and stir discussions about cool new tools and services they’re using or exploring – but it was rewarding and fun. The Libraries staff recently elected me to serve as a member of the Faculty Mentoring Committee, and I’ll begin in July. Let’s relish this June lull.

Lastly, a one-two opportunity happened this week:  I displayed a poster entitled “Establishing the In-House Internet Archive Digitization Workflow” at the University of Maryland’s Library Research and Innovative Practice forum one day, and then co-presented “Saving College Radio” with Dr. Laura Schnitker at Catholic University of America’s Cultural Heritage and Information Management forum the next. I was glad to talk batch upload automation and audio preservation – they’re two of my favorite things.

And ah, yes, the real last note:  I chaired the event committee that produced the Third Annual Edible Book Festival at the University of Maryland. It was easier than ever to do, because we’re getting better at it, and it was the most popular e-book fest yet at UMD, but I’m still mad that my entry, William Faulkner’s The Pound and the Curry, didn’t win in the Least Appetizing category. It looked pretty gross.

Until next time (I hope not “Until next year”),


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