Yale Buys Judy Blume Archive

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Judy Blume has been a hugely influential young-adult writer, prior to her works the genre barely existed. Vampire, werewolf and wizard’s can thank Judy Blume for their dominance in literature, as the young-adult genre’s popularity has exploded. She inspired children and adults, helping them emotionally and addressing social problems that were not openly discussed. Her influence and popularity led to the necessity for the preservation and archiving of her work.

The archive was recently acquired by Yale University’s Beinecke Library. Currently, they are still growing their children’s literature collection in recognition of it’s importance as a widely loved genre. The book, “Story Time,” is about the Beinecke Library honoring children’s literature and shows just how vast and significant their collection truly is. It highlights that it’s not important to just the children and preteens it is written for but, for scholarly research as well.

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The Judy Blume Archive will enrich their collection exponentially. It spans the forty years of her writing career. Containing not only her published works but unpublished works, short stories, and the records of her censorship issues in the past. This archive will create a connection to the papers of Gertrude Stein and James Joyce (also in the Beinecke Library’s children’s collection). The works will be accessible through the library and will be available to all who are interested in studying the papers, not just students and scholars. This collection will available in the spring of 2018.

Bibliography

Morand, M. (2017, October 12). Judy Blume archive strengthens Beinecke’s young adult  collections. Retrieved October 14, 2017, from https://news.yale.edu/2017/10/10/judy-blume-archive-strengthens-beinecke-young-adult-collections

Cronin, B. (2017, October 07). Judy Blume, a Pre-Teen Fiction Trailblazer, Opens Up Her Archive. Retrieved October 14, 2017, from https://www.wsj.com/articles/judy-blume-a-pre-teen-fiction-trailblazer-opens-up-her-archive-1507374004?mod=WSJ_GoogleNews

Submitted by Christine Hesch LIS 653-01

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Posted in Archives, Books, Library

Is “Diversity” an Effective Anti-Racism Tactic in Library and Information Science? A Critique by David James Hudson

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Image from Pixabay | Released under Creative Commons CC0

ABSTRACT
Drawing on a range of critical race and anti-colonial writing, and focusing chiefly on Anglo-Western contexts of librarianship, this paper offers a broad critique of diversity as the dominant mode of anti-racism in LIS. After outlining diversity’s core tenets, I examine the ways in which the paradigm’s centering of inclusion as a core anti-racist strategy has tended to inhibit meaningful treatment of racism as a structural phenomenon. Situating LIS diversity as a liberal anti-racism, I then turn to diversity’s tendency to privilege individualist narratives of (anti-)racism, particularly narratives of cultural competence, and the intersection of such individualism with broader structures of political-economic domination. Diversity’s preoccupation with demographic inclusion and individual behavioural competence has, I contend, left little room in the field for substantive engagement with race as a historically contingent phenomenon: race is ultimately reified through LIS diversity discourse, effectively precluding exploration of the ways in which racial formations are differentially produced in the contextually-specific exercise of power itself. I argue that an LIS foregrounding of race as a historical construct – the assumption of its contingency – would enable deeper inquiry into the complex ways in which our field – and indeed the diversity paradigm specifically – aligns with the operations of contemporary regimes of racial subordination in the first place. I conclude with a reflection on the importance of the Journal of Critical Information and Library Studies as a potential site of critical exchange from which to articulate a sustained critique of race in and through our field.

Full PDF of Hudson’s article “On “Diversity” as Anti-Racism in Library and
Information Studies: A Critique” can be found here.

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Posted in Libraries, Library, Uncategorized

A Call to Crowdsourcing

Recently, the National Archives uploaded a new collection of records to their Citizen Archives Project. The relatively small collection features photographs of life on Native American reservations in the early to mid 20th century all in need of descriptive tagging. The photos have been digitized and given titles, which often include short descriptions gathered from available information, but all other metadata is waiting to be ascribed tags for easier search-ability. Crowdsourced projects such as these utilize volunteers to analyze images and documents that have already been sorted into larger subheadings. Volunteers are tasked with transcribing document text for easier readability, creating descriptive metadata by tagging images making them more accessible to researchers. For example, one photo I worked on was titled, “Mrs. Dorothy Yellow Cloud Does Barbering For Her Family.” After spending a few minutes looking at the photograph I imagined the words I would type in if I were attempting to access this photo. I chose: children, domestic life, exterior, haircut, mother, wife, bench, cabin, and home.

The idea of transcription and tagging via crowdsourcing in libraries and archives is nothing new. Projects like Citizen Archives started around 2011 and most articles on the subject are from the pre-historic time of 2008. Many other institutions have their own crowdsourced transcription projects. The New York Public Library started “What’s on the Menu?” to help transcribe and geotag their collection of historical restaurant menus from across the years and the city. Their Community Oral History Project also uses crowdsourcing to edit and check the computer-generated transcripts of their interviews that often fumble with homonyms or fail to note pauses. The Smithsonian opened up the Transcription Center in July 2013 with un-annotated and un-transcribed documents from just eight Smithsonian museums, libraries and archives. Now 18 different groups and institution rely on the Transcription Center and its active volunteer community to help tag and transcribe thousands of documents ranging from botanical field notebooks to refugee letter ledgers from 1868. One of my favorite projects was the McMaster Postcard Project that asked users to help decipher handwritten captions and messages from hundreds of postcards in their collection. The project was completed with over 18,000 descriptions received and now awaits final processing and its debut on the McMaster University Digital Archives page. The article, “Cultural Institutions Embrace Crowdsourcing“, by Mike Ashenfelder also provides a great list of current and past crowdsourcing efforts by insitutions across the globe and across disciplines.

While “downsides” exist, the most common complaints against crowdsourced projects are similar to that of starting any large new project: expense, time, staff-availability. While crowdsourced projects may take some time, money and effort to set up but once they get going they are capable of achieving goals that the institution may never have had the time, staff or finances to see to the end in the first place. Digitization efforts of collections are daunting, expensive and time consuming. Reluctant institutions and researchers cite the concern of accuracy. If a document or photograph is incorrectly described by an over zealous volunteer will it remain lost to a researcher forever? In order to combat this very real concern most projects are set up with a system of quality control in place. A record must go through three levels of assessment: First the record is tagged or transcribed by one group of volunteers, it is then reviewed by another set of users, before heading to the final approval by a final institute authority (either a staff member or trained volunteer). “Practical usability over scholarly perfection,” (Zastrow) is the end goal with crowdsourced transcription projects. If a document can be accessed through appropriate search tags and read by the user the mission is accomplished.

The largest “upside” is of course engagement with the records. Crowdsourcing efforts bring people together creating new types of virtual communities, which allow for a new flow of untapped knowledge. “Encouraging a sense of public ownership and responsibility towards cultural heritage collections, through user’s contributions and collaborations,” might be listed last on Rose Holley’s reasons why libraries should participate in crowdsourcing projects but it is the most significant reason. Archives have been seen as places for white gloves and research credentials. With the advent of digitalization and web accessible records those stereotypes are slowly fading. You can flip through historic photographs from the comfort of your couch without ever having to put on pants- let alone white gloves. Volunteer tagging makes couch-bound-research possible, allowing anyone to interact with a collection.

In her paper, Holley makes mention of the important distinction between social engagement and crowdsourcing. Social engagement happens sporadically where as crowdsourcing, “relies on sustained input from a group of people working towards a common goal.” The couch-bound-researcher flipping through Coney Island souvenir postcards of the 1900s is interacting on the social engagement level, where as those who transcribed the slanted script sentiments into plain text and placed tags to each post card such as “Coney Island” “1934” “Full Color” “Beach Scene” are actively participating in crowdsourcing efforts.

Crowdsourcing volunteer projects have many different applications and have proven to be a powerful tool within libraries and archives. Since these projects have started in the early 2000’s they have expanded, evolved and generated other institutions both large and small to tap into the potential of the public. But like many things from the “aughts” without constant re-branding and media attention projects like these see a petering out in activity. There is never a shortage of records in need of transcription, but recruiting new volunteers takes some effort. So here I am, doing my part! Sign up takes less than a minute and users will value your work for years to come. Flex your metadata description skills and test your taxonomy from the comfort of your couch during all that free time you have in between studying, pulling your hair out and writing your own blog posts!

 

Works Referenced

Ashenfelder, M. (2015, September 16). Cultural Institutions Embrace Crowdsourcing. Retrieved September 28, 2017, from https://blogs.loc.gov/thesignal/2015/09/cultural-institutions-embrace-crowdsourcing/

Holley, R. (2010). Crowdsourcing: How and Why Should Libraries Do It? D-Lib Magazine, 16(3/4). Retrieved October 1, 2017, from http://dlib.org/dlib/march10/holley/03holley.html

Wilson, A. (n.d.). Citizen Archivist Dashboard: Improving Access to Historical Records Through Crowdsourcing. Retrieved September 26, 2017, from https://crowdsourcing-toolkit.sites.usa.gov/citizen-archivist/

Zastrow, J. (2014, October). Crowdsourcing Cultural Heritage: ‘Citizen Archivists’ for the Future. Retrieved October 4, 2017, from http://www.infotoday.com/cilmag/oct14/Zastrow–Crowdsourcing-Cultural-Heritage.shtml

 

By Emma Karin Eriksson

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Posted in Archives, Cataloging, Classification, Libraries, Uncategorized

A study on diversity in romance publishing

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A capture taken from “The State of Racial Diversity in Romance Publishing 2016” TheRippedBodiceLA.com 

A romance focused book store in Los Angeles, The Ripped Bodice, produced a study verifying what many readers will already know: the romance publishing industry has a whiteness problem. Romance writers being published by conventional presses (Kensington, Harlequin, Avon, etc.,) are overwhelmingly white. The Koch sisters’ study shows that less than 8 in 100 romance writers are people of color.

Romance is an incredibly popular genre. According to the Romance Writers of America romance novels accounted for 34% of the U.S. fiction market in 2015, and in 2013 romance sales had a value of $1.08 billion. Romance is a popular genre in public libraries. One librarian interviewed in Publishers Weekly said: “Romance makes up 35% of our more-than-5,000-item collection but accounts for over 43% of the circulation. On average, romance paperbacks circulate more than eight times, while items in other genres circulate fewer than six. The cost of romance novels is generally less than [the cost of novels from] many of the other genres, and with high circulations this results in a better return overall on the library’s investment.” The Institute of Museum and Library Services has reported that people of all races visit public libraries at roughly the same rate.

Accounting for the overwhelming popularity of the romance genre in libraries, and the diversity of public library users, it is all the more important that we develop library romance collections that are racially diverse, that allow readers of all backgrounds to access and enjoy romance.

This study reveals just how much publishers are letting down romance readers, and how they are failing romance writers of color. Libraries cannot buy books that are not published, but can and should seek to buy and promote books by authors of color. Perhaps public libraries, who are massive buyers of romance novels, can help contribute to what should be forward momentum.

While the connection to cataloging may be obtuse, it is really fairly straightforward. Cataloger’s discretion means that they can determine where in a library an item is located. Will an item by an author of color be grouped with the romance collection, or with other fiction books? Will it be featured on lists of “urban fiction” if it has black protagonists, or will it be put forward with “mainstream” (white) romance. Libraries, and catalogers, make decisions that can sideline books every day. It is worth considering what power we may have to push forward, for all of our users, to create a more diverse world of romance publishing.

–Willamae Boling

LIS 653, Fall 2017

Posted in Books, Classification, Libraries

The Dynamic Library – Experiments with RFID

While browsing at the Printed Matter NY Art Book Fair, I happened across a book called The Dynamic Library, and couldn’t resist taking it home. As it turns out, serendipity and the mobility and discoverability of books is a major theme of the project it details.

The Sitterwerk Art Library, which contains about 25,000 volumes, was born mainly from the collection of one person, Daniel Rohner. As a life-long collector, he would arrange and rearrange his books almost hourly, always searching for new associations and connections among the volumes. When he donated his books to establish the library, a creative solution was called for to maintain the spirit of his restless reorganizing habit, while maintaining accessibility. The dynamic order of the books was made possible with RFID technology.

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Each book is equipped with a tag, which contains bibliographic data. This data is read by a robotic arm, which scans the stacks and records the relative location of each book. The position is then noted in a graphic in the online catalog. Patrons are encouraged to group books on the shelves according to whatever schema or theme they like, and the grouping can be named and made visible and searchable via the online catalog.

The order (or disorder) of the library is meant to open up possibilities beyond one rationalization, and to allow patrons to create and discover different methods of knowledge organization. The idea of serendipity in the stacks is wistful, but befits a library that wishes to maintain some characteristics of a personal collection. You can discover for yourself at: http://www.sitterwerk.ch/kunstbibliothek.html

Submitted by Abigail Walker, LIS 653-03, Fall 2017

 

Posted in Books, Cataloging, Classification, Libraries

Hope for the Future of Endangered Languages

https://www.smithsonianmag.com/innovation/want-learn-cherokee-how-about-ainu-startup-teaching-endangered-languages-180965076/

In the UK, a startup named Tribalingual is working to prevent the loss of endangered languages and their respective cultures. Tribalingual founder Inky Gibbens knows that many languages are lost when native speakers are forced to integrate into foreign societies or when the only remaining native speakers pass away. Gibbens states that partly due to technology, one language ceases to be spoken every 14 days. Her goal for Tribalingual is to teach people endangered languages and prevent them from disappearing. She was inspired to found this startup while researching her ancestral roots; the language she wished to learn, Buryat, was classified as endangered by the U.N. After researching, she realized there was no way for her to learn the language and that other people were facing similar struggles, so she developed a solution.

Tribalingual seeks to teach students endangered languages as a means to prevent their extinction. Tribalingual offers classes that connect students with speakers of endangered languages, such as Cherokee, Alamblak, and Gangte. They offer four-week courses and nine-week courses. Both courses are 50 percent language and 50 percent culture. By the end of the courses, students have basic communication skills and insight into the culture. If students desire they can connect with teachers over Skype in order to enhance their education. Tribalingual has spent no money on advertising; all of their advertising has been word-of-mouth from customers or through social media. This is impressive considering they have students worldwide. Students reach out to Tribalingual for a variety of reasons including learning about their heritage, improving research in their fields, gaining introductions to languages before traveling, and general interest in learning endangered languages.

In order for a language to be taught by Tribalingual, it must first be assessed. The criteria include that the language be classified endangered by UNESCO or be rare. Also, Tribalingual must be able to find speakers of the languages who are willing to teach and are passionate about preserving the language. Finding teachers is vital to the success of Tribalingual and they rely on crowdsourcing to enlist those who are qualified.

Tribalingual plays an important role in preserving endangered languages and culture. Gibbens fears that when a language dies the culture and traditions may dies as well. Tribalingual is using crowdsourcing and technology to preserve languages which are potentially undocumented. The teachers are located all around the globe and teach through technology, such as Skype. Since so few people speak some of the endangered languages, Gibbens’ role as a language conservator has potential to impact the future of some (likely not all) endangered languages. She is also working to ensure that future generations can benefit by learning about the endangered languages and cultures. The work of Gibbens and Tribalingual demonstrates a fantastic use of technology and crowdsourcing in a way that brings humanity together for social good.

 

Kasey Calnan LIS653-01

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Posted in Knowledge Structures

NASA’s New User-Friendly Interface: YouTube.com

NASA hasn’t been hiding its videos of rocket ships and aircrafts– the videos have actually been archived online on their website, for quite some time. However, you will very quickly see that the site is rather antiquated: besides the 2003 vibe and the need for Quicktime software download, each link connects the user to at least 2 other links to access the video the user is interested in. There just isn’t enough visual stimulation or instant gratification to keep a user’s interest. The site is also quite difficult to find: the Dryden Flight Research Center is the previous name of the now Armstrong facility.

NASA’s solution? YouTube.com. NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center in California is migrating over 500 videos from their archives over to video sharing platform for a more user-friendly experience. Now, the videos are organized in categories, or Playlists, such as “Unmanned Aerial Vehicles” and “Experimental Aircraft.” The original archive listed the videos in alphabetical order. Some users will find this a convenient way to find a specific video, but only if they know the name of the mission, experiment, or aircraft. This shift to YouTube.com now instantly links users to multiple videos that suit their interest and/or research needs.

In an interview with Motherboard, Rebecca Richardson, social media manager for NASA Armstrong, explained, “NASA has so much digital content that tends to be overlooked by the public, given the difficulty that exists in actually locating the content. Our hope is that by moving the content to more accessible platforms, NASA fans and media personnel will be able to access the content more regularly and become more fully immersed in what is happening at NASA” (Cole, 2017).

Now that NASA is using a more user-friendly interface, these videos are no longer “hidden” from the public. If NASA wants to share their archives with the public, we should take full advantage of it. What other government agency does?

Resources:

AM, C. G. O. 7/20/17 at 4:31. (2017, July 20). You can now watch hundreds of NASA archive videos on YouTube. Retrieved October 1, 2017, from http://www.newsweek.com/nasa-videos-you-can-now-watch-archive-footage-space-shuttles-hypersonic-jets-639440
Cole, S. (2017, July 19). Start Rolling Your Blunts: NASA Is Uploading Decades of Archival Footage to YouTube. Retrieved October 1, 2017, from https://motherboard.vice.com/en_us/article/ywge7v/nasa-armstrong-archival-footage
Submitted by Michelle Regan, LIS 653-03, Fall 2017
Posted in Archives

The unexpected boon of impermanence

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In a world of CCTV cameras on every corner, and smartphones in every hand, we’re living in a time with unprecedented amounts of data. Unfortunately, it isn’t always easy to see how to parse and use this data in a meaningful way. Enter Documenting the Now, a joint initiative between Washington University in St. Louis, the University of California, Riverside, and the University of Maryland, and Carnegie Mellon University. DocNow is a platform designed “around supporting the ethical collection, use, and preservation of social media content.” Across the messy web of big data, archivists and activists are linking hands to tackle human rights related issues in a community-centric archive.

I learned about this initiative from an article on ABC News Australia’s website, “Meet the digital librarians saving social media posts to protect human rights.” Essentially, DocNow captures posts on social media as a way to shed light on otherwise unseen aspects of human rights abuses. For example, in the 2014 killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, the Documenting the Now team looked to Twitter as a way to document the event.  In two weeks, more than 13M tweets were collected and archived. However, the team struggled with the fact that this is an impermanent archive, an archive out of their control. Because it is a community-based archive, it is possible for tweets to be deleted by users (although they cannot be edited). As we are reading about authority control for class next week, I found this particularly timely, as DocNow clearly (and knowingly) has a lack of authority control.  We can see the unique challenges that come to light without such control in place.

Despite the impermanence of the archive, the lack of a central authority or “truth” can also present an unexpected boon: the ability to piece together several different accounts of an event, and to do so using the audience’s own wording, or tagging. Interestingly, though, DocNow’s goal isn’t to collate posts in order to present a neutral or authoritative view, but rather, to “understand the biases in each particular view of the event.” Another advantage to the lack of authority control in this case is that the event is more likely to bubble up to the surface, and be visible to the wider public.  The more people that tweet at or about a human rights violation, the more likely other folks will be to hear about it. And since the public can use whatever tags they may find appropriate, it makes the data more available to discovery, and more relevant. A great example of the power of this platform comes from Professor Jay Aronson of Carnegie Mellon University, who worked on a Ukrainian legal case “focusing on deaths during the Euromaidan protests,” where the compiled video aided the case greatly in prosecuting riot police.

Social media isn’t just a pastime – our world’s entries are just another form of “documents” for us to organize into meaningful information.

Submitted by Lindsay Menachemi, LIS653-01, Fall 2017

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Posted in Archives, Classification, Open Data

What happens when a “database” has no identifiers: the ATF’s gun registry

The ATF’s Nonsensical Non-Searchable Gun Databases, Explained

This week’s readings were about the importance and logic behind the creation of authority control files and controlled vocabularies in order to have consistent, searchable records. This article discusses how a lack of standardized naming resources and record consolidation for the ATF’s gun registry causes a myriad of issues when legally purchased guns are under investigation or involved in crimes.

Due to current legislation, the ATF’s registry cannot be searchable or consolidated into a database, “The ATF’s record-keeping system lacks certain basic functionalities standard to every other database created in the modern age. Despite its vast size, and importance to crime fighters, it is less sophisticated than an online card catalog maintained by a small town public library”. In fact, the only digital component to the registry is the image files, whose naming system can only be traced if the physical copy of the purchase record can be found among the hundreds of boxes in the ATF’s archive. The article explains that, “The ATF processes a high number of trace requests: 372,992 last year. The agency says a trace takes on average four to seven business days to complete. If not for the ban on consolidating data into a searchable system, the ATF could create a database that allows it to immediately check the sales history of any gun used in a crime.”

The creation of a database with authority files for gun dealers, an archive of all gun models with standardized vocabulary, and a record (paired with an institutionally created unique identifier) of every legal gun purchased would drastically lessen the time it takes for the ATF to track down ownership records, greatly improving the speed of federal investigations, perhaps ultimately saving lives.

We spend a great deal of time in class discussing the importance of knowledge organization and how effective databases, metadata schemas, OPACs and interoperable records has changed the way people all over the world access information, and I think this article is an incredible and weighty example of how the creation of authorities and searchable databases could have significant real world implications.

Submitted by Drew Facklam

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Posted in Archives, Cataloging, Classification

by Hugh McLeod

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