Hey, Internet. My name is Carmel and I’m the NDSR fellow at Brooklyn Academy of Music. In case you haven’t been paying attention for the past 154 years, BAM is the oldest performing arts center in the country. Existing since 1861, BAM has a mission “to be the home for adventurous artists, audiences, and ideas.” With incredible programing in practically every arts medium imaginable, there really is no excuse to not see something here.
It is the responsibility of the BAM Hamm Archives to maintain records that not only relate to the performances that occur at BAM, but also the history of the institution itself. In an ever growing digital universe, this becomes more and more challenging. In an organization with over 800 staff members and only two full time archivists, where do you even begin?
Well, you begin by getting an NDSR resident! Along with my mentor, Processing Archivist, Evelyn Shunaman, I am working on a project to to interview staff and survey all electronic records that are created across every department at BAM. After analyzing and reviewing my findings, I will be making recommendations to:
- Revise the current records retention policy, making it more electronic records inclusive.
- Develop workflows to make sure that the appropriate records and their associated metadata get brought into the Archive.
- Ensure long-term preservation of and access to all electronic records sent to the Archive.
- Ensure monitoring/regulation of staff adherence to the records retention policy.
Basically, this project is about talking to BAM departments; figuring out what/how many electronic records are being created; identifying which of those have historical, archival significance; and then documenting recommendations for an OAIS compliant workflow. After spending a lot of time with the OAIS functional entities:
I created this diagram that outlines SOME of the main questions that I will be attempting to answer within the framework of OAIS:
In talking with the Archives team, one of the biggest areas of concern is compliance — getting people to give us the appropriate records and attaching some amount of metadata to those records. How do we educate staff on the importance of digital preservation, require departments to deliver archival records with metadata, and make this easy enough that it won’t be an overwhelming chore to add to already demanding daily responsibilities?
Queue in BAM’s IT Department. I cannot stress enough, how lucky I am to be working with an IT Department that cares about preservation! A lot of the questions I outlined in the above diagram can be answered. But to actually implement the recommended answers to these questions, we need technology.
Either or both IT Project Manager Jason Minnis and/or Technical Support Technician Tim Chawaga are attending each of the departmental interviews being conducted for this NDSR project. With the incredible support and buy-in of both the Director of the Archives, Sharon Lehner and the Director of IT, Allen Lee, we are able to approach this from the standpoint that we are in this together. If Archives and IT both come in at the ground floor, then collaboratively we can assess the situation then recommend and implement solutions.
I recognize that BAM is a small to medium-sized institution that has access to a number of resources which may or may not be applicable to many smaller, community-oriented archives. The fact that I can use terms like “Archives TEAM” and “IT DEPARTMENT” is something I will not take for granted in my career as a professional archivist. Of course more and more archivists have computer science/technological backgrounds, but for those of us archivists without that training or experience, how can we self-educate to become more technologically literate? This is very much a new world for me too. Below are some (NYC emphasized) resources for somewhat affordable tech learning opportunities. Anyone have others to add?
Access Code @ Coalition for Queens
Girl Develop It
Local Hacker Spaces
METRO Webinars & Workshops
NY Tech Meetup
Tech Connect @ NYPL
Tech Tools from Fractured Atlas