Hey, Internet. This is another post from Carmel at BAM. At this point in my project, I’m waist deep in departmental interviews. By the end of this week I am hoping to have completed 28 out of 43 interviews. I’m trying to get as many in before the holidays as possible, so this post is going to be a short update on how things are unfolding.
By this point, things seem to be a pretty well oiled machine. In general my work week looks like this:
Mondays: Go over notes from interviews conducted the previous week. Schedule upcoming week’s interviews.
Tuesdays: Prepare for/confirm current week’s interviews.
Wednesdays: All day interviews.
Thursdays: All day interviews.
Fridays: All day interviews.
One of the most enjoyable parts of this project is that I get to learn about each of the departments at BAM. While the stereotypical image of the Archivist as one person working alone in a dark windowless basement may be somewhat of an exaggeration, I have definitely worked in Archival environments where a day (…or sometimes a week) will have gone by without me saying a word to anyone. In this project at BAM, I have the benefit of being able to speak with a range of people and get a sense of the roles and responsibilities of individual departments as well as how they fit together as a whole. At this point in the project, the goal is just to listen and to document. The intention is to first gain a comprehensive understanding of the landscape and to then make recommendations on how to improve (electronic) records management, and work towards an OAIS compliant archival workflow.
While each department definitely has specific needs that are relevant only to their own workflows, there are some overarching areas of electronic records management that multiple departments would like recommendations on:
- Organizing emails
- Standardizing file naming conventions and folder structures
- Embedding metadata in image and videos
- Recovering important information saved only in links
None of these areas should be a surprise as they are struggles faced by many of us in our professional and personal worlds. The recommendations that I will be looking to make in the next phase of the project will hopefully provide a framework that can be applied generally to BAM and can also be molded to the needs of individual people working in individual departments.
As I proceeded to interview departments and wrap up with this first phase of the project, I continue to be struck with how open BAM staff are to participating in these conversations. One of the objectives of this project was to raise consciousness on the importance and complications of digital preservation for those who don’t work in the Archives. Time will tell what digital preservation at BAM looks like, but it warms my heart when we are already getting responses like this: “We’re eager to have our work and process be included in the BAM story, so do let us know how we can help.”