Thursday, May 12, 2016

Archives Express boxes

One challenge that many academic archivists have (especially those in a private institution without an active records management policy) is getting records from departments, student organizations, and offices on a regular basis. In some cases, we might get the records as a clump of 20 boxes (which may take weeks to process), or we might get 2-3 pages of accruals sent via intercampus mail every few days. Or, in some sad cases, we might not get anything at all.  So, I started thinking about ways that we could have a special kind of mailbox that would be like a direct line between the office and the archives.

While sifting through our supplies during our move, I found that we had a ton of archival boxes that I wasn't quite sure what to do with.  They were designed to fit papers/folders vertically rather than horizontally, which I preferred.  And then I realized- these could be our mailboxes!  And the Archives Express box was born:

Friday, February 27, 2015

Reference Requests to Knowledge Base?

I've come across dozens of binders, which contain reference requests and responses from the last 15 years or so.  On one hand, this is great information to have to help me learn more about my new institution and also to prevent duplicate research if the answer has already been found.  On the other hand, being in binders makes it unsearchable, unwieldy, and it takes up a lot of room.

At first, I thought, "There is no way that I will be able to use these efficiently and quickly" and I started to go through to ditch them.  But, the more I saw the painstaking effort of my predecessor to organize these, I realize that maybe it's not a terrible idea to keep them somehow as a knowledge base.  Alas, I turned to the Twitterverse:

Monday, January 26, 2015

"Why are you an archivist?"

As part of the ongoing "Year of Living Dangerously for Archives," a call from SAA has come out for archivists to answer the question: "Why are you an archivist?"  Actually, it came out a few weeks ago, but it has taken me awhile to fully get my thoughts together.  I've found that the reasons why I am an archivist now are different than the reasons why I became an archivist.

Today was a day full of dialogue and campus-wide lecture at my institution.  The Day of Learning in honor of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. had the theme "Education for Justice: The role of education in the quest for justice."  It featured a keynote lecture by James Loewen, author of Lies My Teacher Told Me and many other books relating education with social justice.  Much of his lecture focused on a societal epidemic where history has become re-interpreted at the expense of cultural groups, which could be righted if people would look closer at factual and archival material.  As a follow up workshop, I attended a workshop hosted by a student organization that is dedicated to actively "fostering discussions and relationships that focus on issues of identity."  The students screened a documentary that recorded the historic events in 2007 that surrounded the campus of community members struggling to express themselves, understand each other, and make positive change for the future.  The documentary pulled on my institution's own history, alluding to the campus' ongoing struggles over 50+ years.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Easy email archiving for Gmail/Google Apps

I've always seen the value of email archiving, but have never really known how to start.  At my institution, we use Google Apps for Education, which means we essentially use Gmail for our email.  In the past, this has been problematic for email archiving.  But, then this morning, I came across a great Google script to download emails as .pdf files right in to Drive.

The website says:
All you to do is apply the label “PDF” to any email thread in Gmail and the message, along with all the included file attachments, will get saved to your Drive. Unlike the previous options that can only work against individual message, this one can save a batch of messages automatically. Just apply the label “PDF” and a copy of those message would show up in your Drive in few minutes. [link]

After a morning of tinkering, I'm happy to say that it works!  I made an "Archived Emails" folder and within a few hours, all 140 emails were in .pdf form that showed the to/from/date headers and included attachments.