Interoperability and Standards Across Archives
This panel focused on interoperability and connections between various custodians of archival objects. Madhan Muthu of APU detailed the evolution of cataloguing standards in the field of library science and emphasized the need for interoperable digital archives to improve discovery of archival objects. If different archives use these standards and platforms (such as EAD<, ISAD(G), AToM0, and you expose metadata, you can search them all using one interface. Online Archive of California (OAC) is an example. So much material is simply inaccessible in India because no such service or platform has been made.
Madhura Wairkar spoke about deciphering museum objects through the case of MAP, a new museum in Bengaluru. Its collection is the core of the museum and is divided into 6 categories: Photographs, Pre-Modern, Modern & Contemporary, Living Tradition, Textiles, Crafts & Designs, Popular Culture. MAP has a diverse and dynamic collection where one has to rethink categorisation of object - do you base it on medium, form, or something else? In the case of Gond or Madhubani art from the post 1947 period - do you classify it as folk & tribal or contemporary? Are folk & tribal the right terminology? What the team at MAP realised is that they need to acknowledge communities, ensure they get the right respect, and decided to rename them Living Traditions.
Indira Chowdhury spoke from her experience of setting up several archives. While we want to have a universal system it is not always possible for things to be in neat categories. At the TIFR Archive, they paid attention to provenance and original order. What we find in official institutional archives is a small subset of what the archive is. How do we categorise these when you have different kinds of material? At TIFR they had equipment as well as letters and docs and papers. Older methods of cataloguing are of great interest to historians, one size fits all in categorization will not work for us. Especially in the living traditions, we have to think up our own categories, and match the archive through some system of cross referencing rather than standardisation.
Christina Birdie spoke from her experience of setting up an archive of astronomy in India at Kodaikanal for the Indian Institute of Astrophysics, focusing particular on the synergy brought out by Libraries and Archives. In astronomy every observation and discovery is a treasure house connecting present and future scientific work. Much discovery of archival materials was serendipitous in their case, as they started going through records inherited. They formed their archival policy based on NRAO policy. This archive is an example of collaboration between libraries and archives born out of practise. Their immediate challenges are creating content level finding aid, managing non-textual material, urgent need for oral history, requirement of storage space and a full time archivist.
- Following a point in Madhan’s presentation on vocabularies. Traditional Knowledge labels overview https://publish.illinois.edu/commonsknowledge/2017/09/07/an-introduction-to-traditional-knowledge-labels-and-licenses/
- Historical hazards of finding aids in archives: 2019, Greg Wiedeman https://scholarsarchive.library.albany.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1125&context=ulib_fac_scholar
- AMIA Compendium of Moving Image Cataloging Practice https://amianet.org/
Ways of Seeing : An Archive Annotation Workshop
The workshop was underpinned on an idea to create a common platform for annotating archival material. Starting from annotating an image of the 20 point programme of the Indian Emergency, narratives divulge in two forms: one, the process of commenting and researching and the other the story of its components (ex: objects and other events surrounding the image). This serves as a background to the idea of archives enabling diverse stories. The word emergency was used for finding objects and taking that to annotate larger ideas like public spaces.
The session continued by an elaboration of three phases of discovery, stories and structured annotations within the process of building this prototype, which brought us to Milli, a platform which aims towards building digital commons for archival material. What followed suit were discussions surrounding structured annotations, standards called W3C and what the backend of the prototype looked like. The first part ended with the presentation of a larger annotated web. While the web interconnects people and processes by means of pages and links, the annotated web aims at connecting people and processes to more precise elements of content like paragraphs and sentences.
The second part began with the limitations from the different collections to such tools. The collections at the French Institute of Pondicherry face legacy issues with regard to metadate that were gathered a long time ago and the inaccuracies of translation from source language. The limitation with regard to collections at QAMRA, which is a queer archive has been privacy and confidentiality in many forms, the use of terminologies and questions of annotating opinions and debates. The Archives at the Keystone Foundation, is an archive for the community. The question of limitation was largely in the context of how the platform can network with multiple languages. Lastly, the Whole Life Academy considered the relationship between archives, objects and sets of objects and addressed concerns of decolonization of archives.
- Digital Public Library of America https://dp.la
- W3C annotation vocabulary https://www.w3.org/TR/annotation-vocab/
- Various structured vocabularies https://www.librarianshipstudies.com/2020/03/controlled-vocabulary.html
- Library of Congress vocabularies for subject headings and proper nouns (and others) https://id.loc.gov/
- French Institute of Pondicherry (the collections can be accessed under the Resources drop down menu) https://www.ifpindia.org/
- Whole Life Academy https://www.hkw.de/en/programm/projekte/2021/the_whole_life_academy_berlin/start.php
- Awesome Networked Media (This is a list of real-time software tools for routing audio and video streams between applications and for sending audio and video streams across the network) https://github.com/omarcostahamido/awesome-networked-media
- Video Ant, Documentation https://ant.umn.edu/documentation
- Voice Thread https://voicethread.comhttps://voicethread.com
- Loom https://ant.umn.edu/documentation
An Overview of Digital Archiving and Preservation
The session began with Gregory Wiedeman’s presentation on ‘Systems for Digital Archives’. There is no single system of digital archives and different platforms cater to separate concerns. This was further elaborated by delving into two different descriptive systems: bibliographic and archival systems. Systems for bibliographic description as seen in library catalogues, traditional subject analysis etc. but the main downside of it is the requirement of detailed metadata descriptions. Systems of archival description allow for the display of full archival hierarchy, browse and search description etc. Brief comparisons of platforms from both systems were also discussed. Presentation by Trevor Owens began with two contradicting examples relating to the preservation of information on the internet. Digital preservation was defined as working to ensure ‘enduring access to digital content’. Through the book ‘Theory and Craft of Digital Preservation’, highlights from 16 axioms were taken to construct ideas around the topic.
The highlights as quoted from the presentation include:
- A repository is not a piece of software.
- Institutions make preservation possible.
- Nothing has been preserved, there are only things being preserved.
- Hoarding is not preservation.
- Backing up data is not digital preservation.
- Digital preservation is making the best use of resources to mitigate threats and risks.
- It’s long past time to start taking actions.
- Accept and embrace the archival silver. The session ended with a couple of practical to-do’s that can give a head start to digital preservation.
- Digital Preservation Coalition https://www.dpconline.org
- Bridging the Gap: Taking Practical Steps Toward Managing Born-Digital Collections in Manuscript Repositories, Ben Goldman https://rbm.acrl.org/index.php/rbm/article/view/343
- ISAD(G): General International Standard Archival Description - Second edition https://www.ica.org/en/isadg-general-international-standard-archival-description-second-edition
- Describing Archives: A Content Standard (DACS) https://saatsdacs.github.io/dacs/06_part_I/02_chapter_01.html#requirements-for-multilevel-descriptions
- Temple University Libraries, Finding Aids https://library.temple.edu/finding_aids
- Archives Display Systems https://archives.yale.edu/repositories/resources
- Processing Systems https://www.archivematica.org/en/
- Exhibition Systems https://library.stanford.edu/research/spotlight
- Duke University example https://archives.lib.duke.edu/?f%5Bhas_online_content_ssim%5D%5B%5D=online&q=&search_field=all_fields