Summary of first #archivehour

Archive hour launched today in the UK and I participated. Well, archive hour launched yesterday (last Thursday of the month), but due to the time difference, it was today in Australia (last Friday of the month).

It was first announced only 1 month ago, but in that short time, the #archivehour Twitter page accrued over 700 followers and made over 400 tweets. The aggressive advertising campaign was un-ignorable, and somehow non-irritating, due to the excellent diversity of gifs used (my favourite being this one closely followed by this one for the hypnotising factor). There’s probably a whole case study there in how to get that many followers that quickly without being marked as spam.

This month’s topic was digital preservation.

As a records analyst that works in a recordkeeping governance unit in the public sector (a University), I’m very interested in digital preservation. I work to govern and help manage both temporary and permanent electronic records. So for me, digital preservation isn’t just about permanent records, it can also mean ensuring records are accessible for a ‘short’ period of time. That short period could be 6 months, 2 years, 15 years or even 50+ For digital records, even five years can be a long time, and a huge challenge, to ensure that the records remain authentic, reliable, have integrity, and are usable for the entire retention period (the four characteristics of a record from ISO 15489).

#archivehour went very quickly. One minute it was 6.02am and I was just settling in with my English Breakfast tea (it was based in the UK afterall), and the next minute it was past 7am and I hadn’t finished! I felt like I was trying to secretly write in an exam after “pens down” was announced, when I frantically tried to wrap up all my fresh tweets and replies and read all the notifications just after 7am. In the end I was nearly late to work even after getting up so early!

It was great to see the records continuum theory get a mention very early on:

 

I was also excited to see a nod to Information Asset Registers:

(I liked a lot of Jaana’s tweets and am now following them!)

Minds were blown when I mentioned that much research data has a retention period of only five years. Some data has a longer temporary sentence (retention period), and some is permanent, but a lot of it is temporary. As a records continuum theory influenced records and archives professional, I feel that (organised, authorised) destruction of records is sometimes just as important a consideration as retention (and preservation) of records.

As shocking as this may be to some recordkeepers, it’s worth pointing out that records with a short retention period such as two years, might be ‘preserved’ just by managing them ‘in place’. Even if that means keeping them within an email account (but at least try to make it a role account so it’s easier to keep custody of the records if a staff member leaves).

As a recordkeeper who’s more interested in the story of the recordkeeping, in why and how particular records are captured and kept or deleted, I couldn’t resist my slightly-angsty reply to the 2nd last question this morning:

Overall, #archivehour was an interesting discussion. I feel that I represented temporary recordkeeping in a discussion that at times seems more geared towards digital preservation equalling permanent preservation. I hope I represented the fact that temporary records also need to be considered.

Keep an eye out for the next #archivehour – last Thursday of the month UK time, or very early on a Friday morning Aussie time!

 

 

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Safety considerations for professional development

I work in corporate (public sector) recordkeeping and I’m studying information and knowledge management. I signed up for GLAM Blog Club last January, to write about what I learned in 2016. I had good intentions to write on each monthly theme, but it’s 30 September and only I’m just returning with my next post. It’s been a very busy year so far, with many personal and professional achievements, challenges, and many lessons learnt.

The September theme for Glam Blog Club is safe. I am privileged that my day-to-day workplace is fairly safe, both emotionally and physically. There’s good security in my workplace. I mostly give corporate information management and recordkeeping advice, and very rarely do I actually ‘do’ recordkeeping. The transactions (business activities) that my work interacts with rarely expose me to distressing content.

When I think about ‘safe’ related to my professional practice, the main topic that comes to mind is my emotional and physical safety when engaging more widely with the profession, and when seeking out professional development.

As a new professional, I am on a steep learning curve, and I’m taking every opportunity possible to learn. I want to understand all the theories, as well as the practical aspects of the profession.  I want to meet as many practitioners as I can.  I also want to meet professionals outside the recordkeeping and archives discipline, for collaboration and for learning transferable skills such as leadership.

Some knowledge is easily obtained from books and journals. But many learning opportunities require travel away from my predicable and known workplace, to attend events in other areas of my home city, or further afield. They involve meeting new people. These activities are higher risk for me, because there are less clear protocols, less variables under my control, and more that I just don’t know about until I experience it for the first time. I may encounter people or situations without much context, so it can be a challenge for me to assess the situation.

I have some general personal protocols in place for professional development activities involving people. Generally, at least to begin with, I would expect for mentoring or networking meetings to happen during business hours, or early in a weekday evening. I’d expect them to be in a public place, and preferably a work location rather than say a bar.

This may be a little extreme, but when I am planning to travel to another country for a conference, I try to learn some of the language and culture before I travel. It could help me feel more comfortable, and is practical for navigating local transport, going shopping and more. In learning a language, you tend to learn about the culture, so it also helps me to understand a bit about local customs and expectations. I learnt some Korean before traveling to Seoul for the ICA Congress 2016, and I’m currently learning Spanish in anticipation of traveling to Mexico for the 2017 ALA-ICA Conference in Mexico City.

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If you are traveling to another country for a conference, consider learning some of the culture/language in advance

I am still finding my feet with this, but I have already learnt some things I’d like to share.

1) Don’t be afraid to confidentially seek advice from people you trust

If your intuition is telling you that a situation may not be right, run it by a trusted person. They may have further information to put your concerns into context. They may be able to give you advice if they’ve experienced a similar situation. Use them as a sounding board. Seek advice, but always trust your intuition and listen to what your thoughts are telling you.

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If your intuition is telling you a situation may not be right, run it by a trusted person over tea or coffee

2) Be aware of the practice of ‘gaslighting’, and don’t be afraid to assert yourself

There may be a situation where you feel something is not quite right, and you raise it with someone. It’s possible they may try to ‘gaslight’ you, by trying to convince you that you are being paranoid or overly sensitive, or that you misunderstood the situation. If you think this might be happening, find someone trusted to talk it through (a friend, colleague, or a professional).

There are techniques you can use to be assertive, without being rude. Consider attending a course or reading up on it. It’s OK to assert yourself, and to speak up if you don’t feel comfortable. ‘I statements’ are great for this.

An I statement helps you to say what you need to say, with less risk of making the other person feel attacked or like they need to defend themselves. A ‘WISH statement’, as explained by Eleanor Shakiba in her YouTube video (6 min), and explained in her book, expands on this further.

If you’re using I statements and someone is telling you you’re wrong, something is not right.  In the wise words of Lily Allen, maybe it’s best to take the approach of, “It’s Not Me, It’s You“.

3) Use the privacy and access settings available to you on social media, and consider reporting beyond that

I try to keep a boundary between personal and professional social media. For me, Twitter is for professional networking and learning, and I recognise that it is very public. While I keep some other social media very locked-down, in order to make the most of Twitter in the way I want to use it, it is necessary for it to be public.

However, I do not hesitate to report activity and to block accounts that I find harassing or disrespectful. Each social media site will have its own processes and tools, and there’s a wealth of articles online that summarise and elaborate on what to do. In certain circumstances, it may be appropriate to report the behaviour to your community such as your professional association or to authorities such as the police.

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If someone is being abusive or disrespectful, you can report it to the social media site

4) Find out if your professional association or learning event has a code of conduct or a code of ethics

If it exists, read it. Use it to guide your own behaviour, and use it to understand what you should expect from others. If something at an event doesn’t feel quite right, it may not be. Run the situation by a trusted friend or colleague, and see if it aligns with the content in the code of conduct. If your association or learning event does not have a code of conduct, consider asking the leadership to implement one. For my profession, some of these codes include:

“Archivists should promote the preservation and use of the world’s documentary  heritage, through working co-operatively with the members of their own and other professions.

Archivists should seek to enhance cooperation and avoid conflict with their professional colleagues and to resolve difficulties by encouraging adherence to  archival standards and ethics.  Archivists should cooperate with members of related professions on the basis of mutual respect and understanding.” (my emphasis)

“2.2. Criticism and complaints

2.2.1 Archivists avoid irresponsible criticism of other archivists or institutions and address complaints about professional or ethical conduct to the individual or institution concerned or to an appropriate professional organisation.” (my emphasis)

I recognise the privileged situation I come at this topic from. However, I still find it a challenge at times to seek out the professional development and networking opportunities I need to progress my career, while trying to ensure my emotional and physical safety.

I welcome advice on how to further navigate this.

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Tour of the Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI)

This article was originally published by Records and Information Management Professionals Australasia (RIMPA) in their newsletter 22 August 2017

What can a recordkeeper learn from talking with a film Collections and Access Manager? A lot, as I discovered during a tour of the Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI), organised by RIMPA Victorian Branch.

A portable television from the mid-1970s

A portable television from the mid-1970s, which might have been taken out on a day at the beach. It may not function, but does it still have value and interest as a historical object? / Photographer: Lydia Loriente

I attended a guided tour of ACMI on Tuesday 15 August as part of a RIMPA Victorian Branch networking event. Around 15 budding GLAMR (galleries, libraries, archives, museums and recordkeeping) professionals were there, including RIMPA Councillors and members, recordkeeping consultants and practitioners, archives and museum professionals, and even a library and information studies student. Nick Richardson, Collections and Access Manager, took us behind the scenes to learn about his role and the services ACMI offers.

 

I had visited ACMI many times before to watch movies and visit various exhibitions. But during the tour I learnt that ACMI is far more diverse in its services to the community and in cultural preservation. It collects and stores moving images, sometimes having the only copy in the world of particular items. People are able to request to view anything in the collection, for research or simply for entertainment. We visited the Australian Mediatheque, which allows people to use free booths to browse for and watch selected videos in the collection, through categories such as advertisements, home videos, documentaries, movies and more.

Old meets newer (but still old!) Reels of film sit below old VCRs / Photographer: Lydia Loriente

I learnt that ACMI has its origins in a media lending library going back over seventy years. Due to ACMI’s history, and the various changes in media storage, ACMI holds moving images on a range of media, from film, to DVD, to VHS. Actually, it has a very large VHS collection! The range of the collection poses challenges for how best to preserve it while also making it accessible. There are over 200,000 items in the collection, which also includes artworks and around 200 videogames!

Compactuses

Recordkeepers working with legacy (or sometimes newly created!) paper-based records would be familiar with a compactus. Here, they’re used to store videotapes. ACMI has approximately 45,000 VHS tapes! / Photographer: Lydia Loriente

As a professional working in mostly electronic, but sometimes legacy hardcopy corporate recordkeeping, it was fascinating to see into the world of another related, but very different GLAMR profession. I found that Nick was facing some similar challenges to recordkeepers. In the same way that Nick has items on a range of mediums, both analogue and digital, recordkeepers often have to manage a range of ‘analogue’ (paper-based) and ‘digital’ (electronic documents, databases) items. While Nick’s team is facing digital obsolescence and accessibility issues from older computer games and pieces of art, recordkeepers can have trouble accessing older file types, especially files that are stored on older hardware, and require the use of older proprietary software or operating systems to access it in a readable/meaningful format.

As someone who was drawn to recordkeeping for the information (as evidence) it contains, regardless of the format or medium, I sometimes get frustrated when recordkeepers or archivists focus more on the object as a historical artefact. So I was pleased to hear Nick talk about considerations around what are they collecting and preserving and why. Is the item valuable as an artefact, therefore it must be maintained in its original condition? Or is the content, the message or the story behind the item just as (or more) important?

Scopitone film projector jukebox

This is the Scopitone film projector jukebox, from the early 1960s. It was made in France but ended up in Australia / Photographer: Lydia Loriente

We pondered this while looking at a rare film projector jukebox in the collection. While it was not functioning, they did have the original reels of film that were used in it. Is it best to try to restore the jukebox to working order, or is it acceptable to modify it by say placing a modern TV screen where the projected image may have once been, and digitising the films? Is the story about the history of the item of interest, including say which café or public space it had spent time in?

I learnt through Nick’s tour that ACMI is facing the same challenges that any GLAMR professional encounters: with limited resources and limited storage space (whether that’s physical or digital storage), what should be prioritised to be collected, preserved, digitised and made accessible?

Posters promoting film preservation

Preservation, including digital preservation, is an issue being faced by all GLAMR professions right now / Photographer: Lydia Loriente

After the tour, there was informal networking drinks, where some of us pondered and debated the issues raised in Nick’s talk, and made new professional friends. Thank you ACMI and RIMPA Vic Branch for a wonderful learning and networking opportunity. I can’t wait for the next one!

 

 

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What I learned in 2016

This is my first blog post, inspired by newCardigan’s Glam Blog Club. I’ve been enjoying reading all the contributions to January’s blog topic throughout the month, so decided to get on board.

2016 was a big year for me, personally and professionally. I’m sure a lot of people say that, but 2016 really was a big year for me, personally and professionally. The way I started the year was vastly different to the way I ended the year, though there were also some lovely consistencies that I am grateful for.

So, how did I start 2016? With a lot of (proved to be false) certainty about my personal life, and a lot of (turned out to be unnecessary to worry about) uncertainty about my professional life.

I saw in the near year in almost complete darkness. I had organised a gathering at my beach-near (not quite beach-side!) home, and we all wandered down to the beach to see the midnight fireworks. It was dark, though at my insistence, we all wore glow-stick necklaces and bracelets which I had acquired from a $2 shop. Because let’s face it, glow-sticks are cool. I had a lovely evening surrounded by close friends and a now ex-partner.

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Image 1: It really was dark! Here’s a photo of what I believe is myself and a friend on the beach 31/12/15

Early in 2016, I experienced a major change in my personal life, and got some very disappointing news soon after. It was devastating at the time, but turned out to be one of those clichéd ‘best things that ever happened to me’ experiences. Without going into too much detail, what I will say, is what I learnt from the experience.

I learnt that life is nothing without good, supportive friends, family and colleagues, and that if you just ask for what you need, you’ll most probably get it. From getting a much needed extension on a University assignment, to borrowing 20 folding chairs for a BBQ, all the way to having my best friend drive 61 kilometres just to cook me dinner and say hi one night.

I learnt to ‘trust my instinct’, and to always ‘back myself’. I learnt that integrity is super-important, and if something doesn’t ‘feel’ right, it probably isn’t right.

Many years ago, my career began in sales, marketing and data management for the fitness industry (with a bit of HR thrown in too). Later, I gained experience in corporate governance, specialising in policy development and privacy compliance, with a bit of records management thrown in too.

During 2016, when an opportunity arose to apply for a permanent recordkeeping role, I realised that I had found my ‘forever’ career. Or maybe it found me. I don’t know why I’m so surprised to have ended up working in archives/recordkeeping/information management. After all, I completed an undergraduate Arts degree majoring in history and philosophy, with a minor in Latin. I also got First Class Honours for a thesis on reformation Italian history. Additionally, I have studied music, Italian, sociology, religion, and even chose an elective subject about death (after all, I was a ‘goth’ back then). Doesn’t everyone working in the #GLAMR industry have a background studying at least one of these disciplines?

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Image 2: you know you’ve found your ‘forever’ job when you consistently have fun at work

In 2016, I undertook what can only be described as a self-imposed intensive crash course in upskilling and learning about my new-ish profession. I made a point of signing up for every cheap or free professional development opportunity I could find, including sessions on agile project methodology, change management, Manager Tools Podcasts (which are amazing, check them out), and free events for Privacy Awareness Week. With my supervisor’s generous encouragement, I sought out mentoring opportunities to learn from more experienced staff. This is in addition to continuing part-time with formal studies: a Graduate Diploma in Information and Knowledge Management.

During 2016, I researched electronic signatures (digital approvals) so thoroughly that I was invited to give an industry presentation on it last November, which was an excellent learning opportunity.

Probably the most unexpected thing I learnt in 2016 was the Korean language, including the alphabet! I decided to self-fund to attend the International Council on Archives (ICA) Congress 2016 in Seoul, Korea (and later was very grateful to receive part-funding for being a workshop co-presenter). I have a habit of over-planning and over-researching things. And if I was going to visit a country I knew nothing about for 9 nights, I was going to learn a bit about the language and culture in advance.

Learning Korean has changed my life and opened up many personal and professional opportunities. By being open to new learning opportunities, I have met, and incorporated into my life, some amazing people I would otherwise never have come across, as we simply moved in different circles. It also added value to my time at the conference, as I was able to have a more ‘local’ (non-touristy) experience.

I asked many questions at ICA Congress 2016, confident that if I lead with ‘Hi, I’m a New Professional’, the audience would be kind to me. The question and answer that I believe will most stay with me, occurred during a very esteemed Q and A panel Chaired by Eric Ketelaar. I asked, very nervously, ‘as a new professional, what is the main message you would want a newbie such as myself to take away from this conference?’ They urged me to read widely and to look outside the profession as well as within it, to ensure I am well rounded both personally and professionally. They also said to consider all potential records users, and to ensure I am exposed to new ideas and solutions.

I learnt that ‘soft skills’ are sometimes as valuable as technical skills, and that diversity is important on teams. In October 2016, partly inspired by the answer to my ICA Congress question, I signed up for a ‘Hackathon’ at Monash University. This is despite not really knowing how to code, and also being one of a very small number of female participants. Using my background in direct sales, I formed a team solely through approaching people I didn’t know, via email and calls, and we all only first met during the first hour of the event. My team went on to win one of three judged prizes at the event, for a big data analytics proposal.

team-awesome

Image 3: ‘Team Awesome’ participating in a Monash University hackathon.

I learnt more in 2016 than I think I can keep track of, but some further highlights include:

If I had to sum up what I learnt in 2016, it was a real understanding that I am, or should be, always learning. It’s to follow the motto of my University: ancora imparo (I am still learning). And be open to learning things both within and outside my profession.

2016 was a big year for me. Both personally and professionally.

I saw in 2017 vastly differently to 2016. Instead of the beachside fireworks, I was on the other side of town in the suburbs, indoors with plenty of lights on. Unfortunately there was no vantage point to see live fireworks, so we watched them on TV instead. I had a lovely evening surrounded by close friends, and with my phone always by my side to chat to my new partner, who’s currently overseas. I saw 2017 in with some (promising and exciting) uncertainty about my personal life, and a lot of (fingers crossed of course) certainty about my professional life.

It’s January and I’ve already hit the ground running, putting things in motion to make 2017 even bigger. I can’t wait! 🙂

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Image 4: me at a New Year’s Eve party to welcome in 2017

Be sure to read all the other #GLAMblogposts on this topic, they are all very interesting!

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