Feeling Inspired at the Midwest Archives Conference

A month ago I was lucky enough to attend the Midwest Archives Conference (MAC) in Lexington, Kentucky. It was my first opportunity to attend a professional conference, and I learned so much while I was there. In addition to enjoying the sights and sounds of Lexington in my free time, I was also able to reconnect with old friends and classmates who are all doing great work at their respective institutions. I was proud to discuss the amazing things that the NMU Archives is doing, and I promoted our great student staff at every available opportunity. I was equally encouraged by all of the stories and projects that are happening at institutions all over the Midwest, and I hope to bring that same enthusiasm back to NMU.

During the conference, I attended sessions which discussed various topics including audio-visual preservation, ArchivesSpace (our archives management tool), outreach for records management programs, and improving social media in archives. However, the session that stood out to me the most was a presentation on electronic records and open source processing tools entitled “Not Everything Digital Is a Disk Image: Using Lightweight Tools to Assess and Profile Digital Collections of Files.”

The presentation showed how easy it was to view and edit large quantities of records just by using shell scripting and an Excel database. A second group member discussed an open-source software project out of North Carolina State University that makes the process of accessioning electronic records streamlined. As archives begin collecting more electronic records in greater quantities, institutions will need to address how those records are accessioned and processed. I am amazed by the work both groups are doing, and I hope to employ similar strategies here at NMU. To see a copy of the presentation led by Bertram Lyons and Jason Evans Groth, please click here.

In addition, Morgan Paavola (recent graduate and former Records Center Coordinator) and I were able to present on the Comprehensive Records Survey (CRS) project. (For more on the project, please see this previous post.) We presented on a panel entitled “Project Snapshots” which allowed us to share our work with a wide variety of different groups. We were pleased with the response from our peers, and received a lot of good questions and comments at the conclusion of the panel. We were approached after the panel by two different people who were interested in what we were doing, and who were excited to see the functional analysis approach to appraisal in action. After several months of hard work, and a few more to come, it was rewarding to see that type of response.

Morgan (left) and Sara

Morgan (left) and Sara

All in all, the conference was a really great experience and I hope that our presentation was able to inspire others. Next week, Morgan and I are lucky enough to present at the Michigan Archival Association’s Annual Conference in Holland, Michigan. Although we will be presenting on the CRS project again, we will be modifying our presentation to appeal to archivists or records managers who are completely on their own.

Click here to see Sara and Morgan’s PowerPoint from MAC.

Blog post written by Sara Kiszka

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