ArLiSNAP Annual Meeting at ARLIS2015

We’ve prepared an agenda for the ArLiSNAP Annual Meeting at the ARLIS/NA conference next Saturday. Have a look at the agenda here, and feel free to comment with any ideas you’d like to discuss!

Reminder: the polls are still open for the ArLiSNAP 2015-2017 Co-Moderator Election until the end of day on Wednesday March 18th. Vote for your favorite candidate here!

The Polls are Now Open for ArLiSNAP Co-Moderator Elections!

snaplogos-lightongrey

Help to choose your Co-Moderator for the 2015-2017 term!

Have a look at what our five candidates have to say in the comments on this post.

Cast your ballot here.

Voting closes Wednesday, March 18th, 11:59 pm.

The results will be announced on Thursday, March 19th, 2015.

After the election question, we’ve included a few questions about what you’d like to see on ArLiSNAP. These questions are not mandatory; feel free to answer as many or as few as you like, but be sure to skip to the last page to click “Done” and have your vote counted. Thank you to all those who take the time to answer these extra questions, and help us shape ArLiSNAP for the coming year!

What's it like to be an ArLiSNAP Co-Moderator?

I’ve had a few questions about the responsibilities surrounding the Co-Moderator position, so I thought I’d share my thoughts on my experience with ArLiSNAP over the past two years.

What are the main responsibilities?

ArLiSNAP Co-Moderators are the main contacts for the group to the ARLIS/NA Board. We alert them to any issues raised by students and new professionals, and submit an annual report on the group’s activities, as well as updates on projects throughout the year. Through this and our other projects, I’ve met many wonderful and supportive people in ARLIS/NA, and learned a lot about how these professional organizations function.

The most common work you would do as Co-Moderator is to respond to inquiries about the group via email, and update liaisons and other members on current ArLiSNAP news. Around conference time, you would also help to organize events at the ARLIS/NA conference – check out what we have planned for this year here. If you choose to, you also have the opportunity to help plan events like our virtual conference, which provided a platform for students and new professionals to connect and share their work without any of the costs associated with presenting at a physical conference.

What are some of the benefits?

As Co-Moderator, you will also be organizing the efforts of our volunteers. If you don’t have any supervisory experience on your resume, this is a great opportunity to take advantage of, as it gives you the chance to hone your leadership skills. ArLiSNAP has grown into a great little community – the liaisons support one another, and grow to become friends the longer you work together. During my tenure as Co-Moderator, I’ve met so many fantastic people from across Canada and the US. I’ve also greatly increased my number of contacts in the art libraries world; if you’re serious about making a career as a librarian or archivist in an arts-related field, being a Co-Moderator for the group is a great step to take.

How much time will I have to commit?

If you can commit at least one hour per week to the group, you’ll be helping to keep ArLiSNAP thriving and active. The workload is a bit heavier when we’re gearing up for a big event, like the ARLIS/NA conference this month; and it’s a bit lighter at other times, like during the summer. If you choose to make other events happen, like our virtual conference, that will also take a bit more time, but you will have the support of many volunteers backing you up.

I hope that answers most of the questions for those of you who are considering becoming our next Co-Moderator! To submit your candidacy, comment on this post. If you have any other questions, feel free to email myself (Ellen) or Rachel (emails found in sidebar). Good luck to all candidates!

Conference Mentoring Program and Alternative Lodging at ARLIS2015

FortWorth2015

The ARLIS/NA Conference Mentoring Workshop, which matches first-time conference attendees with veterans, is currently accepting applications! Fill out this form to make the most of your first ARLIS/NA conference.

We’re also hoping to find one more roomie to join our thrifty group at the Motel 6!
Read more about the alternative lodging option here.

20 more days until ARLIS2015! Looking forward to meeting more of you there.

 

Guest Post: Kristin MacDonough of the Audiovisual Artifact Atlas

From March to December of 2014, I was the Coordinator for the Audiovisual Artifact Atlas. The AVAA (or “Atlas” if I’m feeling affectionate) is an online resource for identifying and diagnosing artifacts and errors you might encounter when reviewing or digitizing analog video and audio.  The Bay Area Video Coalition, located in San Francisco, currently hosts the site. As a technical resource, the AVAA is unique in its structure: developed as a wiki, it is an inherently community-based resource, which users can edit and contribute.

 

Video and audio artifacts are often hard to define, and even harder to diagnose. Errors can be recorded into the original content or introduced anywhere in the digitization workflow. Another difficulty is that separate fields use different terms and descriptions for the same errors. AVAA developers and contributors at BAVC and Stanford University wanted to strengthen the work being done with audiovisual reformatting by providing a resource with examples, a common vocabulary, causes and descriptions, as well as troubleshooting guidance wherever possible.   Determining if the error is correctable or if it is recorded in, and therefore permanent, helps us preserve the best quality possible.

Practitioners in any field that incorporates a/v reformatting—including librarians, archivists, conservators, curators, and service providers—benefit from using, sharing, and contributing to the AVAA.

 

In 2013, the National Endowment for Humanities awarded BAVC a grant to develop their project Quality Control Tools for Video Preservation. The project focused on a suite of open-source software tools (QCTools) designed to provide efficient analysis of digitized video content. (More information about QCTools is available here and the regularly updated software is available on GitHub.) Included in the grant was a position for an AVAA Coordinator to popularize the resource and help expand the analog video portion of the site.

 

There are just too many controllable and uncontrollable variables to accurately predict the life of any given videotape. Of equal, if not more, concern is the limited availability of playback equipment and technical expertise over time. With this in mind, more and more audiovisual stewards are digitizing their videotapes, either in house or with a service provider. In both cases, the archivist (or librarian, conservator etc.) responsible for the longevity of the collection is also responsible for ensuring the quality and accuracy of the digitized content. The AVAA and the QCTools software are designed to help people discover any artifacts and determine if the tape needs to be digitized again.

 

This position was one of my first jobs after graduating from a moving image archiving program, one which takes a holistic approach to the field of audiovisual archiving, However, I consistently found myself drawn to the technical side of video preservation, so I was already familiar with the Atlas and its usefulness as an educational resource. Most terms, examples, and definitions are provided by experienced technicians, many with decades of experience to cull from. Some video artifact terms are pulled from other available resources, notably BAVC’s Preservation Glossary and the Compendium of Image Errors in Analogue Video.

 

So how can you use this resource? If you’re looking at the site for the first time, you can start with the Table of Contents, which lists all of the audio and video errors on the site. Other good pages to browse are the Image, Video, and Sound Galleries. The galleries provide a quick view of many examples on the artifact pages and are a great visual and audible index if you’re looking for something in particular but you’re not sure what to call it or how to describe it.


avaa_imggallery

On each artifact page, you’ll find a summary of the artifact, including a description of how it looks or sounds and possible causes. In the “Can it be fixed?” section, proposed remedies to the problem are provided. In some cases however, artifacts may be recorded in from the original production or introduced through a previous tape dubbing or reformatting. Nearly all of the artifact pages have video examples or screenshots. However some pages we are still trying to source some examples, so if you see such a gap and you think you might have material to fill it, please let me know!

avaa_page

At my current position as a Digitization Specialist for a video collection, I use the Atlas to reference potential causes I encounter. In a recent case, I started to notice that certain tapes with minor skew problems (when a videotape stretches or shrinks, and the top of the image appears to angle to the left or right) had an occasional vertically shaky display and extreme skewing along the top of the image in some scenes. I determined the skew problem was recorded in and thus irreparable, and a review of the Video Gallery helped me determine it was a TBC (Time Base Corrector) processing error: the equipment was overcorrecting for the skew and introducing more errors.


TBC_compare

The AVAA strengthens the audiovisual preservation field as an easily accessible reference. If you have any questions or content you would like to add, please feel free to leave a comment or email me at  kristin(dot)macdonough (at)gmail(dot)com.

Our Virtual Conference Recordings Are Now Available!

webinar_400x250The recordings from our virtual conference are now available via the ARLIS/NA Learning Portal! These recordings are freely available to all.

Click here for all recordings!

Part One: Keynote Address and Student & New Professional Presentations

e.lane
Keynote Speaker, Elizabeth Lane
Student and New Professional Speakers: Kathryn Thornhill, Morgan McKeehan, Abigail Sadler, and Hannah Marshall
Student and New Professional Speakers: Kathryn Thornhill, Morgan McKeehan, Abigail Sadler, and Hannah Marshall

Part Two: New Initiatives in Art Archives

Panel Discussion featuring: Kristie MacDonald, founder of Archiving Art Imogen Smith, Project Manager at the Dance Heritage Coalition Caitlin Harrington and Seth Persons, students at Pratt Institute and NYARC Project members
Panel Discussion featuring:
Kristie MacDonald, founder of Archiving Art
Imogen Smith, Project Manager at the Dance Heritage Coalition
Caitlin Harrington and Seth Persons, students at Pratt Institute and NYARC Project members

Part Three: Student & New Professional Presentations

Nicole Lovenjak, Country Baron, Alexandra Kadlec, and Amber Welch
Nicole Lovenjak, Country Baron, Alexandra Kadlec, and Amber Welch

Part Four: Advice Roundtable

Suzanne Rackover, Managing Librarian, Paul D. Fleck Library & Archives, The Banff Centre Ashley Peterson, Librarian, School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston Molly Schoen, Information Resources/Technical Specialist, Visual Resources Collection, University of Michigan Amanda Meeks, Reference and Instruction Librarian, Savannah College of Art and Design ACA Library, Atlanta
Suzanne Rackover, Managing Librarian, Paul D. Fleck Library & Archives, The Banff Centre
Ashley Peterson, Librarian, School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
Molly Schoen, Information Resources/Technical Specialist, Visual Resources Collection, University of Michigan
Amanda Meeks, Reference and Instruction Librarian, Savannah College of Art and Design ACA Library, Atlanta

Be the next ArLiSNAP Co-Moderator!

snaplogos-light

Art Library Students and New ARLIS Professionals (ArLiSNAP) seeks candidates for its next Co-Moderator.

 

The Co-Moderator position is an opportunity for a student or new professional to develop their leadership skills while providing a valuable service to ARLIS/NA. ArLiSNAP’s next Co-Moderator will serve a term of two years, working alongside ArLiSNAP’s current 2014-2016 Co-Moderator, Rachel Schend.

Co-Moderator responsibilities include advancing the concerns of students and new professionals within ARLIS/NA, facilitating special projects, organizing ArLiSNAP’s annual meeting activities for the national ARLIS/NA conference, and contributing to the organization of other conference forums such as the New Voices panel. The future Co-Moderator will be heavily involved with the administration of the ArLiSNAP blog and social media accounts, and will serve as a representative and liaison between ArLiSNAP and other groups within, and outside, ARLIS/NA. Candidates do not need to be present at the Fort Worth conference in order to run; however, they should plan to be present at ARLIS/NA conferences for the following two years. Candidates must be ARLIS/NA members.

To announce your candidacy, please comment on this post with a short biography, including the merits you would bring to this position, your professional or educational experience, and your thoughts on future goals for the ArLiSNAP group. Please post your candidacy by Wednesday, March 11th.

Elections will be held using SurveyMonkey from Thursday, March 12th through Wednesday, March 18th. The results will be announced on Thursday, March 19th 2015.

If you have questions about the position or the election, please feel free to contact current co-moderators, Ellen Tisdale or Rachel Schend (emails found in sidebar).

The Aura of Materiality: Digitization as Preservation

Guest Post by Jasmine Burns

When I started my MLIS degree in Spring 2014, it was immediately apparent that my research interests were much more theory-based than those of my colleagues. The practical nature of LIS can sometimes make it challenging for me to engage with my professors and peers in a meaningful way. For this reason, I was very excited when I was approached to write this post for ArLiSNAP, in which I will highlight some of the recent research and work that I have been conducting in the area of digitization and the digital surrogacy of visual materials. I whole-heartedly encourage any feedback and invite further conversations on the topics that are discussed here.

My research on this topic began with the thesis for my MA in Art History, which focused on the nature of digital surrogacy in relation to medieval manuscripts (a version of which was published in the most recent issue of Art Documentation). Here, I look into issues of materiality, virtuality, and the consequences of the digital reformatting of cultural heritage objects. This thesis was from the perspective of a researcher, rather than that of an Information Professional. Once I started my MLIS coursework, and the limitations of my arguments became clear, I started thinking about how issues of digital surrogacy translate to practical librarianship. This led me to start researching the topic of digitization as a method of preservation.

By Photo d'identité sans auteur, 1928 [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
By Photo d’identité sans auteur, 1928 [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
I decided to frame the argument around Walter Benjamin’s often-cited text “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction,” and limit the scope of the overall work to archival photographs in particular. Benjamin states that the aura of an object is tied to its unique existence in time and space, and that this is essentially lost in reproductions because it breaks the object from ritual. This argument is widely applied to technology and digital media (via Jean Baudrillard’s Simulacra and Simulation), especially in discussions of photographs. In utilizing this particular lens to discuss the question of whether or not digitization is a viable method of preservation, there are two popular outlooks: 1) as long as the content is fully captured then the photo is adequately preserved; or 2) photographs are three-dimensional objects and photographic meaning is derived not from content alone, but also from the material evidence of its manufacture and use (i.e. aura) and if those elements are lost through digitization, then the object is not fully preserved.

My work in Digital Collections allows me to confront these issues on both a practical and theoretical level. I entered this investigation fully convinced that digital reformatting could never preserve the full scope of material and visual information contained in photographs because of the elimination of the material vessel. Therefore, the digital surrogate was merely a placeholder, or a reference to the original, and had little to no value outside of its ability to disseminate photographic content. However, as I dove deeper into theories of reproduction and representation, I discovered that these notions of value are socially constructed and derive from the dichotomy of copy versus original that is so deeply ingrained into our society, particularly through museum culture. Such notions are exacerbated by our object-centered culture, whose focus is on tactility, tangibility, and originality as authenticity. By perpetuating these ideas, as well as the argument that a reproduction does not carry value outside of its connection to the original, we are limiting any potential uses and values of digital media.

Ultimately, I have ended up flipping Benjamin’s argument on itself in favor of digital surrogacy. Without the tangibility of a photograph, the lack of materiality becomes the defining feature of the surrogate. It sounds strange, but hear me out: instead of viewing the elimination of the material vessel as a limitation to the uses and value of a surrogate, the creation and dissemination of digital representations of physical photographs constructs a framework for preserving these very qualities. Through the surrogate’s inseparable relationship with the socially constructed centrality of the original, and its inherently material existence, the digital object is both referring to the original, and existing as a unique object to be valued, maintained, and used. Therefore, although the material elements of the photograph are “lost” during digitization, the surrogate itself takes the place of the aura, as the more a work is reproduced, the more significant it becomes. The best way I can describe this is through the Mona Lisa. How many times have you seen reproductions of the image of that mysterious woman? How many of you have seen the actual painting? Do you remember any of the paintings in the room with her? I certainly don’t. Because you have encountered the reproduction on such a large scale, the act of viewing the original painting is greatly enhanced, and almost ritualized. The material qualities are so apparent in this encounter that it hardly matters that you have studied its content hundreds of times before.

So, is it good to have a healthy dose of skepticism, and follow Jean Baudrillard’s idea that technology will only create a self-referential society, devoid of actual meaning? Or do we need to move forward and embrace new theories of digital cultural heritage that promote new contexts for understanding digital surrogates through connections with their physical counterparts? What are some of your thoughts or experiences with digital surrogates, either as a researcher or practitioner?

Alternative Lodging for the ARLIS/NA Conference!

FortWorth2015

Interested in coming to the ARLIS/NA Conference this March, but hoping for a cheaper stay? A few of us on the ArLiSNAP team are looking into staying at the Downtown East Motel 6. For the weekend of March 20-23, a room with two queen beds is going for $62.99USD on Friday and Saturday, and $55.99USD on Sunday. According to Google, the Motel 6 is a five to ten minute drive from the conference hotel, and we will organize for cabs to be shared between roommates whenever possible.

If you’re interested in staying with a fellow arlisnapper at the Motel 6, get in touch with Ellen: ellen.j.tisdale(at)gmail(dot)com.

If you’d like to book a room in the conference hotel, you have one last day of early bird pricing left! Reservations must be made on or before Thursday, February 5, to receive the discounted room rate.