Current Cites

April 2020

Edited by Roy Tennant

Contributors: Peter Hirtle, Leo Robert Klein, Nancy Nyland

Allison-Bunnell, Jodi. Finding Aid Aggregation at a Crossroads   (May, 2019)( - One advantage of the current coronavirus lockdown is that it provides time to revisit interesting projects that had slipped through the cracks. The "Toward a National Archival Finding Aid Network" planning initiative is one such project. Archival discovery has traditionally been built around collection finding aids, and for over two decades archivists have sought to increase access to and use of archival collections by aggregating finding aids into shared discovery systems. Allison-Bunnell's report surveys the current state of archival aggregation and identifies what the aggregators themselves identify as the existing weaknesses. The problems are many, but include a tension between the item-level description that is found in digital collections but which is missing from most finding aids, the lack of understanding of what users want, the problem of geographic and descriptive information "silos" that make discovery hard, and an existing technical infrastructure that needs to be replaced. A way forward has been proposed in an action plan published in October 2019. - PH

Thurlow, Elizabeth. "Preserving an Emerging Digital Arts Landscape: Digital Preservation at University of the Arts LondonArt Libraries Journal  (April 2020)( - Technology evolves so quickly that both the creation and the preservation of digital objects have to be actively managed to avoid their loss through “obsolescence, corruption or accidental deletion.” (p. 79) The University of the Arts London (UAL) is planning for the preservation of both digital surrogates, which document objects not originally created digitally, and “born digital” materials, which were created digitally “and for which there has never been an analogue counterpart.” (p. 79). First, they had to get funding, which was awarded for five years, to put together a team with the varied skills that would be needed, such as “special collections librarians, archivists, museum curators and IT specialists.” (p. 79). To preserve both types of digital materials, the working group created a plan that looks to the past, the present and the future. Materials that were cataloged or indexed in the past must be reviewed and have their metadata aligned to eliminate inconsistencies in file structures and naming conventions, an act of “digital housekeeping.” (p. 80). Of course, the six colleges that make up UAL continue to acquire and create digital materials while this retrospective work is done. To manage both existing and ongoing collections, UAL chose a software from the company Preservica. Even as their working group enters materials into that system, they are planning for the future by selecting priority materials to be preserved first from their “… more than 20 terabytes of digital materials….” (p. 81) and developing a single, consistent user interface. Looking even farther forward, they hope to eventually train their students in “basic digital preservation best … practice, equipping students with vital skills they can carry into their future careers.” (p. 82) - NN

Veletsianos, George, and Royce  Kimmons. "Educause ReviewWhat (Some) Students Are Saying about the Switch to Remote Teaching and Learning  (6 April 2020)( - Something of a historical snapshot of current events regarding 'classroom' instruction (or what passes for classroom instruction in this era of home-based higher ed) -- all derived from an analysis of twitter tweets (what else?) containing the phrase 'my professor'. Both our current predicament and the method of analysis seem so emblematic. The authors conclude by encouraging instructors to consider, "the new, and perhaps unexpected, ways that online learning technologies allow them to improve students' experiences." - LRK