When we first told you about our new search system, we said that it was on a rapid development cycle and that there would be improvements. We’re pleased to tell you about one upgrade that gives you on-site access to thousands more digital objects and another that makes it easier to do research at home. Developed for us by Artefactual Systems, these open source enhancements could be adapted by other institutions using the same database software.
The big change
Until now, digital objects that were under the copyright of a 3rd party (other than City of Vancouver’s copyright) could only be viewed online as a tiny thumbnail. Now they can be viewed in full resolution in our Reading Room through our online search. This works on your laptop in the Reading Room (using our wifi) as well as at our public computers. Continue reading
In early December, I attended the annual conference of the Association of Moving Image Archivists (AMIA) in Seattle. Here are a few of the highlights.
The Cinerama has been restored to its 1963 space-age look. A showing of “Hendrix 70: Live at Woodstock” was a highlight outside of the conference program. Photograph: Sue Bigelow
The Association of Moving Image Archivists (AMIA) is a professional association for those involved in the preservation and access of moving image heritage. Members come from all over the world to attend the conference.
There was an excellent workshop on uses of ffmpeg for archivists. Ffmpeg is open source, free software for working with multimedia files. One of the advantages for archives is that ffmpeg is always adding the capability of working with new types of files, but not getting rid of any old functionality. This means that if archivists encounter an outdated type of file, ffmpeg may be able to work with it. Ffmpeg software can analyze a file and report on all the different kinds of data inside. We store the original files in our digital archives but we also create another version using ffmpeg that can be viewed on a modern computer. Continue reading
It’s the Day of Digital Archives again! We’re featuring a glimpse at what a few of our staff have been doing for our digital archives program.
Glenn Dingwall is working on the Archives upgrade from Archivematica version 0.8 to version 0.9. Archivematica is one of the core components of our digital archives. When the Archives accepts a transfer or donation of digital material, Archivematica is the software package used to examine files to determine what they are, to produce preservation copies in file formats that are suitable for long-term access, to make access copies that are suitable for providing on our website, and to package the access and preservation copies together with metadata that explains what they are so that people in the future will be able to read and interpret them.
One of the changes that will happen when we move to Archivematica 0.9 is that it will now be hosted in a virtual machine environment within the City’s network. This will have a number of advantages over our current local area network setup, by making it easier for us to maintain and update the software, enabling Archivematica to communicate faster and more reliably with other components of our digital archives (such as our search software and storage environments), and allowing us more flexibility in apportioning processing resources to different tasks.
We are planning to go from a bare-metal development network . . .
. . . to a more powerful and complex virtual system.
Whitehorse was the location of this year’s Association of Canadian Archivists conference. Archivists from as far away as Brazil and New Zealand joined Canadian archivists for three days of learning, sharing, networking and debate. The theme of the conference was ‘Archival Gold.’ We were privileged to have Dr. Ken Coates, who grew up in Whitehorse, begin the first morning with a wonderful keynote speech sharing his historical knowledge of Canada’s North, his appreciation of Archives as rich sources of much of that knowledge, and the importance of teaching history to children.
Jeremy Heil, Glenn Dingwall and Peter Van Garderen answering questions at the end of their session. Photo by Cindy McLellan
The City of Vancouver Archives was again well represented at the ACA conference. Digital Archivist Glenn Dingwall was part of the panel session Developing Digital Information Infrastructure for Canadian Archives and spoke about the policy and planning decisions made at the Archives that were necessary to transition from a digitization program to a full-blown digital preservation program. Project Archivist Cindy McLellan (self-funded) shared with fellow archivists the workflow we have developed for preserving video materials digitally, using the Yaletown Productions fonds as an example. Continue reading
This past May, I was fortunate to participate in the DigCCurr Professional Institute on Curation Practices for the Digital Object Lifecycle at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC-CH). Led by UNC-CH faculty members Dr. Helen Tibbo and Dr. Christopher (Cal) Lee and taught by digital curation experts, the DigCCurr Institute brings together government, university, and private-sector information professionals for a week’s study of strategies and methods for the long-term management of digital materials.
DigCCurr 2012 instructors and participants on the last day of the Institute
Of the 35 participants in the Institute, I was the only municipal government employee; other participants came from institutions as diverse as the Yukon Archives, the University of Melbourne, the Silicon Valley-based Computer History Museum, the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Foundation, and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Despite our institutions’ respective differences in size, location, and acquisition mandate, the results of the pre-institute survey that participants completed showed similarities in both the nature of our holdings and the difficulties we face in caring for them. Continue reading
The City of Vancouver Archives has a new online search! We’re excited about it for a number of reasons:
- It allows us to show you the relationships between records and between records and their creators
- Browsing by subject, place or creator is much easier
- You can view and download larger digital objects, so you can study more detail
- Search result URLs are permalinks
For anyone who is interested in Archivematica, the digital preservation system we are helping to develop, we have a summary blog post on the development so far.
It’s at opensourcearchiving.org, the blog of the Open Source Committee of the Association for Moving Image Archives. We’ve been contributing to this blog, and we hope it will become a useful resource for anyone looking at open source software for archival use.
It was a day just like any other at the City Archives. Archivists and researchers spoke in whispers as they gently leafed through decades-old memoranda and Kodachrome photographs. Just then, at the front desk, a mysterious stranger appeared with a hard drive and a look that said she wanted to donate it. When she couldn’t answer how much data was on the drive or how it was formatted, it was clear that this day would not be normal after all and… it would not be easy.
Examples of digital storage media - Photo by Danny Nicholson, CC BY-ND 2.0 (http://www.flickr.com/photos/dannynic/6282154645/sizes/z/in/photostream/)
Archives Manager Heather Gordon likes to say that being an archivist is like “playing detective”. There has always been an aspect of detective work in what archivists do—from digging through boxes left abandoned in a garage searching for records to helping researchers find the documentation that helps them accomplish their work. In the age of digital acquisitions, her statement couldn’t be more true. Unlike their physical analogue counterparts, donations that come to us in folders on digital media can’t be easily leafed through and assessed at first glance. Those folders and their contents are made of bits that don’t have meaning without some kind of hardware and/or software intermediary. Continue reading
A few weeks ago, I attended the annual conference of the Association of Moving Image Archivists in Austin, Texas. Here are a few of the highlights.
Austin calls itself the Live Music Capital of the World and there are performance stages everywhere. This is the live stage at the Whole Foods flagship store.
The Association of Moving Image Archivists (AMIA) is a professional association for those involved in all aspects of the preservation and access of moving image heritage, including those from film and digital labs, production studios and archives both large and small. It’s a friendly, active group with members from all over the world. Continue reading
On Sunday, November 6th, the City of Vancouver Archives successfully hosted its second and final 125th anniversary event of the year: Celebrating Yaletown Productions. Marked by a matinee screening at the Vancity Theatre at the Vancouver International Film Centre, this event highlighted the 40-year filmmaking career of Mike Collier and the development of his film production company, Yaletown Productions. This screening showcased a younger Vancouver, reminding viewers about how much the city has changed in less than a lifetime.
Mike Collier introduces his films to a sold out theatre