|March 26, 2019||Posted by Stevan under Education, Interesting||
The Scottish Council on Archives, in conjunction with National Records of Scotland, presented a one day seminar on “Caring for Community Archives” at General register House in Edinburgh on Friday 22nd March 2019.
The day started with short introductions from John Pelan, the Director of Scottish Council on Archives, followed Paul Lowe, the Keeper of National Records of Scotland. One was aware, sitting in the room that was once the Keeper’s office, with the portraits by Raeburn of the first Keeper as well as others of Edinbirgh’s past nobility, of the significance of these positions. Somewhat trivially, a line from the Michael York film, Zeppelin, set in World War I, sprang to mind: “Destroy a nation’s archives and you destroy her soul.”
This was followed by a practical session by Peter Dickson, a man whose technical capability and understanding of his role was clear from his desire to share his knowledge. This session was mostly about how to handle and store physical artefacts, mostly paper, and the associated issues around environmental controls. One of the beauties of concentrating on a digital archive is that the specialised needs of physical artefacts are usually only needed briefly, but it was still a useful session.
We were also taken on a short tour of General Register House. This Robert Adam-designed building is now thought to be the oldest purpose-built national archive building still used for its original purpose. Details are on this wikipedia page.
After lunch, Dr Alison Rosie, the Head of the National register of Archives of Scotland provided a series of tips for community archives, based on her experience and knowledge. This was followed by Craig Geddes, the Council Records Manager from East Renfrewshire Council, on hos role and how local authority archives can work with community groups.
John Simmons then discussed a frequently misunderstood issue with regard to archives, the role of the GDPR and other privacy directives in relation to community archiving. The most significant takeaway from this talk was that, far from being a constraint to archiving, the GDPR specifically enables archiving to take place.
This was followed by two digitisation and digital sessions, one by Robin Urquhart on things to consider when setting up a project, and one by Tim Gollins, the Head of the Digital Records Unit at National Records of Scotland, talking about the safety and sustainability of digital community archives.
For me personally, the event was of interest to validate or reflect on the work of the last 8 years, as well as an opportunity to meet some practitioners associated with archives and records at a national scale. My Scottish Cultural Studies degree inter-disciplinary project and Honours dissertation looked at the issues between local expressions of heritage against such national cultural activity to see whether the scale of such activities, which on the face of it look the same, do in fact have much in common. So it was of great interest for me to understand a little more of the way the presenters of the seminar worked.
The entire event was skilfully and efficiently managed by Audrey Wilson, the Community Engagement Officer of the Scottish Council on Archives, and was a worth while way to spend a day for anyone with an interest in community archives. Thanks to Audrey and all the speakers.
|August 18, 2018||Interesting|
For a number of reasons, updates on this web site are slow at the moment. However, the site itself will remain alive for anyone interested in its contents and interested in real-life stories of running a community digital archive, and I hope the site will soon have much to report. Please contact me for any further information. show more
|July 22, 2017||Operations|
The four main workstations that are part of the Assynt Community Digital Archive have done their job since 2011, and remain adequate for what is needed in this role. As with the main archive, part of the reason for this longevity is the use of Free and Open Source software, which is both kind to older hardware and allows us to stay up to date without software costs. Until recently we have run the long […] show more
|December 16, 2016||Consultancy, Everyday Notes, Operations|
The Assynt Community Digital Archive was set up in 2011 as a long term community initiative. Readers of this site will know that among the founding principles of the Archive was an adherence to metadata standards and the choice of Free and Open Source software on which to run the Archive. Among the reasons for this, which have been proven over the years, is that Free Software finds no advantage in attempting to lock users […] show more
|March 1, 2016||Consultancy, Education|
As in many rural communities, place names in Assynt mean a lot more than merely words on maps. They indicate what is and was important to everyday life, and very often give a glimpse of how much more the land was used in times gone by. Alastair Moffat notes in one of his books that the landscape, in the form of place names, doesn’t forget, and when we start tapping into this source of history, […] show more
|November 2, 2015||Consultancy, Interesting|
It was a very welcome invitation from Lucy Conway of the Island of Eigg History Society, Commun Eachdraidh Eige, to visit to assist the group there to develop plans for a community digital archive. Late October weather and ferry crossings do not always make ideal partners, and in this case, the Loch Nevis, the usual ferry was out of operation. The easiest way from Assynt to Eigg is via Skye, meaning two ferry trips, from […] show more
|March 8, 2015||Consultancy|
The True North conference took place at Timespan in Helmsdale on Friday 6th and Saturday 7th March 2015. The conference title was a good way of reflecting the eclectic nature of the presentations, from technologists through to sound artists, geo-political visionaries to genealogists and many points in between. I had a five minute slot into which I managed to cram one or two practical issues which are the real experience of running digital archives, especially […] show more
|February 18, 2015||Consultancy, Technical Comment|
January 2015 saw a major update to the tiny little raspberry Pi single board computer, which I have previously written about here. The Pi now has four times the number of “cores” on the same chip, and four times the amount of memory of the original, and is roughly six times as powerful. Yet it is the same astonishing price, just £25. This puts the Pi well into the frame for establishing a community digital […] show more
|December 3, 2014||Consultancy, Education|
The Wildflower Europe project has recently produced a e-publication (http://wildflowereurope.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/Community-historic-archives.pdf ) based on the research and practical experiences in setting up a community history digital archive in a small rural community in Scotland, and on ethnobotanical pilot work in botanical rich areas of South East Europe. Wildflower Europe’s aims were to share experiences and to promote the feasibility of developing small scale archives at community level. In addition they were investigating the use of archiving […] show more
|November 25, 2014||Technical Comment|
Omeka is interesting digital archiving software in that it combines the storage requirement with interpretive and presentational capabilities. This can be a two-edged sword, but for some requirements, Omeka is attractive. Omeka is also Free Software and is published under the General Public Licence. It is much simpler to install than, say, DSpace, in that it is written in PHP, which most servers support easily and which is well understood for ease of use. And […] show more
|July 7, 2014||Consultancy, Principles, Technical Comment|
One of the constant themes you will find on this web site is the concept of taking a long view regarding running a digital archive. This truism is sometimes in conflict with the world in which it operates, the technological and digital world, which is driven by constant expectations of “upgrades”, “features”, “faster” and other implications of improvement. In the consumer digital world, we are used to the short life spans of technology, but in […] show more