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Category Archives: Libraries

The True Cost of Acquisitions

An Archivist’s Toolbox – Words & Illustrations by Mary Kid: “Earlier this year, I read an article titled Hail the Maintainers. The authors, writing on the rise of Silicon Valley, argue that too much value is given to innovation, rather than the labor involved in maintaining the technologies resulting from it. “Maintenance and repair, the building of infrastructures, the mundane labour that goes into sustaining functioning and efficient infrastructures, simply has more impact on people’s daily lives than the vast majority of technological innovations,” the authors assert. That is worth a deeper dive. I drew parallels between this sort of technological maintenance labor that the authors described, and the day-to-day tasks performed by library and archives workers, especially within and in support of special or research collections. Coincidentally, I read this article while involved in two projects where I developed calculator tools that can measure the impact of a single acquisition in terms of staff capacity and associated supplies, transportation and labor costs. These calculators give evidence to the lasting impact acquisitions, both large and small, can have over an entire department. In addition, they offer a way forward for institutions to take informed steps towards more sustainable collection development. The Maintainers made me think about whether there were words or concepts commonly used within special collections like “innovation” that similarly obscure the lived realities of workers’ experiences. The word I honed in on was “donation”; as in, “an acquisition that was donated to the archive”. This word connotes something as free-of-charge to the recipient, which in the case of acquisition donations could not be farther from the truth…”

National Archives Seeks to Revamp How Presidential Library Archives Social Media

NextGov: “The National Archives and Records Administration is looking to industry for ideas around how it might improve the way it collects and archives social media data from presidential administrations. NARA laid out its tentative plans in a request for information July 14. Through the RFI, NARA seeks information from companies “capable and interested in… Continue Reading

Library of Congress Looks to AI to Help Users Sift Through Its Collection

WSJ [paywall] – “America’s oldest federal cultural institution is experimenting with neural networks to help users search through some of its millions of digitized documents. The Library of Congress expects that artificial intelligence can help people search through its troves of digital information to glean new insights about the U.S.’s history. To that end, America’s… Continue Reading

Navigating the National Archives Catalog

“Did you know the National Archives Catalog contains over 140 million pages of digitized historical records and more than 27 million descriptions of the records in our holdings? And new pages and descriptions are being added to the Catalog each week! With so much information and material available to search, we are excited to share… Continue Reading

A knowledge-centered framework for exploration and retrieval of legal documents

Information Systems, Available online 7 July 2021, 101842. Silvana Castano, Mattia Falduti, Alfio Ferrara, Stefano Montanelli. “Automated legal knowledge extraction systems are strongly demanded, to support annotation of legal documents as well as knowledge extraction from them, to provide useful and relevant suggestions to legal actors (e.g., judges, lawyers) for managing incoming new cases. In… Continue Reading

A New Tool Shows How Google Results Vary Around the World

Wired: “Google’s claim to “organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful” has earned it an aura of objectivity. Its dominance in search, and the disappearance of most competitors, make its lists of links appear still more canonical. An experimental new interface for Google Search aims to remove that mantle of neutrality.… Continue Reading

How to delete books from Kindle

Mashable: “If you’re running out of storage on your Kindle or if your Kindle is becoming overrun with past reads, you might want to clean up your storage. Kindle is Amazon’s e-book service where you can access books you bought through Amazon, as well as e-books checked out from the library. Kindle is both a… Continue Reading

Beyond Goodreads: Four tools that help readers track their books

Washington Post – “Serious readers, much like sports fans, often relish keeping track of stats. Many turn to Goodreads, a large social cataloguing website that allows users to log, discuss, review and rate the books they read. (Goodreads is owned by Amazon, whose founder, Jeff Bezos, owns The Washington Post.) But increasingly, there are websites… Continue Reading

A Glowing Shrine to the Printed Word

The New York Times – “A mighty wall of books impresses in the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Library, a transformed branch that bursts with new services and technology… That’s why the Stavros Niarchos now delights book obsessives but also offers lines of computers atop long tables and a dizzying array of technology training, career exploration, life-skills… Continue Reading