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Today is my last day in the AMNH Library and Archives. I’ve worked on a number of projects under the CLIR and IMLS grants since February and am truly amazed at the new skills I’ve developed in the process. Together with Claire, Becca and Iris, I’ve risk assessed the contents of a department (including everything from administrative files and library books to accession records and field notebooks), created an original finding aid, learned a good deal about a major donor to the museum, and mastered the difficult process of converting container lists into XML code to be imported into Archivists’ Toolkit.
Each of these tasks certainly had their challenges. My most recent work with AT has at times seemed like what Iris called “a slow and tedious process” in one of her latest blog posts. Thankfully, though, no problem was ever too large to overcome and help was always available when I needed it. I’m proud to say I was part of a museum-wide risk assessment effort, personally sorted through amazing primary source materials and imported four (!!) finding aids into AT (Iris and Oxygen XML Editor were especially invaluable to this last task).
It’s been an incredibly exciting and educational experience interning for these two grant-funded projects. It’s even more gratifying to know that the small piece I contributed over seven months is part of a greater whole that will aid the AMNH and all of its present and future researchers. I wish everyone still working on the project the best of luck. I look forward to celebrating its conclusion and to assisting with new projects in the future!
Allow me to be blunt – there is no efficient way to import finding aids created and saved as Microsoft Word documents into Archivists’ Toolkit without the painstaking exercise of copying and pasting lines of data into individual database cells. For the past eighteen months, we have been writing finding aids for the archival collections in the Library thanks to the CLIR grant. Twenty one finding aids have been completed and reviewed. The final Word documents, once approved, are entered into the Toolkit, as mentioned, by copying and pasting data. It can be a slow and tedious process, especially when dealing with numerous subject headings and name entities. Entering lengthy container lists is even more dreary – dates must be input into multiple cells, a simple box and folder enumeration containing only two numbers is seven clicks from completion. Not the best use of anyone’s time. Not to mention the probability for error! When your eyes are glazed over from transferring data piece-meal for hours, a “7” could easily look like a “1”.
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Over the past year, we have been gathering descriptive data in spreadsheets for archival collections in the Library and Science Departments. Collection records are then converted into MARC and batchloaded into the catalog. EAD-encoded collection-level finding aids will also be generated using Archivists’ Toolkit. The ultimate goal is to publish catalog records and finding aids on the web for resource discovery. (You may be asking yourself) what in the world does all this mean? Here, let me illustrate the journey of data in this colorful, and hopefully more intelligible flowchart. Click here for a PDF. And look for links to handy guidelines!
TagsAinu AMNH library catalog Anthropology Archives Archbold Archival Arrangement archives Authority Names CAT Cataloging CLIR 2010 clir 2012 Correspondence Crocker Land Department of Preparation and Installation Department Records EAC-CPF expeditions Fall 2011 Field Notes Finding Aid finding aids Hayden Planetarium Herpetology Archives hidden connections IMLS LARA linked data Mammalogy Archives Manuscript Collection Museum History Non-Curatorial Field Notes Ornithology Archives Paleontology Archives Phase 2 photographs Photo Print Collection Processing Research Library Risk Assessment Slide Collection Spring 2011 Spring 2012 Summer 2011 Summer 2012 T. Don Carter
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