AO3's shutdown, stories, and a new fictional narrative

This week I'll be focusing on a variety of topics like the recent temporary shutdown of AO3, a bookmobile at homeless shelters, archival preservation, and much more!

Hello everyone! I hope you had a great long break, with Thanksgiving and all. Without further adieu, let me begin this newsletter.

There was a host of articles I found this week, but most prominent for me was the temporary shutdown of Archives of Our Own, otherwise known as AO3, an archive of fan fiction works. I created a silly Twitter moment for it, but it made me think a lot about not depending on one site to host the stories I have written. As a result, I started posting on a number of different sites so that I didn’t depend on one in particular. Of course, AO3 is still my favorite, but what happened to the site and the warning that the site may experience slowness until next year, when they get new servers, made me think about how content on the internet can be ephemeral and not static, even though sometimes we allude ourselves into thinking that.

There are also a number of interesting stories I read this week. In some mainstream outlets, some wrote about how small bookstores are booming and stories about the library coming to a homeless shelter (“books on wheels”). The latter actually reminds me of a paper I wrote last year proposing the idea of a “Baltimore Homeless Library,” although this article focuses on a bus-sized bookmobile with “2,000 books, 100 videos, and free Wi-Fi,” called the Queens Mobile Library, not an independent entity as it is part of the Queens Public Library in New York City’s Queens Borough. At the same time, posts on Hack Library School focused on the successful partnership between libraries and the U.S. Census and how those that do library work should embrace being “good enough” which means showing up “without shame for the flaws in my work and self” since striving for “perfectionism leads to procrastination, overthinking, and crippling self-doubt” as they put it. I also found posts about the interconnection of archival preservation and genealogy and a draft of the “Levels of Born Digital Access” from the DLF Born-Digital Access Working Group, created in “response to the need for the development of standards and benchmarks to be shared by the community,” also intriguing as well, to name two prominent posts.

That brings me to my final topic: my newest fictional narrative, “The Trial of Catra, Pearl’s Ferocity, and ‘Wild Adora’,” which I published last week. I could talk about the whole narrative in its entirety or the mention that two characters used “books from the Buddy Buddwick Public Library in Beach City they had checked out” to braid another character’s hair. However, I’d rather like to highlight this story because the trial of one of the characters, Catra, is basically an experiment in information gathering, with different perspectives on the same events. This is important to keep in mind when it comes to archival records, as not everyone will see something the same way, exemplified by certain shows and in Akira Kurosawa’s classic film, Rashomon, which shows the same event from multiple perspectives.

That’s all for this newsletter!

I hope you all have a great rest of your week!

- Burkely

Archives, libraries, fictional writing drift, and accession numbers!

A whole gamut of articles and wonderful items this week, focusing on various fields of study and my fictional writing, of course.

Hello everyone! I hope you are all having a great week and have a wonderful holiday break this week.

There are a number of interesting articles relating to the archives and libraries fields which I found this past week. Three articles on the SAA Electronic Records Section’s blog recapping a forum for BitCurator (a data recovery software), email archiving, and the relevant panels of the Digital Library Foundation Forum. There was also an article in Dance Magazine, of all places, about how dancers are doing more to research their roles as archives become more accessible. Sometimes you’d never guess who your users will be! I also found a post on the Smithsonian Libraries’ blog, Unbound, about cotton gloves, very enlightening. They note that rare historical objects should NOT be handled with white gloves because hands in the gloves “lack the tactility and manual dexterity of bare [and dry] hands” while causing page fragments to be lifted, are not clean, and cause hands to sweat. They further note how handling paper with bare hands does not cause chemical damage, with advice on book handling through centuries urging “clean hands rather than the use of gloves,” starting how the idea of white-gloved librarians may only be “about 20 years old, and stem[ming]…from canny vendors and archival supply catalogs praising their virtues.” Even so, there are exceptions, especially when it comes to photographic material, “books with lots of metal components” or books that have toxic elements like arsenic. They end by remarking that “next time you see a character in a TV show donning white gloves to page through a rare book, feel free to tut at your screen. The librarians of Smithsonian Libraries Special Collections will be right there with you.” Finally I’d like to mention two posts on Hack Library School, one about librarians that are needed in the field and the other about more ethnic caucuses in the American Library Association, specifically for indigenous and Black peoples.

This brings me to my guest post on Originality by Design, a blog hosted by a few authors I’ve connected with on Twitter. I specifically talk about my drift into fiction writing beginning on June 25th (it hasn’t even be a whole year yet!), bringing together some of my favorite characters, admitting that “writing each new story brings its own challenges,” trying to bring together “worlds and stories of characters who otherwise wouldn’t meet.” I note now this is a “creative avenue I had never fully explored in the past…and am learning more all the time,” linking to my newest novella, Unexpected Dimensional Drift, which with acceptance, understanding, tolerance, and friendship as major themes “while also focusing on struggles with trauma and emotional baggage.” I also note how I “inform the characters I write about from my personal experiences and emotions,” influenced also by “what I listen to and watch.” I end by stating that with these fictional narratives, my “creative juices can flow like a raging river through a series of rocks and obstacles until it reaches a waterfall.”

This brings me to a new fictional narrative this past week, which focuses on one of the characters stealing from a museum. I stick in a part about accession numbers, along with other notes about security. The below excerpt highlights that:

Pulling out her clipboard, she stared down at the paper titled ‘Inventory of V.I.L.E. Museum and Archives’ with the words ‘after theft on June 6th” scrawled in pen. The accession numbers of every item in their collection were coupled with other pages giving short archival descriptions. Everything had been checked off as present except the red fedora and red trench coat, given the number of 2019.112, indicating its year and that it was the 112th item the museum had acquired. The entry had been circled multiple times, overlaid with the word “MISSING” in big block letters. As Rin examined the broken glass on the ground, Jules brought them to the empty glass case where Carmen’s outfit had hung.

With that, my newsletter has come to a close.

I hope everyone has a great rest of their week.

- Burkely

Dataist thinking, libraries, archives, and genealogy

This newsletter will focus on a character from one of favorite animated series and dataism, archives & libraries news, and a new fictional narrative!

Hello everyone! I hope you are all having a great week. With that, let’s dive in.

Late last week, I built off the article by Bohyun Kim in Information Today, which I included in my last newsletter, noting how some think that data and algorithms can better process and find meaning in data than human thoughts, which he called “data-ism.” I focused on one of my favorite characters from the ongoing animated series, She-Ra and the Princesses of Power, Entrapta (pictured at the beginning of this newsletter), who is clearly autistic but also embodies dataist thinking. I not only show how criticisms of her as a “bad” form of representation of autism/Aspergers is incorrect, but I also note how her thought processes subscribe to dataist thinking. At the same time, I also connected it to my fan fictions, since she is an oft-recurring character.

Turning around completely, I’d like to point to some interesting articles in the library and archival fields. The first is by David Ferriero, the Archivist of the U.S. who heads NARA, about Cokie Roberts, who was not only a journalist but a member of the National Archives Foundation Board, said Cokie would have loved a recent use of projection technology where “Abigail Adams, Dolley Madison, Martha Washington, and Eliza Hamilton joined the ranks” of the Barry Faulkner murals depicting the signing of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. He also wrote about, this week, a post arguing how NARA has opened up more access to digital records than ever before. Beyond that, there’s also a review by Becky Briggs Becker of Microsoft Planner in The American Archivist Reviews Portal, and Rosemary K.J. Davis’s insightful take on Student Loan Debt and how it is affecting the archival profession. There’s also, of course, an article in Hack Library School about how to deal with “divisive discussions” in a digital classroom, another about how librarianship is at a “crossroads” because of ICE surveillance, proposing possible solutions to this dilemma, and a final one about “library professionalism.”

That brings me to the final part of my newsletter: a focus on my newest fiction story, “Danger, Pleasure, and Arousal in the Tampa Lagoon,” published this past Sunday. Whether you groan and grumble, at this, I’d like to happily note that I was able to fit in some archival themes, especially when it comes to family research, with two characters talking about it, with some of their dialogue quoted below:

‘Fancy that! Do you have any family?

‘I’m not sure who they are…unfortunately…the identities of my parents are a mystery to me.

‘I thought that Coach…found me there [in Argentina]…I recently found out that was wrong…Shadowsan…saved me and brought me to the island.

‘If he’s a first-hand source, you need to quiz him for more details!

‘I could. I’ve heard about DNA tests…being a former thief and all who has undoubtedly broken laws…I am wary of trusting anyone with my personal genetic information, especially not Genealogical Research Inc., GRI, who might give it to the authorities.

We could all help you discover your parentage and heritage.

‘That would be wonderful. Learning more about my past is important to me.

‘There’s bound to be a national library or archives in Tanyuga, right? With the breadcrumbs Shadowsan gives you, it could help start you on family research.

‘That’s a great idea, Adora! Jules could help me too, since she’s heading up that V.I.L.E. museum. It could be their first big breakthrough.

Of course, there’s a lot more in the story than this, as the above is just an excerpt. But, my plan is to make this a sub-story, where Carmen is looking for her family roots, traveling to different libraries, archives, and whatnot.

With that, I hope everyone has a great rest of their week!

- Burkely

Genealogical gender imbalances and 500 munching goats

A whole gamut of articles: a post about my past focus on too many male ancestors, articles about the library and archives fields, and my new fictional narrative!

Hello everyone! I hope your week is going great so far, even with the cold weather, specifically in the D.C. metro area and likely other parts of the country.

I’d like to highlight a post I put together on November 8 on one of my genealogy blogs first and foremost. Instead of talking about something like “dragging out” genealogy information from your family, it serves as a self-analysis based on what I’d read in Jackie Hogan’s Roots Quest, a book about the genealogy (or roots) industry I just finished, which I checked out from a local library in Baltimore. Anyway, I determined that there was a gender imbalance since I was writing about too many male ancestors and not enough female ancestors. I propose ways to counter this while promising to improve this in the future. Its a very interesting exercise and I’d recommend others with genealogy blogs to do the same thing.

That brings me to some of the news for this week, specifically for the library and archives fields. Hack Library School had a number of great posts. Some focused on group projects, what should be changed about library school (everything), and burnout. There also were some interesting articles about how librarians are starting new videogame collections in American Libraries magazine and how Japan’s bookstores are in trouble, while one commentator is optimistic. In terms of the archives field, there was an article in Smithsonian magazine about how a team of 500 weed-eating goats helped eat flammable brush around the Reagan Presidential Library, creating a “fire break around the complex,” with helicopters and firefighters ensuring that the fire didn’t reach the library. I also found an article in Information Today criticizing the fact that our “growing trust in data and data-based machine learning algorithms” has led people to think that data “could replace our thinking,” which he calls “data-ism.” While noting, for instance that any effort to restrict or limit “data generation, collection, analysis, and monetization is met with disdain and dismissal,” concluding that data and algorithms are decided and implemented by people, with the proper role for such algorithms and data to “augment and empower human autonomy and agency, not to undermine and eliminate them.” This requires putting in place “proper and effective boundaries for them in order to ensure that data and algorithms always lend themselves as tools, not rule as an authority over human behavior.” A very thought-provoking article to say the least, which I tend to sympathize with.

This brings me to my new fictional narrative this week, “Rays of friendship: Peri’s three-way video chat and Adora’s crush,” a continuation of my past series, “An Unlikely Alliance Against Evildoers.” I experimented, this time, a little more with extensively using dialogue rather than story description, which actually made it much easier to write. Its a really nice and fun story about friendship, togetherness, and acceptance. I admit there aren’t any themes of archives or libraries in this one, other than a passing mention to expanding of the “archives of Etheria” and that some of the characters are “almost finished sweeping the V.I.L.E. facility for information and artifacts.” Originally, I said these objects would be part of a museum, but since I’m studying to become an archivist, its going to become an archives. There is also a slowly developing sub-story where one of the characters is going to try and delve into the records about their past, find out about their roots, so that should be fun.

That’s all for this newsletter. I hope you all have a great rest of your week!

- Burkely

Archives and a new fictional narrative

For this newsletter, I focus posts about the archival field and a fictional work I published last night

Hello everyone! I hope your week is going well so far.

There’s a number of articles I’d like to share with you all about the archives field. There was an interesting interview with Jacqueline Seargeant, Global Archive Manager of John Dewar & Sons Ltd. She manages the company’s business archives, which connects to its brand identity and developments, while they also have extensive museum collections, showing that archives can still be seen as important to for-profit entities, although most of us likely won’t go that route. On a more fascinating note was Nathan Sentancce’s article reviewing a book by poet Dr. Natalie Harkin, Archival-Poetics, noting how official archives have “the power to sustain and reproduce” colonial violence, specifically noting archives in Australia. This article made a good point that “archives are unreliable witnesses, especially here on these lands of invasion and occupation” meaning that they are “full of misremembered histories, partial truths, and falsifications…propaganda machines for the settler fantasy.” Even so, they note how there is truth within archives, some records holding “damning evidence of atrocities committed” against indigenous peoples, and how some "archivists see themselves as “gatekeepers and defenders of the archives enforcing colonial bureaucracies that impede access to the information in archives.” This book specifically notes how colonial surveillance is the “foundation of many state archives.” Although she is talking about Australia, her comments are still relevant.

There was one more article I’d like to include. It is Maarja Krusten’s “Making space for others” on her Archival Explorations blog. She talked about her love for Star Trek, tying it to Watergate, the SAA’s best practices and code of ethics, with Leonard Nimoy using his stardom to “support environmental causes,” with 81 freelance photographers hired by the federal government to “take photographs reflecting life in urban and rural environmental conditions” in the late 1970s. She also noted about NARA’s new efforts to carry out their archival mission, with new challenges, but also brings with it many new opportunities. Krusten always does a good job in analyzing issues like this.

Rather than focusing on the library field, I’ll share those articles for next week, so I can make this newsletter more focused. As a result, I’d like to link to a new magical fantasy fiction I published last night, titled “From Sunrise to Sunrise: A Skirmish in Japan and Carmen’s V.I.L.E. Island Assault.” Unfortunately, I couldn’t figure out how to include library and archives themes, but I can say that there is wide inclusivity in this story with themes of acceptance, understanding, respect, and friendship. I guess, perhaps, there is some romance there too, but its more about teams working together to achieve a goal: defeating the forces of evil. I’m not going to say what is the ultimate result of skirmish in Japan or the assault on V.I.L.E. island, but I can say that everything noted in this story will affect stories in the future.

That’s all I have to say for this week! Hope you have a great rest of your week!

- Burkely

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