New resources, archives, and the reality of libraries

There are a slew wonderful and disconcerting stories, covering new record releases, my new fiction stories, and much more!

Hello everyone!

There are so many wonderful stories I want to share with you. Apart from a post on one of my family history blogs about my “badass ancestor” (as you could call her), Elizabeth Packard, there have been some wonderful developments. For one, 158 federal records were recently declassified including diaries about the Korean war, Salk (Polio) Vaccine Files, “Pentagon Papers” Investigation Files, and Nixon White House tapes from 1971 to 1973, the latter of which can be accessed on the Nixon Library website, again showing the importance of these institutions. Secondly, one of my fellow genealogist friends shared a wonderful resource, a UK soundmap, recording various sounds from their homes and environments from 2010 to 2011. Thirdly, the Library of Congress (LOC) issued a challenge to transcribe 1,000 pages and it was easily transcended, with almost 3,000 people contributing so far!

Apart from that, this past week, I published two fan fictions, both of which mentioned archives. In the first one, a group of evil characters look up specific words in their archival records, with their findings confirming their suspicions, enraging them enough to begin launching a fleet of warships to wipe out those that opposed them. In the second one, the story extensively focuses on an underwater archive where beings can find “answers” and help them on their “quest for knowledge.” This place has glowing records, control panels, various screens, and digital video, along with holographic projection, including recordings from those had visited the place in the past. They then escape on a winged character who brings them to safety after they “unintentionally triggered the process which…destroy[ed] this repository of knowledge.” Even one of the characters was sad to see the knowledge disappear, trying to ask about what would happen to it, although another one saved copies on a flash drive. As such, whenever possible I try to incorporate libraries and archives into my stories, which I will soon end this month, re-focusing my efforts on other endeavors.

There were also some other articles I’d like to share. These include the story of Dr. Mary Walker, Civil War Surgeon, deriving from NARA catalog records, Kalev Leetaru writing in Forbes (of all places) that computer science could learn something from library and information science as it focuses on the “concept of societal harm” and “community engagement,” and Ryan Moore writing about U.S. bases in Thailand during the Vietnam War and the connection to Agent Orange. LOC clearly had some fun, not only animating some old posters from the turn of the 20th century, but shared pictures of hotels and motels from their collections, and about Thoreau’s view of the railroad, using an assortment of LOC records! Also of interest was the recap of the recent conference of the American Association of Law Libraries by Elizabeth Osbourne, legal reference librarian at the Law Library of Congress.

I also think it is worth sharing that tomorrow, from 12-1, the Society of Georgia Archivists will host a “Twitter chat about controversial materials in archives and special collections” using the hashtag #sogachat. Additionally, the post by Sharon McMeekin about the Digital Preservation Coalition was interesting, and the Archivist Salary Transparency Open Spreadsheet created by a group of archivists, showing “data on salaries in different locations and contexts” after the recent SAA conference is a great resource as well!

Of course, there were a slew of stories which were a bit depressing. Firstly, a publisher of fake journals made efforts to evade detection. Secondly, MacMillian announced a two-month embargo on library e-books. Thirdly, librarians who have faced crisis say the problem is not their catalogs but something else, although this one shows the circumstances libraries find themselves in. Finally, National History Day sent me an email this morning asking for donations since their relationship with Weebly, which had provided their website-create platform for 10 years, “abruptly ended” this past spring. According to them, they are working with a developer to “design our own website creation platform that will be ready for students to use by November 1, 2019” but it will cost, in total $150,000. I would say that donating for that cause is definitely worth it, and I say that as a person who previously made websites!

That’s all for this week. Have a great rest of the week, everyone!

- Burkely