Project Title: Herstories: A Digital Collection
Project URL: http://herstories.prattsils.org
Project Description: In Project in Digital Archives (LIS 665), the class worked on digitizing an oral history collection from the Lesbian Herstory Archives, which is the world’s largest and oldest collection of materials about Lesbian and Lesbian Communities, and creating a digital archive for this material. The archive is available in its entirety to the public via the project URL.
Methods: This project involved the digitizing of analog audio material for preservation and access, the customization of an open-source content management system, the creation of a metadata scheme, the assignment of metadata, the design of the site look and feel, and research on LGBT archives and best-practices in digital archiving.
My Role: I worked as a member of the technology team, and a major role I played was customizing the Omeka theme to match the look and feel created by the Design team. This meant modifying one of Omeka’s built-in themes, including the integration of a logo and graphic header, as well as changes to the default CSS to reflect the color scheme developed. Another major role I played was handling the metadata import. The metadata team created a metadata scheme, and had members of the class assign metadata into a Google Spreadsheet. I worked to import the data into Omeka using the CSV Import Plugin, which I also installed on the webserver. Further, I learned to digitize analog audio materials, and learn the best practices in the field of audio archives. And lastly, I assigned metadata for three digitized oral histories using the metadata scheme developed by the metadata team, which is based off the Dublin Core schema.
Learning Objective Achieved: Technology.
Rationale: I learned to use various technologies that are widely applicable for the LIS field. For example, I have mastered data import into Omeka, and have demonstrated the ability to customize the CSS of open-source content management systems like Omeka. I have also become familiar with LAMP webserver environments (Linux, Apache, MySQL, PHP), as seen through being able to install the CSV Import Plugin. Further, I feel well versed in the theory and practice of digitizing audio archives. And lastly, I have had experience assigning metadata for oral history collections using standardized formats based on international initiatives (Dublin Core), which I feel will be useful for future work in archives and libraries.
Additional Learning Objective Achieved: LIS Practice
Rationale: In this project, we made use of professional LIS practices, such as adopting professional standards for audio digitization and metadata creation. We also extensively considered the ethical dimensions of our work, which manifested itself by redacting interviews that could potentially “out” someone. In these cases where an individual was mentioned as being gay and were identifiable (through inclusion of a first and last name), we searched for evidence that she was already “out” (such as evidenced in newspaper articles, obituaries, and reputable web content). I made inclusion and exclusion judgments in several such cases.