With a new report to talk about and more, ArchiveGrid shined at SAA

At SAA New Orleans this year, a new report, “Social Media and Archives: A Survey of Archive Users” by the ArchiveGrid team was handed out at the ArchiveGrid exhibit booth (Bruce Washburn and Merrilee Proffitt in our booth this year are shown below). 

The paper is the result of a survey we did last year about archives and special collections users and what we learned about the role of social media in archival research. Our booth was also the place for visitors to pick up two other recent OCLC Research reports: “Tiers for Fears: Sensible, Streamlined Sharing of Special Collections” by Dennis Massie, and “You’ve Got to Walk Before You Can Run: First Steps for Managing Born-Digital Content Received on Physical Media” by Ricky Erway.

SAA was also a chance for ArchiveGrid to get promoted in other ways. While on a panel in a session called “Archives Without Walls: The Value of Networks, Consortia, and Aggregations,” Bruce Washburn spoke about the past and future of ArchiveGrid, and present work sustaining it as a valuable OCLC Research aggregation and recognizing its important role for contributors.

Even though SAA 2013 was our third SAA promoting ArchiveGrid, we still returned to our workplaces a week ago today with potential contributors to follow up with and new ideas about ways to improve ArchiveGrid to discuss and brainstorm. More to come about all of that and more. Stay tuned!

(Note: Also in the mix of recent ArchiveGrid-related promotions is our May 23 webinar, “ArchiveGrid and Related Work,” which, is now available online.)

Five facts about this week’s ArchiveGrid index update

This week the ArchiveGrid index of archival collection descriptions was updated, reflecting additions by new and current contributors and small changes to the interface which we hope will improve user experience.

1. It’s just in time for SAA Annual Meeting, where ArchiveGrid will be on exhibit Thursday afternoon, Aug. 15, and all day Friday, Aug. 16, during the conference. Try out a search, learn about new developments happening in connection with OCLC Research (click here for other OCLC Research staff activity at SAA), and get to know the people who make ArchiveGrid happen.

2. Speaking of SAA: After we were featured last year for the first time on the SAA Description Expo website, we’re featured again this year.

3. Our index grew since our May update to 1.9 million finding aids and collection descriptions. Read more about that and how we build the index on our About ArchiveGrid page.

4. A search for New Orleans retrieved 13,186 records. This one at Tulane University, for the Hermann Bacher Deutsch papers, 1827-1970, has items worth reading for knowledge on what foods to try while in New Orleans, where to go, and what to know about the city’s culture. Deutsch was a Chicago journalist who moved to New Orleans and worked for the Times-Picayune newspaper. According to the finding aid’s scope and content note, “His writing primarily concerned Louisiana topics, particularly New Orleans culture and cuisine.”

5. A link to follow us on Google+ is now on the ArchiveGrid homepage, adding to the other social features such as the display window for #archivegrid Twitter activity.

A user asks about Michigan pioneers

Marjorie, a new ArchiveGrid user, recently wrote:

I am researching Antoine Picard aka Peter Robesco, a Linden Lake pioneer. Is it possible for me to electronically view two folders from the Clarence Monette Collection? They are 70. 3 Lake Linden Early Pioneers and 118. 32 Rousseau, who I believe partnered with Picard at Whitefish Point.

Marjorie is referring to a record she found in ArchiveGrid for the Clarence Monette Collection, which the Michigan Tech archives and historical collections holds. This is quite a big collection; It’s 48 cubic feet and fills 120 manuscript boxes with folders inside. A PDF finding aid the record links to describes the collection and lists what each folder contains. 

Here are the two folders, highlighted in blue, Marjorie wants to look inside:

Folder 31 is also highlighted because its subject is a name Marjorie mentioned in her email.

If Marjorie cannot travel to the archive, her next step would be to contact the archive for help accessing these materials, which she can do in ArchiveGrid by clicking on the blue “contact information” link provided in the record. From there, she will be able to locate information about how to reach a staff member and her ArchiveGrid discovery experience will be complete.

History of longitude archive now freely available online

A digitized archive of one of the most remarkable contests in history is now freely available online at the Cambridge University Digital Library. Starting in 1714, the British government offered cash prizes to anyone who could solve longitude – a ship’s east-west position based on its location between the north and south poles – and improve maritime navigation. Proposals poured in until the Board of Longitude, which administered the contest, dissolved in 1828. One invention which earned the most prize money was John Harrison’s chronometer, but the archive reveals swaths of names and contributions related to scientific developments during the Board of Longitude’s years, as well as voyages, including those taken by James Cook, to test some of the better ideas.

A short, informative YouTube video about the archive is the first in a series the library produced about the Board of Longitude and its archive.