Decolonizing, Indigenizing, and Examining the Patriarchy: 2018 ACA Student Colloquium: Archives and Activism

By Nicole Gavreau

How can archives be activists? What archival institutions are already being activists? These were the most basic questions of the 2018 ACA Colloquium on Friday, March 16. The answers came from Katherine Kasirer of the National Film Board of Canada (NFB); Camille Callison—a member of the Tsesk iye clan of the Tahlatan Nation, Indigenous Services Librarian at the University of Manitoba, and member of the NFB Indigenous Advisory Board; Beth Greenhorn of Library and Archives Canada (LAC), and François Dansereau, archivist for the McGill University Health Centre (MUHC).

Katherine and Camille gave a joint presentation, with Camille joining via video link, on decolonizing and indigenizing subject access to the NFB indigenous collection. The effort is part of a three year plan in the wake of the Truth and Reconciliation Committee’s report and includes over 33 action to transform the NFB, redefine its relationship with the indigenous peoples it has historically viewed through a European lens, and to re-write their descriptions to meet today’s standards. A large part of this is a new indigenous cinema page, which employs the Brian Deer Classification System and uses tribes and nations names for themselves. The NFB would like to eventual decolonize the entire “ethnographic” film collection.

Beth Greenhorn spoke of her long-time involvement with Project Naming, LAC’s effort to correct the historical record and past wrongs in relation to images of indigenous peoples. The project started with a collection of 500 photos of people from what is now Nunavut and has grown from there to include pictures of people from a variety First Nations, Inuit, and Métis groups. Once photos are identified through events in communities or in Ottawa, through social media, through the LAC website, or through the “Do you know your elders?” series that has been run in Nunavut newspapers, new caption are made for the photos. A general caption is kept, and information on the person or people in the photo is added in brackets. The LAC is also currently working to change location information to indigenous names, though they are retaining the English names from the time the photos were taken for the historical record. Finally, the materials can be made available to communities to tell their own stories. Social tagging and transcription tools should be available soon.

The end of the colloquium brought François Dansereau and his presentation “Power Dynamic and Institutional Archives: Masculine Authority and the Modern Hospital”, which looked at the representation of women in the MUHC archives. Women were drastically under represented in the hospital archive; often the only early appearances were nurses and nuns in group pictures with male doctors. This changed as time went on, with women appearing more alone and using technology as nurses, technicians, and doctors, but still at a lower rate than male doctors. How do you solve the problem? For existing archives the role of women needs to be highlighted; for materials to be added records from women must be taken as well.

AMIA Symposium 2018

Student presenters, professional panel, and AMIA exec.

The student chapter of the Association of Moving Image Archivists held their annual symposium this past Friday. It featured presentations of current and recent projects by SIS students, as well as a panel discussion with several information professionals working in the audiovisual archival field.

Student Presentations

Our first presenter was Sarah Lake, with “Transitioning to the Cloud: Giving Access to Oral Histories”. Sarah spoke about her experiences working at Concordia’s Centre for Oral History and Digital Storytelling; in particular, about the challenges of migrating a large project from hard drive to cloud storage. Sarah spoke about the workflow involved in this process, as well as best practices for future maintenance of the collection and long-term preservation planning.

Next, Kat Barrette spoke on “Mapping Past and Present: Special Collections and Public Outreach”, an overview of engaging the public with material from special collections, in this case maps and photographs. She worked on creating a series of workshops for high school students at LaurenHill Academy using History Pin, an open source web program that lets users pin JPEGs to maps, showing photographs from the past overlaid on current locations. She shared the steps involved in organizing a project like this, as well as recommendations drawn from her experience to make the process go as smoothly as possible.

Albe Guiral then presented “From a Mouldy Box to Internet Sensation: The Photographs of the Fonds de l’Aqueduc at the Archives of the City of Montreal”. While working at the archive Albe was involved in digitizing and sharing with the public a collection of glass-plate photographs, and took us through the whole archival process, with a focus on preservation and outreach. She She spoke of the challenges involved in cleaning and scanning such delicate photographs, as well as best practices for dealing with contaminated materials. She also explained the process of digitally restoring them and sharing with the public on social media.

Finally, Rachel Black presented “Preserving Memory: Personal Archive Creation and Management”. Rachel has been working on creating a family archive of photographs, documents, and physical objects, and shared with us some of the lessons learned from this experience. She explained the process from beginning to end, focusing on the importance of planning the workflow of a project like this. she also spoke about the importance of preservation planning and records management in maintaining a personal archive.

Student presenters

Panel Discussion

Our panel opened by telling us about themselves and their current jobs. They took us through a typical day of work, the consensus being that there is really no such thing as an information professional. We then discussed the challenges of working with both analog and digital archival materials, and some of the current projects our professional panel members are working on.

Opening the floor to questions from the audience, our panel spoke about their educational backgrounds and gave advice to current students, speaking about useful skills and knowledge to acquire during the program. The most common advice was to try and take a bit of everything in order to have a well-rounded skillset – and you never know what might turn out to be an area of interest!

Finally, our panel gave us the names some free resources for audiovisual archiving. There are may free webinars available and a lot of conferences are livestreamed online. Specific resources recommended include the Digital Library Federation, where students can get involved in online work groups, the Access Tech Conference (which is livestreamed), and large libraries such as Library of Congress and BANQ. Other resources include Bay Area Video Collection, which includes a compendium of common video errors one might run across, and IASA TC-04, which provides a how-to on audio preservation. Finally, Project Naming, which works with identifying indigenous peoples in photographs and then restores those photographs to the communities in which they were taken.

Panel discussion

Professional Panel Members
Bios provided by Kat Barrette, AMIA-McGill Co-President

Sarah Severson, Digital Library Services Coordinator, Digital Initiatives, McGill University Libraries
Sarah is in charge of the McGill digilab, overseeing the digitization of rare books and documents, as well as the creation of digital exhibits of images and 3D objects.

Melissa Pipe, Documentation Technician (Audiovisual Archive), Marvin Duchow Music Library at McGill University
Melissa is responsible for the sound and audiovisual collections at the Marvin Duchow Music Library. This includes accession, preservation, and digitization of various materials.

Louis Rastelli, Administrator and Founder of Archive Montreal
Louis founded Archive Montreal, which houses sound, audiovisual, and various ephemeral materials, mostly dating back to the 1960s. They perform digitization of images, graphic material, sound and moving image in-house in an effort to preserve Montreal’s underground culture.

Molly Bower, recent graduate
Molly co-founded the multimedia archive of the Maagdenhuis occupation, now housed in the Amsterdam City Archive (Amsterdam Stadsarcheif). She also organized Westmount Library’s first Home Movie Day.

Gordon Burr, former Senior Archivist, McGill University Archives
Gordie is the former senior archivist at McGill. He still teaches courses at SIS, and is the AMIA Faculty Rep.

 

InfoNexus 2018

Guest post by Nicole Gavreau

Photos by Felicia Pulo and Audrée-Ann Ramacieri-Tremblay

   

At SIS it can feel like different events are only for people interested in one of libraries, archives, KM, or ICT, be it a 5 à 7, a tour, a workshop, or a webinar. InfoNexus, is the event that has something for SIS students of every interest. It is also a great way to hear about skills you need but may not learn at SIS and offers a chance to network.

Info Nexus began with a presentation from the new archivist for Bell Canada and gave a look into being the lone archivist for one of Canada’s largest companies. From cataloguing documents, photos, and items and putting all the information from the paper master cards created until 1980 into the digital catalogue to helping researchers and gathering items and information for exhibitions, displays, and publication, Janie Théorêt does it all. Théoret also showed how far we still have to go in the world of digital curation, as Bell does not save it’s digital advertisements, only the print ones.

 

Presenter and SIS PhD student Vera Granikov detailed what it is to be a research-embedded health information specialist, a path she said she likely wouldn’t have found herself on were it not for her practicum. Granikov says her job, and the jobs many SIS students may have in the future, doesn’t fit neatly into one category of librarian, archivist, or knowledge manager. For example, while she conducts searches and literature reviews, Granikov is also part of the research team from the moment an idea is found through applying for funding to publication.

Melissa Rivosecchi was the first librarian of the day, and brought lessons for aspiring academic librarians (or soon to be graduates in general). Rivosecchi emphasised the need to get experience outside classes, both to build your CV and gain skills needed to the do the job. Rivosecchi was also another testament to applying to jobs outside your academic background: she’s a business librarian with no business background, but worked as a Concordia Student librarian and answered questions from just about every field imaginable while doing so. Rivosecchi also gave a healthy dose of reality as she’s on contract, rather than tenure track.

Cat Henderson, who graduated from SIS only last year, focused on the importance of networking and experience outside of class. She got her job because of a person she met at a conference and has discovered the odd skills and facts you know, from reading music to technical knowledge and even customer service, can make all the difference. Henderson also emphasized that you will learn on the job, and you’ll need to stay involved in associations and reading publications so you are both aware of evolving trends and, if you are the only information professional in your organization, don’t feel alone.

 

Ted Strauss brought in perspective from outside those with a degree in library or information studies but who holds a similar job function. Strauss was also the speaker for the ICT-interested. As a data resources manager he in involved in the entire lifecycle of data storage, evaluates open source software to find what may work best, and supports researching in using that software.

Adrienne Smith works in Ubisoft’s KM group as a taxonomist, and holds the dream job for anyone frustrated by websites and their search functions. For Smith “translating” what different stakeholders say so everyone understands each other in incredibly important; it makes sure everyone knows what is wanted and what has already been done. Smith also emphasized that sometimes you just have to do something if no one else is to get it done and that the user experience is most important.

Finally, Tomasz Neugebauer bridged the worlds of archives, libraries, and ICT with his presentation on open source resources, the need for digital preservation, and aggregating services to make things better. For Neugebauer, having some computer science background is a great asset, if not essential in finding a job and, in his job, effectively doing that job.

Overall, all presenters stressed skills you simply won’t gain at SIS and the need to find out what are considered the essentials to know for what you want to do by looking at job postings and attending conferences, then going out and gaining those proficiencies.

InfoNexus 2015 – Guest Post by Kayleigh Girard

On Friday, February 6th, we held the 2015 edition of the annual student-organized InfoNexus conference, formerly known as Web 2.U. The event was held in the Thomson House ballroom, and over the course of the day we had seven presentations from a diverse and truly fascinating group of speakers. This year’s conference did not have a formal theme, but the aim of the day was to bring students and information professionals together to share ideas and discover a range of topics from all over the information science world. In light of that, the speakers each brought their unique and varied backgrounds to their presentations.

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  • Nancy Naluz, Community Manager for the Montreal Chapter of Ladies Learning Code, spoke about how and why we can learn to code, and shared with us some tips for learning.

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  • Olivier Jarda, a McGill University law student, explored some of the issues and difficulties surrounding the searching, finding, and using of information in environmental law.
  • Patrick Brian Smith and Jesse David Dinneen, both PhD students, discussed their work in applying bibliometric techniques to film theory, and the challenges this work entails.

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  • David Heti, a stand-up comedian, spoke about the ways in which comedians manipulate information, as well as the audience’s expectations and values, while performing.

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  • Herman Tumurcuoglu, founder of Mamma.com and professor at Concordia University’s John Molson School of Business, gave us some strategies and ideas for applying reverse SEO techniques to deal with issues in online reputation.
  • Nathalie de Preux, Knowledge Management Advisor at Bombardier Aerospace, gave a presentation on the process of adopting a collaboration platform within a large organization in order to share information and expertise more effectively.
  • Alexandra Carruthers, a Digital Public Spaces Librarian at the Edmonton Public Library, shared her experiences in setting up a digital space for the Edmonton local music scene at her library (Capitol City Records).

 

I’d like to extend a big thank you to our attendees, our speakers, and our organizing team, for helping to make InfoNexus 2015 happen. If you have any thoughts, feedback, or ideas to share for next year’s conference, please feel free to contact us at infonexus-inform@gmail.com.

Annual MLISSA AGM Tonight!

Important Reminder: the MLISSA AGM is tonight (Monday), at which we will be discussing topics which will greatly affect the financial future of SIS. If scholarships and grants, trips and social events, and association funding are topics that matter to you, I strongly suggest you attend.

Education Building
Room 129
5:30pm

MLISSA MOVIE NIGHT TOMORROW

Date: Thursday, December 1, 2011

Time: 7:00 pm- 10:00 pm

Place: Education 216

Showing: The Librarian: Quest for the Spear (starring hunky Noah Wyle)

SLA/LWB SOCIAL

EVERYONE GO TO THE SOCIAL ON THURSDAY NIGHT. TICKETS ON SALE IN CLASS NOW BUT PROBABLY ALSO AT THE DOOR. $5! IL MOTORE! AWESOME O’CLOCK.

(Sorry for yelling.)

From the brain of Tarquin Peter Steiner

Hey folks. So, this is my first Beyond the Shelf post, and I’m a bit nervous. So I’m going to try and keep it short and sweet. Bittersweet. Well, not too bitter. Listen, just hold your nose, okay? It’ll be over in a second.

We’re all getting wrapped up in the first of our group assignments, and I feel like the true weight of the readings is starting to sink in. We’ve all been told (I’ve been told) by quite a few second-years that the readings aren’t super useful, and often fall by the wayside when we’re performing workload triage. But I’m finding them to be rather integral to writing things like the second assignment in GLIS601 – it’s pretty clear from the way our courses are structured that our readings are designed to be our first sources of citation – though I’m willing to argue the point. To be blunt, the assignments themselves can’t possibly be incredibly informative re: our later lives as professional librarians – this is just the first semester. When going over the rubrics and assignment outlines, I wonder how interested our professors really are in the output of the MLIS Is, and whether or not these assignments are really just chits to prove we’ve done our homework.

I just reviewed what I wrote above, and I realize how pessimistic it sounds. But that’s how I’m feeling about all the make-work. There are broader concepts that students are exploring in their in-class – and out-of-class – groups that can’t be included in the scope of our assignments. And I get the impression that these are concepts that occur to each student, equally, as they pass through the introductory classes – certainly, I’ve talked to some of the upper-years and Ph.Ds about them.

I’m lucky enough to have two graduate students of philosophy in my section of 601 – ex-grads, I suppose. In conversation with Messrs. Tkach and Dinneen, a common theme has developed around our interpretations of models – of information, information-seeking, and information-retrieval, specifically. Namely, a sort of phenomenological gap: see diagram. We all remember examples of this from our high-school days – the octet rule vs. orbital hybridization (chemistry), or tendency to talk about D&D vs. # of friends (life). These are models developed to describe real things that happen in nature – and the models we discuss in class are supposed to describe real observations about information, or the way people interact with it.

Wherever there is an exceedingly complex entity, or something that is invisible, models are the way to study them. Much can be gained with the help of such models, yet models are not the final word in any science, from social to physical. They are only an intermediate step in the scientific process of investigation. But this is not a thought that is discussed in our courses.

In the hard sciences, there is an implicit understanding that your model is only a representation of a complex entity – and your true commitment, as a professional, is to truth. Thus, scientists tacitly understand that their life’s work will probably amount to the development of increasingly accurate – but never completely accurate – models. However, the flavor of our library sciences courses is much less abstract – and I think it misses that subtle tang of truth. The thesis of our courses, unspoken, is that we will be applying these models to our professional lives, eventually. But it seems clear that as professionals, we will constantly be reconsidering and attempting to refine our own stance on these concepts. Our course assignments ask us to use the models and ideas from our reading, but give us no time to address that central idea. I think that’s kind of a travesty, considering we’ll be devoting our lives to it.

With credit to the University of Oregon.

Okay! That was storytime, now for some details. In cooperation with some other students in the MLIS program, I’ve been running around collecting interviews from Alternative Library coordinators for CKUT’s literary segment. It airs at the asshole end of the morning – 7:30a.m on Mondays. And the segments we’ve been collecting run into the 0.5-1 hour range, whereas CKUT wants 5-10 minute segments. I’ve been getting some pretty incredible stuff out of people who have no previous library training, but are encountering the same problems that we’re being instructed about in our courses – and attacking those problems using DIY solutions that mirror the strategies we’re being taught. You can find the full uncut interviews here, and the first one here. I’m calling it “Behind the Stacks,” but I’d love it if someone could suggest a name that doesn’t sound so dirty. If you’re interested in helping, want to suggest changes to the format – or new places for Behind the Stacks to go once we’re finished with Alternative Library spaces – please leave a message after the beep (in the comments).

Something else that’s not very well addressed in our courses: research. I’ve been talking with a few kids in MLIS I who are a) interested in researching in library science and b) need money to do research. As such, we’ve started up a little research list-serv – a group designed to make us all feel competitive and motivated, as well as inform us of deadlines/calls for papers/grants and granting organizations. We’ve compiled a few megalists of those resources, so if you’re interested in research in archives or libraries (or the dreaded Knowledge Management) leave a comment with your email address, and I’ll add you to the list.

Finally, something fun: many of you know me from the weekly pubnights we’ve been having since the start of classes. We took a break last week to give people a chance to get their fill of POP, but we’re coming back with a vengeance: OUTDOOR VIDEOGAMES, BITCHES. If we get rained-out, we’ll be using a contingency room inside the Education Building, so I’d appreciate it if some experienced A/V nerds could volunteer to help us set up. I’ve run a couple of these events before, and they’re always pretty fun: see pictures below (note: you do not have to come dressed as a dude from Zelda. Please do not come dressed as a dude from Zelda).

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