September 14

INF520 First Assessment Reflection

So, my first assessment back this session was the second one handed in. It was one of the most practical assignments I’ve had so far in this course – especially in the degree to which the expectation was to actually emulate the real-world documents we were asked to produce. The three components were: a press release, an annotated bibliography of resources to back up the press release, and a podcast/two minute public service announcement. All of these texts were meant to highlight the importance and challenges of preservation in the context of local history.

I was not as attentive as I should have been to the features of an authentic press release. I was more concerned about presenting the breadth of the issues that I wanted to present versus a bit more depth and personal connection to “hook” the audience. Due to the variety of ideas I was presenting, I also used a fair amount of bullet lists for clarity, in retrospect I should have taken a more traditional prose style – which may have helped me elaborate more productively. I also missed the key feature of providing my contact details for further information (though I did give website references which might be assumed to contain that information – but which require more effort than one should ask of a busy media person). The press release section represents my poorest performance on an assessment task in this course to date. Continue reading

September 14

INF520 Assessment 1 Part B – Annotated Bibliography

Museums Australia. (2005). Continuous culture, ongoing responsibilities. Retrieved from https://www.amaga.org.au/sites/default/files/uploaded-content/website-content/SubmissionsPolicies/continuous_cultures_ongoing_responsibilities_2005.pdf

This document provides in-depth information on the Museums Australia position on dealing sensitively with objects that were collected from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures in Australia. Of particular note are the sections on protocols regarding to sacred and secret objects and ancestral remains (pp. 18 -20). These include culturally appropriate storage, accessibility, display and, as appropriate, return or repatriation to the appropriate cultural custodians.   The preamble, especially pp. 6 – 9, provides a good grounding in the shift in the understanding of the role and responsibility of museums to serve as custodians and caretakers, rather than owners of local historical artefacts.

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September 14

INF520 Assessment 1A Press Release

Sydney Shines Spotlight on Local History Preservation Issues for History Week

Key issues regarding the collection and preservation of local historical artefacts will be addressed at public events sponsored by the NSW History Council throughout History  Week 2019: 31 August – 6 September.

Sydney, NSW: Michèle Cloonan[1] states “We can preserve some things some of the time, but not everything all of the time;…our notions of preservation must evolve to accommodate the imperatives of all our clientele.” Join local history experts at History Week events to find out about how the issues and challenges of preserving our local history affect you. Four key topics – significance, digital preservation, risk management, and ethics – will be explored through the events sponsored by the History Council of NSW. Further details about content are given below, times and locations can be found on the website.

  1. Personal Artefacts Roadshow

Have you ever wondered how the professionals decide what is worth collecting and preserving? Hear from the experts about how they assess significance – a leading factor in choosing which items to acquire and maintain – using examples from their institutions’ collections and artefacts from select audience members. Some considerations to be discussed include:

  • Value of the item:
    • Historical (personal, local, regional, national, or global);
    • Artistic and aesthetic;
    • Social and spiritual;
    • Scientific or research potential
  • Comparative value:
    • Provenance – can ownership and the journey of the item from its origin to now be proven and documented?
    • Rarity or representativeness;
    • Condition or completeness – is the item or collection complete? Is its condition such that it will be able to be preserved and maintained with reasonable expenditure of time, effort and money?
    • Interpretive capacity – can the item enhance our ability to document or interpret our local history or context?

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July 18

The ethics of personal collecting

I found it interesting when reviewing various Galleries, Libraries, Archives and Museums (GLAM) sector associations’ Codes of Ethics for my preservation subject that many considered personal collections that were in line with the collections of an employing institution were proscribed as conflicts of interest. On reflection, I can understand that serious collectors often have such a passion and thirst for their collections that could interfere with their ability to make sound judgements in their institutional collecting. On the other hand, a lively interest – manifested by a desire to collect items – in the collection area of your workplace would surely benefit GLAM sector employment. I was impressed with the way that the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) ( 2003) approached this matter in their very succinct Code of Ethics for Special Collections Librarians:

“I. Special collections librarians sometimes collect personally, as well as on behalf of their library. Personal collecting can add to the librarian’s understanding of a collecting area and the marketplace for special collections materials. Consequently, personal collecting should not be discouraged. However, special collections librarians should disclose their personal collecting activity to their employer, especially when their collecting area coincides with that of the institution. When such coincidence occurs, the special collections librarian must not compete with the library, must not build his or her personal collection at the expense of the institution’s collection, and must be diligent in distinguishing items acquired for the institution’s collection from items acquired for the personal collection. In all instances, special collections librarians should conduct their personal collecting in a manner that avoids impropriety and prevents any appearance thereof (ACRL, 2003, para. 13).”

References

Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL). (2003, October). Code of ethics for special collections librarians. Retrieved from http://rbms.info/standards/code_of_ethics/

 

July 11

Preservation vs access in action

The school where I work is currently negotiating for a building/renovation project. Since it is a government school and stands on an historic site, there are many agencies involved in the planning process. One step in the process is happening these school holidays – there is an archaelogical dig on site, looking for some significant architectural artefacts from earlier uses of the site.

I had an interesting conversation with some members of the project team today which made me think about the issues of preservation vs access raised in the Module 1 mini-lecture by Dr Pymm. Apparently, once unearthed and exposed to the air the bricks and other building materials the archaelogists find start to mould and decay, then dry out and crumble unless extraordinary measures are taken to conserve them. We briefly discussed some of the options they have to preserve and provide access to the site information: removing some of the artefacts and preserving them offsite, creating a digital presentation overlaying high-definition photographs of the excavated artefacts on to images of the site today and re-burying the artefacts, and most likely also creating an injunction to keep developers from digging out the historically significant materials.

I am not sharing pictures or specifics as I have not received permission to do so from the project team (I am still awaiting an email with a decision regarding using photos for a piece in the school newsletter next term), but I just wanted to share my experience with a preservation/conservation topic out “in the wild”, as it were.

July 1

New Session – High Goals

Subject Outlines have been released for 201960 – Session 2 of my second year in the course. Even though I am feeling fairly tired, I am raring to go as I am (perhaps recklessly) aiming to do 2 1/2 subjects this session along with working 3 days per week. I am motivated to try to get the Dean’s List award for my second year as well as my first, which requires finishing the course by the end of Session 3. Additionally, I am more interested in the elective available this session (INF520 Preservation of Information Resources) than the one available in Session 3 (INF506 Social Networking for Information Professionals).

So, I am charging out of the gate to see what I can get accomplished in the lead up to the actual start of session in a fortnight. Here are my goals after a brief look at the Subject Outlines.

ETL507:

  • Do the pre-study visit modules and quiz, when it gets loaded
  • Follow up with Uni of Sydney about placement application
  • Try to get placement sorted during the first week of school holidays

ETL504:

  • Read through assessment requirements carefully for both assessments, especially Assessment 1
  • Look at the supplementary materials on concept mapping in the Assessment 1 description
  • Do any other preliminary requirements, like logging Thinkspace blog, Intro on Student Cafe, etc

INF520:

  • Read through assessment requirements carefully
  • Do any preliminaries
  • Start in on Module 1 from the PDF versions in resources (making sure to compare once live versions are available)

That should keep me busy!