Poster Abstracts

B. Battley: May Camp is in July: Maintaining collective memory in a community of tradition and change

Eric Ketelaar  noted that a common past is what gives continuity, cohesion and coherence to a community, and the records which support a community’s collective memory are a vital part of maintaining links with that common past. My research involves the participation of a community to which I belong, the Auckland University Tramping Club (AUTC), as well as the archival practice and academic communities, to investigate how a community with distributed archives can maintain control of the records of its collective memory, in order to better understand how archival description can support community needs. The AUTC is a club that has a constantly-renewing membership, as people are only at University for a few years, and yet the club culture has been sustained for more than 80 years, modifying over time with societal changes, and yet with a stable core. After collaborative analysis of interviews and discussions, themes have been identified and the Tramping Club community and I have developed a model of the way the community uses records in maintaining its multiple, intersecting collective memories. This poster will illustrate that model.

C. Crowell: Georgia Military Affairs: Recovering Institutional Knowledge for Successful Processing

A lack of continuous institutional knowledge can substantially impair the function of almost any organization. Without specific plans in place for amelioration, the loss of a longstanding employee can slow daily operations as remaining employees try to reconstruct what that person knew. In one particularly distinct example, between 2012 and 2016, the staff of the Georgia Archives shrank to five staff members and grew again to 25. This rapid reduction and regrowth in staff emphasizes how new archivists in such an environment are forced to find ways to work around or recover lost institutional knowledge. This project addressed one of the Georgia Archives’ several artificial collections created by archivists in the early 20 th century, which can be especially problematic as the history of these collections spans 80 years of staff turnover. Between September 2014 and December 2015, I worked with a set of transcribed volumes, titled “Georgia Military Affairs,” to locate the original documents and create some sort of lasting inventory or pointer for the transcripts. The originals had been substantially rearranged on at least three different occasions: the 1930s, when many of the records were entered into an artificial collection; the 1940s, when the military records were transcribed; and the 1960s, when archivists attempted to locate the originals from the transcribed volumes and move them to a new series. Locating these originals involved mining multiple sources in and out of the Archives to discover and reconstruct the history of the abovementioned projects, including simple fact that the 1960s project had happened. Tactics used in reconstructing the history of these documents included research in the Archives’ project files, examination of the documents for physical evidence, and consultations with previous staff members. The project required learning to interpret a transcript for how an archivist 75 years previously might have classified the original document. In the end, I have located 90% of the original documents across approximately 8440 transcribed pages, and recovered important institutional knowledge, as these skills remain useful when trying to locate documents from other early transcription projects as patrons request them.

J. DoreyBeyond Archival Intelligence: towards increased access and use of digital archives by undergraduate students

View the poster here. 

Within the sub-field of archival science, user studies and usability studies lie in the shadow of historiographies, historical methodologies and analyses of archival collections. This poster presents the results of my doctoral work, a two-phase study on the user-friendliness of university archives websites in Canada. The goals are to determine how we can operationalize the Archival Reference Knowledge (ARK) framework to systematically investigate the websites of university archives and to determine undergraduate students’ expectations of Canadian university archives websites and the barriers they face when accessing these. I have gathered quantitative data about all Canadian universities with an archives website, in French and English (n=81) and asked undergraduates to answer a questionnaire on their expectations, the barriers they face, and the relative importance of various information features present on archives websites. This study aims to operationalize and test the ARK framework, extend the assessment of university archives websites to a Canadian setting, fulfill a gap in the literature on the use of archival records at the undergraduate level, and situate archives user behaviour in the broader information behaviour literature. Practical contributions include the development of a set of best practices to design archives websites that support a meaningful, useful, and effective access to archives records and help articulate the factors required to increase users’ archival literacy online. Note: this poster was presented at the 2016 Libraries in the Digital Age (LIDA) conference in June 2016, in Zadar, Croatia.

J. Ghaddar: Colonial Legacies & the Indigenous Archive: Archival Access in a Post-Apology Canada

In 2008, the Government of Canada publicly apologized for the so-called Indian Residential School system and, subsequently, a Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) was established with the mandate to foster healing and public truth telling about the past. Other countries with parallel colonial histories and legacies, such as Australia and the United States, have made similar apologies for assimilationist policies entailing the forcible removal of Indigenous children. Archival records were crucial in all these cases. For the TRC in Canada, archival materials held by government and church institutions were so vital, that it took the Government of Canada to court to compel the compilation and handover of the relevant records. My poster explores the TRC case with a focus on issues of archival access within a framework that acknowledges the need to resolve the disconnect between the settler population and Indigenous peoples in Canada, and for a decolonizing of the archive that would entail a repatriation of the power of the knowledge held in archives. In that regard, my poster seeks to outline a critical framework that, beyond accommodation and negotiation, may allow the predominantly non-Native archival community to respond more directly to the multifaceted calls of Native people for a decolonization of the archive.

L. Gibbons: Theory for archiving online cultural heritage

Web archiving practices were developed almost 25 years ago and has since evolved into a major field of practice with leading work being done in national libraries and in independent organizations, including the Internet Archive and the International Internet Preservation Consortium (IIPC). Web archiving raises several major and complex challenges for archives, including how to conceptualize web contents and formats, how to preserve content and make it accessible in a meaningful way, and how to design and deliver policy and processes to identify and support the creation, selection and management of a cultural heritage archive. Conversations from web archive scholars over the last 5-10 years also highlight the problems with collecting content over context and the ethical dimensions of web archives. In this poster, I present a research project that engages a new continuum model, Mediated Recordkeeping, to explore interconnected and complex dimensions and systems of information and heritage. The main preliminary findings from the first stage highlight a need to better conceptualize the purpose of web archiving, how to provide useful access, as well as design web archiving programs to ensure their continuity and sustainability. Several areas of future research have been identified, in particular, design and implementation of user studies that can help inform web archiving program design.

J. Gowan: Archiving the Dust Bowl Diaspora

My primary research interest is considering how archives can better represent the diverse histories of rural communities. To approach this question, I propose new research that focuses on a specific topic archiving the records of individuals and communities affected by the Dust Bowl of the 1930s. Although historians offer conflicting data, an estimated 3.5 million people fled the Great Plains during the Dust Bowl and two-thirds of the population living in the most affected regions stayed. By examining existing archival records of the Dust Bowl Diaspora and theorizing the potential to gather these scattered memories into a single, digital space, I can begin to find concrete answers to my larger questions regarding archiving the history of rural peoples. The purpose of the first phase of this research project is to better understand the dimensions and scope of existing collections to see what has already been done, how people are telling their stories, and how they want to tell their stories. I plan to visit relevant repositories to view their collections; I also hope to collect oral histories from survivors. This is an extremely time sensitive project as few survivors of the Dust Bowl are alive today to share their memories.

Research questions I would like to present for discussion at AERI include:

● Do people who survived the Dust Bowl even want that experience to be archived? How can I argue for the historical (and contemporary) importance of archiving these records while simultaneously acknowledging survivors’ rights and needs to forget?

● Where are the records and memories of migrants and those who stayed being kept now? What forms do these records take? How might creating records, such as oral histories, benefit this specific community and/or offer a counter narrative to the more well-known photographs of anonymous, white faces from the Dust Bowl regions?

● Would it be beneficial to this diasporic community to create an online space where digital copies of their records can be collected, preserved and shared, while original copies stayed with individuals or their current repositories? Would digital repatriation be appropriate within the context of this project?

K. Gracy: Enriching and Enhancing Moving Images with Linked Open Data: An Experiment in the Alignment of Models for Moving Image Production and Archiving

Libraries, archives, and museums (LAMs) often create datasets and systems that keep records of objects and collections, but the various pieces of information about creators, places, and events found in each record are not easily connected to relevant information in other sources. To make those connections, alignment of the various vocabularies and schemas must be accomplished. Information systems use metadata schemas and vocabularies that may not be easily aligned to one another, due to mismatch in granularity between vocabularies, hidden information in unstructured fields, and limited accessibility of proprietary information from metadata aggregators. Open data sources such as DBpedia, Freebase, and the Open Movie Database can be explored as alternatives for some films, with the caveat that not all information may be as complete or “authoritative” as we might like. In a previous research project (The Metadata Vocabulary Junction Project: Connecting Library Data to the Unfamiliar Data and Metadata Resources in the LOD Universe), Zeng and Gracy explored ways of aligning LAM data, such as library bibliographic records, MARC records, markup, Dublin Core-base records, archival descriptions, and other locally defined records, to LOD data constructs, such as ontologies, metadata application profiles, and structured data in XML/RDF samples (see The purpose of the MV-Junction Project was to connect library, archive, and museum (LAM) data to the unfamiliar datasets available in the Linked Data (LD) community’s CKAN Data Hub. In the phase of the research that examined archival descriptive records, we found that there are often mismatches in granularity between LAM vocabularies and related linked open data element sets. LAM records also often feature fields of “hidden information” and hidden potential access points. In short, potential usefully information abounds in moving image records that is not semantically defined and thus cannot be used as a link to other related information or archival entities. For this research, the focus will be on the challenges of enriching and enhancing archival moving images with Linked Data. This study will consider possible metadata models for moving image production and archiving, such as those suggested in the BIBFRAME AV Modeling Study (van Maalsen, 2014), and assess how these models may be used in creating mappings between archival moving image records and relevant external data sources to aid in access and preservation of those materials. Having a common metadata model for critical archival descriptive activities may help in the alignment of current vocabularies and developing new ones that more closely address our needs, which consider the full lifecycle of archiving through production, use, and reuse. This research will also explore the feasibility of using a vocabulary such as the Ontology for Media Resources (W3C Recommendation,, to provide a core set of descriptive metadata for archival moving images that would serve as a bridge between LAM and LOD metadata schemas.

E. Horansky: Memory, Materiality, and the Archive in the Eighteenth Century

In his book The Mind is a Collection, Sean Silver notes that “John Locke says the mind is like a cabinet; Joseph Addison compares it with a drawer of medals; Francis Bacon calls it a repository; Robert Hooke calls it a workshop” (2015, p. viii). I expand on this idea by arguing that this material approach to the creation and organization of memory and the attempt to qualify memory within a physical space is born in part out of the early eighteenth century book trade and the rise of the reading public. Books become the instruments and early archive of public memory, because they are both the effort and enterprise of their producers and reading public. This is particularly evident in the rise of the secret history, a genre whose mix of fact, fiction, and pretense of revealing the hidden aspects of the private life also helped ensure that these works became to some extent the foundation of eighteenth-century public memory. With this in mind, I will illustrate how the materiality of books coupled with the reading culture of the eighteenth century brought a new sociality to texts and laid the foundations for the creation of the modern public and social memory archive. 

J. Lapp: Representing Activism: An Ethnographic Study of ‘Resistance Archive’

Social movement archives are becoming an increasingly interesting way of exploring the traces that remain after social action. They provide a means of learning from prior and current struggles by documenting solidarity and geographic convergences and divergences, and they speak to the politics of representation. There has been a great deal of interest in the notion of ‘archive’ outside of the field of archival studies, however, there is little exploration of the concept of ‘archive’ within social movement literature, despite the growth of archives with explicitly social movement and activist-focused mandates. Similarly, social movement archives have only recently come into focus within the field of archival studies; there is a need for a detailed exploration of these types of organizations and the communities they sustain. My research aims to address what I feel is a critical missing piece within the fields of social movement theory and archival studies: interrogating the processes through which social movement archival aggregations are collected and made available. Archival processes and decision-making fundamentally inform how certain activist communities’ efforts and narratives come to be represented within the archival setting and within activist communities at large. Over the course of three months I undertook an ethnographic research study at “Resistance Archive” a social movement archive located in Toronto, ON, Canada with the view to understanding not only the confluence of archiving and activism, but also the ways in which materials were being made available to support and represent the social movement efforts being documented by the archive. Through semi-structured interviews, document analysis, participant observation and the taking of detailed field notes this project uncovers permeable boundaries between notions of ‘archiving’ and ‘activism’, ongoing challenges with sustainability, evolving understandings of community, and a struggle for autonomy.

R. La Roche: Bajan to Gullah: A Kaleidoscopic Cultural Mix

View the poster here. 

Researchers have established that several British emigrants ventured from Barbados, West Indies to Charles Town (known as Charleston, 1783) as early as 1670. These two places, Barbados and Charleston share a wealth of commonalities including surnames, parish, town and street names, architecture such as single houses, chattel, and slave cabins; Anglican and Episcopal churches, and similar landscape layouts. Identified enslaved Africans/Barbadians also accompanied several of those emigrating to Carolina. While we know that the British from Barbados brought enslaved persons with them to the new colony known as Carolina, we do not know much specific information about those that were selected for the voyage to America. To date, there has been no empirical research on free mulatto or enslaved African artisans who may have accompanied their owners to the new world; nor is there any information as to why they were specifically chosen. This is in direct contrast to when we compare our knowledge regarding the importation of West Africans to SC in the 18th century who were brought to the new world for their expertise with rice technology and Indigo which significantly benefitted colonial capitalism. My research examines how African diaspora culture was transferred and retained intergenerationally from Barbadians to Gullahs of the Charleston, South Carolina area. Primary source records that support cultural heritage informatics and information science data are identified and researched; particularly relating to the transferring of African diaspora culture from Barbados to Charleston. Both inventories and journals of slaveholders have been known to document exemplar skills among enslaved artisans. These talents served to justify higher prices for selling such valuable ‘chattel property’. The archival resources in South Carolina and Barbados may prove valuable in determining why certain enslaved individuals were chosen to accompany their owners. Key artisans are identified in the records. This information aids in the identification of artisanal skills and cultural transferences occurring between Barbados and South Carolina. Repositories include but are not limited to the Barbados National Archives, the Barbados Museum and Historical Society, the University of West Indies at Cave Hill campus, Barbados; the South Carolina Department of Archives and History, the Caroliniana Library, Columbia, SC, and the South Carolina Historical Society, Charleston, SC. Records of research shall include wills, ship manifests, property, business, probate, marriage, church and other court records.

R. Margolis: Immersive VR as a Medium for Preserving Cultural Memory

Archives and record-keeping practice increasingly adopts a broader conception of what constitutes a record, acknowledging embodied forms of record-making such as performance, rituals and oral traditions. At last year’s institute, Narissa Timbery presented her research on how the Monash Country Lines Archive employed 3D models to reflect Indigenous Australian ontologies through the creation of “virtual cultural worlds.” This poster would explore virtual cultural world building as an approach to archiving embodied knowledge through an examination of the affordances of virtual reality (VR) platforms. I propose to expand my case study of the emerging sociotechnical possibilities of the immersive VR platform the Yurt (Yurt Ultimate Reality Theater) at Brown University. I will situate the Yurt through comparative study of similar technology at the Institute of American Indian Arts and a survey of emerging literature on VR and 3D modeling for cultural heritage preservation. I will also measure the limitations of the Yurt against the needs of a few artists undertaking projects utilizing immersive VR as a medium for preserving cultural memory.

N. Moles: Use and Users in Open Government Data Curation: A Case Study of Conceptions, Perceptions, and Expectations at the City of Toronto

In the past decade, calls for increased openness and transparency in the public sector have resulted in the introduction of a number of Open Government initiatives around the world. At their core, these efforts are attempts to promote accountability and transparency in governance, encourage citizen engagement, and foster innovation. They do so by making the government-created records and datasets that constitute Open Government Data, publicly available without restrictions on their use. The curatorial processes that lead to the release of Open Government Data are a key point where complex issues ranging from privacy and security concerns, to technical matters related to metadata description, discoverability, and interoperability are negotiated. These processes however, also involve decision-making around the selection, representation, and preservation of data that can alter or remove semantically significant context, omit key data elements, or obscure provenance, all of which could threaten Open Government objectives. The Open Government principles of accountability, technological innovation, citizen participation, and transparency, imply on-going access to Open Government Data as well as traceable data curation. Not only are these necessary to fulfill Open Government objectives, but in order to be effective, digital curation and preservation in this context has to encompass more than just access to authentic digital objects. The properties of usability, authenticity, reliability, and integrity have to enable Open Government Data to facilitate Open Government principles. As such, Open Government presents a new context for digital curation and preservation that this currently undefined and poorly understood. Using the City of Toronto as a case study, this research aims to identify digital curation and preservation challenges presented by Open Government; the implications of Open Government for the creation, preservation, and use of public records and datasets; and the contribution that this field can make to the larger Open Government project.

G. Rolan: Design modelling for participatory recordkeeping 

If we are to address the grand challenges of recordkeeping through participatory approaches, then we are faced with a major paradigm shift from the existing custodial practices. Consequently the design of our socio-technical recordkeeping systems must change to accommodate the multiplicities inherent in a participatory approach and to re-work our ideas of provenance. Data and process modelling needs to shift from a focus on the record as an end-product, to focusing on agency in records as the first-class concept. Moreover, multiple actors means multiple perspectives on provenance; modelling must be able to deal with multiple, incommensurate ontologies, issues of trust, and negotiated access regimes. This poster presents work-in-progress research that is attempting to address data and process modelling for participatory recordkeeping. 

H. Tibbo: [CRADLE Project (Data Management MOOC)]

This poster will discuss the Research Data Management MOOC (Massively Open Online Course), a product of the CRADLE project-- ( – and the University of Edinburgh’s MANTRA (Research Data Management Training; program. CRADLE is an IMLS (Institute of Museum and Library Services)-funded project undertaken by the School of Information and Library Science and the Odum Institute at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. CRADLE is partnering with MANTRA to produce a MOOC that is relevant to librarians, archivists, and other information professionals tasked with research data management as well as to researchers themselves. This is the first international MOOC on data management and curation. By the time of the AERI 2016 conference we will be able to report on our experience delivering this MOOC several times to an international audience that includes both information professionals and researchers. We will have four months of data to analyze regarding demographic characteristics of the participants, use of the five modules, forum participation, and queries from the participants. We also hope to be able to discuss supplementary data sets and exercises.

A. Weigle: User Experience with Physical Objects and Their Digital Surrogates

View the poster here. 

Librarians and archivists have embraced innovative technologies in providing users a way to engage with collections. This engagement is increased through various forms of social media “sharing,” which broadens cultural institutions' visibility to new or remote users. While we make strides in designing new ways to access digital collections, the question remains: what are users losing in sensory (sight, touch, sound, smell) and emotional experience at the digital level? A phenomenological approach consisting of observation and semi-structured interviews was used to investigate user experience with physical objects and their digital surrogates. Students, faculty, and staff from a large academic institution were grouped into two sets—ages eighteen to twenty-nine representing digital natives and ages thirty to sixty representing digital immigrants. The analysis was based on twenty interviews and forty video recordings, and observation notes. Using attributes associated with sensual, emotional, spatiotemporal, and numinous qualities, findings suggest users experienced little difference between the two and simple three-dimensional physical objects and their digital surrogates. However, certain physical elements from the highly complex three-dimensional object did not translate well in the digital environment. Depth, size, texture, and interactive complexities of this physical object was perceived differently in its physical form than in its digital—intrinsic information that could provide additional knowledge about the creator's meaning and intent or purpose of construction. Users overall spent more time with the textual context of digital objects than the physical objects. However, users experienced a high level of engagement with the complex physical objects based on their interest level or emotional attachment and less on supporting documents. Lastly, numinous qualities were experienced only at the physical level.