What is an archives?

by Catherine Miller, CA, Digital Archivist, UT Southwestern Library

What comes to mind when you hear the word “archives”? Do you immediately picture your email “archive” or an “archive” that you see on a blog site? Or do you think, “Hmmm, archives says to me dust, old stuff, attics, or basements”? Or do you say to yourself, “I have no conception of what that means”? If any of the above is true, then this is an exciting opportunity to introduce you to what an archives is.

To understand what an archives is, it is useful to compare archives and libraries. Indeed, my favorite analogy for explaining the difference between archives and libraries is the following:

“Libraries are to restaurants – AS – Archives are to grocery stores”

When you visit a restaurant, you select a meal from the menu, and the meal is prepared for you: you receive the meal at the restaurant table as a finished product. When you visit a library, you browse the shelves and select a book to read: the book you choose is the synthesized finished product of research from various sources that have been interpreted for you and presented to you in the neatly bound book you hold in your hands. Conversely, when you go to the grocery store, you are getting the raw materials to assemble a meal yourself. For example, the ingredients for an awesome spaghetti dinner include pasta, tomatoes/tomato sauce, onion, green pepper, ground beef, etc. Just as you have to bring together the various materials to make this awesome spaghetti, archives are all about bringing together records from various creators to tell an awesome story. Working in archives, you become the aggregator of information (the cook, so to speak) who is piecing together the records of history so as to tell a story. With archives, you are the interpreter of records, unlike with reading a book, where the information presented has already been interpreted by the author.

Archives contain unique records that a researcher will not find anywhere else. This is a main distinguishing factor between the work of librarians and the work of archivists. Generally, librarians work with published, widely distributed books that you can find in any library.[1] Archivists generally work with non-published materials such as an individual’s personal papers that you will only find at one institution. For example, the UT Southwestern Archives has the records of Dr. Alfred G. Gilman in our Alfred Goodman Gilman Collection. It was donated by Dr. Gilman in December 2012 and contains records which a researcher will only find by visiting the UT Southwestern Archives. The international impact of research is illustrated in one way by the following document that you will only find in the Archives here at UT Southwestern:

Now that you have an idea of what an archives is and how they differ from libraries, here’s a brief introduction to the UT Southwestern Archives. The UT Southwestern Archives is responsible for collecting, processing, preserving, and providing access to the records essential to documenting the administrative, intellectual, and social life of UT Southwestern Medical Center. The Archives is dedicated to documenting:

  1. The mandated functions of UT Southwestern Medical Center and our University Hospitals: education, research, and healthcare delivery
  2. The governance and administration of UT Southwestern Medical Center
  3. The lives of faculty, staff, students, and alumni of UT Southwestern Medical Center
  4. Parkland Memorial Hospital, which has been UT Southwestern’s long-time teaching hospital

The Archives has both institutional records and manuscript collections that contribute to telling the larger story of UT Southwestern’s history. You can learn more about the Archives’ holdings by visiting our webpage. The Archives holds many photographs documenting UT Southwestern’s built environment, research activities, faculty, students, etc. Over 700 of these photos have been digitized and are available to view online in the UT Southwestern Image Archives.

Curious to learn more about the UT Southwestern Archives and about the work that archivists do? Send us your questions at archives@utsouthwestern.edu!

[1] There are exceptions to this rule in the library world, with rare book libraries and special collection libraries being two immediate examples.

Celebrating National Medical Librarians Month

“The Medical Library Association has declared October as National Medical Librarians Month to raise awareness of the important role of the health information professional,” said Kelly Gonzalez, MSIS, MBA, Assistant Vice President for Library Services. Library staff strive to support UT Southwestern Medical Center’s educational, research, and clinical missions through services, including the:

  • Provision of a comprehensive digital collection of databases and resources
  • Delivery of librarian-mediated searches in response to clinical and research inquiries
  • Education of UT Southwestern Medical Center students, faculty, and staff on how to access/use electronic resources
  • Archiving of the institution’s historical documents, photographs, etc.
  • Collection, preservation, and distribution of UTSW electronic theses, dissertations, and archives in its institutional repository

For more information or to schedule training with a health sciences librarian, please contact us by completing the Ask Us form or call 214-648-2001.

#AskAnArchivist Day is Wednesday, October 4th!

The UT Southwestern Archives is very excited for our 2nd annual participation in #AskAnArchivist Day on Wednesday, October 4, 2017.

What is #AskAnArchivist Day?

First, it’s an opportunity for the UT Southwestern community to learn more about the records that document our institution’s history and how those records can be accessed for research purposes.

Second, it’s also an opportunity for Catherine Miller, the Library’s digital archivist, to talk about the work she does in helping to create further understanding about what archives are and what archivists do. Cathy says, “I am especially excited to be talking about the UT Southwestern Archives this year on #AskAnArchivist Day as our institution’s 75th anniversary is on the horizon for next year. UT Southwestern Medical Center has amazing stories to tell and many of those stories can be found in records located in the UT Southwestern Archives.”

For example, did you know that Dr. Philip O’Bryan Montgomery, Jr., was the recipient of NASA’s Silver Snoopy Award in 1970? This news release from the Archives tells us that Dr. Montgomery received this award as well as a letter from astronaut James Lovell of Apollo 13 fame!

How does #AskAnArchivist Day work?

It’s simple! Cathy will be available at UT Southwestern Library’s Twitter handle (@utswlibrary) to answer all your archives-related questions. Just send your questions to @utswlibrary using the hashtag #AskAnArchivist. Along with questions from the UT Southwestern community, she will share highlights from the Archives throughout the course of the day.

So start thinking about what questions you’d like to have answered. For example, have you been wondering how to manage your digital files, including email? Puzzling over creating appropriate file naming conventions for your digital records? Worried about digital obsolescence? Curious about digital preservation? Questioning how to preserve your grandmother’s scrapbook? These are all topics Cathy is excited to talk about with you, and she would love to hear questions from you about “all things archives”!

Coming in November — Key Class Series!

Attend any or all of the “Key Classes” of our most frequently requested topics! Classes are free, hands-on, and open to all faculty, students, clinicians, and staff of UT Southwestern Medical Center and the University Hospitals. Don’t delay: register now in Taleo Learn, but be advised that seating is limited!

For more information on the “Key Classes” or other training/class topics, please email LibAsk@utsouthwestern.edu or call 214-648-2001.

Class Title: Expert Database Searching
Location: South Campus Library Classroom (E2.310A)
Date: November 2, 2017
Time: 1 – 3 p.m.

Locate electronic full-text articles using the Library’s wide range of databases, including Ovid MEDLINE®, Embase®, PubMed, CINAHL, and Scopus. Learn how to utilize Medical Subject Headings (MeSH) terms and keywords to narrow your search to locate exactly what you’re looking for. Each database has its own unique way to search effectively and one method does not fit all.

Class Title: Evidence-Based Practice
Location: South Campus Library Classroom (E2.310A)
Date: November 7, 2017
Time: 1 – 3 p.m.

Evidence-based practice is an approach to clinical practice that revolves around using the best available clinical evidence when making treatment decisions about individual patients. One of the biggest challenges of evidence-based practice is locating and identifying the best available clinical evidence and determining which resources to use when gathering evidence. This class will introduce the number of systems developed for the identification of best evidence resources for clinical evaluation.

Class Title: EndNote X8 Citation Management
Location: South Campus Library Classroom (E2.310A)
Date: November 14, 2017
Time: 1 – 3 p.m.

How much time do you spend on your reference section? This key class will include:

  • Creating and organizing an EndNote library
  • Adding references to a library both manually and by using direct export or filters
  • Using the “Group” function to organize references
  • Inserting and editing citations in a Word document using EndNote’s Cite While You Write (CWYW) function
  • Formatting references in different reference or output styles
Class Title: Introduction to Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analysis
Location: South Campus Library Classroom (E2.310A)
Date: November 21, 2017
Time: 1 – 3 p.m.

This class will review methods used by those performing systematic reviews and meta-analysis, including building a team and formulating a research question and hypothesis, as well as methods for searching the literature, abstracting information, and synthesizing the evidence both qualitatively and quantitatively. We will also cover how to formulate an answerable research question; define inclusion and exclusion criteria; search for the evidence; extract data; assess the risk of bias in the underlying studies; perform qualitative synthesis, meta-analysis, and sensitivity analysis; and assess meta-bias.

New reservation protocol for reserving the Library Informatics Classroom

Reserving the South Campus Library Informatics Classroom just got a whole lot easier! A publicly-available, Library staff mediated calendar is now available on the Library Informatics Classroom Room Request page in the Library’s website. Clicking the red button on the top of the Request page will allow you to search by date. The calendar will only show times that are available. Once you find the appropriate times for your event, you will be prompted to submit your information to a request form, which will then be directed to Library staff for final approval.

An alternative calendar view is available by clicking on the yellow “Reserve a Room” button on the Library’s Home page. You will need to designate the “Library Informatics Classroom” from the drop-down menu.

For more information about the classroom policies and procedures, go to the Library Informatics Classroom Request page on the Library’s website or email Jane Scott.

North Campus Branch Library Photography Exhibit explores shooting film and silver printing

CORRECTION: The photographer’s reception is on Thursday, September 21, 2017.

 

 

 

 

A photography exhibit that highlights the work of a talented UT Southwestern postdoc, Ping-Hung Chen, is now available for viewing at the North Campus Branch Library (ND2.300). The exhibit features 30 works shot with traditional film and silver gelatin processes.

Ping-Hung Chen’s photographic interests primarily include landscapes and are a personal chronicle of his life experiences. His use of traditional processes like the analog gelatin-silver medium, bring rich detail, tonality, and contrast to his works.

The exhibit will be on display from now until January 31, 2018. An artist reception with refreshments will be held on Thursday, September 21, 2017, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m..

An online collection of Ping-Hung Chen’s photography may be found on his Flickr page.

The power of crowdsourcing in libraries and archives

Unidentified photo from the UT Southwestern Collection. https://www.flickr.com/photos/utswlibraryarchives/15412543801/

Crowdsourcing, as defined by Merriam-Webster, is “the practice of obtaining needed services, ideas, or content by soliciting contributions from a large group of people and especially from the online community rather than from traditional employees or suppliers.” In the library and archives world, crowdsourcing has proven to be an effective tool in helping to identify photographs, transcribe documents, and provide other descriptive information that helps libraries and archives to increase the discoverability of and access to their materials.

Crowdsourcing is a popular method for archives to identify people, places, and events in photographs. Many eminent institutions – e.g., the Library of Congress – have harnessed the power of crowdsourcing and Flickr to aid in the identification of photographs through the launch of the Flickr Commons project. A 2008 Newsweek article highlighted that within 24 hours of the project’s launch, “all 3,115 images had been viewed at least once (with 650,000 total views), more than 500 pictures had received comments, and 4,000 unique tags had been added.”

Following in the model of the Library of Congress’s Flickr Commons project, the UT Southwestern Archives has a Flickr account, and we upload photos to that account from our UT Southwestern Collection for which we have little to no identifying information. You may wonder: Why are we putting this call for information out on the Flickr-verse? Don’t we know everyone in the photos? What about the date of and location where the photo was taken? The answer is: We would love to!

This opens up the conversation about the importance of metadata at the point of creation of a photograph. What is metadata? Put simply, it is data about data. A simple example of metadata is writing a name, date, or description on the back of a photograph (or included with the photograph and recorded on a separate piece of paper). To carry this example into the digital age, born-digital photographs can have descriptive metadata easily embedded in them with software applications like Adobe Bridge.

An example of metadata: we know who took this photo and when it was taken. Source: Repository: University Archives, University of Miami. Collection: University of Miami Historical Photograph Collection. http://merrick.library.miami.edu/cdm/ref/collection/umiscel/id/28

If metadata is not associated with a photograph at the beginning, even the best investigative archivist will struggle to identify the people, places, and events in photographs. To help with this, many archives utilize crowdsourcing to help identify photographs in their holdings. Here are a few examples:

With the 75th anniversary of UT Southwestern approaching, the UT Southwestern Archives is going through many photos in our collections, including these mystery photos. Excited to help the archives in their crowdsourcing endeavors? Get started today by visiting our Flickr page and browsing through the images. See anyone you know? Have other information to share about a photo? Leave a comment!

Want to learn more about the UT Southwestern Archives? Visit our webpage here and send any questions you may have to us at archives@utsouthwestern.edu.

Annual “On My Own Time” art show now on display at South Campus Library

The 17th annual On My Own Time art show is now open in the South Campus Library! Visit the show to see the impressive talents of your friends and colleagues at UT Southwestern. Nearly 100 pieces are on view through September 19.

Be on the lookout in next week’s Campus Update for a link where UT Southwestern affiliates can cast their vote for this year’s “People’s Choice” winner!

Last call for entries for Employee Art Show

Put the finishing touches on your masterpiece: There’s still time to register for the 17th annual “On My Own Time Employee Art Show” hosted at the Health Sciences Digital Library and Learning Center on South Campus. Registration is open through July 14.

UT Southwestern faculty, staff, and students are invited to submit their best artwork in a wide range of mediums: works on paper or canvas, black-and-white or color photography, enhanced photography/computer art, sculpture, ceramics, wood, glass, jewelry/metals, mixed media, textiles/fiber, corporate collaboration, sustainable art, and literary art.

Winning entries for each category will go to a regional exhibition at NorthPark Center.

For more information, visit the On My Own Time webpage.

Key dates

July 14 (Friday)

July 20-21 (Thursday and Friday)

  • Artists drop off artwork at the South Campus Library (E2)

July 24-28 (Monday through Friday)

  • Artwork installation for exhibit

July 31 (Monday)

  • OMOT art display official “Opening Date”

July 31-Sept. 19

  • UT Southwestern Art Show held

Aug. 7-11

  • “People’s Choice” online voting

Aug. 14th (week of)

  • Judges select UT Southwestern winners

Aug. 24

  • Reception at the Faculty Club to announce the winners
    4:30-5:30 p.m., Florence Building (E4), South Campus, fourth floor