Patrick Wallace, Digital Projects and Archives Librarian at Middlebury

How to be (or foster) a mad archivist

I like his coat and tie

  • Why a “mad archivist”?
  • The laboratory, in theory and practice
  • Discussion!

The digital archive might have a wild unstructured idea behind it

  • He has been given a lot of latitude at Middlebury on what projects to focus on

Nice compilation of skills the digital archivists are supposed to know

  • Everything, basically

Love his slides. Great use of comic-style images

Archivist as a dreamer

  • Futurist, idealist, strategist

Libraries at LACs have people who will wear lots of hats

  • Talks about hiring people with strong personalities, clear idea of their work
    • SWEET Star Trek reference with “an ensemble crew” slide

Mad archivist as technician

  • Hacker/inventor/mnemonic geek

Kludge leads to solutions

  • Always more ideas than time
  • Few problems demand perfect solutions

Institutional authority vs. agency

  • Easier to apologize…

Mad archivist as outlier

  • Trans-everything, front facing…

Establish an identity

  • Create a mission statement for your “lab”
  • Pursue your own goals
  • Draw lines between consultation and collaboration
  • Own your own work (but license freely)
    • Makes fascinating comparison with a science lab where everyone who picks up a beaker gets official credit

Importance of making time

  • Learning is work, research is work, tweaking is work, documentation is work…

Prepare for experimentation

  • Linux + sudo privileges
  • Storage space
  • Off-network sandbox
  • Special hardware

Take notes

  • Use to observe difference between productive and wasted effort

Metrics of madness

  • For digital collections, success is measured by volume, reusability, quality, and accessibility

He pushes things out to the Internet Archive (specifically shouts out their Python library)

Share everything!!!!

  • Research, workflows, code, content
    • “be promiscuous with your archives”

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One thought on “Holding Space

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