Emerging practices changing histories

Event run by the University’s Centre for Visual & Oral History Research (programme unavailable online). Missed Dr Rob Perks’ intro but just picking up on the discussion: initial question about the availability & “archiving” (ie deposit)of HLF funded projects under the £82 million programme.

Now into series of presentations on “oral history & contested spaces”, a series of case studies on current research into areas as diverse as the Allied bombing of France in WW2, hitchhiking & experiencing gender. Continue reading


DO touch

The latest Museum Practice looks at how opening collections up and allowing visitors to touch and handle artefacts doesn’t have to be at odds with conservation concerns.

This is something we know all about in archives! – and it’s something many users are very excited about.

“Can I touch it? – Yes.  Do I have to wear gloves? – No.  Wow!” is a typical exchange.

Unlike museum objects which are often in cases (for sound conservation reasons), most archives are there to be touched.  It’s the “getting to the archival documents in the first place” bit that the archives domain could learn from museums.

Voices of the Holocaust

I make no apology for repeating the topic of a previous post on Holocaust Memorial Day (27th January).   Go and look at/listen to the Voices of the Holocaust website – the earliest known oral histories of the Holocaust, recorded by David Boder (born Aron Mendel Michelson, 1886-1961).  Boder was an academic then at Chicago who during 1946 recorded the immediate experiences of trauma from ‘Displaced Persons’ before most people had begun to deal with their experiences.

…Boder’s recordings, conducted so soon after the war, remain unique and utterly absorbing.  to hear them is to once again enter a room somewhere in Europe as a young man or woman leans forward and, for the first time, shares a life that for five years has been shattered, and for this wise and gentle interviewer to accumulate another fragment in his terrible mosaic.  (Mark Burman)

Boder himself had been a refugee, fleeing the Russian civil war in 1919 via Japan and Mexico and losing his second wife in the Mexican flu epidemic.  He spoke nine languages.  His training in clinical interviewing and “his multilingual, nuanced understanding of east Europe’s fault lines” made him perhaps uniquely qualified for the task.  The website, from the Galvin Library Illinois Institute of Technology, is a model of archival presentation and deserves your attention, as does Boder and his work.

“A message for the library [archives] apparatchiks of the 21st century”

Some of the most important books in the history of research remain unloved and un-taken off the shelves for decades or centuries. Dont throw them away; please. They will eventually come into their own and be what research is all about, or some of them will (and wevdont [sic] yet know which). Or to put it more positively: the University Library is my equivalent of the Hadron Collider (part white elephant, part cutting edge techonology)..and, oh, it needs money to keep it up to atomic speed.

From Mary Beard’s blog on the TLS.

As a classicist you rely to a large extent on published editions of records and other original materials, often themselves transcribed and copied, often many times over the centuries.  There’s a small (!) amount of material – ok generalising wildly – compared to the wealth of records from the 19th century onwards available to the historian. And yet I think Beard’s words resonate for records too, and contribute to the difficult and often unexplored issues around appraisal.

Metamorphosis: multi-purpose library – afternoon session

Well, I can recommend the tapas at Instituto Cervantes…

Marie-Françoise Bisbrouck took the first afternoon slot, speaking on “The evolution of library buildings in France from the 60s to the present”. Interestingly as part of the context to her talk, Bisbrouck described the HE landscape in France particularly the rapid growth from 16 universities in 1960 to 57 (1970) increasing to 92 (2000) and then down to 80 universities 2011 spread through 480 towns (!); the decrease being down to the Shanghai rankings revealing the disparate, dispersed and comparatively weak nature of research and the cull which followed. Continue reading

Metamorphosis: multi-purpose library – morning

The programme and speaker abstracts are available from http://eurolis.wordpress.com/seminars/

After a welcome by the Director and head Librarian of the Instituto Cervantes (the venue for the day) , and a brief introduction to Eurolis, Olaf Eigenbrodt began with a prezi on “Envisioning the fluid library: multifaceted community space for information, networking and communication” [I currently can’t find this to link to on the public prezi site].

Continue reading

“Trust dies but mistrust blossoms”: big data, personal data and “information sovereignty”

Demos published a report on “The Data Dialogue” in September 2012 with

the results of the largest ever poll of public attitudes on personal information and data- sharing. Based on a representative sample of 5,000 adults, the report finds a growing crisis in consumer confidence over how government and business handle personal data, and discomfort about the way in which personal information and data are currently being used.

The report argues that this loss of confidence could have a knock-on effect on the economy and on the quality of services available to consumers. However, it also finds that views about sharing change when people are given more control and choice about what data is shared, and when the benefit of sharing that data is made clear to them. It therefore suggests that consumers should be engaged in an honest dialogue about how data are collected and used, and be given meaningful choice and control over the information they share. That will be good for business and consumers alike.

Continue reading