Winter/Spring 2002

Volume 21 Number 3


Editor's Comments
Archives Advisor
People & Places
President's Report
Joint Global Assessment
Red Faced Archivist
Extremes: Archives
U of A EAD Project
Modern Information Carriers

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Report from the President
by Jo-Ann Munn Gafuik: Winter 2002

We have had a busy winter and I would like to take this opportunity to update members on the most important undertakings to date.

As most of you are aware, the City of Edmonton Archives is going through a difficult period. A series of resignations in the fall had the effect of highlighting operational concerns at the Archives, which is part of the Recreation Facilities portfolio at the City of Edmonton. This prompted Linda Cochrane, Branch Manager of Recreation Facilities for the Community Services Department, to appoint consultant, Don Cummings, to review staffing and governance issues at the Archives. The Board responded by providing Ms. Cochrane with relevant information regarding the competencies of archivists and the role of the archives in an organization. This information was also copied to all elected officials as well as the City Manager and Community Services General Manager. We have also offered the consultant the support of the Board and our members. I know that Mr. Cummings has already contacted several of you. In fact, he indicated to me that our input had been quite helpful.

Despite the fact that the position of chair of the Education Committee is vacant, there is still advancement on the education front. Outgoing chair, Linda Fraser, had set the program for the year before she resigned and then generously agreed to write the CCA grant applications for the 2002-2003 year when no one volunteered to take over. Michael Gourlie is making final arrangements for the 2002 Archives Institute, which continues to draw participants, and is an important source of education for some of our members. Janet McMaster attended the ACA CAIN education roundtable in early March on behalf of the ASA. So work is getting done but without co-ordination and direction, there will be missed opportunities. If anyone has the time and energy to take this on, please contact Michael.

The heaviest draw on the Board's time is, of course, the CAIN project. Geraldine Harris, CAIN project manager, has updated you on the technical details of what has been done this year elsewhere in this bulletin. Susan Kooyman has outlined one of the exciting new ideas the CAIN committee is working on. I would like to discuss next year's plans.

We are going to be spending money in four major areas - preparation of fonds level descriptions, continuing development of the technical infrastructure, digitization of original material, and training. Allocations are based on Heritage Canada funding priorities, provincial government funding parameters, CAIN Committee recommendations, member comments, and needs identified in the survey conducted last summer. Details are as follows:

Preparation of RAD descriptions
a) $105,000 to hire 3 project archivists to write fonds level descriptions for records in the custody of the Provincial Archives of Alberta
The PAA is responsible for hiring its own staff but the Board is assisting with the recruitment of qualified people.

b) $140,000 to hire project archivists to do the following in this order of priority:

  • revise existing RAD descriptions as per the Marlene van Ballegooie report
  • convert existing collection level descriptions to RAD
  • write new fonds level descriptions
To ensure that all members have access to qualified staff and to ensure that specific goals are met, the Board has decided to hire Janet McMaster to coordinate this activity. Members will not be asked to submit project applications; instead Janet will contact members to determine requirements. She will do some of the contract work in the south of the province herself but will also be responsible for hiring and coordinating the activities of other contractors including the University of Manitoba students if that arrangement can be worked out. [see Geraldine's article]

Technical/Operational Network Infrastructure
a) $50,000 Continue to work with Knight Enterprises to establish a high speed network link between all member institutions and the ACT Cinemage software group in Vancouver and the ANA/CAIN servers in Alberta

b) $15,000 Contract with Bill Purver to work with the ACT Cinemage group and the ASA technical support team to develop the collection management software

Scanning and Digitization
a) $150,000 to complete digitization projects
In March, member institutions will have an opportunity to submit grant applications for digitization projects. The Grants Committee is working out the details but the application form will be similar to the one circulated for the latest round of CAIN grant applications and will be accompanied by an outline of guidelines for digitization projects as well as production standards that will have to be met.

The Board would like to ensure that all eligible member institutions have an opportunity to contribute digital content and is therefore developing two application processes. The first will be the typical application - the institution will draft a detailed budget and work plan, coordinate the project and hire appropriate staff. The second assumes that the institution has the equipment but no experience and very little expertise as yet. The institution will be asked to describe the project - eg. what is to be digitized, how many images in the final product, and why the project is important. The Grants Committee will cost out the project and, if approved, Geraldine will hire and supervise staff that will scan the images, upload them to the database etc. Further information will be circulated once the plan has been fully developed.

b) $75,000 to complete digitization projects
The Board will release funds in the fall for a second round of digitization projects. This amount may be reduced if there are unanticipated hardware/software costs.

$10,000 to provide a number of workshops to member institutions
We expect to offer RAD and digitization training but will formalize our plans once the ACA has developed their own. There is no point in duplicating services.

Cinemage training will also be available and will be scheduled as soon as the software is ready. We are likely to use a 'train the trainer' model so that long term costs are manageable. Information will be circulated as it become available.

So it has been a busy year and the next promises to be even busier. All very exciting and only possible thanks to the support of a number of key volunteers, paid staff members, and government sponsors.

As always, contact me or any member of the Board if you have any questions or suggestions.


Susan Kooyman:

"The new server and Cinemage software which ASA has just purchased opens the door to an exciting development for the Archives Network of Alberta (ANA). Not only will the new system provide a home for the ANA database and the ASA web site, but it will also allow us to create a platform for mounting digitized images, and to deliver these to the Web in a highly searchable and user-friendly manner. This will make a wonderful home for the results of current and future digitization projects undertaken by ASA's Institutional Members, and will relieve our Members of having to acquire expensive software and special expertise on their own.

The platform will be available for all kinds of archival images, including photographs, cartoons, maps, and textual documents. A prototype of the new ANA Image Server will be developed by Bill Purver over the next few months, with the cooperation of several ASA Institutional Members undertaking digitizing projects under the current ANA Grants. If your institution has digitized images and would like to volunteer to be part of the trial development, please contact us.

The official launch for the as-yet-unnamed image platform will be during Archives Week in October. If you have any ideas for a catchy name, we would love to hear from you."