Monday, January 25, 2010

An introduction and podcasts

Hi everybody! My name is Ben Bromley and I am one of the RAO interns for this year. I'm a graduate student at the School of Information and Library Science at UNC, and I'll be graduating in May. My goal for writing on this blog is to try and find some of the cool things that archives are doing to promote and provide access to their materials.

Podcasts are audio broadcasts delivered via an RSS feed or through a website. You can listen to them on your computer, or you can listen to them on a digital audio player, such as an iPod or a Zune. There are usually presented in episode format and are published on a regular basis.

There are two primary types of archival podcasts: podcasts that contain digitized audio material from their collections and podcasts of new material that are created by archives in order to promote materials, talk about events, and other similar things. Often, both of these types of podcasts are combined. Here is a short list of archival podcasts that are available online.

  • Presidential Libaries Uncovered: A podcast from the National Archives and Records Administration which takes recorded audio of presidents from Hoover through Clinton talking about major policy initiatives, giving major speeches, or talking informally with friends and advisors. Recent episodes include Nixon talking about his 1972 trip to China, John F. Kennedy creating the Peace Corps, and Lyndon B. Johnson talking about his Great Society.

  • The Virtual Gramophone: A podcast from the Library and Archives of Canada which features digitized recordings of 78-rpm records and wax cylinders from their collections.

  • Podcasts from the Los Alamos Historical Society: A podcast from the Los Alamos Historical Society which primarily focuses on the Manhattan Project, nuclear technology, the Cold War, and (surprisingly enough) ranching.

  • Collections Up Close: A podcast from the Minnesota Historical Society which “tells the stories behind selected items in the Minnesota Historical Society's collections.”

  • Podcasts from the National Archives of the United Kingdom: This podcast “features a mix of lectures from top academics specifically aimed at pupils alongside radio-style investigations of historical topics using primary documents from the National Archives read by actors.”

  • Kansas Memory Podcast: This podcast features the stories of people from Kansas, both famous and not, as told through their letters, diaries, and other documents.

  • What Endures...: This podcast from the LSU Libraries Special Collections T. Harry Williams Center for Oral History features updates on Center projects and activities as well as featuring audio excerpts from their collections.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

RLG draft report on digital cameras in the reading room

Thanks to Kate Theimer and ArchivesNext for this information:

"Capture and Release": Digital Cameras in the Reading Room
Lisa Miller, Steven Galbraith, and members of the RLG Working Group on Streamlining Photography and Scanning [forthcoming in February 2010]

As Kate notes, this report contains an overview of current practice, guidelines concerning use of digital cameras in your reading room, copyright law, and adaptable forms.

It’s a good bet that the working group would be interested in comments on the draft from RAO members. Send ‘em in! (

-- Kathy Marquis

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Top Ten Tips for getting involved in NHD Activities

National History Day may be not be until June but many students are already beginning work on projects. Students and teachers are preparing for the state and local History Day competitions that will start soon. How can you support these students? Here are ten suggestions for you…..

1. Visit the National History Day website <> to learn this year’s theme (Innovation in History), learn more about the contest, see sample topics, see the kinds of projects students and do and the criteria used for judging these projects.

2. Talk to other archivists in your community about their involvement in History Day activities. Consider working together to develop a program to support students and teachers participating in History Day activities.

3. Serve as a mentor. Students may need help locating beneficial resources and may nervous about using archives or other information resources. Help them find the resources they need and be available to review their project and help them prepare for the competition.

4. Add information about History Day to your repository website. Include a list of archival terms and their definitions, provide information on the rules and regulations for your repository and give information on collections or other resources that might support student’s topics.

5. Write an article for your community newspaper or for your school district’s teacher newsletter letting readers know about your repository, your hours and how you can support students and teachers participating in History Day.

6. Provide additional support to History Day students. Offer to wave fees to those students participating in History Day programs. Open on a few Saturdays or evenings to provide students who may not be able to come in during regular business hours an opportunity to use your resources.

7. Offer to speak either at a faculty meeting or a Parent-Teacher Association meeting about your repository and how you can support National History Day or other kinds of educational programming.

8. Serve as an advocate for History Day activities. Encourage community leaders and government representatives on the local, state and national level to support History Day activities and the archival repositories that support these activities.

9. Offer a workshop at your repository for students and teachers working on History Day projects. Provide an opportunity for participants to learn about your repository, how to do research in archives, how to use historical documents and provide time for them do their own research at the end of the repository.

10. Volunteer to be a judge. Even if you can’t get to the national competition in College Park, Maryland, the state and local competitions need judges. Contact your state coordinator to learn more. You can find the list of state coordinators at