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Directed Field Work
Weekly Reflections

 Week 1:

The first week at the Celtic Arts Foundation (CAF) was one of exploration and discovery. I took a road trip up to Mt. Vernon to meet Elena Bianco, our sponsor for the fieldwork. Elena is a librarian for Skagit Valley College and is a longtime volunteer for CAF.

            The building itself is impressive, with an accessible wheelchair ramp at the front entrance of this building in this quaint, rural town tucked along the I-5 corridor connecting Seattle and Vancouver, BC. Famous for its tulip growing, the town quickly turns to farm country within a mile of the CAF facility.

            Inside, visitors enter a lobby covered with photographs of bagpipe players and smiling board members. The large performance space to the left hosts a stage and an open, multi-use floor with vaulted ceilings. Across the lobby, a board room with a long table contained a handful of volunteers who looked to be cataloging and identifying physical documents. Elena showed me a collection of books as well that they had been working on.

            One of the volunteers was Corey Cherrington, a previous UW MLIS student who has created a through and completely necessary Policies & Procedures document for CAF which will guide both Riley and I through our DFW.

            The majority of this week was spent reading the document and watching youtube videos that Corey created. The videos walk us through, step by step, using the software programs CAF uses, including Bagit, Sharepoint, and Preservica. I spent time mid-week creating the Student Learning Outcomes as I thought best.

            We met with Elena via zoom on Thursday morning and went through the document together, finally deciding to combine the best elements of Riley’s and mine so that we were both utilizing the same guiding outcomes. We also agreed that we will create a policy in the coming week (with Riley and I coming to next week’s meeting with rough drafts) that will guide us in identifying and tagging photographs that adhere to CAF’s goals of DEI.

            Our goal for the coming week is to pull as many photographs from Sharepoint as possible, downloading into Bagit and creating a spreadsheet that we can share with Elena so that she can verify we are identifying the correct photographs. I will concentrate on the Mastery of Scottish Arts photos, which are mainly of a series of classes and concerts, while Riley will handle Highland Games.

            We have a lot of work ahead of us and I hope we will be able to make some serious progress this semester, helping to organize CAF’s archives.

Week 1
Week 2

Week 2:

           The second week of my DFW was one of confusion, flexibility, and the realization that there was going to be a very steep learning curve on this project. I kept a list of questions for Elena as I went along. I realized, as the week went on, that one of the overarching questions I had was about exactly where the information about the files we were working on needed to be recorded. We had been given directions (through Corey’s videos) on bagging, refining, and trimming the data on files, but where exactly was I to put this information?

           I had started the process by trying to install bagit as per the instructional videos, but despite being able to download python, download bagit and find the command center as instructed, I just could not get bagit to run on my PC. I went back to Github (where the download was for bagit) and saw that there was an option for bagger. I remembered Corey had mentioned the program briefly in one of the videos. That did the trick. I was able to open bagger and quickly read through the help files to bag a file. Riley reached out with the same question—it seemed we were both having the issue, so we were happy to have this resolved. Elena confirmed that we should try to use bagger.

          I followed the instructions for downloading from Sharepoint, bagging the files and cleaning them up with OpenRefine. Corey’s videos were crucial for these processes and very thorough. Just when I thought we were going to have smooth sailing and be able to upload files to Preservica, I ran into an issue. I just could not manage to get the files uploaded with the metadata file attached. I could upload the photos okay, but the metadata just would not transfer.

          At our weekly meeting, we explained the issues to Elena. It seemed that Riley and I had many of the same questions and issues. Elena was able to tell us the steps we would take regarding pasting our data into the inventory template. We found that the link in the Policies & Procedures document was incorrect, so Riley was able to update that during the meeting. We agreed that we should try to set up a meeting with Corey to figure out what was going wrong with the uploads.

           I thought I should work on uploading in different ways. First, I thought I  should change the title in the first column of the metadata file: Corey mentioned labeling it “filename” but in the Dublin Core Template we downloaded from Preservica they have the first column labeled “file or folder name”. I also discovered that you cannot change the template file name, that it must stay “Dublin_Core-template”. So, I had some success there in that it would upload, though not all of the information transferred.

           I decided, too, that I should next try bagging just a single file. The first one I tried had embedded files and this may not be the ideal situation. Because we were having trouble with the upload stage, and until we talk to Corey, we decided that next week we could spend just bagging and refining more files and hold off on the uploading.

           We noted, also, that later in the semester is when we will start adding further descriptions and metadata to the individual photos we have uploaded (info like names of people in the photos.) We also need to make some naming rules for the project before we get too far—for example, right now, some files that are already uploaded all have the same title of “2007 Highland Games”. We want to distinguish between them, but be able to have a rule that we will be able to easily duplicate for other categories. We agreed to work on that over the next few weeks.

           Though technology can be extremely frustrating, there is much in this project to stretch our thinking and many opportunities to learn. Elena and Riley are a joy to work with, so it’s a great environment to learn in.  

Week 3:
This was a week of solidifying procedures. For the first time, through trial and error, I was able to upload a set of photographs to Preservica together with a metadata file, which tracked and attched to the appropriate photos. There were several steps I had to take in order to make this work:
1) I removed the .xmp and the .TIF files from both the folder and the metadata sheet so that I was only dealing with .jpegs
2) I did not attempt any nested files 
3) The metadata sheet needed to be saved as a .csv file and put into the folder with the photos (not outside the file)
4) As noted last week, the .csv file MUST be named Dublin_Core-template.csv every time you upload a file. For those who might be doing this after me, make sure it does not save as an excel file!
5) After the photos upload successfully in Preservica, there are a series of questions you are asked: 
a) Select a delimiter for the .csv file: Choose Comma-it has worked every time. (See Fig 1 in Repository)
b) There is an error for specific files (See Fig 2 in Repository). That is okay. The files should still ingest.

     Elena, Riley, and I had our weekly meeting and then the next day met with Corey as well, as we had questions. We asked her about the naming conventions that we were seeing in Preservica (which made no sense to us), and I asked about how to batch edit and if I made the right call to pull out the .xmp and .TIF files. Basically, she confirmed we were on the right track and that the best way to figure out both edits and uploads is to keep doing what we are doing, trial and error. Or we also have the option to watch help videos from Preservica, which Elena agreed were quite good.
     We found we are going to have to update the Policies & Procedures, as there are more details that could be shared about this process. I am keeping a running list of issues to include.
     My goal this next week is to finish uploading all of the Mastery of Scottish Arts 2008 folders. I will also have to figure out how to upload the .xmp and .TIF files that I omitted from the first upload. Elena thinks it's possible there is some metadata within the .xmp files that could be included at some point. 
     The good news is that on subsequent tries, I was able to upload a nested folder, as long as it was under 1.5 GB (and did not include .xmp files). There are still a few questions we have as a group around naming conventions-- more about that next week as we try to come up with solutions. 

 

Week 3

Week 4:
      We did not hold our weekly meeting because of scheduling conflicts, so we asked questions via email. My questions (and Elena's answers) were:
 

1) There are a bunch of .PREL and .PRV files that I cannot open, though I've started uploading them to Preservica anyway. I'm wonder if I should keep doing that or if I should just wait on those files. They are Adobe Premier Elements files, but I don't have that program. They are uploading fine, they just show as blank files for me (no thumbnail.)

 

I would actually prefer not transferring these over to Preservica because I am wondering if they are duplicates of the jpgs that are already over there. If not, they would need to be converted into a file format that can be viewed in Preservica. I'd prefer not to use up the limited space in Preservica with those.

 

2) There are also some very large video files that are too big. I'm wondering if I should try sending to myself via WeTransfer? Do you think that could work for uploading to Preservica?

 

I don't know. Let's hold off on videos. Again, we have to pay for additional space on Preservica, so if it's too large to transfer, I'd prefer to deal with it later - maybe the videos can be edited for length or split up or something like that.

 

3) It's my inclination to just keep uploading what I can--I'm almost done with the 2008 file, keep notes on what I can't upload, and move on. Since we are almost halfway through the semester, I would love to be able to upload as many years as possible.

 

That sounds like a good plan - just keep track of what doesn't get sent over so we have a record of it.

 

4) There's a question I have about a finicky matter: On the Dublin Core metadata sheet we have the  as the Sharepoint file relationship, for example: MSA/MSA2008/Slideshow. But on the Archival Inventory Sheet, we input it under "Original Folder Title" with ">" rather than "/", i.e. MSA>MSA2008>Slideshow. Should we keep up with this format even though it's different, or should we change one of them now? It's not a huge deal that they are different, it just makes cutting and pasting more laborious.

 

Oh, I didn't notice that! I think we should go with what's on the Dublin Core metadata sheet and keep the two consistent.

     This work is very precise and takes a lot of focus, but I feel like this was the week that I got the basics down. For the next few weeks it will be just a matter of getting it done. It would be nice if we had enough time to go back and work on cleaning up/adding more metadata towards the end of the semester.
I was able to complete uploading the whole 2008 file as planned and have started an excel sheet that tracks all of the folders and files that I did not upload to Preservica.
     One of the things I learned is that to do this work remotely, you need a fast computer with a lot of free space as well as very fast internet. I don't have the ideal situation, so I had to make room on my hard drive in order to keep files until I can upload.
     I haven't had time to look into opening the .xmp files, but I hope to before the semester is over. We are already nearly halfway through and I have only uploaded 1 file so far. Onward and upward!

Week 4
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