Behind the Curtain: Tyler Davis, Summer Intern

Role: Intern at the Indiana University Archives

Educational Background: Tyler received his bachelor’s degree in English Literature from Miami University, Ohio in 2015. He is currently entering his second year of the Master of Information and Library Science graduate program at IUB, where he is specializing in Archives and Records Management.

How he got here: This is Tyler’s first time working in an actual archives. Before he joined the MLS program, he spent a year volunteering for the special collections department of a library in Ohio, where he was able to process an amazing collection of memorabilia from a World War I aviation historian. He also worked for a digitization project in undergrad where he scanned and preserved photographic negatives from the 1940s-1960s. These experiences helped him to know that archival work was something that he wanted to pursue further.

He has been studying archives and records management in the MLS program and when it came time for an internship, Tyler wanted to get as much hands-on experience in these areas as possible. When he spoke to the staff at the IU Archives and learned that he would be able to work on some great projects with both an archivist and a records manager, he knew he’d found the right place!

Favorite Collection in the IU Archives: Tyler’s favorite item(s) that he has encountered in the Archives so far is the Kathleen Cavanaugh scrapbook collection (C617). Cavanaugh made these scrapbooks by hand as a student at IU in the early 1960s, and they are full of amazing memorabilia from that time – everything from photographs and cards to matchbooks and corsages from school dances. These scrapbooks are fun to flip through, and it is a very unique and personal way of interacting with the IU student experience of the 1960s.

Current Project: There are quite a few projects in the works! Tyler has been doing some web archiving work, including crawling and preserving all IU-affiliated social media accounts on Archive-it.org (see his previous post “Tweeting and Pinning: Archiving IU’s Social Media sites” on that project). He has also been processing a few incoming collections, as well as imaging born digital media in the Born Digital Preservation Lab. Recently, he began doing research into state laws and University policies to help compile a records retention schedule for the School of Informatics and Computing as they prepare to make the big move into Luddy Hall this winter.

Favorite experience in the IU Archives: Tyler’s favorite experience has been getting to know the staff, who are great to work with and are excellent at what they do. He is glad to have had the opportunity to learn from their example!

What he’s learned from working here: In addition to learning many useful archival practices, Tyler has also picked up some fun facts about IU history by working with the collections. For example, when he was processing the Institute for Urban Transportation records (C682), he learned that Bloomington’s first public transit system was established in 1973 by a collaboration between the institute’s founder, Dr. George Smerk, and a geography professor at IU, William R. Black. In the University’s early years, the city and the campus were obviously small enough for students to get around without automotive assistance, so he thinks this goes to show how much the University has steadily grown and expanded over the years.

Behind the Curtain: Sylva Osbourne, Summer Intern

Role: Summer Intern at the IU Archives

Educational Background: B.A. in Music from the University of Chicago. Current graduate student in the School of Informatics and Computing seeking a Master of Library Science (MLS) with a specialization in Archives and Records Management and interest in preservation/conservation.

How she got here: Before coming to IU, Sylva spent most of her undergraduate years working at the Regenstein Library, the University of Chicago’s main library. As a student assistant in circulation she became very familiar with the complexities of maintaining a large stacks collection. After graduation, she switched gears landing a part-time position in the technical services department of the law library for Sidley Austin LLP in downtown Chicago. It was here she decided to pursue a career in librarianship, leading her to IU and the MLS program.

This internship has been her first experience working in any kind of archival repository. Prior to this, her main work and library experience have been more on the technical services side of things. Her previous experience is what led her to decide that she wanted to do more hands-on work with library materials, sparking her interest in archives and preservation.

Favorite Collection in the IU Archives: Sylva’s favorite collection at IU is the collection of yearbooks housed in the archive reading room. Before the University became too big, the yearbooks contained pictures of all the students at IU each year. They also include pictures of all student organizations, sports teams, and faculty members, just like a traditional yearbook. Following the student population explosion after WWII, the yearbook however had to adapt. Rather than just pages of pictures of students, the yearbooks started to include interesting pieces on and photos of the various events and activities that happened around IU each year. At the end, you will still find portraits of the graduating class and student organizations but the majority of the books offer a fascinating glimpse of IU life as the years go on.

Current Project: Currently, Sylva is processing a recently acquired collection from the Commission on Multicultural Understanding (COMU). Despite the occasional papercut, she is enjoying being able to dive into the folders and get an in-depth look at the work COMU did for IU. She is also researching the story of a student at IU from the late 1910s who was accused of building “infernal devices” with various mechanical parts found in his room. He was an expert watchmaker who was cleared of all charges as all of the parts were found harmless. Using ancestry.com and different parts of the IU Archive collection, Sylva is trying to track documents relating to this man’s life to be used in a future active-learning exercise for instruction sessions at the archives.

Favorite experience in the IU Archives: Sylva’s favorite thing about being an intern at the archives is the chance to learn from some amazing people. Having had very little experience with archives before, she has gained a lot of practical knowledge.

What she’s learned from working here: Sylva has learned a great deal about some of the key figures in IU’s history from sifting through the papers of the president office, in particular President William Lowe Bryan (1902-1937). It’s nice to be able to connect buildings and things around town to the people for which they were named!

Tweeting and Pinning: Archiving Indiana University’s Social Media Sites

Do you ever wonder what the Indiana University Archives is doing to capture the universities’ online presence such as web sites and social media?

Since 2005 we’ve been capturing and archiving exact dated copies of web sites produced by administrative offices, schools, departments, service units, institutes, and faculty, student, and alumni organizations on the Indiana University Bloomington campus using Archive-It, a service of the Internet Archive. Web pages are captured and preserved exactly as they appear at a given time, so that in the future, even if a website changes in appearance or is no longer online, users will be able to access exact copies of the site’s appearance and operation at the time of the capture. Essentially, this wonderful preservation tool keeps an “online paper trail” of the updates and progressions that sites have made through the years. For example, this is how the web site for the IU Libraries appeared in September 2007!

Until recently, however, there was one area of the web that the IU Archives had yet to tackle in its online archive: all of the various Indiana University-affiliated social media sites such as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, et cetera. This summer, we’ve taken on the exciting project of crawling the University’s social media sites for the first time. With the completion of this project, a collection of all of Indiana University’s social media sites from 2017 onward will be made publicly available for future users to access!

A snippet of what the Indiana University Social Media Accounts collection looks like from the Archives’ point of view, including information about the total data and documents archived so far.

Web crawlers (the technology that Archive-It uses to capture copies of websites) have a lot of important applications in online work. A crawler is essentially a software which acts as a URL discovery tool – when you give a crawler a URL to start with, it follows all of the links on that page, and then it follows any new links that it discovers on those pages, and so on. Ultimately, you should end up with a complete set of data about every page-within-a-page on a given website, depending on how much content you would like to capture. Crawlers are what search engines like Google and Bing use to gather and index information about websites and then retrieve a list of those sites when a search query is entered. Crawlers are also used by web developers to gather information from sites, which can then be used for all sorts of data analysis.

And of course, as demonstrated by our social media archiving project, crawlers are also very useful for the purposes of web-archiving, or capturing and saving information about how a website exists at any given time so that it can be used for reference in the future. The Archive-It.org platform is a great resource for doing this kind of work. They have an extensive and frequently-updated help center which includes a lot of useful reference pages, including a page with information about scoping crawls for specific types of social media sites.

An archived capture of the IU Bloomington Twitter page being viewed in the Archive-It collection.

In addition to the aforementioned Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram pages, we are also working on archiving any YouTube, Google Plus, LinkedIn, Flickr, and Pinterest pages that are associated with various departments, units, and groups within the Indiana University community. It is amazing to look at all of the different social media platforms that these organizations are utilizing in order to share great content and to interact with people from all over the world. We can imagine that the internet users of the future will be fascinated to see what these sites looked like and what everyone at Indiana University was talking about in 2017.

Check out Indiana University at Archive-It.org to access all of the recently archived Indiana University social media sites, along with captures of many other University web pages through the years!