by Annie Tummino, NDSR Project Manager, METRO
As our cohort of five NDSR residents crosses the midway point of their residencies, we thought we’d follow up with them about their progress and lessons learned so far. You can read our first interview with the residents here.
In addition to working on projects at their host institutions, our NDSR residents are diligently writing about their adventures on the NDSR-NY website. You can also follow their adventures on Twitter.
You recently participated as a cohort in METRO’s 2015 Annual Conference, presenting on your projects and leading small group discussions. Any reflections from your experience at the conference?
Vicky Steeves, American Museum of Natural History: I was really excited about the format of the session. I loved presenting and then having a formal space for questions and round table discussion. Q & A often happens in a strange queue after the presentations, which leaves a lot to be desired. You end up answering the same questions over and over. When everyone is together at a table, the discussions are much more fruitful for all parties involved.
Peggy Griesinger, MoMA: My favorite part about the conference was getting to see how much cutting-edge, fascinating stuff is going on in New York area libraries and archives. The fact that the conference had such a full schedule full of really interesting material is a testament to how innovative this community is.
Please give us a little bit of insight into what you're working on these days. Where do you find yourselves midway through the project?
Shira Peltzman, Carnegie Hall: My project is focused on developing preservation and sustainability policies for Carnegie Hall’s born-digital media. I spent the first several months of my residency interviewing staff so that I could understand how the organization’s digital assets are created, used, and stored. Right now I’m working on translating everything I learned from these interviews into an actual set of policies and recommendations for future preservation practices here.
Julia Kim, NYU: The last two weeks I’ve been deeply engrossed in developing the access portions of my residency to create, test, and implement access-driven workflows with born-digital material at New York Libraries. Specially, I’ve been playing around with some of the obsolete software and related file emulations for the Jeremy Blake Papers. I’m also beginning to work out the details of the upcoming Born-Digital Workflows CURATECamp, a day-long event that I’m co-organizing along with my mentor, Donald Mennerich, and Stanford’s Digital Archivist, Peter Chan.
What do you anticipate will be your biggest challenge as you enter the final phase of your residencies?
Karl-Rainer Blumenthal, New York Art Resources Consortium (NYARC): My biggest challenge will be keeping my colleagues’ imaginations active, whatever technical tedium may come! I love that my first phase of work kept me in regular and productive contact with a large team across the NYARC institutions. Their input is always refreshing, so I don’t want to lose it as the work gets progressively more specific and technical.
Vicky: I am almost finished surveying 50 members of the curatorial staff to obtain a broad overview of the extent and status of the Museum’s digital assets pertaining to Science. The next big challenge is to analyze the interview responses. I am not very familiar with these coding techniques and I hope the learning curve isn’t too steep. I figure once I do 10, the other 40 shouldn't be too hard!
Applications for the next round of NDSR in New York will be available this spring.* Any thoughts or advice based on your application process?
Shira: Reach out to the professors, employers, and mentors from whom who you’d like letters of recommendation as early as possible, and make sure to (politely) follow-up with them when the application deadline approaches. I also found that explaining to people outside the field why I wanted to be a part of NDSR-NY was a helpful exercise because it brought certain aspects of my application into better focus.
Peggy: Don’t worry about making the most beautifully shot, perfectly edited video in existence. What the hosts will care about is what you have to say and your enthusiasm for digital preservation.
Karl: Be yourself! The application process is all about matching projects, places, and personalities. As our NDSR cohort demonstrates, different digital preservation problems require different skill-sets and perspectives. With that in mind, take a good long look through the project and host institution descriptions, find overlaps with your areas of interest, and really hone your application materials to them. This includes your letters of recommendation, too; the more explicitly you can communicate your goals and interests to your advocates, the better they can advocate for you.
*Update, 3/3/15: Information regarding applications for the 2015/16 residency is now available. The requirements and timeline are similar to last year. You can read more about the process on the program’s website.
Photo above provided by Julia Kim. For more photos of our residents, check out the other articles in this series.