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TAATU Activities

17 Sep 2020 10:00 AM | Anonymous member

Alongside the Association of Canadian Archivists’ move to an online conference in 2020, The Archives and Technology Unconference (TAATU) met via videoconference on June 10.  Started in 2008, this BarCamp for archivists is a place for all archivists interested in IT and digital culture to meet, exchange ideas and have a bit of fun.  The only requirement is that everyone is expected to participate in some manner.  This year, with as many as 92 people on the conference call at one time (the largest number of attendees in TAATU history), participation was, in some ways, greater than ever, if a bit harder to keep track of.

This short blog post will highlight what was discussed at this year’s TAATU and hopefully encourage people to join and participate in new and different ways – online or not – next year.

Land acknowledgements

With such a huge group, split across nations and time zones, land acknowledgements appeared in a variety of ways at TAATU: some individuals unmuted themselves and acknowledged, over video, where they were speaking from. Some people typed greetings in the chat window of our call. Other folks entered information about the land they are living and working on in the TAATU agenda and participants list.  Vancouver participants, as a group, acknowledged by typing into the agenda, the lands of the Coast Salish people, where the ACA conference was going to be held in person.  With people in dispersed locations, it was surprising (in a good way) to see that participants were still able to bring focus to this small act of reconciliation.

Lightning talks

There were four sessions this year.  From my notes…

Peter Van Garderen: Preservation Action Registries and Archivematica

Peter summarized this project that seeks to share technical best practices. Artefactual Systems, Preservica and Arkivum are all participants. The potential of this is huge but, at this time, it is a proof of concept project with lots of work outstanding.  Peter believes this really is the future of automated digital preservation but questions around data mapping, intellectual entities and complex business processes need to be identified and addressed.

Krista Jamieson: Archival transcription or Work from home “job jar” project

At McMaster, they are digitizing a lot of material and this project – while not super techy – is still solid digital work, and it’s lo-fi and accessible to many.  Transcription of digitized records, especially with staff working from home due to covid-19, is work that can be done easily, with just a computer and an internet connection, from home.  An example of a document, with a completed description, can be found here:


Grant Hurley: Dataverse-Archivematica integration

Grant talked about this work on the preservation of research data and using Dataverse (an open-source platform to discover research data) and Archivematica (a tool for processing digital objects for preservation and access).  There has been a growing interest in research data preservation internationally and the aim of this project was to investigate how Dataverse datasets could be processed into AIPs.  Grant provided a demo of this first attempt to get the two systems to talk to each other.  There is more work to be done and improvements can be made but there is obvious interest in something like this, as evidenced by OCUL’s sponsorship of the work.

Jeremy Heil gave an update on NAAB and the monetary appraisal of electronic records. As these were lightning talks and Jeremy was a bonus speaker, I am going to direct you to his slides because I have very few notes of my own! 

AtoM roadmap committee

Kelly Babcock led a discussion and encouraged input from the community on what features people are interested in seeing in an AtoM 3.0.  Discussion ideas included:

-          Recap of AtoM 3 Roadmap Committee activities since March 2020.

-          What can we do to prepare our AtoM 2 data for migration?

-          Can we make improvements to our data now to improve interoperability between our repositories?

-          AtoM 3 features - brainstorming on what TAATU considers the “essential” features

Following these sessions, TAATU participants then discussed becoming actively anti-racist in our work. The conversation was wide ranging and I will note here just some of the high-level topics that were examined:

-          RAD: will it be revised? How could this be moved forward?

-          How can archives revise their own policies without waiting for association or other guidelines?  Examples were shared from Waterloo (language in descriptions), Archives of Ontario (description policy), and the University of Saskatchewan (Indigenous titles and guidelines).

-          ACA Communications is working on a list of resources; these were published on the ACA blog on June 11

-          Decolonizing archives

-          Recruiting and retaining BIPOC archivists

-          Need for white archivists to confront white supremacy in themselves

This year’s TAATU ended with a No dumb questions session, inspired by last year’s BitCurator Users Forum.  Given the online nature of this year’s event, a document was set up and people asked and answered various questions.  You can see that document here:

Remember to open the link in Incognito/Private mode so as to remain anonymous.  This session was a great way to retain the original TAATU spirit of inclusivity with no minimum IT experience required to participate.

Jenn Roberts

Jenn Roberts has a wide range of work experience and has plied the archival trade in Canada, the USA and Switzerland. She currently calls Whitehorse, Yukon home and is part of Artefactual Systems' remote workforce.

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