Friday, April 8, 2016

Shhh. Don't tell anyone. (Internship)

For this week’s blog I wanted to talk about the messy side of digitization that often gets ignored and overlooked: failure. Failure is a scary thing that people tend to tiptoe around as to not admit the things that go wrong. The idea of failure just seems so harsh. But, in order to overcome the fear of failure, we need to talk about it. Failure isn’t the end of all things, its an opportunity to grow, learn, and change.

For starters, lets define failure. According to the dictionary on my MacBook Air, failure is “the omission of an expected or required action.” I really like this definition – it doesn’t describe failure as utter disaster, just merely the omission of what you would expect. So, using this definition, lets talk about “omissions of what was expected” in some of my experience archiving with FBCWP.

Mislabeled Items

One of the most common problems that we have encountered throughout this archival process is inaccurate page/item labeling. Ask anyone – Betty, Shirley, Rebecca, and myself – we have all accidentally mislabeled an item in the scrapbook. But, the good news is, we always seem to catch our mistakes and have the opportunity to fix them. Yes, sometimes it is discouraging to have to re-label an entire scrapbook. On the brightside, however, it reminds us take our time in labeling and carefully number our scrapbook pages/items. And, on top of that, we still get the opportunity to fix it! I know that during my scrapbook, I caught labeling errors in the metadata process and digitization process. Even so, I have still been able to fix my errors each time.

Mismatched Scans

One of the biggest problems we have been facing lately is mismatched metadata and scans. When we use the scanner with RICHES MI for my scrapbook, we are able to in put the preset label: WPFP.SB.198_1979. Then, the computer would numerically add in ascending order, “.0001, .0002, .0003” etc. The first problem with this is that my scrapbook and metadata only  3 decimal spots in that section, not 4. Unfortunately, we could not find a way around this. So, our solution was to scan all of the items in ascending order and then go back in rename them. Unfortunately, when I tried to rename them yesterday, the external hard drive which had the scans on then seemed to be locked. I was unable to edit the names of the scans or even add or delete any documents/images to the external hard drive. While this is disappointing, it is good to know. Perhaps in the future we will change the labeling system to match the computers’ decimal systems. In the mean time, we have yet to decide whether or not to re-label my scrapbook.

Misnumbered Scans

While we’ve had the problem of mismatched scans and metadata labels, I also encountered the problem of misnumbered scans. This became a problem when I would scan some kind of brochure. For the scrapbook, we would only label the brochure with one number. But, when we would scan the item, we scanned each page in the brochure. Since I was not sure how to label those extra scans, I simply added in an extra decimal and number to each scan. Now, it’s a little more work, but I will need to go back and label those pages on the brochures in my scrapbook. Again, while this is a temporary set back, it isn’t a failure… its an opportunity to change our system and grow.

Through it all, while some of difficulties have been disappointing as they have set back our progress, never have our failures been utter disasters. Instead, they have merely been “omissions of what was expected,” which have allowed us to make our process better and more efficient.

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