Author Archives: Nick Pavlik

Nick Pavlik

About Nick Pavlik


Nick Pavlik is a member of the Archivists Round Table of Metropolitan New York, and also the archivist for the 92nd Street Y, one of New York City's preeminent community and cultural institutions.

Nick was also a member of the project team for "Uncovering the Secrets of Brooklyn's Nineteenth-Century Past: Creation to Consolidation," an archival survey project at the Brooklyn Historical Society (BHS) that resulted in the creation of hundreds of online descriptive records for BHS's unique archival collections documenting several aspects of Brooklyn's nineteenth-century history.

Archival Exhibition Celebrates Brooklyn Academy of Music


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When it comes to the performing arts, New York City may forever be synonymous with the Broadway musical, at least in the popular imagination.

However, while there’s a lot to be said for Broadway, New Yorkers and performing arts aficionados alike know that if you want to see the work of the most daring and innovative artists working in music, dance, and theatre today, you need to venture far away from the lights of the Great White Way. Continue reading

Q&A: Rebecca Goldman of SAA’s SNAP Roundtable


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In January 2012, the Society of American Archivists (SAA), the national professional association for archivists and other information professionals responsible for historical records, approved the formation of the Students and New Archives Professionals Roundtable (SNAP). A much-needed and welcome resource for those considering, actively pursuing, or transitioning into the archives profession, SNAP was founded by its current chair, Rebecca Goldman, who is also Media and Digital Services Librarian at La Salle University in Philadelphia and the author of the popular archives webcomic Derangement and Description.

The Archivists Round Table of Metropolitan New York recently chatted with Goldman about her decision to form SNAP, SNAP’s goals and future direction(s), archival education and professional involvement, opportunities for students and new professionals in the tight job market, and other SNAP-ish themes.

ART: What was the main impetus for your establishing the SNAP Roundtable?

RG: Ever since my first Annual Meeting in 2010, I’ve been thinking about the representation of new archivists within SAA and within the profession. I put up a comic that summarized all the things I was thinking about, and it generated some good discussion, but nothing really came of it. Then, about a year ago, I read that ALA had started a Young Professionals Working Group, and thought, hey, why doesn’t SAA have a group like that? I posted my question to Twitter, Council member Kate Theimer saw it and suggested I try to start a roundtable, and the rest, I suppose, is history. Any SAA member can propose a new roundtable, but until Kate suggested it, it hadn’t really occurred to me as something that I could do.

ART: The SNAP website features an impressive listing of your many goals as an organization. Looking just at SNAP’s first year, is there any goal in particular that has been or will be the main priority? What projects or initiatives reflecting this goal would you like to see happen during SNAP’s first year?

RG: When I first raised the idea of forming a roundtable for new archivists, I had the following goals in mind:

•Advocate for new archivists within SAA and within the archival profession
•Provide a space for discussion of issues affecting new archivists
•Allow new archivists to gain leadership experience through roundtable service

I think we’ve met that second goal already–the SNAP list is both a very active discussion area and a welcoming community for new archivists. We’ve also made some progress in reaching out to other SAA groups (our Liaison Coordinator, Sasha Griffin, has been really instrumental here). And SAA is definitely taking note of us. If you take a look at the agenda items for SAA’s next Council meeting, an awful lot of them mention SNAP. What’s proving more difficult is taking all the great ideas generated on our list and turning these into projects for SNAP to work on. So my goal for our first year would be to come up with a process for starting new projects: appointing leaders, documentation, tracking progress, etc. I also feel that much of the discussion has been focused on students and un(der)employed new archivists, and that our goal of supporting well-employed new archivists, as they move from entry-level to mid-career or managerial positions, has been overlooked. I’d like to keep a broader definition of new archivist in mind as SNAP moves forward.

ART: As SAA’s representative student agency, it would seem that SNAP is uniquely suited to advocate for changes and/or improvements to graduate archival education programs. Has there been any discussion along these lines thus far among the SNAP leadership? If so, in what ways does SNAP envision that archival education programs could better serve their students?

RG: Judging from recent conversations on the SNAP list, one of the biggest areas of concern is archival internships–both publicizing the need for internship or other work experience during grad school, and making sure that internships are conducted in a way that’s ethical and educational. I would love to see SNAP produce guidelines for graduate student internships. As far as changes to the educational programs themselves–we could certainly advocate for changes, but SAA doesn’t accredit archives programs, and their Guidelines for a Graduate Program in Archival Studies were just revised in 2011. Right now, I don’t see a whole lot of room for SNAP contributions in this area.

ART: Although SNAP primarily serves students and early professionals who are already pursuing careers as archivists, do you intend for SNAP to also play a leading role in SAA’s outreach efforts to recruit new professionals to the archives field? What potential strategies do you think might be effective in better promoting the archives profession as a career option?

RG: I don’t know too many new archivists who would recommend entering the archives field right now. There aren’t even enough jobs for all the recent grads. I’d rather see SAA do one or both of the following things:

•recruit related professionals–people working in jobs with archives-related responsibilities who may not identify as archivists or see the need for SAA membership. These related professionals are one of the target audiences for SNAP, because their work-related needs are similar to those of archives students and new archives professionals.

•promote the importance of archives to organizations and communities that don’t already have them. If you’re an organization and you want to start an archives, or hire an archival consultant, SAA has you covered. But that assumes you know enough about archivists to know why you’d need one. What about outreach to the people with the power to create job opportunities for new archivists?

ART: As SNAP’s Chair, what would your advice be to students and early-career archivists looking to become more involved in the professional archives community, either at the local, regional, or national level? Aside from joining SNAP, of course.

RG: SAA (and, to a lesser extent, the local and regional archives organizations) can absolutely seem intimidating as a newcomer. If you want to get involved with a group or project, just ask! Every SAA section and roundtable lists their leaders, and if you’re an SAA member you can log in to get their contact information. All the SAA leaders I’ve met would love to get more new archivists involved in their groups. I can’t speak for every regional group, but I’ve found MARAC to be pretty friendly, and they had a great session at their spring meeting explaining all the ways new members and new archivists could get involved. Local groups: I’ve tried and failed multiple times to get involved with mine. Some are awesome (like ART :) ), but I’ve found that small local orgs can be clique-y and very difficult to break into. As a general piece of advice, if you’re ever in a situation where you’re networking with other archivists–like a conference, or a local meeting–assume that people are shy rather than unfriendly.

I’d also recommend starting a Twitter account and following some archivists on Twitter (Kate Theimer has a good list to start off on Twitter). The relative merits of Twitter vs. the Archives and Archivists list has been much debated, but I will say that as a new archivist I find asking questions via Twitter to be quick, easy, and not too intimidating.

Nick Pavlik is a member of the Archivists Round Table of Metropolitan New York and serves as archivist for the 92nd Street Y, one of New York City’s preeminent community and cultural institutions.

Fall Archives and Activism Symposium in NYC


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On October 12, the Archivists Round Table of Metropolitan New York and the New School Archives and Special Collections will be co-sponsoring Archives and Activism, a symposium exploring the burgeoning relationship between archives/archivists and social and political activist movements. Proposals for individual papers and group panels to be presented at the symposium are currently being accepted. See the official CFP below:

Archives and Activism: Call for Papers

“The rebellion of the archivist against his normal role is not, as so many scholars fear, the politicizing of a neutral craft, but the humanizing of an inevitably political craft.”
– Howard Zinn “Secrecy, Archives, and the Public Interest,” Vol. II, No. 2 (1977) of Midwestern Archivist.

The boundaries between “archivist” and “activist” have become increasingly porous, rendering ready distinctions between archivists (traditionally restricted to the preservation of records, maintaining accountability, and making critical information available to the communities they serve) and activists (who, with greater frequency, look to archives or adopt elements of archival practice as a means of documenting their struggles) virtually unsustainable. In the past year, archivists and citizen activists collaborated to document the Occupy Wall Street movement, and archivists committed to open government worked with the New York City Council to advocate for keeping the Municipal Archives as an independent city agency. While the apparent convergence of archival and activist worlds may appear a timely and relevant topic, these distinct communities often deliberate their roles separately with little dialogue.

The Archivists Round Table of Metropolitan New York and the New School Archives and Special Collections are sponsoring a symposium to bring together a diverse group of archivists, activists, students, and theorists with the aim of facilitating discussion of their respective concerns. Among its proposed topics, the symposium will address potential roles that archivists may engage in as activists, as well as how archivists can assume a greater role in documenting and contributing toward social and political change.

Possible areas of interest include, but are not limited to, the following:

-Archivists documenting the work of activists and activist movements
-Activists confronting traditional archival practice
-Possible models for an emergent “activist archives”
-Methodologies for more comprehensively documenting activism
-Archivist and activist collaborations
-Community-led archives and repositories operating outside of the archival
establishment
-Archives as sites of knowledge (re)production and in(ter)vention
-Relational paradigms for mapping the interplay of power, justice, and archives
-Critical pedagogy in the reference encounter
-Interrogating preconceptions and misunderstandings that obscure common goals

Date: Friday, October 12, 2012

Location: Theresa Lang Community and Student Center, The New School

All individual presentations will be 20 minutes long (10 page paper).
Submissions must include a title, name of author and institutional affiliation (if applicable), abstract (250 words max), and indication of technological requirements.
Individual papers or entire panel proposals accepted.

Deadline for Proposals: Proposals should be emailed to admin@nycarchivists.org by August 1, 2012.

New York Archives Conference, June 6-8


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The New York Archives Conference (NYAC) is an annual gathering of New York State archivists, curators, historians, and anyone else with an interest in the preservation and accessibility of archives and primary historical resources. This year’s NYAC meeting will take place at Nazareth College in Rochester from June 6-8.

NYAC provides an excellent platform for both new and established archives professionals to share their work, exchange ideas, learn about emerging trends, and become further involved in the professional archives community. This year’s conference will feature workshops and information sessions on managing digital collections, mobile apps for archives, facilitating genealogical research in archives, future plans for the New York Heritage Project, and much more.

Conference attendants will also have the opportunity to tour area repositories, including the Nazareth College Archives and the Cary Graphic Arts Collection at the Rochester Institute of Technology. The conference’s plenary speaker will be Marie Holden, Chief of Archival Services at the New York State Archives, who will offer advice on disaster preparedness for archival institutions based on success stories and lessons learned from 2011’s Tropical Storm Lee.

For those interested, the full conference program is available here. It’s also not too late to register!

NYC Municipal Archives Makes Nearly One Million Historic Photographs Available Online


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In a great bit of news for lovers of New York City history (and everyone else, for that matter), the New York City Municipal Archives recently announced that its new online gallery, featuring a staggering 870,000 plus historical images of New York, is now open and accessible to the public. In addition to historic photographs, many of which have never been released before, users are also able to access maps, moving images, and audio recordings through the online gallery.


Through this project, which took four years to complete, the Municipal Archives has done us all an indispensable service by enabling unprecedented access to New York’s documentary record and appealing to a wide variety of historical interests (social, cultural, political, architectural, industrial, environmental, economic, criminal, etc.!).

Deservedly, the unveiling of its online gallery has brought the Municipal Archives some generous media coverage (including pieces in The Gothamist and The Atlantic, as well as on CBS and Yahoo), which in turn has helped make the digital gallery immensely popular since its introduction. So popular, in fact, that the Municipal Archives has had to temporarily suspend access to the gallery in order to ensure that its infrastructure will be able to accommodate such an overwhelming response.

The gallery’s site is still down as of this writing, but be sure to check it frequently for the gallery’s re-launch (in the meantime, Alan Taylor’s coverage in The Atlantic provides over 50 great images from the gallery to give you a sense of what to expect once it returns in full form). This tremendous achievement, as well as the overwhelmingly positive response that has greeted it, is a testament to the crucial service that the Municipal Archives provides to the New York City community and beyond. It also, unfortunately, comes at a time of uncertainty for the future of the Archives itself.

The New York City Council’s recent legislation proposing to revoke the autonomy of the Department of Records and Information Services (DORIS, of which the Municipal Archives is a part) and merge it with the Department of Citywide Administrative Services (DCAS) is still pending and, if passed, threatens to drastically undermine DORIS’s professional resources and its ability to provide public access to the historical record of New York City.

If such valuable initiatives as the Municipal Archives’s digital gallery are to continue, it is imperative that DORIS remains an independent agency within the New York City government. Please refer to the website of the Archivists Round Table of Metropolitan New York (or the Round Table’s earlier post on this blog) for more information on the legislation concerning the future of DORIS.

Woody Guthrie Centennial: Guthrie Archivist Interview


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Music legend and songwriting luminary Woody Guthrie was born on July 14, 1912, and this year marks his centennial birthday. To celebrate, the Grammy Museum, the Guthrie family, Woody Guthrie Publications and the Woody Guthrie Archives have planned an international program of events, including tours, concerts, festivals, and conferences.

Ryan Anthony Donaldson of the Archivists Round Table of Metropolitan New York (ART) recently had the chance to ask Tiffany Colannino a few questions about the Woody Guthrie Centennial Celebration. Tiffany is the Archivist with the Woody Guthrie Archives, currently located in Mount Kisco, New York, as well as the newly appointed ART Advocacy Chair.

ART: How did the centennial partnership between the GRAMMY Museum, Guthrie Family/Woody Guthrie Publications, and Woody Guthrie Archives come about?

TC: The centennial partnership between the GRAMMY Museum and the Woody Guthrie Archives has deep roots. For starters, we are both non-profit organizations committed to the history of American music. The Archives’ mission is to perpetuate Woody Guthrie’s life and legacy through the proactive preservation of his Archival material, whereas the GRAMMY Museum’s mission is to explore and celebrate the enduring legacies of all forms of music. Although these missions differ, with the Archives’ focus on preservation and research, and the GRAMMY Museum on public programs and activities, our two organizations can work together to use these archival documents to bring Guthrie’s life to a broad audience.

But it’s more than just our missions that link us together: Robert Santelli, Executive Director of the GRAMMY Museum, is actually a former researcher at the Woody Guthrie Archives. Since 1990, Santelli has researched in the Archives in support of several Woody Guthrie book projects, including his 2012 work This Land Is Your Land: Woody Guthrie and the Journey of the American Folk Song. He has maintained an active working relationship with Nora Guthrie – President of Woody Guthrie Publications, Inc and Director of the Woody Guthrie Archives – for over 20 years.

In a recent press release, Nora Guthrie comments on this partnership, remarking: “Because of its deep enthusiasm for Woody’s creative legacy as well as the underlying influence he’s had on so many musicians and songwriters in all genres of American music, the GRAMMY Museum is the obvious choice to help us celebrate the legacy that he created.”

The centennial celebrations will include concerts, conferences, and exhibits across the United States, Canada, and Europe. We’ve launched www.Woody100.com as a one-stop-shop for all of our North American events, and www.Woody100.de for our European events. In addition to the events we are planning with the GRAMMY Museum, these sites also list the Grassroots events that Guthrie fans and supporters are planning across the world, including lecture series, concerts, hootenannies, and exhibits. In addition, there are many new releases – books, films, and musical albums – including many based solely on material from the Woody Guthrie Archives, set to launch in 2012 to help celebrate Guthrie’s centennial, and perpetuate his legacy.

ART: In terms of centennial celebrations for Woody in the New York area, there will be a concert at Brooklyn College as well as a conference at Penn State University in September. What topics relating to Woody Guthrie would you like to see explored at the conference?

TC: That’s a tough question, because there are so many facets of Woody Guthrie’s life yet to be explored! However, the great thing about the academic conferences being planned for this year is that rather than focus solely on a specific aspect of Guthrie’s life, each conference will use Guthrie as the starting point to open a discussion on a broader, contemporary theme. The theme for each conference will be selected by the host institution, allowing them to decide on a topic that is of direct relevance to their local community.

The 2012 Woody Guthrie Centennial Celebrations will include four large academic conferences: Tulsa, Los Angeles, Penn State, and Brooklyn.

The Tulsa conference, Different Shades of Red: Woody Guthrie and the Oklahoma Experience at 100, used Guthrie as a stepping stone to discuss Oklahoma politics. At the University of Southern California conference, Woody Guthrie’s Los Angeles: A Centenary Celebration, we’ll talk about Los Angeles in the late 1930s, where Guthrie worked for several local radio stations and wrote for various newspapers after fleeing the Dust Bowl. Woody At 100: Woody’s Legacy to Working Men & Women, the Penn State conference in September, will use Guthrie to focus on the labor movement and unions, while the theme for the Brooklyn conference, also in September, is yet to be announced.

ART: It has been announced that the research collection of the Woody Guthrie Archives will be relocating from Mount Kisco, NY, to Woody’s home state of Oklahoma in 2013. How is the planning coming along for it?

TC: In 2013, the Woody Guthrie Archives will relocate from Mount Kisco, New York to a permanent home with the George Kaiser Family Foundation in Tulsa, Oklahoma. As a native Oklahoman, this move will truly bring Guthrie’s life full circle!

The Archives will be located in a repurposed warehouse – the Tulsa Paper Company – along with other arts oriented organizations, and I have had the opportunity to walk through the building site several times. Work is already underway, and it is exciting to see the Archives’ new home come to life! I have had meetings with the building architects to review design plans and requirements, discussing the archival needs to be taken into consideration during the design phase. This relocation to Tulsa will ensure continued researcher access to the material in the collection, and the long-term preservation of over 10,000 pages of documents held in the Woody Guthrie Archives.

More information on Woody Guthrie centennial events is available online.

Nick Pavlik: A New Face for the Associated Press


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Recently, the Associated Press (AP), one of the world’s most respected news agencies, unveiled its brand new logo (proudly displayed on its official website), retiring its previous logo of 31 years. To help usher in the AP’s new look and its accompanying visual identity system, the Archivists Round Table of Metropolitan New York held its latest monthly programming event at the AP Corporate Archives. The event was attended by an impressive turnout and explored the development, design, and promotion of the AP’s new logo.

Featured speakers included Francesca Pitaro, AP Processing Archivist; Matt Cluney, AP Director of Marketing, Americas; and David Jalbert-Gagnier, principal of the design firm Objective Subject.

Ms. Pitaro spoke on the organization of the AP Publications Collection in the Corporate Archives, as well as how the historical graphic art contained in the collection provided invaluable context for the development and design of the new logo. Mr. Cluney spoke on the collaborative ventures between the AP Marketing and Creative Services teams for publicly marketing the new logo, while Mr. Jalbert-Gagnier expounded upon the creative and historical process of producing the AP’s new logo design and associated visual identity assets.

Presentations were followed by a viewing of the exhibit (AP) Means Associated Press: 166 Years of Logotype Design, curated by Valerie Komor, Director of the Corporate Archives, and former Assistant Archivist Sam Markham. The exhibit presented historical AP publications and promotional materials that illustrated the evolution of the AP’s visual identity, as well as a timeline of AP World magazine covers from 1944 to 2011.

For New York City archivists, this was a great opportunity to hear about and learn from a wonderfully successful interdepartmental initiative involving archives within a corporate setting.

More information on the AP’s new logo and visual identity system can be found on the AP’s FAQ page on this subject.

Photos: Above, AP seal, 1900; middle, event attendees perusing the exhibit (AP) Means Associated Press: 166 Years of Logotype Design (courtesy of AP Photo/Santos Chaparro); and below, an AP Service Bulletin from January 1926.

Q & A: Tessa Fallon of the Human Rights Web Archive


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In February the New York Archivists Round Table was spotlighting the Human Rights Web Archive (HRWA), a joint initiative of Columbia University Libraries and Information Services and its Center for Human Rights Documentation and Research. As stated on the project’s site on the Internet Archive, the HRWA is “an effort to preserve and ensure access to freely available human rights resources created mainly by non-governmental organizations, national human rights institutions, and individuals.”

A major and invaluable undertaking, the HRWA is indicative of the recognition by major research institutions of the importance of the practice of web archiving, or capturing and preserving websites and other web-only materials for future research. Earlier in the month the Round Table had the opportunity to conduct a brief interview with Tessa Fallon, Web Collection Curator for the HRWA. Many thanks to Tessa for her insightful replies, which highlight some of the complex issues at work in the HRWA and also touch upon future directions for the project:

Q: What are your primary responsibilities as Web Collection Curator?

A: My primary responsibilities revolve around the maintenance and development of our web archive collections. This includes (but is not limited to): selecting new sites, requesting permission from site owners, sending cataloging requests to our catalogers, testing sites for technical suitability, and managing crawls of our selected sites. In addition to the HRWA (managed jointly between myself and co-curator Alex Thurman), I also manage the new Burke New York City Religions and the Rare Book and Manuscript Library web archives (both collections are in stages of development). Alex manages the Avery Architectural Library web archive, which includes sites related to historic preservation and architecture in New York City, and the University Archives collection.

Q: One of the main criteria for website inclusion in the HRWA is a perceived risk of disappearance. How do you determine that a website is at risk of disappearing?

A: This is a perennially tricky question, and we are continually refining our perception of what “at risk” means for a website. Some might argue that given the ephemerality of the web, all websites are at risk. For the HRWA, there are some criteria that are clearly defined: organizations that are at risk of persecution from hostile governments or other groups, organizations that have limited or threatened access to the internet, and sites that are static, presumably abandoned (no longer updated–in some cases, for years). In our experiences, sites may also disappear and reappear without notice, which makes at-risk difficult to gauge.

Q: Can you briefly explain the process of how a website is captured for inclusion in the archive?

A: The (very) abbreviated version of How Web Crawling Works: Sites are captured using a tool called a web crawler. A crawler can capture web content by crawling from link to link on a given site. So, if I sent a crawler to capture this blog, the crawler starting, “nyhistoryblog.com” would capture all of the content on nyhistoryblog.com at that moment in time. The crawler creates a file (called a WARC file) that is then used by a program like the Wayback Machine to show the archived site (content captured by the crawler).

Q: The HRWA website states that the project team is currently pursuing other means of making the archive available in addition to the project page on the Internet Archive. What additional means are you considering?

A: As part of the grant, we are attempting to develop a portal that would allow us to provide a local index and interface for our archived web sites. This is not yet available to the public. Portal development is spearheaded by Stephen Davis, Director of Library Digital Programs Division, programmer David Arjaniks, and web designers Erik Ryerson and Eric O’Hanlon.

If you’d like to learn more about the HRWA, check out the highly-informative FAQ section of the project site!

Help NYC’s Dept of Records, Information Services


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At the behest of Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, the New York City Council has proposed legislation that would eliminate the autonomy of New York City’s Department of Records and Information Services (DORIS), the agency that is responsible for the records and archival documents produced by past and present City governments. The proposed legislation (Int. 486-2011) would place the currently independent agency within the Department of Citywide Administrative Services (DCAS).

If passed, this legislation would significantly downgrade the authority of DORIS within City government and potentially put at risk its ability to preserve, protect and make accessible the intellectual legacy of one of the world’s greatest cities. A full position statement on the proposed legislation is available on the Archivists Round Table of Metropolitan New York’s website at http://nycarchivists.org/.

Please add your name to the sign-on letter to oppose the proposed legislation, and advocate for the preservation of DORIS as an autonomous records agency, with the financial support and professional respect it deserves. The sign-on letter is located at http://nycarchivists.org/doris_petition. Every signature matters. Help New York City, as an international cultural and financial leader, and the place with the greatest variety and highest density of archives in the world, set the standard for how a democratic government preserves and makes accessible its documentary heritage.