Category Archives: Elizabeth Nielsen’s Postings

Three New SCARC Finding Aids Added in December 2019

The three new collections added were received by SCARC in 2015 and are now available to researchers through the Archon finding aid database. Additionally, two out of these three new collections are electronic, as they were born-digital and digitized, representing 38.4 Gigabytes of new archival material. The addition of these finding aids brings the total number of collections available through the Special Collections and Archives Research Center to 1,026 as of January 1, 2020.

Read more about these new collections below:

Raul Peña Collection, 1968-2005 (MSS Peña)

The Raul Peña Collection consists of Peña’s personal scrapbook and a compilation of video-recorded news stories depicting the struggles of migrant farm workers in Oregon during the late 1980s and early 1990s. Peña served in the U.S. Army and Oregon Army National Guard in the 1970s and 1980s, and advocated for migrant worker rights through his work for the Bureau of Labor and Industries in the late 1980s and 1990s.  This collection consists of digitized versions of the scrapbook and video content.

Roy Philippi and Beth Miller Philippi Scrapbooks, 1915-1943 (MSS Philippi)

The Roy Philippi and Beth Miller Philippi Scrapbooks were assembled by Oregon Agricultural College student Roy Philippi and his daughter-in-law, Beth Miller Philippi, herself an alumna of Oregon State College. The scrapbooks document student life at Oregon State College during World War I and the beginning of World War II, primarily through candid snapshots and newspaper clippings.

The Beth Miller Philippi scrapbook is in fragile condition and a digital surrogate should be consulted as a primary source of access. This surrogate is available in the Special Collections and Archives Research Center Reading Room, or remotely upon request.  The collection includes 232 photographs.

Oregon State University Libraries and Press Oral History Collection, 2018-2019 (OH 041)

The Oregon State University Libraries and Press (OSULP) Oral History Collection primarily consists of audio-recorded interviews conducted with current employees of the OSU Libraries and the OSU Press, all of which were structured using a set script of interview questions. A smaller subset of the collection is comprised of more individually tailored interviews with former employees of the OSU Libraries. Members of each OSULP branch and department are represented in the collection, which includes interviews with library faculty, staff and student workers. Online access to the interviews, as well as a promotional video, is provided through a dedicated project homepage.  The collection includes 50 oral history interviews.

2008 SAA Annual Conference San Francisco — Nielsen Highlights

Following are the highlights and major “take-aways” for me from the SAA conference last week in San Francisco. I also have detailed notes from the sessions and meetings I attended. If you would like to see them, please contact me directly at

First, my thanks to Academic Affairs for providing monetary support from Professional Faculty Development Funds as a match for Libraries’ funding. This was an excellent opportunity to learn about new initiatives in the profession, projects and programs at other repositories, and connect (or re-connect) with archival colleagues from across the U.S. West Coast and Northwest repositories were well-represented. The attendance of 1719 was the 3rd largest ever and the largest for a west coast meeting.

There were 10 concurrent sessions offered during most of the conference — so it’s necessary to “pick and choose”. I focused my attention on sessions that addressed the areas for which I have major responsibility here in the OSU Archives: arrangement and description (i.e. processing and preparing finding aids for collections) and the curation of moving image materials (films and videotapes).

Common topics were the application of minimal-level processing; user studies (of everything); evolution of standards; incorporating social networking/web 2.0 technologies; mass digitization of archival materials, and electronic records. When I attended SAA in 2001, there was still a fair amount of skepticism about EAD both in presentations and in the hallway conversations. By this meeting in 2008, EAD is clearly widely accepted and adopted (as is DACS as the content standard); the application of minimal-level processing is widespread; user studies are all the rage; and mass digitization of archival materials is on the horizon.

Themes, highlights, and take-aways:

  • Archivists’ Toolkit has been broadly adopted (>1300 implementers) and is here to stay. AT is an open-source archival collection-management system with modules for accessioning, physical control, and description. I will be preparing a recommendation that we (OSU Archives) adopt it.
  • The OSU Archives is on par or ahead of other repositories in many areas (IR, adoption of MPLP, EAD/MARC, digital collections) — go Beavs! … and everyone is struggling with electronic records. I was disappointed that several presentations reported on projects/sites that are not (yet) publicly available.
  • As a profession, we are grappling with the importance of “contextual” information and hierarchical arrangement of materials in an environment in which our users report they want a specific document and we are increasingly delivering individual items as digital objects.
  • Mass digitization of archival materials is being tested in some repositories and will be necessary in order to provide the digital content that our users seek. Is this microfilming for the 21st century?
  • Atlas Systems (of ILLiad fame) has developed a patron request software application that allows users to request boxes from within an EAD finding aid. This may be something that will be useful to NWDA.
  • The next major archival standard will be Encoded Archival Context (EAC) — which will consist of EAC-CPF (for corporate bodies, persons, and families) and EAC-F (functions). This will allow for more robust authority records for archival collections creators. EAC-CPF will be out in the next 6-12 months.
  • We will also see more focus on resource discovery and access — building on the strong standards base of DACS, EAD, and EAC.
  • Providing moving images in short “clips” on-line (streaming) makes them more useful to K-12 teachers and also provides access for review to film producers (who are frequently on short deadlines).
  • And … the two major vendors of archival supplies (Metal Edge and Hollinger) have merged — [actually, Metal Edge bought Hollinger].

Many, many thanks to Archivist Karl for holding down the fort here while the rest of us traveled to SAA.

Northwest Archivists 2008 in Anchorage

Northwest Archivists 2008 Annual Conference
New Frontiers in Archives and Records Management
Anchorage, Alaska

Following are summaries for two of the sessions that I attended:

Session 1: The Integrated Digital Special Collections (INDI)
This session introduced the Integrated Digital Special Collections (INDI), an open-source archival management application developed at Brigham Young University. INDI is a web-based system designed with an emphasis on archival workflow and distributed processing activities. The session included an introduction to the project and demonstrations of the functional application modules and the INDI sandbox, and discussion of future directions for INDI development. Presenters were Brad Westwood, Cory Nimer, and Gordon Daines.

This application has some of the same goals as other open-source archival management applications, such as Archon and the Archivist’s Toolkit — but with a stronger emphasis on workflow and project management. The application currently has no public interface and is intended for staff use (BYU special collections has a permanent staff of ~15+ and employs about 40 student assistants).

Modules that were described or demonstrated:

  • Contact management system is used to to track donors and creators; using a single tool for both creator management (authority control) and donor/contact management has been problematic.
  • Help feature has been useful to staff; includes both “application assistance” (how to do something) and “data entry assistance” (what information and in what format is appropriate for a given field). Usability testing showed that staff use latter more than former.
  • Desktop search tool; have been retrospectively entering accessioning data, so this can serve as “one stop searching” tool.
  • Project management (with e-mail feature that allows e-mail discussions that are preserved within the system, linked to the project/collection); this is one of the most robust areas of the application.
  • Appraisal; breaks down appraisal of potential purchases/donations into detailed tasks. Probably most useful for a repository with an active acquisitions program in many areas.
  • Accessioning; this has been useful because many of the accessioning steps are actually done by student assistants.

The project team has experienced issues because several different programmers have worked on the project which have had different approaches to documentation and varying programming styles. The BYU Library is currently evaluating how to proceed with the project — whether to continue to invest in programming or to migrate to another system. They are especially interested in a system being developed by/for the ICA (International Council on Archives).

Session 7: New Modes of Access: Challenges and Opportunities for Archival Collections
This session focused on the development/implementation of WorldCat Local at University of Washington Libraries. Presenters were Nicole Bouche (UW Special Collections); Jennifer Ward (Head of Web Services for UW Libraries) and Mela Kircher (OCLC).

The session especially focused on the impact of WorldCat Local on archives/special collections. Several issues that were raised are:

  • “duplicate” titles — “split” collections at different repositories that the WorldCat Local algorithm considers as different editions …
  • duplicate records for a record in WorldCat submitted by a repository and a record for the same collection submitted by NUCMC (which were previously only in RLIN … but are being migrated to WorldCat).
  • WorldCat local does not serve as a collection-management system … does work well as a “discovery” tool
  • very limited notes displayed

Future enhancements to WorldCat Local will be:

  • more articles metadata
  • branch scoping (driven off 4-character location codes)
  • simple language facets
  • additional fields displayed (this is especially important for notes fields in archival MARC records)
  • federated search (may be able to search NWDA finding aids database)
  • reviews
  • FRBR/editions display improvements
  • improved WorldCat account authentication
  • tagging
  • improved reports

Elizabeth Nielsen
OSU Archives

2008 Online Northwest Conference — 22 Feb 2008

This was an excellent conference with a dynamic keynote speaker and very good individual sessions. A full summary of the program is available online. Take-aways (for me) from keynote and sessions I attended:

KEYNOTE Jared Spool
Why Good Content Must Suck: Designing for the Scent of Information

  • content emits scents; users follow scent of content
  • content “sucks”/”draws” the user toward it
  • scent communication through trigger words (can determine important trigger words by looking at terms used for searching in search engine logs)
  • users don’t mind “clicking” if with every click, they get closer to content (scent gets stronger)
  • when good designs work, we don’t notice them
  • things that prevent scent
    • search engines
    • information/content “below the fold” especially if there is a horizontal line suggesting bottom of screen page
    • navigation panels are “scentless”; often include jargon; often mirror admin organization or “silos”
    • short links don’t emit scent
    • 7-12 words in linkis optimal for success of user; links need trigger words
    • short pages reduce scent and horizontal rule stops scrolling
  • site map = the page where we hide all the scent
  • on A-Z list, scent arranged ‘”randomly”
  • traditional approach to design is to start with home page; should start with “content” and put links in all the places where someone might look for that “content”

Session 1 Platform for a New Kind of Library Catalog?
Amy Crawford, OCLC Western

This session would have benefited by having a “user” of or worldcat local.
Presenter described new model for library catalogs: synthesize => specialize => mobillize

Session 2 — Facebook 101: What Librarians Need to Know
Laurie Bridges, OSU Libraries

Great introduction to Facebook:

  • “fan pages” allow you to “push” content/announcements to your “fans”; “groups” are more static
  • users spend more time (20 min/dayis this right?) on Facebook than any other website (which avg less than 5 min/day)
  • advertising may be a cost effective way to reach students and young adults (priced per click or per “thousand views”)

Session 3 — Navigating User Understanding of the OPAC Interface: Case Study from OHSU’s Web Usability Testing
Laura Zeigen, OHSU

Laura provided some background on usability testing; results of the testing of the OPAC interface; and the changes they made at OHSU. Her powerpoint and a list of resources are available, as is this site she referred to in her presentation. It would be useful to have similar compilation for “archives” terminology.

Elizabeth Nielsen

Finding Aids Now Available

Finding aids are now available for four collections that have been a part of the OSU Archives’ holdings for many years. These include the varied and extensive papers of F.A. Gilfillan; the records of the statewide Keep Oregon Green Association; the minutes of a local Corvallis civic organization, the Village Improvement Society; and class notes for a rural sociology course taken at Oregon Agricultural College in 1923.

gilfillan for blog

F.A Gilfillan Papers, 1909-1984
19 cubic feet (21 boxes, including 3 oversize boxes and 1 roll storage container)
Link to: PDF on OSU website; EAD finding aid in NWDA
The F.A. Gilfillan Papers document Gilfillan’s career as an Oregon State College professor and administrator; his activities to promote science teaching; his student years at Oregon Agricultural College and Yale University; and his interests in languages and rare books and manuscripts. The Papers include correspondence; notepads; scrapbooks and photograph albums; photographs; sound recordings; ephemera and artifacts. Gilfillan earned a BS degree from Oregon Agricultural College in 1918, served as Professor of Chemistry (1927-1939) and Dean of Science (1939-1962), and was the Acting President of Oregon State College from 1940 to 1942.

Keep Oregon Green Association Records, 1945-1957
0.2 cubic foot (1 box)
Link to: PDF on OSU website; EAD finding aid in NWDA
The Keep Oregon Green Association Records consists of minutes and annual, financial, and activities reports assembled by Paul M. Dunn, Dean of the Oregon State College School of Forestry. The Keep Oregon Green Association was founded in 1941 to conduct a statewide fire prevention program of education and information and thereby assist in protecting landowners’ resources

Florence L. Kohlhagen Notebook, 1923
0.03 cubic foot (1 box)
Link to: PDF on OSU website; EAD finding aid in NWDA
The Florence L. Kohlhagen Notebook consists of class notes of the Rural Sociology course taken by Kohlhagen at Oregon Agricultural College in 1923. The course was taught by Hector Macpherson. Topics addressed in the course include the evolution of rural institutions; the rural community, family, and school; rural societies and associations, including churches; rural systems of transportation and communication; the dependence of national welfare upon the rural community; and the role of agriculture

Village Improvement Society Minutes, 1904-1911
0.01 cubic foot (1 box)
Link to: PDF on OSU website; EAD finding aid in NWDA
The Village Improvement Society Minutes document the activities of this Corvallis, Oregon, civic organization which promoted the planting of trees, development of parks, and general beautification of the city.

Northwest Archivists Annual Conference 2007

Northwest Archivists Annual Conference
Moscow, Idaho
18-19 May 2007

As always, it’s a pleasure to attend this small conference (about 75-100 attendees) and connect in person with regional colleagues. In 2008, the NWA will hold its first annual conference in Anchorage! Here’s a summary of the sessions I attended.
Friday Plenary Session: NARA (National Archives) Strategic Planning

Thomas Mills provided an overview of the National Archives collections and programs and the recent strategic planning process. Key challenges and strategies that have emerged are:

  • embed records management in business processes of federal agencies to deal more effectively with electronic records; are working on “plug in” modules that can be added to IT systems to facilitate records management
  • gain control over huge backlog of unprocessed holdings
  • de-classification and re-classification
  • preservation and security
  • electronic records archives
  • re-envisioning the nature of research services and environment; fewer researchers are doing genealogical research in NARA research rooms because many of the most frequently used records have been digitized by vendors and are now available through commercial (or non-profit) sites
  • developing public/private partnerships; affiliated archives program plus more
  • civic literacy – bringing people into the archives that are not researchers

Panel: Building a National Archival Network: Roles of National and Regional Projects and Organizations

Panel members were: Ann Lally (UW); Leigh Grinstead (CDP@BCR); Max Evans (NHPRC); and Steve McCann (Digital Projects Librarian at UMontana). The panel chair/facilitator was our own Jodi Allison-Bunnell.

Most of this discussion focused on how to move regional projects and organizations to sustainable programs. Some of the ideas from panelists:

  • strong partners that are able to “institutionalize” a project as part of daily operations
  • finding a “sugar daddy” that is not a federal agency
  • affiliating with a university or other cultural heritage organization
  • make the member organizations your customers and provide the services they need
  • partner with “for profit” organizations

Session: Regional Film Preservation Projects

This was a more traditional session with presentations about several regional projects:

Alex Merrill (WSU) described a film preservation project recently undertaken at WSU for the J. Elroy McCaw Memorial Film Collection. A subset of the Collection (55 films) was transferred to digital format and described with detailed metadata. The digital files currently reside in an “unpublished” ContentDM collection – planning to provide streaming files.

Nicolette Bromberg (UW) described the Washington Film Preservation Project, lead by UW, which preserved films from 9 institutions in Washington; offered preservation clinics; and transferred a subset of films (92 reels) to digital masters. UW and OCLC have applied for a $0.5 million grant from IMLS for a 2-year project in Washington, Idaho, and Montana.

Anne Frantilla (Seattle Municipal Archives) described her repository’s successful participation in the Washington Film Preservation Project. As a result of the project they had about 11,000 feet of film preserved (cleaned, cored, and canned) and 3-5 films transferred to digital master. Through the project they gained experience working with films; learned more about their film holdings; and are able to provide better access to films.

Session: Using Expressive Metadata Formats to Support Preservation in Digital Repositories

Presenters were Al Cornish, Greg Matthews, and Jon Scott — all from WSU Libraries. This session was way over my head. But what I did learn was the distinction between metadata used for resource “discovery” and metadata for resource “harvesting”. The presenters talked about metadata schemes that are more robust that OAI-PMH – such as mpeg21 didl and mets as well as the Object Reuse and Exchange (ORE) protocol, which supports harvesting so that an an object can be re-used, re-purposed, etc.

Saturday Plenary Session: The White Glove Treatment: Using Special Collections in the Literature Classroom

Augusta Rohrbach, a WSU English faculty member, eagerly described her use of special collections materials for a history of American literature class. She has taught a similar course at Oberlin, Brown, and WSU – and has learned that repositories at all of these places have primary source materials that are appropriate for this course which focuses on the material context for literary history. She emphasized the “situational and regional” approach to learning literature and the importance of students learning from period publications and published artifacts. For the most recent offering of the class (spring semester 2007), there were 8 students in a 300-level class; project was to prepare a display using primary materials for the special collections reading room. Their project report included not only what they chose to include (and why) but what they left out … or what they couldn’t find.

This was an excellent presentation and a great example of the way that primary sources can be incorporated into undergraduate instruction.

Session: Archivists in Web 2.0 World: How Can We Make Social Software Tools Work for Us?

This was an excellent session with two OSU presenters (Anne-Marie and Tiah). Anne-Marie introduced Web 2.0 by focusing on four main points:

  • web as platform
  • user focus (users interact with each other)
  • micro-content (songs vs albums as new unit of measure for music; individual images or film clips … not photographic collections or full films). This has significance for archives; we emphasize context as essential in describing materials and we have typically described materials at the collection or sub-collection level – only rarely at the individual “item”-level. Current trends are toward even less granular description. Ummm… we are working in interesting times …
  • radical openness

See Ann-Marie’s blog for links. Tiah described various Web 2.0 applications that are being used by archivists:

  • blogs and wikis
  • flickr
  • rss feeds
  • second life (the digital archivist)

She encouraged all to explore/experiment in order to become aware/familiar with the tools our researchers (and future donors of materials) are using.

Ann Lally (UW) described the project at UW to add links in Wikipedia articles to UW digital collections; also created Wikipedia articles where there was no appropriate article Strongly suggested becoming a “registered user”.

Here is a link to her May 2007 D-Lib magazine article about the project.

Elizabeth Nielsen

Helen Gilkey: Master Botanist

Dr. Helen Gilkey in botany laboratory with students, circa 1920 (HC 946).Botanist Helen Margaret Gilkey earned a master’s degree in botany from Oregon Agricultural College in 1911 and the next year enrolled in the doctoral program at the University of California at Berkeley. She was the first woman to earn a Ph.D. in Botany at Berkeley when she completed her degree in 1915. She continued as a scientific illustrator at Berkeley until 1918, when she returned to OAC as an assistant professor. She was also appointed Curator of the Herbarium, a position she held for 33 years, until her retirement in 1951.

Under Gilkey’s watch, the college’s herbarium grew from 25,000 to 75,000 plant specimen. Gilkey wrote more than 40 articles and books during her academic career and was one of the world’s leading experts in underground fungi (truffles) and tubers.

In 1996, Gilkey was inducted into the Berkeley Women’s Hall of Fame.

In 2003, Sharon Rose, Willamette University Biology Professor, curated an exhibit of Gilkey’s botanical illustrations at Willamette’s Hallie Ford Museum of Art (Read full story about Sharon Rose’s research.).

The Helen M. Gilkey Papers are available to researchers in the OSU Archives.

Online Northwest 2007 Conference Report

General notes and thoughts about Online Northwest 2007 (Feb 16, 2007), by Elizabeth Nielsen

OSU Libraries were well represented on both sides of the podium. I attended the keynote and 3 sessions A full program summary is available.

Highlights (take-aways) of the sessions I attended:

Keynote by Stephen Abram

  • added values of libraries (and librarians) is to improve the “quality of the question” and the user experience
  • Google (commercial search engines) can answer “who, what, when, where” questions; libraries do best at answering “how” and “why” questions
  • in academic setting, library “instruction” needs to be linked at the “lesson” level (assignment, project, or task)

Session One: Creating Online Library Tutorials with Macromedia Captivate: Process and Product (Karen Munro, UC Berkeley)

  • strongly recommends flash files (*.swf) for delivery of tutorials — are seamless for user
  • keep tutorials short (3 minutes max; 1 minute may be better)
  • Captivate now an Adobe product
  • develop tutorials that can be used for a variety of purposes (across classes, courses, or disciplines)
  • adding audio doubles the development time
  • storyboard each action and write script
  • importance of tying tutorial to an assignment
  • put tutorial at the point of need
  • her powerpoint
  • sample tutorial (in beta testing)
  • her own “post mortem” of the session

Session Two: Observing Student Researchers in their Native Habitat (John Law, Proquest)

nothing astounding here

  • qualitative research (observing students doing research for class research project) and quantitative (survey)
  • used Facebook to place ad to solicit research participants (didn’t mention library or Proquest in ad)
  • many students started their research at course website
  • little evaluation of whether resource was appropriate for the specific task (used what they were familiar/comfortable with)
  • strong brand recognition
  • student researchers chose library resources because librarian visited class; professor required or suggested it; or brand awareness
  • students use google for primary research; to supplement research (make sure they didn’t miss anything); quick reference to get background information; or to locate known resources (known websites; major newspapers; library resources)
  • why students chose google for primary research: unfamiliar with library e-resources; bad experience with library (trying to search catalog for article; authentication issues; e-resources web page unclear)
  • students indicated do NOT use myspace or facebook for coursework or research — might use for group projects
  • once in library databases, users don’t have difficulty conducting research
  • full text is prerequisite; abstracts are essential

Session Three: Digital Archiving on a Shoestring: Development of the Oregon Documents Repository (Kyle Banerjee and Arlene Weible, Oregon State Library)

presentation outline
document repository

  • difficulty of distinguishing between publications and public records (perhaps a reason to use same repository for both)
  • use MARC records for description/metadata — allow integration of description of paper/electronic document
  • returning native file format not essential; most important to retain content
  • not trying to preserve the experience of using the original format
  • design determined by workflow