We’ve Got to Stop Meeting Like This: A Proposal for HACS (Hybrid Archives Conference Strategy)

This blog post was originally posted on Eira Tansey’s website.

Why We Should Consider a Change

As archivists enter our second summer of online conferencing, and the pandemic has gone from “getting under control” with the vaccine rollout to “?????? who knows???” with the variants, people are naturally wondering what conferencing in the future will look like if, and when, it is safe to travel again. We should not go back to the pre-pandemic conference model. We should retain the best of both online and in-person conferencing, and not squander the incredible opportunity we have to rethink how we conference.

One of the blessings and the curses of the archives profession is how incredibly decentralized it is. Many, if not most, archivists belong to multiple location and specialty-based associations. For example, an archivist could belong to a local (Greater New Orleans Archivists), state (Society of California Archivists), regional (Midwest Archives Conference), national (Society of American Archivists), and/or specialist organization (Association of Moving Image Archivists). As a result, it is not unusual for archivists – particularly those with financial privilege or institutional support – to maintain memberships in multiple archival associations. But all of these organizations are independent of one another – which also means all of their annual meetings are coordinated independently of one another. 

This is not sustainable, on multiple levels. It’s certainly not sustainable on a carbon emissions level, and given the limited travel budgets of most archivists (many in our profession have to pay entirely on their own dime), archivists have always had to choose which conferences to attend and which to skip (I have no evidence to support this, but I wouldn’t be surprised if attendance at regionals increases in the years that SAA is farthest away from that region). Even for those of us with institutional travel support, it is likely that our travel budgets will take a hit in the future, or certainly will not keep up with costs. 

After attending a number of online conferences this year that were traditionally held online, I have been hearing the following comments about the future of conferencing:

  • “For years I could not attend this conference due to caregiving obligations/disability concerns, and now that it’s online I can finally participate.”
  • “I like the ease of conferencing from my desk but I also get interrupted by work all the time because I’m still at the office instead of in a conference hotel.”
  • “I can actually afford to attend as a low-income archivist because I don’t have to pay for a flight and hotel.”
  • “I enjoy the online sessions but I miss the in-person contact with colleagues from other institutions who are a major part of my professional support network”

All of these concerns are important and valid. We have to take them seriously and not pit them against each other. Presenting the future of conferencing as in-person vs. online is a false choice, because there is a hybrid model we can begin preparing the groundwork for today if we are serious about creating an equitable and sustainable profession.

Learning from the Nearly Carbon Neutral and Distributed Models

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, a conference model called the Nearly Carbon Neutral (NCN) approach started circulating in humanities academic subdisciplines. The genesis for the first NCN conference in 2016 arose out of the recognition that academics who take long-haul flights even just a couple times a year for conferences incur significant carbon footprints. 

The original Nearly Carbon Neutral approach is very much based on a primarily online model of pre-recorded lectures with interactive Q&A, but subsequent iterations of the NCN model developed a local node distributed system: “sites of collective, face-to-face engagement with the virtual conference.” This was used for the 2018 conference of the Society for Cultural Anthropology (SCA). In their fascinating and comprehensive post-conference reflections post, the SCA organizers noted that their traditional biennial conference typically drew 200 mostly US attendees, but the distributed approach brought in over 1,300 people from 40 countries with 50 local gathering nodes. Due to the international level of participation, the conference organizers had to figure out how to schedule the sessions across time zone differences and create a web presence that could sustain 24/7 access needs. 

The SCA organizers ran some back of the envelope math about how much energy was saved from their 2018 experiment:

[A] conservative estimate of the environmental benefit of this experiment is about 425 tons of emissions saved. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, that’s about the same as 100 cars driven for a year. It’s like taking 11,500 cars off the road for the duration of the three-day conference. Go anthropologists!

A proposal for HACS: Hybrid Archives Conference Strategy

Archivists are already highly networked through existing local/state/regional groups, which provides us with fertile ground to experiment with a distributed/hybrid/decentralized conference model. While the local/state/regionals are independent from the Society of American Archivists, there have been efforts in recent years to develop some coordination among these organizations, most notably through the Regional Archival Associations Consortium (RAAC): 

The Regional Archival Associations Consortium (RAAC) provides a mechanism to connect the leadership of regional, multistate, state, and local archival organizations with each other and to the Society of American Archivists (SAA). RAAC seeks to facilitate information exchange and foster collaboration among these organizations. It offers formal channels to coordinate efforts intra-state, interstate, and with SAA which facilitate streamlining actions, reducing costs, and increasing services. 

A map of the continental US showing color-coded states belonging to archival associations

The regionals are a natural way to site nodes for a distributed and decentralized hybrid conference model. Let’s take a look at what the map of our regionals looks like right now. This is a little confusing, because some states are part of more than one regional organization, especially in the Conference of Inter-mountain Archivists and Society of Southwest Archivists (for example, New Mexico and Arizona are both part of SSA and CIMA), as well as the Mid-Atlantic Regional Archives Conference and Delaware Valley Archivists Group regions. But the tl;dr is that if a state in this map is colored in, it is part of one of the following 8 regional organizations:

  1. Conference of Inter-Mountain Archivists
  2. Midwest Archives Conference
  3. New England Archivists
  4. Society of Southwest Archivists
  5. Mid-Atlantic Regional Archives Conference
  6. Northwest Archivists
  7. Society of Rocky Mountain Archivists
  8. Delaware Valley Archivists Group

For our pilot conference model, let’s pick 10 node cities:

  1. Miami
  2. Boston
  3. Washington DC
  4. Chicago
  5. Dallas
  6. Salt Lake City
  7. Los Angeles
  8. Portland
  9. Atlanta
  10. Albuquerque

…if you draw a buffer of 350 miles out from every city, you can see how much of the country is covered.

A map of the continental US showing 10 node cities and a 350-mile buffer around them

If you want to noodle around with these maps, you can access a public version to play around with them. Note that not all of these nodes are within an existing regional organization, but every state that is not in a regional has its own state-level association. So for example, Miami, Atlanta, and Los Angeles would be respectively covered by the Society of Florida Archivists, Society of Georgia Archivists, and Society of California Archivists (again, for the non-archivists out there, even though all of these names sound suspiciously similar to “Society of American Archivists” they are all independent autonomous groups with no official subordinate relationship to the SAA). 

Any good pilot project deserves an acronym, so how about HACS: the Hybrid Archives Conference Strategy. It already sounds a lot like another acronym we’re already familiar with. There are infinite iterations you could come up with for a hybrid schedule, and the following is just one example. In our example, SAA and the regionals essentially combine forces into a 3-day hybrid conference.

My extremely half-baked ideas on some guiding principles:

  • Ideally, all nodes are roughly equivalent in terms of anticipated audience, registration costs, and programming offerings, though one may need to serve as the “command center” for technology purposes and hosting things where SAA staff may need to be on-site (e.g. Council meetings and the annual business meeting). This may need to be Chicago given that its where the SAA offices are headquartered. Care should be taken so that the command center doesn’t simply default to being the conference location everyone wants to go to and defeating the point of a distributed model.
  • Nodes should be located in cities that support multi-modal transportation, including rail. 
  • All nodes should offer on-site childcare. For more about the importance of childcare provision at archives conferences, please see “The Cost of Care and the Impact on the Archives Profession” by Braun Marks, Dreyer, Johnson and Sweetser.
  • Roughly half of the overall programming would be overseen by SAA (“national”) and half would be overseen by the state/regional organizations (“local”). A roughly equal mix of nationally-selected and locally-selected programming would be offered at each node.
  • Presentation proposals could be sent to either the national or a local program committee for consideration. Topics of a broad national interest should be sent to the national program committee, while institutional case studies or highly localized topics should be sent to a local program committee.
  • One challenge may be that a panel accepted by the national committee is more likely to have presenters from disparate regions. In this case, they may be encouraged to deliver their panel from the node closest to the majority of panelists or in special circumstances the panel itself may require hybrid delivery (half of the panelists in one location and half in another) or it may be a panel that is simply pre-recorded if the logistical concerns about getting everyone together are difficult to resolve.
  • Any content from official nodes should default to streaming & recording online with interactive Q&A at the end to accommodate remote viewers unless there are good reasons to keep it offline (for example, confidentiality concerns, workshops with significant hands-on work meant for small in-person groups, etc)
  • All conference registration will happen via nodes. Conference registration fees should be roughly similar at all nodes to incentivize minimal travel. In other words, you don’t want LA to be $400 and Albuquerque to be $50, because then more people might go to Albuquerque, thus defeating the point of a distributed model. This may require use of alternative non-hotel venues in some cities.
  • All nodes would have at least some rooms dedicated to streaming in panels from other nodes.
  • Anyone can register as a fully-remote viewer that enables access to all recorded sessions. Access to all recorded sessions will be automatically included in anyone who plans to attend via a node.
  • People may set up unofficial nodes outside of the official nodes for the purposes of increasing viewership and accessibility by using their remote viewer registration (notice in the second map that there are major parts of the Plains states that are not well-served by the hypothetical set of nodes). However if the unofficial node hosts more than a couple viewers, they will be strongly encouraged to make an additional donation to the closest node to them to support the technology investment required for content delivery. 
Day 1Day 2Day 3
Early AM: Local workshops and local governance meetings (for example, MAC’s business meeting)Early AM: Conference sessions (50% selected by local program committees, 50% by national program committee)Early AM: Conference sessions (100% selected by national program committee)
Late AM: Local workshops and local governance meetings (for example, MAC’s business meeting)Late AM: SAA PlenaryLate AM: SAA committee and section meetings
Early PM: Conference sessions (100% selected by local program committees)Early PM: SAA committee and section meetingsEarly PM: SAA annual business meeting
Late PM: Conference sessions (100% selected by local program committees)Late PM: Conference sessions (50% selected by local program committees, 50% by national program committeeLate PM: Conference sessions (100% selected by national program committee)

Some Concluding Thoughts

I know that inevitably some people will consider this and immediately ask “OK sounds cool but what about….?” I’m sure there are plenty of contingencies I haven’t considered. But I hope that all the reasons I’ve laid out for why we should try this are compelling enough to give it a try.

One very obvious challenge of putting together something like this is that there is less time for stuff, and inevitably a lot of things will get cut that normally wouldn’t happen in the status quo environment of more conference time (4ish days for SAA, 2-3 days for regionals). And honestly, after serving on numerous governance and programming committees, this should be thought of as a good thing. Not only do I think that our conferencing model is unsustainable, I also think the vast array of committees and sections and working groups that exist across our national and regional organizations are unsustainable. 

We archivists are very good at starting things, but we are very bad at letting things go. We can try to keep all of our conferences and organizations going at the same pace while finding fewer and fewer people each year who are willing to volunteer for new governance and conference planning roles. Worst case scenario, the institutions we work at will make that decision for us as our travel budgets are cut and our profession shrinks by attrition. Or we can avoid both of these less than ideal scenarios by preparing new ground to transform into something better than what we’ve always known. It is time to say goodbye to our old conferencing model, and begin preparing the ground for a much healthier, networked, and accessible conference culture.

Many thanks to Jenny Latessa in UC Libraries Research and Data Services for her explanation of how ArcGIS handles color-coding symbology.

Earth Day 2021


Written by Itza A. Carbajal

In 2020 many of us experienced loss. The loss of life, touch, moments, potential memories, missed opportunities, and time. The start of the COVID-19 pandemic also took away our attention from other ongoing pressing issues such as the still critical Climate Crisis. The year 2020 also marked the 50th anniversary of the founding of Earth Day, a widely recognized celebration that first began in the United States in 1970 now considered a global day of observation.(1) Despite origins in just one country Earth Day now sees other countries celebrating this important issue with perhaps the most cumulative celebration occurring in 2016 with the landmark Paris Agreement signed by over 120 other countries.(2) Now midway through 2021 as the world tries to adjust to the changes brought on by the pandemic and its aftermath, attention again has begun to shift back to our planet’s most pressing issue – climate change with Earth Day, always observed on April 22, 2021, serving as an opportunity to refocus.(3)

As many may remember, 2019 represented a cataclysmic year for environmental movements with the largest recorded strike and protest occurring in over 150 countries. The Global Climate Strike organized primarily by young people captivated our attention and highlighted for many the demand for commitment from world leaders towards concrete Climate Change action.(4) With the wind of support pushing many people to act and increased pressure on governments and governing bodies, 2019 represented a chance for concrete change. For archivists, the global strikes also reignited a fire in the work, writing, and thinking of many archival practitioners and scholars on the intersections of archival practice, theory, and environmental studies. Efforts such as the Archives and Climate Change Teach-Ins brought to the forefront the urgency of Climate Change and disasters on archival work.(5) These initial conversations paved the way for ensuing publications, presentations, interviews, statements, workshops, and ongoing conversations each setting the stage for ripple effects in workplace practices, viewpoints, and field standards. Unfortunately, the start of the pandemic shortly after caused drastic shifts in working and gathering practices such as the cancelation of conferences, as well as financial, emotional, and personal struggles such as mass layoffs or forced isolation. These unfortunate consequences diverted much of the attention away from the urgency of Climate Change action towards more immediate fires. But for many archivists, the time to refocus is again upon us.

Now as a doctoral student at the University of Washington Information School, my own perspectives on Climate Change action have shifted slightly. While no longer a practicing archivist, I continue to value the role education plays in encouraging and enabling others to feel confident and prepared to take action. During this first year of my PhD program, I developed a research project titled “Everybody is Welcomed, Everybody is Needed: Using Archives in Interdisciplinary K-12 Teaching and Learning,” with the Technology & Social Change (TASCHA) group at the University of Washington.(6) Now through this opportunity to investigate in depth the impact archives and archival practice can have on the education of younger generations, I look to incorporate myself again into conversations on improving the future by using the past. This study focuses on the relationship between K-12 education on environmental issues and the use of digital archives in order to uncover and define the role archivists and archives can have in educating younger generations on the environmental past, present, and future of the world.

With the unveiling of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) in 2010 and adoption in Washington State in 2011, educational expectations call for an increased use of primary sources.(7) These sources used within teaching curriculums set out to build student skills such as critical analysis, source comparison, persuasive writing, and research. My research project then seeks to contribute to a number of fields and scholarships including archival studies, K-12 education, and childhood and youth studies. Findings on how different areas of study utilize primary sources to address the connections between the past, present, and future would benefit conversations on designing teaching and learning with primary sources programs that also address teaching standards. Given the limited time and resources of K-12 educators, many depend on access to these primary sources via online digital collections. Insights on how historic records can best be used in the K-12 classroom through interdisciplinary pedagogy also allow for improvements and alignment with national expectations and directions. In many subjects taught through grades K-12, overlapping topics related to both the planet and its inhabitants merit increased attention. For example, high school students in classes like history, chemistry, politics, and engineering could study the lasting impact of environmental changes on societies, the environment, and energy producing structures. Topics like land erosion, rising global temperatures, increased greenhouse gases, and human migration could be studied as part of biology, literature, geography, and mathematics. These convergences would facilitate multiple reiterative opportunities for students to learn and understand the ways humans enact, interact, memorialize and conceptualize one of the most pressing issues of our time.

As technology advances, access to information increases, and political strife spreads due to limited or restricted resources, there exists a fundamental need to evaluate and adjust how students are preparing themselves with technical, emotional, and intellectual insights and skills. In addition, now with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic obstructing in person instruction and access to resources, the need for digital access to primary sources has increased dramatically. My research project aims to explore these issues as well as identify new approaches or improved practices for both archivists, teachers, and students. Through surveys and observations of distinct populations including Seattle-based archivists, teachers in training, and Seattle Public School teachers and students, I plan to investigate current approaches and viewpoints on teaching environmental studies topics through the use of digital archival records. An emphasis on environmental studies in particular pushes forward scholarship on how K-12 education can incorporate discussions on sustainable and responsible ways of life through the lens of the environment and people’s relationship to it. By focusing on the use of primary sources, this research contributes to a growing area of pedagogical concern – how to use manifestations of the past embodied through physical records in order to better understand the present and predict or shape the future.

My hope as expressed in the blog article hosted by the Society of American Archivist Electronic Records Section as part of their Another Kind of Glacier series, is to continue putting pressure on myself, my colleagues, and others in the archival field.(8) Education alone cannot undo or reroute our practices alone, but I at least can set the stage for more to come.

1. “EPA at 50: Progress for a Stronger Future.” EPA. March 05, 2021. Accessed April 19, 2021. https://www.epa.gov/50.
2. “What Is the Paris Agreement?” The Paris Agreement. Accessed April 19, 2021. https://unfccc.int/process-and-meetings/the-paris-agreement/the-paris-agreement.
3. “Earth Day.” EPA. April 16, 2021. Accessed April 19, 2021. https://www.epa.gov/earthday.
4. “Over 4 Million Join 2 Days of Global Climate Strike,” Global Climate Strike, September 21, 2019, accessed October 6, 2020, https://globalclimatestrike.net/4-million/
5. Itza A. Carbajal and Ted Lee, “If Not Now, When? Archivists Respond to Climate Change,” Archival Outlook, November/December 2019, https://mydigitalpublication.com/publication/?m=30305&i=635670&p=8)
6. Itza A. Carbajal. “Archives in the Classroom.” Itza Carbajal Portfolio. April 19, 2021. https://itzacarbajal.com/2021/04/19/archives-in-the-classroom/.
7. Rich Cairn. “Primary Sources and the Common Core State Standards.” The Teaching with Primary Sources Journal 5, no. 2 (Fall 2012).
8. Itza A. Carbajal. “The Conversation Must Go On: Climate Change and Archival Practice.” BloggERS, December 15, 2020. https://saaers.wordpress.com/2020/12/15/the-conversation-must-go-on-climate-change-and-archival-practice/.

+ Feed Your Mind & Nourish Your Soul on Earth Day curated by Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture
LINK: https://www.nypl.org/blog/2021/04/14/feed-mind-nourish-soul-on-earth-day-schomburg

+ Against Environmental Disaster Teaching Activities curated by Archivists Against History Repeating Itself
LINK: https://www.archivistsagainst.org/activities/

+ Climate Change and Cultural Memory Material Memory Podcast series created Council on Library and Information Resources
LINK: https://material-memory.clir.org/season-2/

+ United States Environmental Protection Agency Archive maintained by the EPA
LINK: https://search.epa.gov/epasearch/?querytext=&inmeta=specialcollection_s%7EEPA%2BArchive&typeofsearch=epa&result_template=archive.ftl#/

+ Activating Special Collections for Climate Change Research poster presented at Rare Books & Manuscripts Section 2019 conference
LINK: bit.ly/3elZEjE

Climate Strike Teach-Ins

Information English | Información Español | Informação Português | Informations Françaises | Impormasyon Filipino

ENGLISH – This September 20th, 2019 archivists around the world alongside young people and adults across the US and world held strikes for climate action. Throughout this day archivists also held Teach Ins focused on various topics of archival practices and the archivist’s relationship to climate change. These Teach Ins provided insights and serve as a launching point for future actions against climate change. By joining international efforts to raise awareness of climate change, archivists joined the global community to tell leaders across the world that we too demand climate action. Archivists along with others in the library, museum, and information community joined together to contribute to this multigenerational multidisciplinary climate movement. Read below about how this year’s strike paved the way for learning about how archives and archivists impact climate change and helped set the stage for a new era of just and equitable climate action.

The September 20, 2019 Global Climate Strike represents the beginning of a long series of conversations demanding quick and just climate actions. Consider joining the movement by reviewing the created modules or suggested readings available for download here.

Teaching Modules: http://bit.ly/2lUocZ6

Zotero Library: http://bit.ly/Archives4ClimateActionRead

SEPT. 20 EVENTBRITE PAGE (http://bit.ly/2ktyQGg) set up to show solidarity with archivists from around the world and communicated details the nearest Teach In in the area. Teach Ins were held in various locations. Page also includes individual event pages for each Teach In action.

An ALL DAY Twitter Teach In that invited participants to talk archives, archivists, and climate change using the hashtag #Archivists4ClimateAction. Participants use this hashtag to talk in various languages, suggested articles, or posed and responded to questions related to the issue of Climate Change and archives.

As part of this online Teach In, participating archivists also briefly discussed the following article: “Dying Well In the Anthropocene: On the End of Archivists” by Samantha R. Winn

IN PERSON TEACH IN (these were the confirmed locations as of 9/19/19)

  • Austin, TX, U.S.A. 
    • Location: University of Texas Student Union Courtyard from 9 am to 12 pm
    • Event Link: http://bit.ly/2lWFncw
  • Melbourne, Australia
    • Location: Clyde Hotel (385 Cardigan St, Carlton) from 4 pm – 6 pm

This is a Project ARCC and Archivists Against History Repeating Itself sponsored action. Part of the Global Climate Strike 2019.

Share this page: bit.ly/archivistclimatestrike19

Download promotional materials (flyers/infosheets in multiple languages): http://bit.ly/2kAVU61

Note from Eira, ProjectARCC resident caretaker – don’t forget about ProjectARCC representation (aka Project mARCCh) at today’s March for Science and next week’s People’s Climate March! If you’re in the New York City region, the good folks at the Interference Archive in Brooklyn will help you get marching ready!

Interference Archive Propaganda Party — April 23: Come gather material for the April 29 Climate March and May Day!

What is a propaganda party? It’s where we get together to make and share graphic and informational material that we can use in our organizing work. We’re excited to provide material at this event that you can use for the April 29th climate march, in your May Day organizing, and more.

Join us on April 23rd at Interference Archive! This is a time to meet people, learn about the work different organizations are doing, and pick up flyers, stickers, posters, buttons, and more. All this material is free to you, and we encourage you to grab a drink and meet some new people.

Why do we use the word “propaganda”? “Propaganda,” from the same root as “propagate,” refers to information that is shared in support of a cause. In modern times, the word propaganda has been weighted with negative connotations; we aim to reclaim the word. Our daily lives are saturated with supposedly “neutral” material that implicitly supports existing power structures. We use the word propaganda because we have no desire to feign neutrality. What thoughts, feelings, and messages would you like to propagate?

Who is invited? Everyone! Bring your friends if you’d like; come on your own to meet new friends. If you want to come on behalf of an organization that you work with, please feel free to bring any material that you’d like to distribute to help other people connect with your cause.

Who has this been organized with? Sowing Resistance has been organized with the following partner organizations: Amplifier Foundation, Kayrock Screenprinting, Print.Organize.Protest, Radio Free Gowanus, Radix, and Wasp Print.

Off the screen and into the streets

Photo taken by 5chw4r7z at the Cincinnati Sanctuary City Rally, January 2017

So if you hang out in science or climate change circles, you probably know there are two BIG back-to-back marches coming up in the next ten days: on 4/22 there is the March for Science, and on 4/29 there is the People’s Climate March. Both marches aim to have a huge presence in Washington DC, accompanied by sister marches in many cities.

ProjectARCC is preparing for both of these marches by organizing to ensure LAM (Libraries, Archives, Museums) participation at both marches. We’re calling this Project mARCCh in recognition that as professionals charged with the preservation of cultural heritage, and an abiding commitment to information and knowledge access, we stand proudly in solidarity with our sisters and brothers who are at the forefront of information work around climate change, particularly scientists and journalists.

We’re keeping this pretty simple: if you are a librarian, archivist, or curator who would like to be a point of contact for an upcoming sister city march, we’d like to count you as a Project mARCCh point of contact. Contacts will be expected to serve as a local point of contact for organizing to increase the visibility and solidarity of LAM professionals at the 4/22 and 4/29 events. If you volunteer with Project mARCCh, you will be publicly identified on our website (on the map here) as the point of contact for your area. If you plan to remain local, we hope you will recruit other LAM professionals to attend sister city events. If you plan to come to DC, we will do our best to all congregate together.

If you would like to volunteer as a point of contact, please email Eira, the current ProjectARCC resident caretaker, the following information:

  • March:
  • Location (City, State):
  • Name:
  • Contact Info (Email and/or phone):

Please use the hashtag #project_mARCCh to tag pictures of you and your LAM colleagues in the streets so we can recognize you!


  • So wait, what do I have to do as a point of contact?
    • Think of local Project mARCCh points of contact similar to the hosts that often lead a restaurant outing at conferences – they typically say “Hey, meet us here at 8pm and we’ll go to the place together!” That is the bare minimum expectation – that you are willing to have your name and contact information listed on the Project mARCCh map so that if other LAM professionals in your area would like to march with other colleagues, they have that opportunity.

      Of course, you can take this as far as you want! Some points of contacts in other cities are making buttons that make puns about archivists and preservation, others are actually organizing carpools from their workplaces to go, and others are busy people who don’t have time to organize, but wanted to simply just have their name on the website just in case it turns out another librarian or archivist in their region wants someone to march with. If you make a kick ass banner, and take a picture of your LAM crew with it, Eira will find you and give you a big hug one day.

  • Are y’all documenting/archiving the marches?
    • Short answer, no. Right now, projectARCC does not have the capacity or bandwidth to organize this the way that archivists organized after the Women’s March. But if you know of any repositories documenting the marches, let us know! We’d love for you to guest author something on our blog!
  • What should we put on our posters or banners?
    • We encourage anything that serves as public identification of you/your group as a librarian/archivist/curator. It’s incredibly important that communities of scientists and frontline communities on climate issues know that we’re paying attention to their issues. Some ideas being batted around by current project mARCCh contacts are “Archivists Preserve” or depicting the Earth inside an archival records box. I bet you have awesome ideas!



DataRescue Philly: Environmental Data Archiving, Workflows, and Description

Today’s post is from Rachel Appel, Digital Projects & Services Librarian at Temple University.

From January 13-14th, I participated in DataRescue Philly at the University of Pennsylvania which was one event in a long series of DataRefuge grassroots events. These events are taking place in order to capture and archive federal environmental data for long-term access and preservation to combat the incoming administration’s efforts to deny climate change as well as the necessity to have ongoing management of digital data. The event was organized by the Penn Program in Environmental Humanities and the University of Pennsylvania Libraries.1 I was interested to learn more about data archiving because of my commitment to climate change awareness and action and to learn more about data archiving for a project I am working on to preserve civic data accessed through OpenDataPhilly.org.2

The first day acted as an orientation to data management and archiving and included a Teach-In on Data Refuge and Environmental Justice, DataRescue Guide Training, and Roundtable on DataRefuge Value and Vulnerability.

The second day was the DataRescue: A Creative Coding and Archive-a-thon. DataRescue Philly focused on archiving NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) data.3 There were six DataRefugePaths4 for participants to join:

  • Seeders: Enter seeds, or individual site URLs, into the Internet Archive’s End of Term Archive.5
  • Baggers: Bag breakdowns of web pages that are unable to be archived by the Internet Archive using the tool BagIt.6
  • Metadata: Work on descriptive metadata standard creation and data entering for bags.
  • Tool Builders: Create tools to assist the Baggers.
  • Storytelling: Capture the event on social media and developing documentation.
  • Long Trail: Strategize DateRefuge into the future.

I participated in the Metadata Path. I was one of the Guides for the group and my main role was to facilitate the group and develop a qualified Dublin Core metadata standard for descriptive metadata for bags that were then uploaded into an S3 Bucket and linked to from the DataRefuge CKAN Page (datarefuge.org). The hardest part was constructing a workflow with the Baggers and the S3 Bucket uploaders. Fortunately, the University of Michigan had developed a way to automate some preservation metadata into a JSON file.7 We then had to check against those fields, CKAN’s fields, and the fields we thought were pertinent to description and discovery. We developed a schema for CKAN and were able to work around the software’s limitations through adding custom fields. As soon as data had been bagged, we uploaded it to S3 and then created a record in CKAN, entering the metadata and linking to the file. This is still a work in progress and we hope to have a more streamlined workflow for future events to use and build upon. This is a model that can be applied to a number of fields, not just climate change.

At the end of the Archive-a-thon, we archived nearly 4,000 seeds and over 21GB of bagged data.

To learn more about the project please visit the Data Rescue Philly site at ppehlab.org/datarefuge or the GitHub repo at github.com/datarefugephilly. We are continuously working on updating the documentation.

List of upcoming DataRefuge events:

  • January 27-28, 2017 Ann Arbor: #DataRescueAnnArbor
  • February 4, 2017 New York: #DataRescueNYC
  • February 12, 2017 Boston: #DataRescueBoston

I would encourage everyone to try and attend these events, especially if one is hosted near you. You can bring a multitude of skills, technical and non-technical, and preserve climate data so we can still access it in the years to come.


Photo Credit: Andrew Bergman. Co-organizers of DataRescue Philly: Margaret Janz, Patricia Kim, Laurie Allen, and Bethany Wiggin.


Photo Credit: Michelle Murphy. Metadata team! Justin Schell (Bagger), Delphine Khanna, Rachel Appel, and Anastasia Chiu.


Photo Credit: Margaret Janz. Workflows.

[1] DataRescue Philly http://www.ppehlab.org/datarefugephilly/

[2] Future-Proofing Civic Data Knight Foundation https://www.newschallenge.org/challenge/how-might-libraries-serve-21st-century-information-needs/winning/future-proofing-civic-data

[3] NOAA http://www.noaa.gov/

[4] DataRefuge Paths http://www.ppehlab.org/datarefugepaths

[5] End of Term Archive http://eotarchive.cdlib.org/

[6] BagIt How-to https://github.com/datarefugephilly/bagit-how-to

[7]Data Package Requirements https://docs.google.com/document/d/17vQ6GOIs8aKUex7JdDzPy0QWPW7n2wZISMvz9A8fxG0/edit

ARCChivists, keep your eye on OpenGov efforts

Post by Eira Tansey

It is imperative that archivists and our allies who care about climate change educate ourselves as much as possible about the current landscape of federal records, research data, and open government initiatives. There have been a lot of concerns raised about the continuing availability of federal climate change research data, as well as continued access to government webpages. ProjectARCC applauds the work of all of our colleagues who are working to raise awareness to the vulnerability of climate data, particularly the work of our friends at DataRefuge.

This post is part of an ongoing series to educate our professional community on what to prepare for in terms of climate change, environmental regulation, and recordkeeping during the transition to the next presidential administration. The focus of this post will be on agency open government efforts. ProjectARCC also recommends the agency forecasts put together by the Environmental Data and Governance Initiative.

What has been the progress on open-government initiatives to date within these agencies, and what work is left to be done?

Although the Obama administration will be ending with a mixed record on transparency, the Obama administration introduced many very important changes intended to foster open government. Since President Obama took office, a number of directives intended to promote Open Government Initiatives were issued, including the Open Government Directive (M-10-06), the Managing Government Records Directive (M-12-18) and Increasing Access to the Results of Federally Funded Scientific Research (OSTP Memo of February 22, 2013), and Making Open and Machine Readable the New Default for Government Information Executive Order 13642.

All of these have implications for general principles of open government, transparency, and access to data (whether it’s governmental data, or scientific data created outside the government, but funded by federal dollars). While a deep exploration of the various open government initiatives is beyond the scope of this blog post, here’s a quick look at highlights of what agencies which have environmental-related work in their mission are doing. Per the Open Government Directive issued in 2010, agencies are required to maintain a webpage documenting their steps to comply with the various open government requirements. A full list can be found here.

Please note all links below were working as of the afternoon of January 18, 2017. However, over the course of working on this post I noticed some URLs had already changed from early drafts. I have nominated many of these URLs to the End of Term archive, but I would urge you to also nominate them as well, and save any local copies of PDFs or webpages you may want to refer to later. I would advise you to save local copies sooner rather than later given that the new administration will be taking office in 2 days.

Environmental Protection Agency https://www.epa.gov/open

The last EPA open government plan was issued in September 2016.

Data highlights:
Open data currently offered by the Environmental Protection Agency can be found at https://edg.epa.gov/metadata/catalog/main/home.page. The report goes into great detail about EPA’s approach to developing an information management policy to be compliant with the Open Government directives, as well as plans to develop a data lifecycle plan in FY17.

Records Management and FOIA highlights:
EPA is currently investigating email archiving tools based on role or content, and is also evaluating open-source or cloud-based” records management systems in anticipation of the 2019 deadline laid out in the Managing Government Records directive (https://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/omb/memoranda/2012/m-12-18.pdf). EPA FOIA requests can be tracked online, and the most recent Open Government report includes an objective to reduce backlog requests by 10%. The records management page for the EPA can be found here: https://www.epa.gov/records More information on EPA FOIA is here: https://www.epa.gov/foia

Department of the Interior https://www.doi.gov/open

The last DOI open government plan report was issued in June 2014.

Data highlights:
Open data currently offered by the Department of the Interior can be found at https://data.doi.gov/dataset A major initiative towards transparency within the DOI has been the establishment of the US Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative. According to the DOI, EITI is ” voluntary, global effort designed to strengthen accountability and public trust for the revenues paid and received for a country’s oil, gas and mineral resources. Countries that follow the standard publish a report in which governments and companies publicly disclose royalties, rents, bonuses, taxes and other payments from oil, gas, and mining resources.” (https://www.doi.gov/eiti)
The 2016 EITI Exective Summary Report can be found here.

Records Management and FOIA highlights:
According to the 2014 report, many records retention schedules are in the process of consolidation, and migration work had started on several records systems. The records management page for the Department of Interior can be found here: https://www.doi.gov/ocio/policy-mgmt-support/information-and-records-management/records More information on DOI FOIA is here: https://www.doi.gov/foia

Department of Energy http://energy.gov/open-government

The last Department of Energy open government plan was issued in September 2016.

Data highlights:
Open data currently offered by the Department of Energy can be found at https://www.data.gov/energy/. There is also significant data available through the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) at http://www.eia.gov/tools/. One of the more interesting tools on the EIA website is the real-time tracker documenting power demands on the US electrical grid (http://www.eia.gov/beta/realtime_grid/#/summary/demand?end=20161213&start=20161113).

Records Management and FOIA highlights:
According to the 2016 report, the Department of Energy has opted to use the Capstone method for agency email. The records management page for the Department of Energy can be found here: http://energy.gov/cio/office-chief-information-officer/services/guidance/records-management More information on Department of Energy FOIA is here: http://energy.gov/management/office-management/operational-management/freedom-information-act

National Aeronautics and Space Administration https://open.nasa.gov/

The last National Aeronautics and Space Administration open government plan was issued in September 2016.

Data highlights:
Open data currently offered by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) can be found at https://open.nasa.gov/open-data/ (this portal takes you to open data, open code, APIs, and other resources). All research produced with NASA funding is now required to be deposited in the NASA research repository within a year, and is available at PubSpace: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/funder/nasa/

Records Management and FOIA highlights:
The records management page for NASA can be found here: https://www.nasa.gov/content/nasa-records-management More information on NASA FOIA: https://www.nasa.gov/FOIA/index.html NASA maintains a FOIA library of available documents of interest to the public (as determined by frequent requests): http://www.hq.nasa.gov/office/pao/FOIA/err.htm You may be interested in reading the NASA Transition Binder: https://www.hq.nasa.gov/office/pao/FOIA/Transition_Binder.pdf

Department of Commerce (which oversees the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency [NOAA])** 

**As far as I could find, there is not a dedicated Open Government office for NOAA, so I reviewed the Open Government initiative documents for the Department of Commerce. This can be found here: http://www.osec.doc.gov/opog/OG/default.htm

The last National Aeronautics and Space Administration open government plan was issued in September 2016. Pages 111-121 concern the activities of National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency.

Data highlights:
Open data currently offered by NOAA can be found at https://data.noaa.gov/dataset. Interesting NOAA data highlights include their efforts to assign DOIs to datasets that are in the National Center for Environmental Information. NOAA is also responsible for maintaining climate.gov.

Records Management and FOIA highlights:
The records management page for NOAA can be found here: http://www.corporateservices.noaa.gov/audit/records_management/ More information on NOAA FOIA: http://www.noaa.gov/foia-freedom-of-information-act NOAA maintains a FOIA reading room, including links to frequerntly requested records: http://www.noaa.gov/foia-reading-room

You’ve heard about the concerns regarding federal climate and environmental data. So what’s next?

A slightly modified verison of this post first ran on the Issues and Advocacy Roundtable blog. Post by Eira Tansey, University of Cincinnati.


Shortly after the results of the US election, many who rely on federal climate and environmental data became very concerned about the continuing public availability of this data in the new administration. I am among this group myself, as my research partners from Penn State and I use data sets from NOAA to map climate change risks to American archival repositories. In the past few weeks, institutions such as the University of Toronto and the Penn Environmental Humanities Lab began to organize hackathons in order to seed the End of Term Project with climate and environmental webpages, and determine ways to effectively copy large data sets. The issue gained steam over the weekend when climate journalist and meteorologist Eric Holthaus began tweeting about it, and has gained major news coverage with stories in the Washington Post and Vice.


As a leader within ProjectARCC (Archivists Responding to Climate Change), I had reached out to individuals at Toronto and Penn to get more information about their projects as soon as I heard about them, including the role of librarians and archivists in their efforts. Representatives from the University of Toronto and Penn joined last night’s monthly ProjectARCC conference call to update us on their efforts.


Things are moving very swiftly right now on all of these fronts, so additional posts will be forthcoming as information and efforts are updated.


What is already in place?


Fellows from the Penn Environmental Humanities Lab began raising the issue of vulnerable environmental data with a hackathon earlier this month. The Penn Environmental Humanities Lab is now quickly organizing on many of the issues associated with downloading and distributing the work of copying the many data sets scientists rely on. You can read their initial vision here, their preliminary take on how not all data sets may be equally vulnerable, and yesterday’s update regarding their taking over the initial crowdsourced spreadsheet that Eric Holthaus started, as well as their collaborative work with the University of Toronto.


The University of Toronto is hosting a “guerrilla archiving” event on December 17. This event will focus on EPA page URLs that will be seeded for the End of Term project.


What is next?


The folks at Penn and Toronto have received a massive outpouring of interest. Which is great! It also means that they need to take some time to organize their efforts, so that they can evaluate the offers of help/storage space/etc most effectively. You can visit Penn’s #DataRefuge website, which just went live yesterday, to learn more about the efforts as they evolve.


Beyond the work that is coming out of the Toronto event on December 17, Toronto and Penn are planning to develop a toolkit that other institutions can use to host their own hackathons.


The Penn folks are currently setting up contacts with representatives from many organizations, including the Society of American Archivists.


How can you help?


The Penn #DataRefuge project now has a “I’d like to help” form. You can submit your response here.


If you have any .gov pages you would like to nominate for the End of Term web archiving project, you can do that right now using the End of Term Nomination Tool.


Why are people so worried about this to begin with?


Several departments and agencies within the federal government, including the Environmental Protection Agency, Department of Interior, Department of Energy, National Aeronautic and Space Administration, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (to name but a few), create myriad and massive data sets related to monitoring pollution of air and water, weather patterns, energy usage, and tracking indicators associated with climate change (ocean temperature and acidification, sea level modeling, and global temperature records).


The incoming Trump administration is signalling that it will likely be hostile to the established consensus science on climate change, as well as existing pollution regulations. The President Elect has denied the reality of global warming, and has made a series of appointments that have a legislative or business record of undermining environmental regulation and efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Many of the recent appointments have extensive ties to the fossil fuel industry, including the nominee for the EPA (Scott Pruitt, Oklahoma Attorney General) and the nominee for Secretary of State (Rex Tillerson, CEO of ExxonMobil). Multiple meta-surveys of climate science papers have established that climate change is real, and that it is primarily driven by human activities. The last publication on this extensively documented issue includes one published in April 2016, showing that between 90-100% of climate scientists themselves are in consensus on the causes of global warming, and 18 of America’s prominent scientific organizations are in agreement on the science showing that climate change is primarily driven by human activities.


Researchers are worried funding will be cut from existing federal environmental and climate monitoring and research efforts, but also about continued access to currently public data sets. It remains to be seen whether many of the recent Open Government initiatives that increased public access to federal data will receive the same level of support in the next administration. If data sets are removed from public access, this could mean that researchers would be required to file FOIA requests for access to data sets. With similarly extensive ties to the fossil fuel industry, during the Bush administration scientists documented dozens of instances of manipulation of scientific advice, restrictions on federal scientists’ work, and cutbacks on public access to environmental information (the most famous case probably being the proposed closure of EPA libraries). Some Canadians are alarmed by what could happen in the United States, given how the Harper administration also reduced public access to federal environmental data.


For now, researchers are in wait and see mode, but most are erring on the side of being overly cautious — hence why so many have mobilized to copy the data that is currently available as fast as possible.


For questions about the current status of this work, please feel free to contact eira.tansey@uc.edu

New Strategies for ProjectARCC

Hello allies!

I hope that you are all doing well and that you had a great Thanksgiving. It’s been a few months since our last update and since ProjectARCC (and I) went on hiatus for a while. It has been a busy few months (I got married), and as I am sure you agree, a disheartening past few weeks. But alas, the work must go on, now more than ever.

Eira Tansey and I spoke couple of weeks ago and are ready to re-boot ProjectARCC efforts, and we have ideas about how to restructure our goals and the scope of our work.

We think it is time to move away from the Committee structure. Though our efforts and projects were lofty and commendable, the Committees spread us thin. Instead of having multiple groups working on specific projects supported and organized by ProjectARCC, we want to make ProjectARCC more of an organizing space for archivists and interested allies (like journalists, scientists, and librarians) to come together, discuss climate change and its impact on our profession, and facilitate opportunities for archivists to find common ground and potential collaborations with others. To that end, we’re organizing monthly conference calls on the second Tuesday of each month. Eira will serve as the host and point of contact for the conference calls.

  1. Evenings on the even-numbered months at 7pm Eastern (December 13th will be the first of these)
  2. Daytime on the odd-numbered months at noon Eastern (January 10 will be the first of these)

We also want to keep the blog available and open for anyone to contribute to. We now have an open Google doc for people to sign up for blog posts. For now, I will take the lead on coordinating with writers who sign up and get posts uploaded to the website.

I’ve also unlocked the listserv so that anyone can join anytime without requiring a moderator to approve it (we should have done this long ago!). I am working on a standard template email that goes out to individuals after they join so that they are made aware of meeting times and ProjectARCC contacts.

So in short, for now, ProjectARCC will be less structured and project-focused and more of a space for individuals to 1) organize and discuss via conference calls and 2) share insights with the community via the blog and listserv.

The website has been updated to reflect our new strategy, and Eira and I would love to hear your opinion. We hope that you will still consider ProjectARCC in its new form a valuable community to be a part of. Please feel free to send a message to the listserv and let us know your thoughts.

It is so important that we continue organizing and taking action both collectively and independently. You’ve probably been following the news that the incoming administration has selected a climate denier to lead the EPA transition, and that the President-Elect himself has argued that the concept of climate change was created by the Chinese to make U.S. manufacturing noncompetitive. The progress that has been made over the past eight years is now at stake, and it’s imperative that we stay hopeful and stay active in the fight against climate change.

You may be wondering what you can do now. Right now, I encourage each of you to spread the word about ProjectARCC’s new strategy:

  • Share this announcement on social media or on your school or other listserv
  • Encourage your colleagues to get involved
  • Share your insights and thoughts by contributing a blog post
  • Plan to attend our next ProjectARCC meeting and encourage your colleagues to attend as well

Finally, stay informed on what’s happening in the presidential administration transition and don’t be afraid to contact your elected officials and ask them to oppose any efforts taken by the new administration to halt progress combating climate change and transitioning to a clean energy economy.

Thanks so much for your continued action and passion.

In solidarity,

Casey and Eira

ProjectARCC Nominated in the DLF Community/Capacity Awards!

We’re really excited to share with you that ProjectARCC was just nominated in the Community/Capacity Awards (or Comm/Cap for short) by the Digital Library Foundation membership. We’re so honored to be a part of an amazing group of projects, and we thank membership for their nomination. It means a lot to be recognized for the community-driven, collaborative projects we’ve taken on in the past year.

“These are not awards for pure innovation, individualism, or disruption. Instead, they honor constructive, community-minded capacity-building in digital libraries and allied fields: efforts that contribute to our ability to collaborate across institutional lines and/or work toward something larger, together. The Comm/Caps are about community spirit, generosity, openness, and care for fellow digital library, archives, and museum practitioners and for the various publics and missions we serve.”

Winners will receive a thousand dollar prize, a free Forum registration, and assistance towards travel expenses to the 2016 DLF Forum, which will be held in Milwaukee, Wisconsin this November.

Thank you, DLF!