Currently viewing the tag: "Pamela Graham"

Panel 12, Tuesday May 31, 2011, 2:00 pm-3:30 pm

Moderator: Silvia Mejia, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Presenters: Marisol Ramos, University of Connecticut; T-Kay Sangwand, The University of Texas at Austin; and Joel Blanco-Rivera, University of Pittsburgh
Rapporteur: Suzanne Schadl, University of New Mexico

The first presentation, Sharing Archives: The P.R. Civil Court Cases Collection Digital Project, by Marisol Ramos of the University of Connecticut (UConn) offered digitization of the Puerto Rican Civil Court Cases Collection as a solution for colonialist ownership of cultural heritage collections in tenuous political environments. Ramos noted that this collection, purchased by UConn in 2002 (before her appointment), actually belonged in the National Archive in Puerto Rico. Upon its establishment in 1955, it became the repository for all government records from the Spanish period to the present. Even so, and through legal means, these documents were in the custody of UConn when she began working there. Because of strict Connecticut state laws prohibiting the deaccession of materials bought by the state, this 19th century collection could not be returned to Puerto Rico. To make matters worse, the fragility of the documents within this collection prohibited making photocopies to share access with the country of provenance.

In 2007, Ramos became concerned with how best to address the moral and ethical obligation to provide Puerto Ricans access to this collection. She saw it as part of the Puerto Rican national and cultural heritage. As a Puerto Rican who had worked in and collaborated with staff at the National Archive in Puerto Rico, Ramos felt even more obligated to identify a solution to the problem of U.S. universities ending up with collections far from their countries of origin. After offering a snapshot of several cases in which donations, purchases, deaths, and/or other events led to document drains, Ramos addressed the difficult historical relationship between Puerto Rico and the United States. In so doing, she situated their relationship within studies of colonialism. Ramos noted that as a political appointee embroiled in this difficult connection, it would be ill-advised for the director of the National Archive in Puerto Rico to formally demand that documents be returned to Puerto Rico. The rotating nature of such political positions would make this endeavor even more complicated.

Ramos proposed intervention from archivists and librarians in the United States holding cultural heritage collections. She then outlined the UConn project, and announced that the Latin American Microforms Project (LAMP) had agreed to help fund the initiative. Ramos noted that once digitized, by May 2012 all of the documents in the Puerto Rican Civil Court Cases Collection would be shared through the Internet Archive. Ramos noted that while this solution did not return documents to their country of origin, it did offer access. It also successfully bypassed University funding politics and spoke to the difficulties of cross national/institutional ownership of cultural heritage collections in a tenuous funding situation and in a complicated political environment.

In the second presentation, Tejiendo la Memoria: Strengthening Collective Memory of El Salvador’s Civil War through Transnational Digitization Partnerships, T-Kay Sangwand (The University of Texas at Austin) proposed a Distributed Archival Model as an alternative to problematic traditional methods of archival possession. She argued that the partnership based model of transnational digitization could empower record and access creators by enabling them to retain, expand, and share access while also learning useful techniques in digital preservation.

Sangwand began by presenting the Human Rights Documentation Initiative (HRDI) at UT (http://www.lib.utexas.edu/hrdi). This program serves as the umbrella under which her primary focus, the Tejiendo la Memoria project, evolved. Sangwand noted that HRDI emerged out of the collective effort in which activists, scholars, and organizations together with the University of Texas Libraries (UTL) began to identify threatened electronic and analog resources for preservation. They sought to save the most fragile records of international human rights struggles and promote their security through archival availability, human rights research and continued advocacy. A generous grant from the Bridgeway Foundation in 2008 led to the establishment of the HRDI, which Sangwand noted currently engages in transnational collaborative projects to preserve and make accessible the historical record of genocide and human rights violations throughout the world.

Sangwand presented UT Austin’s work with the Radio Venceremos Archive at the Museo de la Palabra y la Imagen (Museum of Word and Image) in El Salvador as an example of implementing a Distributive Archival Model. Radio Venceremos traveled with the FMLN during the El Salvadoran Civil War and denounced human rights abuses. Sangwand noted that this medium also became an important means for popular education. After the war ended, Radio Venceremos had 1,270 fragile tapes containing personal testimonies. Needless to say, the Museum Word and Image was reluctant to give UT Austin temporary custody of these important records, and understandably so, especially considering the political history between the United States and El Salvador. UT Austin chose, thus, to use collection development funds in order to send equipment and trainers to the Museo de la Palabra y la Imagen with the express purpose of acquiring this digital collection.

UT Austin employees provided training in digital preservation techniques and metadata standards and Museo de la Palabra y la Imagen archivists began to digitize and describe the collection. Custody never changed hands and each party had the opportunity to contribute their expertise to the project. UT Austin and the Museo de la Palabra y la Imagen agreed to share the digital copies archived in a server at UT Austin. The original Radio Venceremos tapes remained in El Salvador. The funding formula used in this experimental acquisition involved calculating the staff costs of two employees processing this collection over two years’ time. UT Austin agreed to pay 2/3 of the cost while the Museo de la Palabra y la Imagen covered 1/3. Sangwand concluded by sharing a clip of a sole survivor’s testimonial in these audio files.

In the third presentation, Declassification and Accountability for Part Abuses: Transitional Justice in Latin America and the Impact of Declassified U.S. Government Documents, Joel Blanco-Rivera (University of Pittsburgh) argued that transitional justice in Latin America requires and is dependent upon access to government documents from the United States. He suggested and offered several examples in which these documents have played important roles in memory-related initiatives throughout Latin America.

Blanco-Rivera began his presentation by placing Latin American requirements for access to U.S. government documents in an international context. He offered a review of cases and literature including reference to the following international efforts to save threatened records: German state security service records in the early 1990s; Paraguayan information on detentions during the Stroessner regime; records from the Guatemalan national police stored in a police building in Mexico City; and very recently, records from the Egyptian state security police. In this last case, Blanco-Rivera stated that protestors successfully used social media to document their demands for saving records as well as for documenting them. He noted that in all of these cases, saving these documents from destruction led to public outcries and increased availability, as in the case of the Archive of Terror. Knowledge of these documents also prompted heightened demands for declassified U.S. government documents, as in the case of Operation Condor.

Building on literature regarding the importance of archivist activism in Human Rights, Blanco-Rivera noted that it was imperative for archivists and human rights activists to take responsibility for preserving several different kinds of archives including transitional archives of former regimes; archives of human rights organizations; archives documenting life during the period; and archives of declassified governments. He reiterated that archival sources enable societies to address legacies of human rights abuses, to institute truth programs, and to implement government reforms and other transitions. Blanco-Rivera highlighted the importance of truth commissions as the main mechanisms for addressing abuses in Latin America. He also argued that such efforts succeeded only after also obtaining declassified U.S. documents. Blanco-Rivera demonstrated that combining Truth Commission reports with the declassification of U.S. documents increased interest in the contradictions between U.S. declassified documents and local documents. He added that this triangulation often opened the door for even greater demands for the release of additional records.

Questions & Comments:

Pamela Graham (Columbia University) asked Sangwand how prevalent the UT Austin model is. She wanted to know if there were other institutions doing similar things and she asked Sangwand if the cost sharing formula UT Austin has used addressed ongoing preservation and maintenance costs. Sangwand stated that she was not aware of any other academic organizations doing something similar but that non-governmental organization were involved in like practices. As for the storage and maintenance costs, she noted that the UT Austin director was supportive of the project as an acquisition and not worried about storage right now. The point was to build an infrastructure for this process to continue in the future. There was an inaudible interjection from the audience on other collections or documents in Mexico.

Ana María Garra asked Blanco-Rivera about his familiarity with a case brought in the U.S. in 1973, which was developed from U.S. documents. He noted that he was familiar with that case and added a few additional examples.

Adrian Johnson (UT Austin) asked Blanco-Rivera if civil judgments help people pursue criminal cases, sort of as a means to ameliorate the reality that a civil conviction rarely results in payment.  He wondered if it would be possible to use such a case to revoke citizenship. Blanco-Rivera responded that receiving money was never the end goal. Recognition was most important.

Suzanne Schadl (UNM) asked Ramos and Sangwand if they had to maneuver restrictive bureaucratic funding (such as not recognizing museums as vendors or refusing large reimbursements) to purchase documents in order to get them back to where they belong or to use collections development funds for digital acquisition. Both noted that they had very little difficulty, just increased paper work and communications.

Johnson (UT Austin) asked Ramos if she had any contact with the Puerto Rican Archives since they put this collection into the Internet Archive. He wondered if they were using it. Ramos noted that they were still in the beginning processes of the project and that it would not be live until May 2012.

Adán Benavides (UT Austin) asked Sangwand how feasible it would be to continue these kinds of agreements and how selective they could be in this process. He wanted to know about the long-term sustainability of these projects after the case. Sangwand noted that the library was dedicated to preservation and maintenance costs for these collections, not unlike they would be for other acquisitions. Graham (Columbia University) added that Mellon grants were offering funding for figuring out how to do archiving metadata.

 

Panel 9, May 31, 2011, 11:00 am-12:30 pm

Moderator: Pamela Graham, Columbia University
Presenters: Sarah B. Van Deusen Phillips, Center for Research Libraries; James Simon, Center for Research Libraries; Pamela Graham, Columbia University; Alex Thurman, Columbia University; Tessa Fallon, Columbia University; Christian Kelleher, University of Texas at Austin
Rapporteur: Bridget Gazzo, Dumbarton Oaks Research Library

The first presentation was “The Human Rights Electronic Evidence Study” by Sarah B. Van Deusen Phillips and James Simon.

The Center for Research Libraries (CRL) Global Resources Network is currently engaged in a two-year project supported by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation to examine how human rights organizations use digital technology to document human rights abuses. Simon opened this presentation by explaining that the project grew out of an interest in determining what happens to human rights documentation when the paper trail becomes digital, including management of materials that are born digital and the use of the new media. CRL is engaged in the project to study and assess current practices of human rights organizations, to ascertain how adequate these practices are for advocacy, and to track the chain of evidence.

Van Deusen Phillips provided details, explaining that they assessed documentation practices and technologies in Mexico, Rwanda, Russia, and the United States. The study is designed to assess the state of current available technology; to identify challenges in the collection and preservation of documentation; to identify best practices for metadata acquisition and preservation; and to encourage and support collaboration between human rights organizations and libraries and archives. She presented findings on Chiapas, Mexico and Kigali, Rwanda, noting that a pattern of documentation and collection emerged. In Chiapas, the documentation is created within small grassroots groups, on paper or orally; these small organizations share information among themselves and pass it on to mid-size professional organizations that consolidate and digitize the information; and the mid-sized organizations forward it to large national and international institutions, such as governments, courts, universities, libraries and the media. Van Deusen Phillips noted problems in Chiapas with the preservation of paper and VHS tapes, problems stemming from moisture and mold. Although she was granted access to the offices, archives, and staff of the small human rights organizations, across the board in Chiapas the staff was unwilling to let her take photos. Van Deusen Phillips documented what she saw by sketching each evening while the images of the kinds of documents and how they were organized were still fresh in her mind. She described canalseisdejulio, the mid-size professional organization in the Chiapas case study. Canalseisdejulio is a media collaborative in Mexico City that has been in operation for about 25 years and has produced over 50 documentary films about human rights and counter-political movements.

Van Deusen Phillips described the study in Kigali, Rwanda, where she was allowed to take photos. The document situation was very much the same, perhaps more organized. Ibuka is a genocide memorial site and activist group that advocates for the civil and human rights of survivors. It is also an umbrella organization for a number of other groups focusing on gender and legal rights, and HIV treatment. It has three primary objectives: genocide memory, justice, and survivor needs. Individuals in Rwanda and in other countries submit documents to Ibuka’s regional offices. Regional offices send consolidated information and copies of documents to Ibuka’s Kigali main memorial center. The Kigali center distributes the information to the national and international media and shares information with other groups. The Kigali Memorial Center Archive provides access to archives for activism and research.

CRL will convene an advisory group to: assess the adequacy of documentation practices for supporting downstream purposes; evaluate standards of metadata, provenance, and legal requirements for electronic evidence; compile best practices; and create tools to support the collection, maintenance, and long-term storage of electronic documentation.

The link to the study is here: http://www.crl.edu/grn/hradp/electronic-evidence

The second presentation was “Collecting the Human Rights Web” by Pamela Graham, Alex Thurman and Tessa Fallon.

Graham began by defining the Human Rights Web (HR Web) as basically everything about human rights on the internet: reports, articles, books, journals, testimony, blog posts, multimedia, and social media. The project has been able to capture all these different kinds of content, except social media because of its proprietary nature. Graham added that all the content they are capturing is open-access and non-licensed. She then explained why they are collecting the HR Web. First, it has high research value. In some cases, digital has replaced print, so it is to maintain the current level of collecting. In other cases, it is to expand the scope and range of collecting, and finally, some content is ephemeral and at risk. They began with a planning grant in 2008, and are presently halfway through a 3-year grant from the Mellon Foundation. They are looking into web archiving other content areas. Content selection is an open process so they can better source the ideas from out in the field. They are collecting materials from NGOs, national institutes, bloggers, and both established and at risk sites. They are not archiving content from counties with archiving initiatives, and they are coordinating with similar web collecting programs to avoid duplication.

Thurman covered the stages of permissions and harvesting. They use a standard permission request form available in English and 5 other languages. They request permission and, if they receive no answer, they wait a few weeks and place another request. If they do not receive an answer to the second query, having made a good faith effort, they proceed with capturing the content. For harvesting, they use Archive-It, a web archiving service, and for preservation they copy the content and structure of the website into a WARC (Web Archive) file. The WARC files are stored at the Internet Archive and in Columbia’s Fedora repository. They cannot capture password protected sites, and they preserve only the form and content of sites, not their functionality. They begin their harvesting process with an initial site assessment, in which they anticipate what will be able to be captured, and crawl scoping, in which they define the domain. They run a test crawl and then re-scope to pick up what was missed and to block unwanted material. Then they do the actual capture and review for quality control. Fallon explained that they provide access through Columbia’s OPAC, through Archive-It, and through WorldCat.

The third presentation was “Preserving Human Rights Archives and Cultural Patrimony: Strategies of the Human Rights Documentation Initiative” by Christian Kelleher.

Kelleher began by explaining that the Human Rights Documentation Initiative makes an effort to address the entire life cycle of electronic records. The 2007 conference at Columbia University caused the University of Texas at Austin to create their Human Rights Documentation Initiative, and he showed a website for the Initiative, that brings together a lot of the materials they have created and collected in the course of their human rights programming. They, like Columbia, also use Archive-It, and use procedures similar to those at Columbia to catalog the material. They have created a thesaurus, and they catalog the web resources using their own thesaurus terms. On their web page, they have a link out to both the live URL and the archived URL. He pointed out that there are two distinct categories of materials on the web. Although website resources are well-served by harvesting, the individual documents within a website are not served by this method of capture. He makes a strong distinction between the categories, giving the example of a list of publications on the website, Grupo de Apoyo Mutuo, in Guatemala. The Initiative has developed another project through which they download each individual publication and place it in the University of Texas digital repository, where it is then cataloged and/or made full-text-searchable. This treatment allows for more detailed information and refined control over individual publications. Another example of this is with another group called Equipo Maíz in El Salvador. They want to have a lot of control over the materials they have. On their website, they have publications that are only available electronically. While investigating what to do with a broadside from the site called Página de Maíz, the Initiative found out it had not been cataloged. They cataloged the title in the University of Texas OPAC and linked it to their digital repository, so it is now full-text searchable and fully discoverable.

Kelleher then described the non-custodial archiving program. They partner with organizations, but they do not collect their archive. Rather, they work together to preserve it, make it available, and to promote the organization’s activities. This model preserves cultural and historical patrimony of the original materials. An example of a partner organization is Museo de la Palabra y la Imagen, in El Salvador, where they have a great historical archive, including the files of Radio Venceremos, along with its original recordings of rebel radio broadcasts. In the partnership efforts, the Initiative is jumping over the mid-level professional organization of Van Deusen Phillips’ model to work directly with the specific actors in the realm of human rights documentation. The best example of a non-custodial project is their work with the Kigali Genocide Memorial. The Initiative’s recently launched website for this project is the best resource for original documentation of the Rwandan genocide. As an example of a beneficial partnership, the URL for the Kigali Genocide Memorial (http://genocidearchiverwanda.org.rw/) points to a server on the University of Texas at Austin, but the material appears to come from Rwanda. A software tool called Glifos, developed in Guatemala, uses a wiki structure to provide access, which allows the cataloging to be done in Rwanda. The material can be digitized and cataloged in Rwanda, in the Rwandan language, by staff of the Kigali Genocide Memorial, and then the hard drives are brought to Austin to be loaded on the server.

In this case, the Initiative works with the non-custodial partner, the Kigali Genocide Memorial, as the mid-level professional organization, who then in turn extends the Initiative’s efforts and training in Rwanda to other human rights organizations. Training and collaboration are very important parts of their programs. The partner organizations are able to gain legitimacy by throwing around the name of the University of Texas, allowing them to gain support within the national and international community which allows them to preserve, catalog, and make available the materials they already have, but also allows them to create new archival materials, do new testimonies, and collect materials from different organizations. Kelleher then showed details of the website for the Kigali Genocide Memorial site. Through the partnerships, they not only support the digitization of the documents, but also support the organizations that are creating the original documents.

Questions & Comments:

Adán Benavides (University of Texas at Austin) asked the first question of Van Deusen Phillips. He asked if she thought her inability to take photographs in Mexico was due to the cultural aversion to photography since it is very common in many situations in Mexico not to be allowed to take photographs. In addition, culturally, for many indigenous groups, taking a photograph is perceived as taking their soul. Van Deusen Phillips replied that she thought it was more an issue of concern about her. She was on site for only ten days, not really enough time for them to get to know her and to build trust. She had relied on being introduced to the archives staff by a trusted local person. Although he was able to get her into the archives, it was still a situation of artificial trust, so it was somewhat limited. Benavides said in his experience sometimes the suspicion on the part of the administrators is that the photograph would be misused, and probably to denigrate their work. Van Deusen Phillips said yes, they had plenty of reasons to be concerned. How were they to know she would not share it with the federal government of Mexico, or with the opposition? For similar reasons, they have a fear of digital documentation. They worry that, if the information goes on the web, who is going to use it, and where, and why? Simon explained that their intent on that project is to get as specific information as possible, such as specific case studies or types of documentation, but it is a real challenge to get that kind of data, especially considering how far removed they now are from the events of the day. The protective role of the mid-level organizations to provide a buffer so the small groups are not instantly squashed sometimes means they can see a piece of paper or an archive, but not copy it.

Graham asked Kelleher how they have gone about building trust in the partnerships with the non-custodial part of the project. Kelleher noted Graham’s earlier observation that the human rights organizations do not have records management skills. He explained that is what the non-custodial model provides. The Initiative works for the non-custodial organizations. Kelleher clarified that the Kigali Genocide Memorial made the decisions about what to include in the archive and what to make available online. They have another partner that has decided to have nothing online. The Initiative is working with them in the short-term to help them manage their resources, and they have a written agreement to make the material available down the road. In the short-term, the Memorial does not want anyone to know about the materials of the one partner that has decided to have nothing online because it would be dangerous for the people involved. Kelleher explained that with all their partners, they do what the partners want.

Fallon asked Kelleher how he presents the Human Rights Initiative to administration as a function of the university library. Kelleher answered that it is a real challenge, especially when the issue is funding. He points out that in some cases it is an opportunity to expand their funding. They have a foundation that has funded their efforts with the Kigali Genocide Memorial that is not a supporter of library programs, but rather is a supporter of human rights programs.

Kelleher then asked the group from Columbia what changes they would like to see in Archive-It and what they think is lacking in the tool. Fallon said she would like to see changes to the way Archive-It groups crawls. It does not provide a sufficient level of management within the tool. Thurman added that the California Digital Library (CDL) has a competitor tool called Web Archiving Service. With this tool, it is very easy to put together all the crawls of any given site and to compare the crawls of the site. Fallon concluded by saying that the Archive-It interface is not as user friendly as the CDL tool.

Panel 2, May 30 2011, 2:00 pm-3:30 pm

Moderator: Holly Ackerman, Duke University
Presenters: Bix Gabriel, International Coalition of Sites of Conscience (not present); Pamela Graham, Columbia University; Patrick Stawski, Duke University; Fernando Acosta-Rodríguez, Princeton University
Rapporteur: Melissa Guy, Arizona State University

Holly Ackerman presented Bix Gabriel’s paper titled “Remembering Guantanamo: How Can We Build a Public Memory of this Site’s Century-long History?” which focused on the Guantanamo Public Memory Project, an ongoing project of the International Coalition of Sites of Conscience (ICSC).

The Guantanamo Public Memory Project highlights the reality that Guantanamo as a place of detention has a long, complex past. Today, nearly 200 prisoners remain indefinitely detained at the U.S. Naval Base in Cuba, but prior to 2001, Guantanamo also housed detainees. In 1991, the George H. W. Bush Administration held Haitian refugees fleeing the Aristide regime. In 1994, the U.S. government created camps to house Cuban refugees who had attempted to flee to the United States. The Clinton Administration created Camp X-Ray as a separate facility to house those refugees who “caused trouble” in the camps, which remained open for over a year.

Gabriel found that Guantanamo has had many “ends,” and each time the camps are closed, public memory fades. The Guantanamo Public Memory Project, which began in 2009, seeks to preserve memories of Guantanamo. The ICSC began the project to encourage individuals connected to Guantanamo to tell their stories. The short term goal is to “learn how it has been used and re-used,” to imagine its future, and become involved in determining the outcome of what happens there today. The long term goal is to establish comprehensive documentation about activities, individuals, and policies associated with Guantanamo. The project seeks an “ongoing forum for truth-telling, dialogue, and collective accountability.”

The ICSC is a network of about 250 historic sites of contested history. All sites of conscience are based on the idea that “preserving and interpreting history is as much an act in support of human rights as is waging a campaign for justice.” In 2009, the organization held its first international working group to develop a framework for the Guantanamo Public Memory Project with various stakeholders including historians, librarians, detainees and their lawyers, members of the military, and directors of sites of conscience. Four principles emerged: 1) the entire history of Guantanamo should be included in the project; 2) it must include multiple perspectives; 3) the project should avoid considering Guantanamo a “closed” history; 4) the coalition should be international in scope. Already the coalition has identified more than 1,000 resources (books, archives, films, etc.) on Guantanamo. The creation of a virtual site is also in progress, since the actual camps at Guantanamo are not accessible. Ackerman is a member of the Advisory Board of the project. More information can be found on the ICSC website at: http://www.sitesofconscience.org/activities/guantanamo-public-memory-project

Pamela Graham followed with her presentation titled “The Center for Human Rights Documentation & Research: Collecting, Preserving, and Promoting the Record of Human Rights.” The Center at Columbia was built around the acquisition of the archives of several major human rights organizations beginning with Amnesty International USA, Human Rights Watch, and Human Rights First. The records of these organizations were originally acquired and organized at the University of Colorado, Boulder by Bruce Montgomery in the early 1990s. In 2004, the collections were transferred to Columbia where they have undergone additional processing, arrangement, and description. These particular archives are on deposit at Columbia; the human rights organizations continue to own the records.

In 2005, Columbia founded the Center for Human Rights Documentation and Research to extend the scope of the collections acquired from Colorado, to expand the focus to the library’s general collection, and to develop digital projects. Archival materials are managed by the Rare Books and Manuscripts Library while the Center focuses on programmatic collecting and promotion of materials. Graham runs the Center and collaborates with library staff including subject specialists in global area studies; processing archivists; the oral history research office; web collection curators; technical services; and the digital program division.

Collections include archival primary sources, published scholarly materials in the general collection, and born-digital material. This particular presentation focused on the archival material; a separate presentation in Panel 9 described the Center’s efforts to archive born- digital material on the Web.

Within the archival materials, the records of greatest value are those that document “what advocacy looked like.” Examples from the Amnesty USA collection include: circulars distributed to country groups, records related to disappeared persons in Chile, and correspondence from the Executive Director and Executive boards. Human Rights Watch/Americas Watch records reveal connections among NGOs including the Committee to Protect Journalists (whose records are also housed at Columbia) and also contain news releases, field notes from hot spots, and legal testimony.

Graham concluded her presentation by describing some of the challenges associated with collecting in human rights, including creating the actual archives, since the organizations are focused on advocacy, not records management. Legal and privacy issues are unique with human rights records; balancing those concerns with the desire to make the records accessible to users can be difficult. Preservation issues are always a concern, particularly with regard to born-digital materials and the shift to online production of records.

More information on the Center for Human Rights Documentation & Research can be found at: http://library.columbia.edu/indiv/humanrights.html

Graham’s presentation was followed by that of Patrick Stawski, the Human Rights archivist at Duke University, whose presentation, “History in Action: Connecting Students, Scholars and Community to Human Rights Histories & Practice” focused on human rights archival collections and outreach efforts at Duke. The collections at Duke focus on human rights activism of individuals and NGOs. Their 25 collections are format-neutral and global in scope.

Major Latin American holdings include the records of the Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA) and those of Coletta Youngers, a WOLA associate. The WOLA records span the years from 1974 to 2005 and contain information on human rights abuse cases, documentation of the organization’s efforts to lobby U.S. officials for policy change, and evidence of WOLA’s collaboration with local human rights organizations in Latin America.

Duke also houses the Marshall T. Meyer Papers, which document the Argentine rabbi’s role as a human rights activist, religious leader, and scholar from the 1950s through the 1990s. The records also detail his involvement with CONADEP, Argentina’s truth commission, of which he was the only Argentine-born member. A traveling exhibit highlights materials from this collection.

The collection at Duke also contains materials that focus on human rights issues in Latino communities in the United States. The Student Action with Farmworkers records document working conditions of immigrant communities and activism among labor and student groups.

Other collections at Duke include the records of the Center for International Policy and the papers of Patricia Murphy Derian, the first Assistant Secretary for Human Rights and Humanitarian Affairs under President Carter.

Outreach for these collections focuses on creating a bridge between students, faculty, the community and records creators and includes, among other things, the WOLA/Duke book award and a documentary film series. More information on the human rights archives at Duke can be found at: http://library.duke.edu/specialcollections/human-rights/

Fernando Acosta-Rodríguez completed the panel with his presentation, “From Underground to Open Access: Civil War, Society and Political Transition as Documented by the Archive of the Guatemala News and Information Bureau,” which focused on the transition of records from microfilm to open access digital material. The records of the Guatemala News and Information Bureau (GNIB) have been housed at Princeton since 2002. GNIB was created in 1978 in San Francisco as an activist group that sought to call attention to issues such as labor rights, indigenous rights and movements for peace and justice in Guatemala through informational campaigns, lobbying of U.S. officials, as well as educational and cultural programs.

Princeton had the collection microfilmed in 2004 with Primary Source Media. Nine academic libraries in the United States (including the Center for Research Libraries) own the 112 reels of film. In addition, Princeton donated a complete set to the Centro de Investigaciones Regionales de Mesoamérica (CIRMA) in Guatemala. Documents range from the 1970s to the present and include records related to the civil war in Guatemala and the peace accords of the 1990s. The microfilm is comprised of four sections: 1) grey literature and ephemera (about 60%); 2) serial runs (141 titles); 3) studies and reports (56 titles); and 4) news clippings (less than 1% of total.)

Princeton is now in the process of creating an open access digital collection of the first section of the GNIB archive. The first section (grey literature and ephemera) will be the only portion digitized due to its research value and unique content. Only the Guatemalan section of the NACLA archive comes closest to matching the richness of the GNIB records, but Princeton’s materials are unique in that they cover the years preceding and immediately following the peace accords. Section one of the GNIB records also complements the records of the National Security Archive project on Guatemala.

The open access digitization project was the result of conversations between the library and Princeton’s program for Latin American Studies about alternative access models for the Latin American political ephemera collection as a whole. In those conversations, five models of access emerged as possibilities:

1)      Outsourced microfilming and commercial distribution (already in place)

2)      Outsourced digitization, publishing, and distribution

3)      Outsourced digitization, internal publishing, and non-commercial distribution

4)      Internal digitization, internal publishing, and non-commercial distribution

5)      Consortial agreement with costs and responsibilities shared among participating institutions

Ultimately, Princeton decided to substitute the first, already established option with a combination of options three and five: outsourced digitization, internal publishing and non-commercial distribution as part of a consortial agreement. The GNIB archive was chosen as a pilot project because of its research value, the structure of the archive, the types of materials it contained, and its potential to reach wider audiences on a global scale. The ultimate goal is to create a searchable website for section one of the GNIB materials with contents described at the item level and open access to all images.

Partial funding for this ongoing project has been provided by the 2009 Cooperative Digitization of International Research Materials Project, sponsored by the Council of American Overseas Research Centers, and a four-year TICFIA grant.

Acosta-Rodríguez concluded that the project has been complex and labor intensive, but also worthwhile. He believes that a consortial open access model for digitization is the best way to move forward with similar projects, and he hopes that SALALM and LARRP will be involved in future endeavors.

Questions & Comments:

Paula Covington (Vanderbilt University):Fernando, who funded this project?” Acosta-Rodríguez responded that funding came from a U.S. Department of Education TICFIA grant: $45,000 with matching funds plus labor from Princeton. James Simon (CRL) confirmed that TICFIA stands for Technological Innovation and Cooperation for Information Access.