Although my Information Connections Research at the Smithsonian formally concluded at the beginning of August, that is when the real excitement began as I took Connecting Content on the road and presented the project and my particular work on it to a variety of different audiences.
First up was the hometown show, a brown bag lunch at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History. This was no warm up though, as the event had been announced Museum-wide, and the attendance was high enough to warrant the use of two conference rooms in the Natural History Library. As this audience was a strongly scientific one, I focused my discussion on how the archival processes central to Connecting Content seek to make primary source biodiversity materials more broadly accessible and richly connected to supporting information. I fielded several excellent questions from the extremely intelligent audience that really helped me clarify and further conceptualize the project. It was a great finale to a great summer working with Field Book Project Manager Carolyn Sheffield and Botany Department Collections Manager Rusty Russell.
Next on my itinerary was another familiar setting, the American Museum of Natural History Research Library in New York, where I was an intern on their Archive Project for the first half of 2011. Their Archive Project consists of a Cataloging Hidden Collections component and a Preservation Risk Assessment Survey component that work together to enhance archival control and accessibility to their wonderful collections. Here the audience consisted of Research Library staff and current interns, and I placed Connecting Content in the framework of their on-going Archive Project and we had a really active back-and-forth discussion about implementing plans in natural history archives and the various successes and challenges that all of our projects face.
My final destination, at least thus far, in discussing the research I conducted in Washington this summer on behalf of the California Academy of Sciences, was the Society of American Archivists National Conference, dubbed Archives 360 this year, in Chicago. I represented Connecting Content at the SAA Research Forum, a day long event in which practitioners report on archival research projects that are currently in process. Though I was a touch froggy by this point, a microphone on the podium saved the day, and I greatly enjoyed the opportunity to deliver a 30-minute platform presentation. It was very interesting to shift to a general archives audience as opposed to a sceintific audience or natural history archives audience, and I made sure to thoroughly and clearly explain the technical and scientific facets of the project. I was also able to meet California Academy of Sciences Library Archivist Danielle Castronovo, and we had a very nice time discussing the different possibilities for this exciting project moving forward, while enjoying some SAA-provided ice cream bars. An appropriate end for an appropriately weary throat after a mid-late August tour of speaking engagements.
I very much enjoyed having the opportunity to represent Connecting Content and report on my Information Connections Research.
– Richard T. Fischer, Information Connections Research Intern