Applying Descriptive Cataloging of Rare Materials (Manuscripts) workshop at ALA midwinter

Please consider attending the Applying Descriptive Cataloging of Rare Materials (Manuscripts) workshop at ALA midwinter on 12 February 2018.

The workshop will be held at the Denver Public Library on Monday, February 12, 2018 from 11:00am – 6:00pm

This workshop will provide an introduction to DCRM(MSS), the new RBMS standard for cataloging individual manuscripts. The workshop will include a brief introduction to the manual’s guiding principles, discussion of how manuscript cataloging differs from the cataloging of published materials, introduction to the treatment of major elements of the catalog record in DCRM(MSS) (such as the title, place of production and date, and extent), and hands-on practice in applying DCRM(MSS).

Attendees will acquire an understanding of the considerations involved in cataloging individual manuscripts, and will gain practice in applying DCRM(MSS) to the cataloging of different types of manuscripts commonly found in special collections using provided examples. Each attendee will receive a hard copy of DCRM(MSS) manual. Participants should have experience in MARC cataloging using AACR2; familiarity with DCRM(B) and/or DACS will be helpful.

How to register
Access the ALA Midwinter Meeting registration materials to submit your registration (
The Event Code for the workshop: ACR2
Ticket pricing: ALA Member: $150 – Other Member: $150 – Non-Member: $175 – ACRL Member: $150

You can also add to an existing Midwinter registration by visiting your dashboard link or emailing


Philadelphia City Archives – We’re Moving!

The Philadelphia City Archives is relocating to 456 N. 5th Street! As of December 15, 2017, our site will temporarily close to the public to facilitate our relocation. We will continue to fulfill requests for copies of deeds, except for requests that are for historical research and/or academic research purposes.

This temporary service disruption will extend through August 2018 to allow our staff adequate time to prepare for and execute the relocation. We expect to reopen at our new home on September 1, 2018.

Please mail deed requests and payment to:
City Hall, Room 156, Department of Records, Philadelphia, PA 19107

If you would like to contact our main office please email: or call (215) 686-2261.

We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause.

We look forward to serving you at our new location.

MARAC Fall 2017 recap, Session 12: Web archiving democracy

Session 12: Web archiving democracy.
Chair: Mary Haberle, Archive-It
Speakers: Dory Bower, U.S. Government Publishing Publishing Office
Roger Christman, Library of Virginia
Megan Craynon, Maryland State Archives
Ian Milligan, University of Waterloo
Nich Worby, University of Toronto
Ben Goldman, Pennsylvania State University

Mary Haberle began this session with a brief overview of the need for archiving the web as well as some of the fundamental challenges in doing so. Haberle led with the fact that countries who elect officials are more likely to have transparent policymaking, but the citizenry must be active and engaged for this to work. Web archiving is essential to keep people informed because a typical webpage lasts 90 days before changing and/or disappearing. Material shared on social media is typically gone in less than a year.

Dory Bower shared with us the difficulties that the Federal Depository Library program faces in getting organizations to understand that websites are documents. We learned that websites are ephemeral in nature and we need to actively seek to preserve their various updates and changes. Because of the abundance of web materials, we should work together to avoid duplication.

Megan Craynon opened with the Washington Post’s “Democracy Dies in Darkness” to convey the importance of the Maryland State Archives efforts at documenting websites from the state level down to the municipalities throughout Maryland. This helps us capture public access to information and it also allows records to be available earlier than if they waited for formal deposits. Web archives are important supplements to other government records.

Ben Goldman discussed how his work in archiving fracking throughout Pennsylvania has taught him that web archiving democracy forces us to focus on the people. PSU worked to document both the people and the fracking industry. In doing so, he witnessed the industry change their language over time to obtain a more favorable opinion from the public. Goldman learned that outreach is needed to build effective web archives so that people will use them; we need to promote our web archives in the same way we promote our physical collections.

Roger Christman addressed the need to prevent gaps in the archival record by documenting the effects that outside money (e.g. “fake news” sites, grassroots fundraising, and the American Legislative Exchange Council) has on our government and our election processes. Unfortunately, outside money creates content on the web that is not easy to capture due to constant changes, and we often don’t know of its existence until it is too late. Government organizations need to be careful not to be perceived as favoring one side over another while web archiving. Social media raises even more concerns in this documentation.

Nich Worby discussed how a lot of provincial and municipality web archiving is missing in Canada. However, thanks to a change in Canadian copyright law, universities can now archive government websites for educational purposes. Because this information is considered government documentation, FOIA requests are sometimes needed to obtain what was once freely available on the web. Still, one major challenge for them is defining what constitutes a government document in the context of the web.

Ian Milligan pointed out the need to make web archives more easily accessible and searchable. Due to the overabundance of electronic records and the nature of the web, it is typically easier for a researcher to browse through paper files than the Wayback Machine. Groups such as Web Archives for Historical Research and the Archives Unleashed Project are working to make web content more accessible and easily searchable. Currently, many tools are available but are difficult to use because they are command line based.

MARAC Fall 2017 recap, Session 4 : We can improve: Equal access to collections for patrons with disabilities.

Session 4: We can improve: Equal access to collections for patrons with disabilities.
Chair: Kathleen M. Dierenfield, Canisius College
Speakers: Doug Platt, Museum of disABILITY History
Michael Rembris, The University at Buffalo
Courtney Yevich Tkacz, Virginia Museum of Fine Arts

Blogger: Tabitha Cary, Digital Projects Assistant, Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections, Cornell University

Making our collections disability friendly is extremely important, but we often aren’t sure where to start. These speakers provided quality suggestions for our institutions to increase their accessibility to all.

Our first speaker, Doug Platt from the Museum of disABILITY, walked us through various ways this museum creates exhibits to be accessible to everyone. Colors matter in their intensity and should be easy on the eyes. The size of the text in your exhibit should vary depending on its height from the ground—text should move in a gradient with the largest text being farthest from the floor and the smallest being closest to the floor. Platt discussed digitization as essential to overcoming the barriers that our physical locations and access policies create. Traveling exhibits are another great tool to share your institution’s materials.

Perhaps one of the best pieces of advice Platt provided was to have people show you how to meet their needs. Platt modified policies on one tour to allow blind museum goers to handle the crutches from a display discussing the evolution of crutches. In another instance, Platt was asked to face the group while he was speaking so that its deaf members could read his lips. People with disabilities know what they need to access materials, and we should listen to them.

Courtney Yevich Tkacz, from the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, spoke second and taught us that discoverability is not the same as accessibility. People can determine that we have something, but it doesn’t mean they can access its content. Much of our digitized content is still hidden because it does not meet people’s disabilities. This is caused, in part, by the fact that there are no requirements to make our federally funded grant projects disability friendly.

Tkacz also addressed some practical ways we can work to increase accessibility. First, just because a company claims to make materials disability friendly, doesn’t mean they will fully meet people’s needs. To assess accessibility, you can use the free Web Accessibility Evaluation tool (WAVE). Additionally, visual description training can help us learn how to better describe materials. With some strong examples, Tkacz showed that full transcription isn’t always necessary and that summaries can sometimes provide greater access. Tkacz concluded by urging us to be intentional and to ask a lot of questions when working to be disability friendly.

The final speaker, Michael Rembris, was a disability historian at the University at Buffalo. Rembris observed that many information institutions exclude references to disabilities in their collections, even when disabilities obviously exist in them. These truths are often overlooked and even silenced. He also reminded us that disability is the one marginalized group that anyone can join at any time in their life, and we need to be more conscious of how our institutions accommodate disabled people. Perhaps one of our easiest accommodations is to use plain language to share information, because, by using higher levels of language, we automatically exclude a large group of people. Rembris also urged us to make “disability friendly” a part of the plan from the beginning and not an afterthought. If we all work together moving forward, we can make our materials accessible to the most people possible.

Seeking member nominations for MARAC’s 2018 elections

Would you like to become more involved in your professional organization?

Are you interested in taking on a new role in MARAC?

The Nominations and Elections Committee is still seeking nominations of members to stand for election in MARAC’s 2018 elections. We have a particular need for volunteers and nominations for the positions that appear in bold.

Other Open Positions

OFFICERS (1 opening for each position)
• Treasurer

CAUCUS REPRESENTATIVES (1 opening for each position)
• Delaware
• New Jersey
• New York
• Pennsylvania
• Virginia
• Washington, D.C.
• West Virginia

COMMITTEES (number of open positions listed in parentheses)
•Arline Custer Memorial Award Committee (2)
• Distinguished Service Award Committee (1)
• Finding Aids Committee (2)
• Nominations and Elections Committee (3)
• Scholarship Committee (2)

Information about committees and governance is available on MARAC’s website (

Contact a member of the Nominations and Elections Committee (contact information at, preferably by Friday, November 17, if you are interested in running or know someone who you think would be perfect for the job!


The 2018 MARAC Nominations and Elections Committee