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RBMS Report

I got back today from last week's RBMS (Rare Books and Manuscripts Section) preconference, and, though I've been busy catching up with things here in the office, I thought I'd take a few minutes to report on RBMS and particularly on the Blog Boot Camp seminar panel that I was a part of. We heard some pretty interesting and thought-provoking plenary talks about digitization of archives and special collections materials, which was the theme of the preconference. I particularly enjoyed hearing Rich Szary (from my alma mater) and Jackie Dooley, both of whom explained why we should "learn from the archivists" in terms of minimal processing and why we should be digitizing "with abandon," a great phrase.

The Blog Boot Camp seminar itself was a smashing success, if I do say so myself. We had an overflow crowd (about 30 people had to be turned away, unfortunately) and got a great discussion going. Over the following couple of days, a number of archivists and special collections librarians came up to me to tell me how inspiring the seminar was and how they plan to start blogs for their own institutions. Jackie Dooley, in the final plenary, mentioned how happy she was to see a blogging seminar here at RBMS. The whole thing was a great experience (and inspiring for me, too).


Obviously I'm biased, but I was amazed at how many times the blog seminar came up in the rest of the preconference and during the RBMS business meetings I attended, and I had the same experience of people coming up to me and saying that the seminar had inspired them to try it for themselves. If even a fraction of them actually do it, I think we'll have made a substantial change in the culture of special collections. There are already plans underway to expand the seminar into a full Web 2.0 workshop for next year, so Kathleen's got her work cut out for her!

Terry Belanger often inspires and irritates me in equal measure, but I really liked what he said about about this marking an historic shift from the rigid, hierarchical formality that used to dominate the profession. That's not something I had really thought about previously, but it's an important point.

John, you're absolutely right about Terry Belanger's comment - I'd meant to say something about that and forgot. And I'm glad to hear that we continued to make waves in the business meetings post-conference! Kudos to Kathleen for putting this all together.

Thanks, Stephanie, for posting on RBMS. I'm in the process of trying to pull together posts from different folks who attended, so it was great to see your comments. You did a great job at the seminar! I missed Terry's comment (did it come during the last plenary? I was on my way to the Huntington), but glad he said it. It was probably more eloquently stated than basically the same point I made in a comment at an earlier plenary; I'm not sure how many people understood the comparison with my M*A*S*H example: Maj. Charles Emerson Winchester III vs. Hawkeye Pierce, i.e. the formal, elitist vs. the homespun, no-nonsense, or with my contrasting tie & tux with blue jeans. If Terry said it, and believes it, then more power to us all!!

I realize, now that I've checked out a few other blogs, that Terry must have made his comment during the seminar. How could I have missed it???

Thanks for your comments, Tim! Yes, Terry made that remark during the discussion portion of our seminar. What other blogs are you reading that discussed the seminar? I'm curious to take a look.

Stephanie, take a look at the last couple entries in my blog. They have the links to RBMS discussions that I've found so far.

Hey there! Thanks for posting this up, Stephanie. You, John, and Nancy all did a terrific job and the response has been truly amazing. I just came back from my vacation post-conference (!), but will be posting up the presentation next week and begin populating the website with follow-up thoughts and some points raised in the discussion.

I am incredibly happy that the session energized and inspired folks, and hope that we can continue the conversation, discussion, and learning online.

Thanks for being an awesome participant! You too, John. And to those reading who attended, thanks for taking some time to listen and contribute!

(And Stephanie, I'll be circulating the URL for the Blog Boot Camp blog more widely once the slideshow is up and I can begin to focus on the blog once again. Sooner rather than later, I hope!)

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