Daniel Pitti

L-90: Designing Archival Description Systems

20-24 July 2009




1) How useful were the pre-course readings?


1: They were very useful and helped me to know what to expect from the course. 2: Very useful—they provided sufficient background for the issues that we discussed this week. 3: Very helpful for providing background/context. The instructor did a great job of complementing the reading in the first few days without replicating material. 4: Very relevant and useful. 5: Although it seemed like a lot, reading the different ICA standards provided a decent foundation for our discussions. Since I'm not necessarily a very young technical person (at least not in a traditional sense) the background readings on XML and databases helped a lot! 6: They were essential. Even though I was accepted late, I am glad that I took the time to read them. 7: Fundamental. 8: Very. They got my juices flowing. 9: Very. Reading standards can be a bit chewy, but I was very glad I did because they helped in my understanding. The articles were the right mix of perspectives and technicality to help me "get it."


2) Were the course syllabus and other materials distributed in class appropriate and useful (or will they be so in the future, after you return home)?


1: Yes. 2: Yes, very much so. 3: Pre-course readings as well as online sources discussed in class will be very useful once I return and can follow up on threads/sparks/models that might inform how we take theory-practice implementation. 4-5: N/A. 6: Course notes and images from our "unite board" were captured and will be shared. This will be a helpful supplement to my own notes. 7: N/A. 8: Yes. I will move some of the materials into my own work. 9: I took lots of notes, and the official set are promised to be released soon—very useful.


3) What aspects of the course content were of the greatest interest or relevance for your purposes? Was the intellectual level of the course appropriate?


1: Yes. I especially found the conceptual discussions interesting and was also interested in the instruction on various open source systems. 2: The design of data structures for archival description; discussion of archival practice as it effected our data models. 3: Honestly, this course was just right for where I am professionally/intellectually. The material covered, while potentially highly abstract/technical was presented with measured, deliberate, and insightful context at a pace that really seemed to meet the expectation I had coming in. 4: The whole analysis and design process was highly relevant. Level appropriate. 5: As I am in a relatively new position at my department and am looking for ideas on how to improve our background processes, it was great to be able to consider an archival description system realistically, but also to be able to explore the possibilities in a situation of unlimited resources. 6: I can't think of anything that wasn't relevant! I was a little concerned that it would be overly technical for me, but DP is a fantastic instructor and I was able to keep up and learn many new things. 7: 1. Insight into the future of professional practice. 2. Encoded Archival Context as immediately implementable practice. 8: The intellectual level was perfect. I personally enjoyed the "what if"-ing and "blue sky"-ing the best. 9: Very appropriate. The material was of a more sophisticated level than what I am getting in library school—I feel I got the "good stuff."


4) If your course left its classroom to visit Special Collections (SC) or to make other field trips away from your classroom, was the time devoted to this purpose well spent?


1-9: N/A.


5) What did you like best about the course?


1: The informal atmosphere. Although a lot of material and information was covered during the week, there was always ample opportunity for the class to explore various concepts and ideas. 2: The camaraderie of the class and the instructors; the ability to have lengthy discussions; that the class was continually engaging all week long. 3: DP was tremendously patient and generous in his explanations of potentially tedious and technical concepts. He is a fantastic teacher who availed himself as a thoughtful, well connected and enthusiastic resource. 4: Instructor's patient but highly engaging manner—and getting a glimpse of his professional world. Seeing the different aspects of a complex system come together. Interacting with colleagues with similar interests. 5: Being able to share discussion with other archivists who could relate to similar experiences as well as having people with very different backgrounds and ideas who provided a new perspective. 6: I liked that we took a utopian view of what kind of system we might desire, but ground it all in real world technology and practical standards. 7: The exploratory nature of the discussions. 8: Which of your children do you like best? The class as a group, the content, the instructor all came together to create a highly stimulating and satisfying experience. 9: I really appreciate the instructor's teaching style. He has a knack for patiently guiding a class to reach its own conclusions and that is a rare gift.


6) How could the course have been improved?


1: I might have suggested a bit more organized approach to the presentation, but that is just a personal preference. It was a great course. 2: More background on specific software implementations, a slightly more focused agenda. 3: If anything, a bit more time for discussion/sharing local experience and implementation strategies/challenges, &c. 4: I can't conceive. 6: I can't think of anything. I am anxiously awaiting a formal release of EAC-CPF! 7: It could have been a bit more tightly structured. Do not expect a syllabus or lesson plans in this course—DP's mind meanders, it's part of the creative process. Embrace the method and you'll find it comes together like a Greek key pattern. 8: Beats me! 9: Couldn't!


7) We are always concerned about the physical well-being both of the RBS teaching collections and of materials owned by UVa's Special Collections. If relevant, what suggestions do you have for the improved classroom handling of such materials used in your course this week?


1-9: N/A.


8) If you attended the Sunday and/or other evening lectures, were they worth attending?


1: N/A. 2: Yes. 3: Both evening lectures were useful. 4: Yes ... interesting! (And good receptions after!) 5: The Malkin lecture (on Jefferson's books) was wonderful! 6: N/A. 7: Absolutely! Don't even think of skipping those, they're great! 8: Very much. 9: Yes!!


9) Did you get your money's worth? Any final or summary thoughts, or advice for other persons considering taking this course in a future year?


1: Yes. Many thanks to DP for an intellectually rewarding and practically useful learning experience. 2: Yes—I'd love to see further refinements of this course as archival standards undergo further revision. 3: Absolutely. 4: Yes—I recommend this course highly. 6: Yes! By next year, EAC will have evolved further, so it will be interesting to see what has changed. 7: What a luxury to be away for a week and think about only one thing, in a beautiful and worry-free environment! It's an intellectual resort. Thanks RBS staff for an unforgettable, fruitful week! 8: Absolutely. Tuesday at noon I wrote my superior saying that sending me here was as good an investment as she had made in a long time. I will take back to work with me far more than the money represents. 9: Thank you so much for a wonderful experience.


Number of respondents: 9





Institution gave me leave: 100%

I took vacation time: 0%

N/A: self-employed, retired, or had summers off: 0%



Institution paid tuition: 56%

I paid tuition myself: 11%

N/A: self-employed, retired, or scholarship: 33%



Instution paid housing: 56%

I paid for my own housing: 33%

N/A: stayed with friends or lived at home: 11%



Institution paid travel: 67%

I paid my own travel: 33%

N/A: lived nearby: 0%


There were 6 archivist/manuscript librarians (67%), 1 teacher/professor (11%), 1 digital librarian/archivist (11%), and one digital museum archivist and part-time library student (11%).