McDonough, Bettivia to speak at Association of Critical Heritage Studies conference

Associate Professor Jerome McDonough and Rhiannon Bettivia, who recently defended her dissertation at GSLIS, will participate in the third biennial conference of the Association of Critical Heritage Studies, which will be held June 3-8 in Montreal. The theme of the conference is, “What Does Heritage Change?”

McDonough will present his paper, “A Critical Eye in the Mirror: Building a North American Research Agenda on the Preservation of Intangible Heritage within Library and Information Science.”

From the abstract: This paper will report on the outcome of a meeting among library and information science researchers and professionals, along with scholars and practitioners in the areas of performing arts, food studies, and paper conservation, to try to map out a research agenda on the preservation of intangible cultural heritage for the library and information science community. The rapid growth in the use of ICTs, and the concomitant rise in the creation and use of digital information, has presented numerous challenges to libraries and archives. Researching new approaches to the preservation of digital information has occupied the field of library and information science for nearly two decades. While much of this research has focused on technical aspects of maintaining the authenticity and integrity of digital information, scholars have also examined the sociotechnical aspects of libraries, archives and museums (LAMs), analyzing the social and institutional arrangements in which preservation activities occur and their impact on the sustainability of digital resources….Such research raises the question of whether LAMS might better contribute to the preservation of cultural heritage if they cease to see themselves as centers for preservation activity, and instead ask the communities they serve how they might contribute to preservation of cultural heritage.

Bettivia will present her paper, “All and Each: The Dynamics of Scale in Digital Heritage Cultures,” with coauthor Elizabeth Stainforth (doctoral candidate, University of Leeds).

From the abstract: Within the last ten years, open-access web-based technologies have provided new methods for fostering engagement between cultural heritage organizations and their audiences. At the most basic level, this might include utilizing social media to tag, share, or comment on cultural content. Increasingly, there is also an emphasis on re-using, re-mixing, and distributing content, which signals a shift in the positioning of audiences from cultural consumers to cultural producers. The logic of participation and shared ownership, frequently glossed as the democratization of knowledge, belies much of the public discourse around web technologies. However, the institutional imperatives that drive their development have sometimes given cause for unease regarding the maintenance of autonomy for those using them. Most debates focus on how far the enabling aspects of online participation also pose a threat to control over personal content, or to representation of that content.

This paper will investigate the move of all and each as it relates to the digital cultural heritage project, “Europeana.” Europeana is one of the more recent attempts by the European Union (EU) to confirm Europe as a unified entity through the notion of a shared cultural heritage….This case study will provide a way into thinking about the mediation and structuring of relationships between individuals and organizations, and about techniques of government as exercised through large-scale web aggregations. Such techniques operate at the level of the continual reconstruction of user identities within the wider frame of digital heritage cultures.

McDonough’s research focuses on sociotechnical aspects of digital libraries, with a particular focus on issues of metadata and description as well as digital preservation of complex media and software. Prior to joining the faculty at GSLIS, McDonough served as the head of the Digital Library Development Team for New York University. He has also been an active participant in metadata standards activities for digital libraries, having served as chair of the METS Editorial Board, as well as serving on the NISO Standards Development Committee and on the ODRL International Advisory Board.

Bettivia’s research is in the area of digital preservation with a particular focus on film, games, and time-based media art. Her work looks at documenting context for media objects and documenting properties that are not intrinsic to an object's code but still essential to long-term understanding. She looks critically at the development of new archival practice to examine social and political implications of digital preservation tools. At GSLIS, Bettivia has taught courses on digital preservation; libraries, information, and society; and metadata.

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