I've been working towards making the library's online presence accessible to all audiences in accordance with Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act (29 U.S.C. 794d). Section 508 is a federal law that requires agencies to provide individuals with disabilities equal access to electronic information and data. More information on Section 508 and its technical standards can be found at Section508.gov.
Today, I paid particular attention to contrast. Colors add design elements to your site but make sure it's compliant to accommodate those with difficulty seeing contrast between colors. The excellent video below came recommended by my coworker who recently ran a workshop for NOAA authors to help them understand the importance of contrast in their publications.
Our web pages were fabulously redesigned last year by my predecessor, and she did a fantastic job! Today I just had to tweak some of the colors to be compliant. I used the WAVE web accessibility evaluation tool plug-in for Chrome which I got from WebAim. It was recommended by our web master and is an easy add-on to use. Simply go to the page you want to evaluate, and then click the "W" button in your toolbar and select "Contrast" from the panel to see any discrepancies.
In order to calculate some good replacement colors between backgrounds and text, I utilized the Color Contrast Checker at WebAim.org.
I had to ensure the new colors would be compliant with WCAG 2.0 required contrast ratios and I also wanted to stay loyal to the design. See the before and after results below. You can click each image to see it larger. I've made some other updates, but today's update was fun and allowed me to use some handy tools so I wanted to post about it in case it helps anyone out there.
I finally learned how it feels to be "on cloud 9" when I got the notification from the Smithsonian Institution (SI) that I'd been appointed to an internship with Smithsonian Libraries this summer; and would be working under the direction of their head of Web Services, Joel Richard. Through the SI Minority Awards Program (MAP), I was awarded a paid, 10-week internship this summer. While the application process did not allow me to choose my project I felt the project I was given fit my background given my previous career working in IT.
The project I'm assigned to is: "Applying Standardized Identifiers to Library Data" which is much of what I've been doing on a couple of my projects. I'm currently serving-out the last 4 weeks of my time here and it's definitely been an amazing experience. I've worked on 3 different projects so far, and will write more about them in a separate post. My 4th, and final project hasn't started yet.
In my last weeks here I'll be required to give a presentation to both Smithsonian Libraries and the SI OFI along with the other 13 MAP recipients. I'll also be doing some blog posts for Unbound--the Library's blog--and writing an essay for the OFI's MAP.
Time has been flying by and I'm bittersweet about leaving here. I'm going to miss the lifestyle and all the attractions DC holds with its museums, monuments, architecture, and events. I've been grateful for the wonderful staff members, special tours and activities, and the entire experience of living in a place very different from home. Currently, I reside in Silver Spring, MD, and commute on the WMATA Metro, (taking over an hour each way). I actually enjoy riding the metro and the large amounts of walking I'm doing up here (where I hit about 200K steps in a week).
I've discovered I truly am comfortable with myself and enjoy doing things alone as much as I do when in good company. I've had fun with Travis, who moved up here a year ago, and try to hang out on Fridays for pau hana with Keala--my classmate who also got a MAP internship and is up here working with Freer | Sackler. My office is located in the National Museum of Natural History. It's pretty wild!
One of the inspirations for enrolling in library school came about in the summer of 2014 when I realized how much I wanted to somehow work in a place like the Smithsonian. A very awesome friend recommended library science to me and I seriously started to consider it. Then, I had a chance encounter I with the screenwriter who co-wrote "Life" and "Intolerable Cruelty." He was super cool and told me about his archivist friend who had an MLIS degree and was the archivist for the Baseball Hall of Fame. I came back to Hawaii and immediately applied to the LIS program at UH. It was my dream then to intern with the Smithsonian before graduating, and this summer my dream came true. It's certainly been a life-changing experience and I'm so happy and thankful for this amazing opportunity!
Click for larger images with captions
On Saturday, November 7th, our LIS 652 Archives Management class had the good fortune of being allowed a private tour of Doris Duke's Shagri La - Center for Islamic Arts and Cultures, led by archivist, Dawn Sueoka. Doris Duke, was an heiress and philanthropist, who traveled the world and learned about different cultures. In her travels, she also collected an amazing array of Islamic art. Upon entering, we were greeted with intricate layers of artwork embedded in the ceiling, walls, furniture, light fixtures, and all the spaces we occupied. As we wandered through the courtyard next, we could see how careful landscaping also added to the beauty of the estate.
We learned from Dawn about some of the preservation challenges of having open-air areas within Hawaii's tropical climate, bordered by the Pacific Ocean and its salty spray ... all beautiful, but also notoriously bad for collections. What was interesting to note, was they discovered the objects seem to have adjusted -- in fact, in the case of some composite objects e.g. objects made with wood and mother of pearl inlay, and other materials, if the object was placed in "ideal" temperature and RH settings, it would cause some of the pieces to pop out as the materials expanded or retracted in a controlled environment. So, in a sense the environment works well for some of the objects. We learned there are visiting interns and conservators who work on different environmental challenges within the estate. An example we could see, was in the foyer, upon initial entry, where the ceiling which was comprised of beautiful designs painted and carved / gilded in wood, which we were told an intern spent time working on this past summer. Read this awesome blog post about it for more detail.
Each room we saw, was decorated in an original way, showcasing different themes and art. One treat, was also having the opportunity to "meet" Hermione Granger, the large drop-freezer recently acquired to freeze some of the items in the collection that had pest issues. Hermione sits outside the textile room, where Dawn had set up some interesting archival objects for us to view. The room was cooled, and the papers we saw showed preliminary drawings of the estate, photographs, and other interesting papers. Dawn mentioned it's been useful to have the records on-hand, so they can track how things were done. She also pointed out the importance of respect des fonds, and keeping the Hawaii records with the estate here, and how integral it has been to referencing issues with the estate.
A big Mahalo goes out to Dainan Skeem, our instructor for Archives Management, for securing this amazing opportunity for our class. I've been thoroughly enjoying the curriculum offered by the LIS program at UH Manoa, and especially the archives track courses!
Today, members from the UHM Society of American Archivists student chapter, went to the Hawaiian Historical Society for a stack cleaning service project. Housekeeping is important for any collection -- dusting and checking for mold and pests helps to preserve the collection, and should be done regularly.
We started out replacing burnt-out fluorescent bulbs (that were 8 feet long!) and applied UV filters to any that needed it. Some bulbs had an existing glass UV filter tube around them, which we simply slid the bulbs in and out of. The UV film sleeves, came rolled up and were wrapped around the bulbs. Read more about the damaging effects of UV light and the importance of applying UV filters to protect your collection(s), at the Northeast Document Conservation Center's website.
While dusting the collection, we checked for signs of mold, or frass (that's bug poops for you non-library peeps). We often found ourselves distracted by the awesomeness of the collection!
A big MAHALO to Nicki and Jennifer from the HHS, who were so thoughtful and fun to work with! They reimbursed anyone who drove for the cost of their metered-parking, and provided a great lunch of Chinese food, and made us take all the leftovers since they said they remembered being starving grad students. lol! I had a great time working with everyone, and such a special collection.
Tonight, was my first day of classes for the fall 2015 semester. I'm taking LIS 620: Conservation of Library and Archival Materials, with Deborah Dunn, and it was a fun first night! We started off with introductions, the syllabus, and went into the lab to work on processing incoming pamphlets for the library's collection. We were re-introduced to some tools seen in LIS 619 (pre-requisite for LIS 620). If you're interested in Archiving and attending the UHM LIS program, LIS 619 and 620 are both required courses and aren't offered every semester, or concurrently, so it's always recommended to register for them when they appear on the schedule if you haven't taken them yet. We also have some Museum Studies students joining us since these classes count as electives for the MS certificate, and a couple of the people in LIS are looking into doing a Museum Studies certificate concurrently.
It's always neat to see multiple sides of a process. I encounter many items bound that come from the Preservation lab when receiving monographs and serials at my job in the Pacific Collection. Placing these pamphlets in archival pamphlet binders, provides prolonged access to patrons. I decided to write about this in part to solidify it in my mind while still fresh, but also to give a glimpse of the work we're doing in class.
Steps taken tonight to house pamphlets in binders
On Saturday, March 28th, 2015, I was thrilled to have the opportunity to visit the Scottish Rite Cathedral as a member of the Association of Hawaii Archivists. I had no idea there was a library inside this beautiful building, nor did I really know much about the cathedral, except that it was an impressive and mysterious building. Along with the cathedral itself, we also toured the Masonic Library located within. Our guide, William "Pete" Holsomback, gave an excellent and fascinating tour of the facilities, patiently fielded many questions from the group, and provided us with a lot of interesting historical info. Adding to the mystique surrounding Masons in general, we learned the group is not Scottish nor is it connected to Scotland in any way. In Hawaii, one of their most visible works, is the Shriners Hospital for Children in Honolulu. There were many interesting photographs, memorabilia, and books. They also publish some pamphlets and books of their own available for sale. Interesting to note for any library buffs out there: the library is open to the public.
I wish I'd written this post sooner, like right after the site visit, but I didn't have my website up and running at the time. I will post more photos from the day below.
Dropping Mad Library Science!
Here is where I write about everything library and archives related going on.