Scott Williams, Registrar's Office
What do you do at the Penn Museum?
Officially, I'm a "database administrator," but there's something about this title that doesn't quite describe my experience working at the Penn Museum. I think of myself more as a keeper of digital collections. My primary role at the museum is maintaining our current database, Argus, and managing our migration to a new collections management system, KE EMu. I'm also working on an image migration project that involves integrating all of our digital images from both the collections and archival repositories into EMu. After EMu launches in November my next big project will be working with our web programmer to get our collections published online.
One component of publishing our data online is sifting through legacy data (that is, data that was created long ago and a format that barely resembles what we create today), and try to figure out how to make it fit with our current needs. I also try to figure out why we did it that way, so that we don't lose any important information in the conversion process. I primarily work with the registrar's office, collections, archives, and IT staff to make sure that we're using the data we have to serve our visitors and researchers as best we can.
What would the title of your autobiography be?
I'm not sure that I'm the autobiography type, but I could be a footnote in Digital Collections and YOU: the Museologist's Guide to Managing Digital Systems While Staying Sane (Or Not).
What previous jobs have you removed from your resume?
I grew up in a suburb of Cincinnati, Ohio, and I spent a lot of time during high school doing outdoor jobs -- cutting lawns, construction and paving driveways. I was behind the counter at a video store for a while. I've also been a pool boy and golf caddy.
What do you do for fun?
I enjoy spending time outdoors -- when I can, I like to go hiking, canoeing, backpacking and playing golf.
What is your favorite word and why?
Rummage. It just rolls off the tongue and some days it describes what I do with all of our data -- but in a good way. It's a trash-to-treasure story.
What is your favorite object in the Museum?
I really like the archaeological site photographs held by our Archives. The images showing the excavation of Pit X at Ur (1933-1934) are the really quite incredible. The scale of the excavation in these photos is astounding. This pit is 1000 square meters at top, 440 square meters at bottom, 18 meters deep and more than 13,000 cubic meters of dirt moved in a month by hand. These images are on currently on display in the Ur exhibit.
What would you do if you weren't a database administrator?
When I was a kid I really wanted to run a golf course.
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