Summarizing all of the U.S. Naval Institute Proceedings has been one USS Midway (CV-41) Research Library’s major ongoing projects. Under the leadership of Phil Eakin (CDR, USN ret), approximately 10 volunteers soldiered (or should I say sailored) on with the project through the Pandemic.
The project began in 2011. Phase I, which is almost completed, consists of building the database and summarizing all of the Main and Essay Contest articles that have appeared in the U.S. Naval Institute Proceedings.
From Phil, the 2020 summary.
State of Play. As you will recall, Phase I consists of building the database and summarizing all of the Main and Essay Contest articles that have appeared in the U.S. Naval Institute Proceedings. Our summarizing history and where we stand today are illustrated below.
One can see that we did not break any completion records in 2020, but it was a COVID-19 year, with a good dose of pandemic fatigue and maybe a little bit of Proceedings summaries fatigue thrown in as well. We had10 team members contribute summaries in the JUL-DEC period, down from 16-18 contributors in each of the more recent 6-month periods. The pandemic docent-hermit Marty Vehanen led the way again, contributing a couple more issues than the rest of us combined. Well Done, Marty.
Simple math tells us that we only have 20 issues left to do, plus the two or three issues yet to arrive in 2021 before we are caught up. Right now there are only a few issues not assigned to team members.
Eight of the assigned issues are with team members who haven’t turned any completed issues in during the last six months, so I’ll be going out to those folks individually in the next week asking for them to finish up what they have left in the next month or so or turn in what summaries they have completed so we have something to hand out for completion as the remaining outstanding issues are submitted for review.
When will the database be available online? The pandemic pretty much shattered the plans to get grant requests ginned-up and submitted. I was counting on getting help from the Midway IT Department, but shutdowns and staff cutbacks have made that unlikely for the remainder of the pandemic. One thing the IT folks did set the Library up with during the pandemic was access to a 5 TB OneDrive (cloud storage) from which we can share files/folders with the outside world. Once Phase I is complete, my plan is to place a Microsoft Access database version with basic query and retrieval functionality on the Midway Museum OneDrive and share that with USNI and our team members. Down the road I can see access to that database being made available on the Library page of the Midway Museum website. And we can notify San Diego area public libraries and institutions of higher learning of the availability of the resource which we will identify as a work in progress. I also plan to construct a PowerPoint presentation/guide on data composition and use of the query functionality of the database and make that PowerPoint file available in the same location as the database itself.
Phase II. As previously mentioned, Phase II will consist of cataloging and summarizing Comment and Discussions (C&D) items appearing in Proceedings. Most of these items are submitted by the Proceedings readership in response to previously appearing articles. It will be valuable to researchers to have those comments available and linked to the article to which they relate. Not all C&D items relate to the main or essay contest articles we have summarized, so the other articles to which they relate need to be cataloged and summarized as well. And some C&D items stand alone. They do not relate to any previously published article. They also need summaries completed.
C&D items are much, much briefer than the articles we have been dealing with, and Phase II will go much, much quicker than Phase I. I still haven’t figured out the methodology for dolling out C&D items and, in some cases, the articles to which they refer that we haven’t summarized yet. And I still need to catalog about 90 issues-worth of the C&D items so they are in a form to assign. That is what I will be doing the next two months in addition to reviewing your splendid summaries.
Beyond Phase II. I really need to determine the druthers of USNI as to how they would have us proceed after Phase II. Is one era more important to them to get done than another era? In what order would they prefer we address categories of items like Professional Notes, From the Deckplates, Nobody Asked Me But …, and a myriad of other article types that have appeared over the years? I was planning a trip back east last Spring to interface with USNI on location, visit the USNA Library, spend a day at the Naval Archives with our Distance-Laboring Virginia volunteers scanning Midway deck logs one day a month (pre-pandemic), but the pandemic put a stop to that. I hope to get all that accomplished soon after the pandemic allows it later this year.
That is where we are and where we’re going. Hope you all will hang around for the ride. Should be fun. And thanks again for all your hard work, especially in these trying times.