Who is Athena and what does she know about the Miami Hockey Coaches tape?

There’s a name that I’ve been curious about for a while: someone named Athena. She appears at the top of the Progress Log on which I’d first learned about the Miami Hockey Coaches recording. Athena was the very first step that an Oral History Project recording took between the moment it was created until the happy day when it was posted to the bicentennial website. Even before the IT people in Digital Initiatives got ahold of the tape, Athena was somehow brought into the loop.

To illustrate, take a look at the bottom of the second-to-last page of the Progress Log. On 2/18/2009, someone with the Oral History Project interviewed several former Business Affairs administrators, and then, eight days later, the numbers 2/26/2009 were recorded as the “Date to Athena.” The next day (2/27/2009), the tape was sent to the folks in Digital Initiatives (abbreviated as D.I.), who, among other things, proceeded to convert it into DVDs. The DVDs were then returned to the sender on 3/25/2009, who reviewed them for any glitches, and then, on 4/3/2009, Bob Schmidt (the former university archivist)  and Curt Ellison (who chaired the Bicentennial History Committee) received their copies. A few days later, the rest of the DVDs were mailed to the interviewees. The recording was also posted to the website, although that date wasn’t yet added to this Progress Log. And even though earlier recordings were transcribed, the Oral History Project had run out of funding to continue with transcriptions by the summer of 2009, so that didn’t happen in this case.

The second-to-last page of the Progress Log; click on image for a closer view

So who is this mysterious Athena, ostensibly named for the Greek goddess of “war, handicraft, and practical reason,” and what role did she play with the Oral History Project recordings? Whoever she was, it appeared as if she’d joined the program around January 2008, because the “Date to Athena” boxes are all marked n/a (not applicable) before then.

Thanks to a two-page sheet I found on my latest trip to University Archives, I now know. The two-pager is a step-by-step description of the tasks that program associates were required to do from the initial spark of an idea regarding possible interviewees all the way to proofing the transcription months after the interview’s completion. 

And you know what I found out? Athena isn’t a person; she’s a software program for monitoring workflow. The “Date to Athena” was the date in which staffers entered the pertinent information about the recording onto Athena’s Work Panel. In return, according to Step 10, Athena displayed a tracking label on the screen, which the associate would print off and wrap with a rubber band around the tape before delivering it, along with the Documentation Worksheet, to Digital Initiatives. (In an update at the bottom of my last post, I discuss Documentation Worksheets, which were the administrative notes taken during each interview to assist in processing a given tape. I haven’t been able to find a Documentation Worksheet for the Miami Hockey Coaches recording.)

Click on image for a closer view of the 2-pager
Click on image for a closer view of the 2-pager

The number on Athena’s tracking label was the work panel ID number, aka the control panel number, aka the accession number, which in an earlier post, I argue is number 110 or msv00110 for the Miami Hockey Coaches. I believe this to be true even though the hockey coach recording didn’t have a “Date to Athena” at the time that the Progress Log was printed. 

For this reason, as I continue to wait for the two hockey recordings, I’ve submitted another public records request to Miami’s Office of General Counsel. Here’s my request:

I am seeking screenshots generated by Athena Workflow software used by Miami library employees to track recordings made for Miami’s Oral History Project. Specifically, I am seeking screenshots of all data fields pertaining to work panel control number 110, or msv00110, as assigned by Athena software. Please note that this control number was likely generated sometime in the timeframe of April through September 2009.

So that’s kind of fun. But the two-pager said something else that I found potentially illuminating. According to item number 16, once Bob Schmidt, the former university archivist, had received his copy of the DVD, he would log it in and assign an archive number to it. And, as we already know, the Miami Hockey Coaches recording is listed on the Archive list, though it’s not yet numbered.

Does that mean that University Archives had already received the Miami Hockey Coaches’ DVD from Digital Initiatives? I’m thinking maybe. Why else would the Miami Hockey Coaches be listed on the Archive list? Also, if University Archives did receive the DVD, that would support my theory that the hockey coach recording has an archive number and its archive number is 10F-4-129 (which I explain in the same post as before).

What the above doesn’t explain, however, is why the university doesn’t seem to have any DVDs of the Miami Hockey Coaches, or why I’m still here, sitting around, week after ever-flipping week, waiting on those two hockey tapes.

And on that note, I think I’ll close us out with a little mood music.

4 thoughts on “Who is Athena and what does she know about the Miami Hockey Coaches tape?

  1. If copies of the DVDs were sent to the interviewees, perhaps it’s possible to track that copy down? Maybe her next of kin still has it?

    1. Great comment. The DVD copies are definitely something to look into. As for Carl Knox’s former secretary’s next of kin, they don’t have a copy and were unaware of an interview. But I do plan to approach other people.

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