Processing the Roberto Malinow Laboratory Collection

The following is another post in our series highlighting the collections that are being processed through the NHPRC Basic Processing Grant.

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Dr. Roberto Malinow is a neuroscientist whose research at CSHL focused on synapse transmission. His goal was to increase understanding of the changes that take place in synapses during the development of the neuronal networks and during learning and memory processing.

The collection is composed primarily of material generated by the Roberto Malinow Laboratory Group (Dr. Roberto Malinow and his laboratory staff) during their tenure at the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory from 1994 until 2006. A small portion of laboratory notebooks are from Dr. Malinow’s, and his colleague Dezhi Liao’s, previous work at the University of Iowa.

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The collection was challenging in terms of data preservation. There are over 700 CD-Roms which contained obsolete file formats that are now unreadable. Additionally, there were 62 Magnetic Data Tapes from 1991-1992 which were also unreadable. They were recorded when Dr. Malinow was at the University of Iowa.

malinow data tape

The bulk of the collection consisted of more traditional paper formats (laboratory notebooks, files and computer print outs). However, one of the notebooks also contained glass laboratory slides. The slides were housed in cardboard slide folders, but luckily they opened quite easily.

malinow slides

The Malinow Collection provides a good example of the variety of record formats that an archivist might encounter while processing scientific papers, and the challenges they pose. It also illustrates the need to migrate digital data to more current and sustainable formats, or else we risk losing the information forever.

- Amy Driscoll, Project Archivist