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Personal Digital Archiving 2012: Keynote by Mike Ashenfelder

February 23, 2012

Happy Thursday, dear readers! Today is the first day of Personal Digital Archiving Conference at the Internet Archive. I’m excited to hear about lots of cool projects and tools, but not psyched to sit on wooden pews for two days. (The Internet Archive is in an old Christian Science church.) But let’s get into what Mike Ashenfelder has to say about the Library of Congress’ Personal Digital Archive Advice for the General Public.

“Sometimes we complicate things more than they need to be.”

Library of Congress is simplifying by helping people get started with their own personal digital archiving. Goal is to help the general public. Need to simplify our institutional-level digital preservation knowledge and share it with the general public. Basically, you scale down the workflow process for individuals.

Need to get the message out that people need to manage their digital assets because there is no such thing as benign neglect in the digital realm.

“Cells of history”: having people archive their own materials helps the institutional archives because the collections will already be processed when they come to the archives.

Photos are the main concern for most people. Cell phone cameras have exponentially increased the number of photos people take, keep, and want to maintain access to for future use.

Workflow:
Identify: What you want to save
Decide: What is most important
Organize: Keep it all in one place
Save Copies: In different places

Library of Congress can’t make any endorsements of projects, therefore has to point to other resources. Makes terminology more accessible to people. [Great tip: always use clear language. I’m a librarian and archivist and I don’t even appreciate the acronym soup and crazy lingo we seem to come up with to describe what we do.]

Library of Congress has many resources for the general public, including blogs, Facebook, and videos (iTunes and YouTube). [This is great because there is a lot of incorrect information about digital preservation, especially surrounding online materials.] You can check out the information on the Library of Congress’ Personal Archiving site. Also, the LoC has the Personal Archiving Day which coincides with ALA’s Preservation Week. They go to National Book Festival, too, which is the best outreach event for increasing people’s knowledge of preserving their own media. Unsurprisingly, people love to play with obsolete media at these outreach events.

Unsurprisingly, you need to listen to the public to make sure they understand the educational materials and to see what questions they have. Also, simplify all your writing and materials. Think haiku, not free verse.

Everyone needs to do more outreach and marketing to get people aware of digital archiving. Train the trainer in the public libraries and people will get excited to become involved. Community outreach is super-important and gets great collaborations and partnerships formed. You can find a Personal Archiving Day Kit on the Library of Congress’ website.

Take Home Message:
You’ve got to make it easy and not scare people if you want people to organize, tag, and archive their materials. I hope that more people feel that they want to and can preserve their materials so we don’t lose these materials. Maybe I can convince my library that we should hold a personal archiving day to help people start organizing and preserving their materials. Get into the community and get people excited to preserve their materials!

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