Thursday, February 23, 2012

Library of Congress Personal Digital Archiving Day kit

As Cal Lee and others have pointed out, archivists working in the digital era are ethically obligated to provide guidance to people who wish to preserve their personal electronic files. The Library of Congress's National Digital Information Infrastructure and Preservation Program (NDIIPP) has devoted a lot of effort to creating non-technical videos, handouts, and other materials that explain the basics of digital preservation to laypeople, and it's hosted several "Personal Digital Archiving Days" that enable residents of the Washington, DC area to get one-on-one advice from Library of Congress staffers.

In an effort to ensure that people living in other parts of the United States receive similar guidance, NDIIPP staffer Erin Engle and NDIIPP volunteer Keri Myers have created a Personal Digital Archiving Day kit that will enable other repositories to host similar events. This kit features a host of helpful resources:
  • An overview of the work that goes into planning, organizing, publicizing, and running a public event of this nature
  • Sample forms and checklists that identify the myriad details that event planners must address and track
  • Sample publicity materials
  • Sample evaluation forms for attendees and for repository staff and volunteers
  • Illustrated handouts that explain -- succinctly and in a resolutely non-technical manner -- the basics of
    • Organizing and preserving digital photographs, video files, audio files, e-mail, and other personal electronic records
    • Transferring digital photographs from a camera to a computer (don't laugh -- not everyone knows how to do this!)
    • Transferring video from tapes, DVDs, or cameras to a computer
    • Creating an e-mail archive
    • Creating digital copies of important paper records and photographs
    • Reducing the risk that files will be lost as a result of media obsolescence and media instability
  • Links to digital preservation videos and other online resources created by the Library of Congress and other organizations

This kit won't make you a digital preservation expert, and anyone who wishes to hold a Personal Digital Archiving Day event should have at least some theoretical and practical electronic records knowledge. However, if you're familiar with electronic records issues or are, at the very least, willing to immerse yourself in the professional literature (you'll find a great starting point here) and wish to provide some much-needed guidance to the public, you'll find this kit immensely helpful.

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