Personal Digital Preservation: Part 1

In the library, archive, and museum professional world (the LAM world) digital preservation is a hot topic and one that I am very interested in. I have always loved viewing history from a very personal stand point. My bibliographies for my history papers in undergrad always had a diary, biography, or autobiography among my other more scholarly or pertinent sources. So even before I set my eyes on studying library science, I would sit and ponder how historians would get their hands on such personal sources in the future. I know my very boring and at times angsty high school diary only exists in LiveJournal if it is even still there. I actually have very little personal or professional writing that exists in the personal world. All of my thoughts are recorded in bits.

I know this scares the daylights out of many of my LAM brethren. I have heard whispers of a new dark ages when all of our digital documents will gone. Either we won’t be able to access them or the bits will be corrupted and irretrievable. These dire predictors then usually turn to the nearest library student and announce that “Your generation will have to figure out a solution to this situation”.

Well here I am doing my part to solve the problem. This week while I am relaxing between quarters of library school, I have decided to take a good look at what I am doing to help preserve my digital documents. I have decided to focus on my digital photos since besides being uploaded to Facebook I do very little with them. My only saving grace is that I separate groups of photos by event and do not just dump all of them into one mega photos folder.

Much of the work I have ahead of me is renaming the picture files from the automated names given by my camera to something more descriptive and then adding extra metadata. My next step is to make sure I have several copies on different types of media (the LOCKS step).This way later viewers will know where my photos were taken, why they were taken, and who are in them.

Readers, if you would like to help preserve your photos, videos, blogs, or documents for the future I would start by visiting the Library of Congress’s website devoted to personal archiving. There are also two videos put together by LOC concerning preserving digital photos that I viewed that helped to get me motivated and on the right track. The first is a bit corny, but shows the type of metadata that should be added to photos. The second video is a recording from a personal archiving day during Preservation Week 2010.

I will report back later with my experience adding metadata to my personal photo collection. Hopefully I will have tips and advice for you all. Remember if we want to save our history for the future we all need to have a hand in it. We can not just assume someone else will save it all later. We all need to have our own little digital box of photos stashed away.

Continued in Part 2 Theory into Practice –



Filed under Digital Archives, Digital Perservation, Project

2 responses to “Personal Digital Preservation: Part 1

  1. There’s a tendency for library people to treat digital preservation as a library function. You’ve correctly noted it’s something we all have to think about.

    • I am really hoping that personal archiving or personal digital preservation will catch on in the next generation. I know there will always be people who don’t annotate their photos (lots of people do not write names, dates, or events on the backs of their physical photos). However, there are still plenty of people out there that would the time to add metadata (that type of personality just doesn’t disappear because photos are now digital). I hope LAM people can reach out to the public and find these people who would take the time to do this and educate them on the steps they need to take. That will be the library world’s real role in all of this, education.

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