Hello everyone. I’m Tina. I’m in the Master of Library and Information Science program. This is actually my second graduate degree. I also have an MS in nutrition. I’ve come to learn this is far from unusual in the MLIS program. Right now, I work full time on a digitization program of historical medical texts. I’ve been looking forward to taking a digital preservation class so that I can put what I’ve learned on the job in context and understand more about the field in general.
I’m also coming at this on a personal level because, like many people, I keep my own digital collections. I’ve amassed a lot of electronic records since I started grad school and I do refer back to them. I think about them every time I start a new class and regret not coming up with a standard naming system from the start for searching. I also have personal records of sentimental value. I get a kick out of reading my earlier writing, not because it’s particularly good, but because it sometimes feels like someone else wrote it. It’s interesting to me to see how much (or little) I’ve changed and what I was thinking at the time. Most of what I’ve written is gone now. I’m glad that Trevor Owens mentions in his introduction to our text that he is writing for a wider audience than just information professionals because I think empowering people to keep their own history is important. That being said, I’ve generally taken the view that my writing will really only be interesting to me in the long run. Blogging is new to me.
There is a lot in our readings this week that resonated with me. I can appreciate that the unique qualities of digital collections require a different way of thinking about information and preservation, but I also recognize a lot of similar issues to those in maintaining any collection. Several of our readings addressed the idea of a digital dark age, that records using obsolete formats or technologies will be lost, and the role that information professionals can take in preventing this.
In “There will be no digital dark age,” Bertram Lyons responds to an NPR report on digital preservation, suggesting that they were ignoring the role that information professionals and institutions play. Following on Lyons’s comments, Eira Tansey agrees but goes on to write that the real problem is that archivists are not in positions of power to ensure the safe disposition of records because they can’t control compliance with acquisition policies or the budget that would sustain preservation. These concepts of underappreciated professions and having to prove your worth are not new to library science or many other professions. When I started library school, I was under the impression that I wouldn’t have to explain the value of my work in a library because administrators would understand the importance of the functions that sustain it. I understand it a little differently now because things change, and you have to justify whether old methods continue to be necessary in new contexts.
Tansey suggests that advocating on our own behalf isn’t enough because we need advocates in positions of power to make digital preservation sustainable. I agree but I’m not sure how we can have external advocates if we’re not prepared to persuade them.
I’m looking forward to our discussions this semester.
One Reply to “Intro and initial thoughts”
Tina, you touch on a really important issue in libraries, which is advocacy and partnerships. I just finished a paper on this topic for another course, so while it’s feelin’ fresh I’d like to interject.
As people seeking MLIS degrees, we definitely have a great respect for the work of information professionals and libraries, but unfortunately this really isn’t the case for most other people. Public perception of libraries is still stuck in that mid 20th century view that libraries are full of cranky old librarians and dusty books. This is a perception that we really have to fight against. Advocacy is a major, major role librarians fulfill as they push for greater funding- we must constantly prove our worth to administration by arguing that the work we do has impact. Much of what we do-preservation, collection maintenance, program development, is behind the scenes and out of public view.
We need to be vocal advocates for ourselves, and be prepared to present evidence of our impact upon students (or our designated communities) with statistics and anecdotes. We must connect with members in the administration and express how we can help them better fulfill their mission if they help us. Partnerships must form between departments to address complex issues like preservation of born digital records of the administration. We must convince administration of our own importance in order to secure funding to pursue digital preservation projects.
It’s dangerous to assume that the library is a universally respected institution, we need to earn that respect by proving our worth.