Hey folks. My name is Perri and I am a 3rd year HiLS student. My interests in history have carried over to archives, and as a result, I’d like to work in an archive that has Spanish-language or human rights-related collections (or maybe both, if I’m lucky!) Currently I work in Special Collections on campus, and for the National Park Service.
In my spare time, I like to… ha! Just kidding, I live in grad school now.
I sometimes feel that the most I’ve gained from my time in grad school is a sense of how monumental the task of an archivist is. Combined with the oft-heard “so what is an archivist, anyway?,” it can leave emerging professionals like ourselves wondering how we can ever *really* make a difference. But what I have also learned is that having that mindset is problematic to begin with. Owens addresses it well in his 12th point: “Highly technical definitions of digital preservation are complicit in silencing the past.” Along that same vein… thinking that I, with my exclusive archival training and education, have to be the one to do all of the “saving,” is a problem from the get-go.
The key, I think, is for us to keep an open mind about not only our role, but the role of others in preservation. Just as in a physical archive, if patrons continue to feel themselves excluded from the process of preserving history, they will take little care to aid our jobs as professionals. Those of us who do have a background in archives can’t think of ourselves as gatekeepers, but rather focus our efforts on diversifying and expanding the idea of who gets to be “in charge” of preserving history. Bertram Lyons’ article does a great job of capturing this idea, encouraging an expanded view of what can and should be documented and preserved in the first place.
All that being said, I think my two biggest takeaways from this week’s readings are that a) technologies change too fast for archivists alone to keep up, and b) doing something about preservation is (mostly) always better than doing nothing. It certainly seems like there are many people thinking about the benefits and pitfalls of digital preservation… just the fact that we’re taking a class specifically dedicated to it makes me think that talk of a “digital dark age” is just a tad bit dramatic.