This semester was a really difficult one for me, for personal reasons, but I was pleasantly surprised that when I sat down to reflect on my experience with my organization and my takeaways from this semester that they were all overwhelmingly positive.
CoCA, my partner organization, is actually in a better place digital preservation-wise than they thought or I originally assumed, in part because though there are no regular paid archival staff, their volunteers and interns are dedicated and very knowledgeable. Unlike some of my classmates, digipres terminology isn’t completely foreign to my org contact, so I didn’t have to worry about the vocabulary issue to nearly the same extent. As I was thinking over how difficult (or impossible) some of my medium- and high-resource suggestions were in my next steps plan, I realized that some orgs don’t ever need to be more than a NDSA level 2 or so, and that’s perfectly OK – “good enough” stewardship is still preserving and making available things that wouldn’t otherwise be available.
Furthermore, documentation is more important than IT savvy in a lot of cases, maybe every org should have an exit strategy/option of last resort; and museum thinking about digital objects is different than other archival contexts – are artifacts separate from digital collections? Are archives museum collection content? The lines are more blurred in some cases. As a sidenote, part of the reason that CoCA was of interest to me is because I come from a museum background – that’s how I ended up in archives to begin with, after some work experience in museum education, museum libraries, museum registrars offices, and various historical society and house museum roles.
The biggest challenge for my org and for my preservation advice is the staffing issue – in an ideal world, CoCA would hire at least one permanent, funded archivist, but maybe it’s ok for an org to just be what it is? There’s definitely issues of labor within community based organization to dig further into, but staying small and volunteer-run is for some organizations the goal.