Farewell Digital Preservation… For Now

As the semester draws to a close, I can confidently say that this has been one of most useful classes I have taken in this program. I found both the readings and the project to be very well organized, with the perfect mix of practical skills and the theoretical knowledge to back them up. MLIS classes tend to be very theory-heavy to avoid teaching tools that will be obsolete in a couple of years, but there is also so much value to be gained by working closely with a real-life problem, and seeking answers and solutions that you can learn from and use in the future. I was lucky to work with a super responsive and enthusiastic person at the Little Compton Historical Society, whose feedback and advice made this project much better. All of the nervousness I had at the beginning of the semester (who the heck am I to give advice?!) faded away as my ideas and suggestions were well-received. Look at us – we’re all digital preservation consultants now! On the other hand, there were times when I struggled by jumping too far ahead in the Levels of Digital Preservation, or making suggestions that were beyond the scope of what my institution could achieve. It helped to take a step back to the basics and remember that everyone has to start somewhere… even if that somewhere is not storing vital information on thumb drives!

If I have to choose three lessons I’ll take from this class, they are these:

  • The work of digital preservation is never-ending, but this should not prevent us from doing all we can to ensure the longevity of our historical collections. The line in the first part of Trevor’s book: “The primary enablers of preservation for the long term are our institutions,” was stuck in my head every time I was working on my project. Reminding us that our digital holdings have the potential to outlive us and survive for future generations to enjoy is a great way to hammer in the importance of taking action now –they will only last if we prioritize their care in our lifetime!
  • The nature of the digital world is that much more is lost than is saved. I had a professor last year who works in preservation and always said that you will always have to make hard choices, and then you go to therapy. As terrifying as it was to hear that my institution stored its entire oral history collection on CD-Rs, the fact is that important information is lost everyday because there just aren’t enough resources to go about preserving it all. In an ideal world – perhaps we would (or could), but sometimes you just have to prioritize and do your best.
  • Digital preservation is a team effort. Although I have learned a ton from this course, there is absolutely no way that I could have completed this project without input from my classmates. Sharing our experiences not only helped to complete the project itself, but to see all the different ways that we have approached different problems and challenges reminds us that “there is no one size fits all” approach. Not only from you all, but the input from my institution’s director helped me to see what is doable and what is not when faced with a shortage of funds and people.

I already said it, but I’ll say it again – I really enjoyed this class! Good luck to everyone next semester!

LCHS Digital Preservation Full Report

Little Compton Historical Society Policy

Little Compton Historical Society: Digital Preservation Policy


Defined by the American Library Association, digital preservation “combines policies, strategies and actions that ensure access to digital content over time.” In prioritizing digital preservation, the Little Compton Historical Society (LCHS) is taking steps to ensure continued access to its digital collections; not only for the present, but for future users as well. Digital preservation is an ongoing process, one that both custodians and users of collections must strive to maintain.

Incorporating language from the institution’s mission statement, this Digital Preservation Policy reinforces its institutional mission in the following ways:

  • Conserving digital objects of historical significance for the Little Compton community
  • Providing digital content for educational purposes and outreach programs
  • Promoting greater access by sharing information and stimulating interest in area history

Incorporating a digital preservation policy into the core mission of the LCHS ensures that preservation will continue beyond any one individual’s scope or time at the institution. The LCHS Digital Preservation Policy is meant to guide future handling of digital holdings, aiding the staff and community in determining the how, what, when, and why of institution-wide digital preservation efforts.


The LCHS digital holdings include both digitized versions of physical holdings and born-digital materials, such as items donated by members of the public and institutional records. Also affected are files currently stored in third party systems, like the PastPerfect Collections Management System.

Selection and Acquisition

The LCHS will continue to accept donated digital materials from the public. Such donations enrich the institutional collections by incorporating the experiences, personal histories, and perspectives of the greater Little Compton community and are invaluable to future users. In-house and contracted digitization of collections will also continue as needed. In accepting and creating new digital materials, the LCHS encourages the use of common, supported formats. Formats that are widely considered to be a low-risk for long term preservation are prioritized.

Preservation Strategies

Digital preservation efforts at the LCHS take form through the following initiatives:

  • Thorough and cohesive archival organization of digital materials
  • Creating and maintaining an inventory of all digital materials
  • Implementation of a set naming system and accessioning procedure for new materials
  • Timely and thorough backups and protection of institute-wide assets
  • Monitoring and controlling access to digital materials, both online and in-house
  • Providing widespread access to digital materials through a public interface


The LCHS will make efforts to provide access to as many of the digital holdings as possible through its public interface on PastPerfect. Online materials are maintained in widely-used formats and are of an acceptable quality for online viewing, with a watermark protecting LCHS ownership of the materials. Permission for personal or professional use of digital materials is granted at the discretion of the LCHS staff. Requests for high-quality images may be subject to a fee.


The LCHS faces several challenges in establishing digital preservation practices that will stand the test of time. This policy seeks to combat these challenges by codifying digital preservation into the organization’s workflow.

  • Sustainability: All digital preservation policies and efforts must be recorded and appropriately communicated to ensure the continuity of preservation through staff and volunteer turnover.
  • Prioritization: Much of digital preservation involves planning for future use and users and can be neglected for other, more pressing matters. Preservation must be considered a priority if its effects are to be reflected in the long term.
  • Monitoring Materials: Responsibility for overseeing the incorporation and maintenance of digital materials must be continual as they are created, added, or donated. Designated staff, docents, or volunteers should be trained in following this procedure.
  • Changes in Digital Preservation Practices: Digital tools change and fall out of use quickly. Ensuring that standards are continually met, and practices kept up-to-date, is vital to combating the obsolescence of digital formats and tools.


Much can be gained by incorporating digital preservation into LCHS policy. The risks that come with neglecting digital preservation are far outweighed by the benefits to collection safety, resource growth and support, and ensured future access.

  • Research: Ease of access to digital materials facilitates the response to research and use requests from users. Spending less time searching for materials opens up time and resources to other tasks and enables the user to discover previously obscured connections and historical significance.
  • Fewer At-Risk Holdings: When digital materials are unorganized and unmonitored, they are at higher risk for loss. Developing an arrangement system and process for accessing files ensures the future availability of materials that may otherwise become unusable due to neglect or oversight.
  • Resources: Creating and maintaining an up-to-date list of digital holdings is an important resource for applying for grants and other assistance for ongoing collections projects. Demonstrable evidence of what is currently held, what actions are pressing, and what could be done in the future is a valuable tool for cultural institutions seeking community and outside support.

Next Steps for the Little Compton Historical Society

The Little Compton Historical Society is a small organization dedicated to preserving the history and cultural heritage of Little Compton, Rhode Island. Although they face the common problem of limited resources that many organizations of their size do, the LCHS currently has several systems in place that will help them to reach greater success in preserving their digital holdings. Expanding on those established resources, this report will provide guidance on how LCHS staff can improve and ensure the prolonged safety of their digital collections. The recommendations are based on the National Digital Stewardship Alliance (NDSA) Levels of Digital Preservation, a set of easy-to-use guidelines used to assess an institution’s current preservation status based on 5 areas: storage and geographic location, file fixity and data integrity, information security, metadata, and file formats.

First Steps (Minimum)

1. Copy any digital files held on external media to a stable location.

The first and most important task that the LCHS must address is the storage of digital materials on external media such as laptops, CD-Rs, and USB flash drives. Whether currently in use or not, these files should be copied to a stable storage system as soon as possible to avoid the possibility of data loss. As these types of media age, the files held within them become more difficult to access and preserve. Unused laptops become slow as the programs on them are not updated and – if the files on them are not fully backed up – they are at considerable risk. USB flash sticks and drives are easily corrupted and nearly impossible to repair, making them best suited for short-term storage. While commercially produced CD-ROMS have been known to have a lifespan of 30 years, CD-Rs that have had material recorded or “burned” onto them have a drastically different longevity, with some experts estimating that they last only 5 years. Further, as technologies rapidly develop there is a chance that CDs will require specialized equipment to access in the future, as we see with floppy disk drives today.

All of the files that are currently stored on these types of media should be transferred to a stable location on the main server. Even files that are not currently being used, such as the oral history collection, must be copied to ensure their long-term preservation. When copying files from external media, be sure to record any important information that is stored along with it so that nothing vital is lost in the transfer.

2. Create a full backup of all digital files on a physical hard drive.

Once all digital files have been moved to a stable location, it is highly recommended to do a complete backup of all digital holdings. By consolidating all files that are currently held on external media into a centralized, stable location, the LCHS will be assured that current and future backups are protecting everything. One way to ensure that vital information is kept safe is to create a backup on an external hard drive, then store it in a secure location either within or outside of the organization. This could mean Marjory storing it in a locked cabinet at the LCHS, or Fred taking it home with him. The external drive should then be updated monthly or quarterly, as resources allow.

3. Create a complete inventory of all digital holdings.

Now that all relevant digital files have been compiled and backed up, the LCHS would benefit greatly from a comprehensive inventory of all digital holdings. Since many of the holdings are already stored in PastPerfect, a great start is to use the tools provided by them. PastPerfect has an optional Inventory Manager upgrade that allows users to “create inventory lists, print barcode labels, track collections electronically, and ensure accurate records.”

The digital files not currently held in PastPerfect also need to be included in the inventory. A simple excel sheet can get the job done – and it is often useful to mirror the digital file names and organization on how the physical items are already organized. Compiling all of the digital holdings into one master inventory will help to combat the problem of duplicate files that currently appear in multiple locations. In the future, care should be taken to follow set standards for adding new digital files to the inventory.

An added benefit of an inventory is that have all of the information on digital holdings in one secure place will allow the LCHS to take a hard look at its holdings, reassessing which files are the most vital and whose loss would be the most detrimental to the organization. As historical societies are often stretched for time and resources, the preservation of those files can then be prioritized above others to ensure their continued safety.

Further Steps: Moderate to Aggressive

At this point, the LCHS should have at least 1 full, complete copy of its digital holdings stored on a physical hard drive. To meet the highest NDSA standards for storage, the LCHS could create additional physical copies of backups and do a “buddy swap” with organizations in other states. This can also be accomplished with an offsite backup service, like the one currently used – Backblaze. DropBox can also be used for a 2nd cloud backup, although this would require additional funding.

4. Run a full backup with Backblaze.

The LCHS currently uses Backblaze to routinely back up all files. There are several benefits to their service, most notably that backups are conducted automatically and don’t require constant oversight, and storage space is unlimited. Since this backup stores everything offsite, using Backblaze also boosts the LCHS to Level 2 on the NDSA levels: having at least one copy in a different geographic location. While not much more oversight is needed, Backblaze recommends checking in once a week to ensure that backups are running as scheduled.

5. Establish the fixity of digital files.

Fixity is “the property of a digital file or object being fixed or unchanged.” In other words, checking fixity means making sure that your files haven’t changed without you meaning them to. While there are technologies and programs that exist to maintain fixity at a higher level (see AVP’s fixity tool for an example), given the limited resources at the LCHS, this can be accomplished much more simply. Once all digital files have been consolidated and organized, have a volunteer record how many files are in each folder and the folder sizes. Once every quarter, delegate someone to do a quick check to make sure that all of the folder sizes and file counts are the same as they were originally. If there are any changes, it is clear that something has been added, deleted, or altered. If this was unintentional, the files can be restored using one of the backups. This is a simple way to quickly check that your digital files have not been tampered with, whether intentionally or not.

6. Create set standards for file and folder names.

It is vital to the continued organization and maintenance of digital files that the LCHS maintain set language and standards for file and folder names. The LCHS receives many donations of materials that often end up residing where they are originally downloaded, rather than fully incorporated into the collections. Developing a set process for these donated materials – and the particular aspects of what that process will look like – largely depends on the time available to Marjory or whomever is available to make sure the process is completed. When a new donation of files is received, resist the urge to leave them on the desktop. This can be as simple as having a folder titled “Donated Materials” on the network drive, with files labeled by donor name and the date of the donation. The most important thing is to establish consistency, a system that is easy to maintain but with a structure that is easily understood within the context of the larger collections. Once it is established and written down, the task of actually moving those materials to a permanent location can be delegated to a volunteer or docent.

For files stored in PastPerfect, there are tools available to maintain this naming consistency. If authority files have not yet been set, this is a good place to start. Double-check that the authority files in PastPerfect accurately reflect how the files will be organized and entered in the future. This should also extend to the files that are not currently in PastPerfect but stored on the LCHS server; continuity between systems is key. Separating the core files containing the digital collections from current, ongoing projects will help to ensure that nothing vital is altered and can be further protected in the next step.

7. Further restrict access to computers and digital files.

Discussion of naming standards and collections organization also speaks to the NDSA category regarding Information Security. Since many different people collaborate on projects at the LCHS, it is difficult to fully oversee the access levels of every single file. The LCHS has already begun to address the problem of information security by restricting docents’ access to the servers where important information is stored. LCHS staff is encouraged to continue this trend by putting restrictions on individual folders that do not need to be accessed by volunteers, restricting their ability to accidentally delete or alter files they do not need to work with. As a next step, documenting these distinct levels of access granted to each user will bring the LCHS up to Level 2 on the NDSA chart.


In measuring the current digital holdings of the LCHS against the NDSA Levels of Digital Preservation, the LCHS is below the threshold for minimum preservation standards in several areas, most notably storage, file fixity, and metadata. However, with a commitment to instituting changes and some time, the status of the digital holdings can be greatly improved. Taking these actions sooner, rather than later, will decrease the risk of catastrophic data loss and help make the digital collections more user-friendly and widely accessible. Below is a quick before-and-after glance at each of the NDSA fields as related to the LCHS:

Storage and Geographic Location

Digital files are currently dispersed throughout various locations, some of which are backed up and others which are not. Materials that are currently stored on external media such as laptops, CD-Rs, and USB flash drives should immediately be moved to the network. Safely housed on the network, they will be properly backed up and no longer subject to data loss caused by environmental factors, physical degradation of media, and data corruption. The multiple levels of backups that are already in place will thus be more complete and can be expanded to include the recommendations listed in the steps above regarding physical hard drives, Backblaze, and DropBox.

Volunteer Collection Manager Fred Bridge has a solid system in place for integrating digital files into PastPerfect that can serve as a model for how other digital files are accessioned. The key to continuity of the current systems (and any new ones that are put into place) is to document these processes. Any staff or volunteer who currently handles digital files is encouraged to record their personal organization methods – even just by writing them out in a Word document – to prevent future confusion when and if they are not present to access files. Doing so will, at the very least, shed light on where and how items are currently stored, even if resources and time don’t allow for a full-scale reorganization and standardization of all collections.

File Fixity and Data Integrity

There are no current systems in place to monitor the fixity of digital files, but this is easily corrected. As explained in Step 5 above, fixity means making sure that files have not changed without the organization meaning them to. Creating a document that keeps track of how many files are supposed to be in each folder and the size of them is a simple first step towards advancing in the NDSA levels. With limited staff and resources, it is not expected that the LCHS will be able to invest in highly technical fixity tools or immediately advance to a high NDSA level in this regard but making it a priority to monitor file and folder counts on a quarterly basis is a big move in the right direction.

Information Security

Recent changes to access made at the LCHS have greatly improved their status in this area. As a next step, the LCHS should further restrict individual files and folders from non-staff or project leads. As new volunteers or docents are granted computer access, make sure that they are only granted access to the materials they need; it is always better to grant access to smaller sets of files than to give widespread access to files that can be accidentally altered or erased. Creating and maintaining a Word document that lists who has been granted access to certain files will bring the LCHS up to Level 2 in this area.


There are many reasons that a complete inventory of digital files will benefit the LCHS. For collections management purposes, an inventory gives staff a better handle on what they have, where there are gaps, and what they would like to collect in the future. The problem of duplicate files existing in several locations is much easier to tackle when there is a master inventory – users will know where to find certain files without having to re-download and save them in a separate location. This inventory can be started using PastPerfect’s built-in tools and expanded as needed to include all of the digital files held by the LCHS. Once the master inventory is completed, make sure that it is safely stored in multiple locations, both physically and digitally. As mentioned above, it may be helpful to separate permanent collections from current projects so that there is no conflation between the two.

File Formats

The LCHS is currently on the right track towards basic preservation when it comes to file formats. Nearly all of the digital files are in commonly used formats such as JPEG, TIFF, and PDF, making the work of preserving them all the easier. If the opportunity arrives to accept files in other formats, the LCHS should strongly encourage donors and partner organizations to continue to use only commonly-used formats that run little risk of obsolescence. If the resources arise to delegate the task to a volunteer or docent, it is also helpful to create a list of all file formats currently in the collections. This will help to identify and monitor the lifespan of the digital files since certain formats require updates, while others fade from use. Maintaining an inventory will raise the LCHS to Level 2 of the NDSA levels on file formats.


The ultimate goal of digital preservation is to ensure the long-term access of materials for users, both now and in the future. The current tools that the LCHS uses, like PastPerfect, include options for expanding access that should be fully utilized when resources allow. For example, PastPerfect includes the option to make your records appear in Google searches, if desired. While it is understandable that the LCHS would not want all of its materials to be freely accessible to the public on the internet, one way to increase traffic and use of digital collections is to make some of the materials available on a wider platform, like Wikimedia Commons or Flickr. Staff can choose which images to share, while also keeping some of them available for sale or use only with permission.

All of the steps detailed in this report are informed suggestions based on the current state of the LCHS collections and its goals for the future. While this is by no means a comprehensive preservation plan, following these guidelines will allow for greater information security and less risk for their valuable digital holdings, whether currently in use or not. The ultimate goal is to maintain these collections for the foreseeable future to the best of our knowledge and capability.

With Great Access, Comes Great Responsibility

Well folks, we’ve officially made it to Week 10 and my absolutely favorite part of the library & archives world – ACCESS! After these readings, however, I’m rethinking where “access” fits in to how we approach our digital holdings. While we tend to think about preservation in terms of the future, Owens argues that access to data *today* is equally as important…

…and other scholars agree. In 2012, the AIMS Working Group made an attempt to build a framework for how we approach born-digital collections. In it, they make the point that discovery and access should be on the top of our minds from the start – through the acquisition, accessioning, and arrangement & description stages. If we remember to keep access at the forefront, all of the data we gather – from donor agreements to item-level metadata – will make later considerations of how to make materials available all the more clear.

As for how cultural institutions actually make their materials accessible, Owens outlines the differences between “wholesale” and “boutique” approaches. The former requires less time and resources from the cultural institution, who simply provide access in the easiest and quickest form possible while researchers and users take the lead on making that information easy-to-use and appealing to larger audiences. “Boutique” approaches, on the other hand, are when the institutions themselves invest time and money into designing exhibits and detailed catalogs in order to attract users directly to the collections.

There are opportunities and challenges provided by both approaches. One example of a project that resulted from a “wholesale” approach is outlined in “One Terabyte of the Kilobyte Age.” The creators used the bulk data harvested from GeoCities to show modern-day users the site in the most true-to-form, low-cost way they could think of. They made sure to consider both the look and feel of the site’s original interface and ease of access (like that most people don’t have access to emulation software), resulting in a blog that anyone can visit to see screenshots of original GeoCities pages. On the opposite end of the spectrum is a “boutique” approach, where the cultural institution itself plays a large role in targeting its collections for use by a specific user group. One popular way that this is being approached is by creating a National History Day Toolkit! This resource, created through a joint effort by SAA, helps archivists learn how to target their materials towards middle and high school students, who then use the collections to make a project. While it can be harder to justify the resources required for these types of targeted projects, the results can be beneficial to the institution as a whole as users take the lead on creating new and innovative approaches to collections.

Technological advances in particular present a golden opportunity for libraries and archives to expand access to collections. Cultural institutions are full of humanities data… it’s just that librarians and archivists have historically been focused on displaying their data (books, images, etc.) to users, instead of encouraging them to engage with it in the ways that Owens suggests. Padilla & Higgins write that looking at humanities data (like books, text, and images) through a technical lens allows us to “see” it in a way we couldn’t before. Looking at photographs as a combination of pixels, rather than as something that we personally interpret or experience, can reveal patterns and alternative ways of depicting that image.

The digital methods and tools that are currently in use – and the ones that are yet to be created – can expand the opportunities that we, as librarians and archivists, have to engage with users. But DH approaches allow us to change more than how we all view collections – they can help us combat the structural inequities that have historically silenced and excluded certain voices from the archives. Sadler and Bourg argue that “without an explicit feminist agenda, the same processes of exclusion and marginalization that have always influenced libraries — and therefore scholarship — will continue to play out in our digital library and online discovery environments.” They call for the incorporation of feminist principles into software development, putting principles like plurality – acknowledging that there are always multiple points of view – and embodiment – focusing on the emotional responses that users have to collections – at the forefront of our technological advances. In my own studies, I am interested in exploring the imbalances in how non-English speaking populations are disproportionately represented in institutional archives, and subsequently, in digital projects that spring from them. Christen’s work in creating the Mukurtu digital archive is a prime example of efforts that are being made to combat the historical place that archives have held as oppressive institutions, rooted in elitism.

It is in our best interest to turn our attention to training our users in the digital humanities, so that they can be the ones who do innovative and interesting things with our collections. In doing so, we will be contributing both to the empowerment of our users and the long-term preservation of our cherished collections.

P.S. While you’re at it – take a look at some of the DH projects that are out there right now… there really is something out there for everyone!

Little Compton Historical Society Survey

The Little Compton Historical Society is a small organization dedicated to preserving the history and cultural heritage of Little Compton, Rhode Island. Their collections contain, among others, paper records, photographs, objects, paintings and other artworks, maps, and scrapbooks. Their current digital holdings include born-digital institutional records, high-quality images of the paintings and artwork, an oral history collection, and scans and snapshots of many of the physical objects, photographs, postcards, and maps in the collection.

Marjory O’Toole, executive director of the LCHS, and Steve Lubar spoke with me about the current state of the LCHS digital collections and their vision for future preservation. While there is a general consensus that too much of an “overhaul” of current systems is not feasible due to limited staff and funding, they agree that there is a need for organization and thorough planning moving forward. The current state of the collection is outlined below.


The digital holdings currently reside in various locations. The LCHS uses PastPerfect as its primary database, and most of the lower-quality images used for online public access are stored there. Their higher-quality counterparts are maintained and organized by a volunteer and stored locally on a computer designated for collections management. Digital files that are not currently stored in PastPerfect are located on various computers, laptops, CD-ROMs, and removable media (thumb drives). Many of these consist of images that have been donated by community members who allow the LCHS to digitize their items for a project and then add them to the digital collections. As these are received by staff, they are generally stored on laptops and desktops in various locations, while the physical items related to the project are stored in a box in the archive.

The LCHS also has a large oral history collection that is stored in the same way and has not been made available to the public online due to privacy concerns. Requests for in-house use or digital copies of individual oral histories are considered on a case-by-case basis.

Born-digital records are stored both on DropBox and on laptops at the LCHS. Staff use DropBox primarily for the temporary sharing of large documents. Images from a cemetery book project are organized by chapter, while files from other digital exhibitions are less consistent. Research conducted for outside parties is also stored in DropBox as it facilitates the sharing of large files with people outside of the LCHS, and they can be easily accessed for other users if necessary. Marjory is interested in expanding the use of DropBox beyond temporary file storage.

File formats

The digital files are in widely-used formats, such as JPEG, PDF, and MP3. The file size and image quality vary: some of the scans and snapshots were done professionally at a high-quality level, while others are snapshots from digital cameras or camera phones. All of the images that can be seen online are low-resolution versions of higher quality images stored elsewhere at the LCHS. There is one notable exception to these commonly-used file formats: the LCHS previously contracted with a company called Digital Arc in Providence, RI to digitize some of the paintings, artwork, and several hundred historic postcards in the collection. The company delivered the images in TIFF files that are very large and unusable for many of the projects or online exhibits. These TIFF files are mostly stored on CD-ROMS at the LCHS, although some of them may currently be stored locally on a laptop.


As many of the digital files have been created from various sources, there is little consistency when it comes to organization, naming standards, etc. Marjory has a personal system for organizing her files, but other staff and volunteers have contributed items that are labeled in their own shorthand or per other standards. Files end up duplicated, occupying storage space and making it difficult to find other items through the clutter. In short, there is no consistent system in place throughout the LCHS collections. For example, one member is an excellent photographer who has contributed many of his works, but they are stored in various locations and labeled in a way that only he can easily use and identify. Volunteer Collection Manager Fred Bridge maintains the digital holdings in PastPerfect and has a personal system of organization for those files, as does Marjory with her own. Those who are currently working and volunteering at the LCHS are able to navigate through the various organization systems due to their institutional knowledge and familiarity with the collections, but there is concern that digital files will not be easy to locate or identify by future staff members and volunteers.


Due to a small staff and budget, much of the responsibility for managing digital content falls to Marjory and several volunteers. As projects overlap, so does control of and access to the digital files related to those projects. At this time, the following staff members and volunteers have access to the servers where important digital files are stored: Marjory, Fred, Carol (administrator), and Jenna (docent). Until recently, all docents used Carol’s computer and had access to the digital holdings. Now, docents are instructed to use a separate computer, which is connected to the internet but has no key files stored or accessible on it.

The LCHS provides access to its collections through a PastPerfect online portal. When made available online, images are watermarked, and the quality is downgraded so that they are less bulky and easily accessible. Marjory is most concerned with long-term preservation of the files and present-day public access to the digital collections. The quality of many of the scanned images is not up to par with the needs of researchers or visitors (for example, maps have been digitized but features are not readable online). Efforts to make more of the collections that are stored in PastPerfect accessible via the online portal are ongoing, yet time consuming and often gets pushed to the wayside. Making quality images available for purchase by the public is also a source of revenue for the LCHS. Digital Arc used to offer this but discontinued the service. Marjory is interested in a way to offer a range of options to users – from free, low-quality images to some high-quality images that can be sold for profit.


Volunteers are a primary resource for projects at the LCHS. As previously mentioned, one member is an excellent photographer and donates his time to photographing the collections and community events, while Fred Bridge handles the backups, computer maintenance, and making the digital items stored in PastPerfect available in the online portal. Other volunteers help organize and run events, as well as other necessary projects that increase public support.

The LCHS hosts monthly board meetings to discuss ongoing projects and longer-term planning. There is a Collections Committee that reviews and approves proposed actions. In the past, they have been very successful at getting grants to fund projects, and also receive gifts from community members that help fund specific endeavors, like the digitization of the Benjamin Franklin Wilbour scrapbook. Another highly successful documentation and digitization project took place about ten years ago and added approximately 10,000 items to the PastPerfect database. However, even when funds are accessible, they are challenged by the lack of staff and time to complete such projects. Preservation is at the forefront of their concerns, but any efforts put into place must take into account that they have limited means for staffing projects.

Lastly, as the executive director Marjory holds a key position within the preservation structure of the LCHS as a whole. She recognizes that preservation of their digital holdings is an important issue and is ready and willing to take steps to improve their systems. With a few weeks of prioritizing digital preservation efforts, Marjory is confident that she can make and enforce positive changes that will improve the safekeeping of the collections in the future.

Current Preservation Efforts

The LCHS uses BackBlaze as its primary data storage system. BackBlaze is low-cost, easy to maintain, and provides unlimited storage. Information is automatically backed up and stored offsite in data centers. At the LCHS, BackBlaze automatically backs up Marjory’s laptop, the administrator’s desktop, and the collections computer. The collections volunteers handle the maintenance and oversight of the backups; together they deal with correcting any error messages and ensuring the process goes smoothly. It is only when data is lost or missing that BackBlaze becomes difficult to use – trying to retrieve specific information from the backups is tricky and technical.

Goals & Priorities

Given the lack of manpower and funds, changing any of the current database software is a nightmare process that Marjory does not feel is feasible. Rather than change the current systems completely, she is seeking practical ways to improve the use of the services they already use, like PastPerfect, DropBox, and BackBlaze. The digital holdings of the highest priority at the moment are the ones that are, or could be, made accessible online to the public. The ongoing maintenance and preservation of these files is key to ensuring community support and funding for the LCHS as a whole. The most helpful guidance needed is practical advice on how to enhance use of current systems, streamline the maintenance process, and effectively organize the collections so that they are easy to find and access.