Intro Post, Scott Harkless

Why hello there! My name is Scott Harkless and I am looking forward to working with you all. Currently I am in the Second year of the MLIS program,  Archiving and Digital Curation Specialization with the Digital Preservation track. As such this class should be one of the fundamentals of my practice.достоинства и недостатки пластиковых и деревянных окон

My library experience is pretty wide. I have already worked in over a dozen cultural heritage institutions, with collections that held scientific, legal, government, and even comic book related materials. Many of these projects gave involved a fair amount of digitization and digital curation, and this has led me to one of the big questions that I hope this course can help me answer.

We’ve digitized the thing….now what?

In whatever position I gain whether I keep working with DCPL or eventually move on to a more special collections related position understanding Digital preservation is not only an professional goal but also a financial necessity.

I look forward to class next week and I enjoyed our discussions!

Intro Post – Sara Horn

Hello Everyone!!PolVam

I’m Sara, one of many in the class. 🙂 This is my second year in the MLIS program following the Archives and Digital Curation track. This past summer, I was a Junior Fellow at the Library of Congress working in their Prints and Photographs division inventorying a collection that will eventually be digitized. Currently, I work part-time in the University Archives specializing in athletic archives on campus. Additionally, I do metadata collation and quality review for the Maryland Historic Newspaper Project.

In every internship or job that I’ve held/hold there is always mention of digital preservation. While it has been mentioned throughout those opportunities; I have neglected in getting more acquainted with what it means. Pushing further into the archives profession it become more and more prominent that digital preservation is just as important as non-digital items are. Seeing this course being offered allows for me to dig into the ideas/practices of digital preservation and gain that knowledge that will make me a better professional.

The articles this past week were great foundation into the start of the class. Personally, I started with reading “The Definitions of Digital Preservation” that was developed by ALCTS. It gave a good starting point to understand what digital preservation is. The best part is that they built on a single definition. It is interesting that within the definition the group identified terms that needed further discussion. Basically, saying that the definition is and will be a work in progress.

As for the other two articles, they developed conflicting opinions and feelings both personally then throughout the class. Vint Cerf idea of digital vellum is a great idea overall. The conflict with his idea that presented itself, especially in class, it that it seemed like he was trying to promote his software to make a buck. Even if that was the case, the idea that he has is start (though many have hinted at in before him). As technology and software advances something needs to be done that will help preserve the knowledge that came with it.

The blog post done by Lyons was interesting. In my opinion any publicity is good when it comes to certain issues and digital preservation is one. It might hurt some egos that the profession isn’t doing anything to help with the supposed “digital dark age”. I saw the NPR story as an articles that wasn’t necessary for our profession but others outside. It an avenue to get people aware of what is going on and to get them thinking.

I’m looking forward to what the rest of the course will hold and learning from the variety of backgrounds that make up the class!

Introductory Post: Margot

Hello all,

My name is Margot Willis and I am a second year HiLS (HiLIS?) student here at UMD. I’m currently studying for my MA in history with a concentration in Medieval and Early Modern Europe and my MLIS with an emphasis on archives. My volunteer and work experience has given me short glimpses of academic library, small-town museum, and archival work, but ultimately I’d really like to work in a special collection or museum environment. If possible, I’d love to work with a collection that falls under my historical purview. While Medieval European collections are few and far in between here in the States, I’m determined to find them and hopefully work in one… eventually.

As I said in class, I originally intended to take the Preservation for Libraries and Archives course, but it was cancelled, so I am taking this course instead. However, even before I was pushed to switch classes, I had the feeling that I probably should have been taking this class anyway. Digital preservation is probably one of the most valuable tools in the information field at this point in time, and one that I have little experience with. I’m looking forward to learning about the process and policies of digital preservation and actually putting them to good use. I was excited to hear last night that we will be working from a more practical perspective this semester. Abstract thought is well and good, but after several semesters of what feels like never-ending abstraction and little application, I’m excited at the prospect of applying what we learn in a real-world setting.

Had I written this post before last night, I would have had very simple and opinionated comments about the articles we read, particularly the BBC article. However, after listening to what the rest of the class had to say about the readings in class, I’ve come to appreciate the complex issues surrounding the concept of a ‘digital dark age’, the problem of digital preservation, and how we communicate those issues to the public.

I particularly appreciated Sarah’s comments about the issues of communication that surround the original NPR article that Bertram Lyons was criticizing in his “There Will Be No Digital Dark Age” article. Originally, I had automatically sided with Lyon’s sentiments, though he may have spoken with slightly more conviction than I would have, but Sarah made a good point in class. The NPR article is not aimed at professionals in the information field. It is aimed at a wider audience who does not know about and does not really understand the work of archivists. This lack of knowledge may be due in part archivists’ lack of advocacy (or at least, their success in advocacy), or maybe the public’s lack of interest. And while it is irksome that journalists are most successful and gaining public attention with incomplete information on the world of digital preservation (especially when our own advocacy is ineffective), they are still doing what archivists often struggle to do: gain public attention. So while the research and information in the NPR article may be lacking, Lyons might be a bit too hasty in his shutdown of the article. Rather than leaving a scathing comment to draw attention to NPR’s blunder, would it not be more constructive to highlight the work going on in the information field? Why not point to the advances and solutions to the problems brought up in the NPR piece to show their listeners that not only is this problem being addressed, it is being addressed by an entire professional field?

That all being said, I remain incredibly skeptical about the BBC article and Vint Cerf’s fears of a digital dark age. Even if he harbors real fears about such an event, and even if he really believes in Digital Vellum, the article reads too much like a sales pitch for me. If one company were to monopolize and profit from the process by which we preserve digital media… there are too many ethics conundrums wrapped up in that scenario for me to feel at all comfortable with it. Also, if Cerf is really concerned about an impending digital dark age, I think his time and money would be better invested in ongoing projects rather than one (as of yet) underdeveloped concept of his own creation.

Since we discussed gifs and memes and their place in digital archiving, I will leave you with my own meme contribution to this week’s discussion:

digital dark age

 

Intro Post – Kerri

Hello everyone,Двери из массива или дверь, как достойный элемент интерьера.

My name is Kerri Sheehan and this is my second year in the MLIS program with a concentration in Archives and Digital Curation. I graduated in 2015 from Hood College with a BA in both English Literature and Communication Arts. I was (still am) an avid writer. In college I wrote for two different local magazines (Frederick Gorilla Magazine and Celebrate Gettysburg Magazine) and later freelanced after I got my degree.

I decided to pursue a library master’s degree for several different reasons. I’ve always loved books and antiquities but always viewed these as an interest and never as a career. My senior year of college I wrote a thesis on Emily Dickinson’s envelope poems. As part of my research I visited the Emily Dickinson Museum, her family home, in Amherst, MA. Through my research I grew to love and appreciate her manuscripts and the archival work that went into preserving them.  So through all of that, I decided to become an Archivist.

I’m currently working at the Special Collections and University Archives in Hornbake Library as a student assistant. I work in retrievals as well as redesigning/recoding past exhibit websites. I also just started working in the Preservation department in McKeldin Library, helping with their ongoing projects.

Last night’s discussion brought up some very important ideas and misconceptions that our profession has been dealing with lately. Vint Cerf and his idea of “Digital Vellum” (in lieu of the impending digital dark age) is one facet of concern that everyone this day in age faces. Though Cerf’s idea of the X-ray snap shot (whatever that means) sounds promising, I took his statements with a grain of salt and a dose of skepticism.

Yes, it’s important that we save as much digital information as we can. Especially since everything we do these days is digital. But is it practical to really try and save everything? Are we even capable of doing this? Simply and ideally, we could save every machine and every piece of software invented, store it in an archive, and pull them out when we want to view something digital from back in the day.

But where do we draw the line between being proactive and being packrats? We might think we have the capability to save all of these digital files, but we simply can’t save everything. To think that we have the power to essentially “go back in time” is pretty arrogant.

That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t keep doing what we are doing to preserve what we can. Like Bertram Lyons’ response to the digital dark age, we as archivists are already doing everything we can to preserve the digital aspects of our history. There are thousands of people assessing the importance of digital information and preserving said information accordingly. To assume that one machine or program could replace the countless people doing this painstaking job is an insult to all people in the profession.

Introduction Post – Rosemary

Hello!

My name is Rosemary and I am a second-year MLIS student at UMD, specializing in Archives and Digital Curation. Due to personal, academic, and professional exposure to archives, as well as my love for and academic interest in traditional music, I began this course with an appreciation of how many important aspects of the history of cultures can be made only by looking at original manuscripts, recordings, and pictures, and hence why the preservation, digitization, and availability of archives is so important for the future of research and our society. I have since spent time working in several cultural heritage and folk culture libraries/archives, including the Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage, the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress, and the Vaughan Williams Memorial Library (of the English Folk Dance and Song Society).

My internships, as well as the courses I have taken so far in the program, have opened my eyes further to how important digital preservation is right now! I am not overlooking physical preservation – this, I believe, is still incredibly important, especially to a true understanding of folk cultures. However, so many things are now born-digital, and cultures are more and more revolving around the digital, that we as archivists need to really focus on making sure this digital content continues to be available to the public. And we are doing this! As Bertram Lyons insists in his blog post “There Will Be No Digital Dark Age”, archivists are, and have been, doing lots of work for digital preservation (2016). It is easy for journalists, and the public, to grasp on to this fearful and sensationalist notion that one day soon all of our digital content will just disappear, whether due to physical media, hardware, or software obsolescence, or a massive meteor strike, who knows. This seems to be what Google’s Vint Cerf wants us to believe as he preaches about “digital vellum”, a solution that sounds more like a sales pitch (BBC interview, 2015).

The very existence of the Archives and Digital Curation program, and especially this class, demonstrates that as a field, we are very aware of the importance of digital preservation. And, it is not only the United States who are aware. Lyons mentions the British Library in his list of entities that are working on the digital preservation problem. The British Library has worked hard to create a comprehensive Digital Preservation Strategy. The international community is working together to create plans, policies, standards, and strategies to ensure access to our history and heritage, “regardless of the challenges of media failure and technological change” (ALCTS Preservation and Reformatting Section, ALA Annual Conference, 2007). There is even an International Conference on Digital Preservation!

All of that being said, I do not think it a completely bad thing to instill perhaps just a bit of fear in the public eye (forgive me Mr. Lyons). After all, we want those in every field to understand the importance of digital preservation, for it is something that is and will begin to affect every field, and is important in every field. While scaring companies to use Google’s new service (if it come to fruition) is not the ideal outcome, at least the issue is appearing in the mainstream media, which will get people from all walks of life thinking about it. (Not to mention this will help groups get grants for further research…)

I am very excited for what is coming in the future of digital preservation, for the international community will discover, and for what I will learn in this class and beyond, so that I can contribute to the preservation of our records and heritage!

Rosemary