Digital Preservation 2013: Questions, Thoughts, and Innovations

Each year the Library of Congress hosts the conference on Digital Preservation. Three guiding topics throughout the conference were the analysis of large data sets, preserving personal materials, and democratizing digital preservation. I felt like there were a greater variety of fields represented by the speakers this year. I took many notes and found it interesting how much more I understood this year, than I did last year. This was my second Digital Preservation Conference to attend with the Wayne State University National Digital Stewardship Alliance (NDSA) student chapter. It was gratifying to see how our experiences in the student chapter have enabled us to be a source of practical information for others as well as broadening our understanding of the digital preservation field.

Our student group has many active members who are distance students. This conference is the first time that many of us have met and we had a great camaraderie. We worked on two projects in the past few months in conjunction with the WSU Library System, WSU SLIS, and Technology Resource Center. The first project involved the digitization and ingest of the Detroit Sunday Journal, a weekly paper published by striking workers from The Detroit Free Press and The Detroit News from November 19, 1995 through November 21, 1999 using Fedora Commons. The second project required the creation of a digital archive of the School of Library and Information Science program at Wayne State University covering over 80 years using DSpace. We (Aubrey Maynard, Laura Gentry, Adam Mosseri, Courtney Whitmore, Camille Chidsey, Kelly Kietur, and Margaret Diaz) presented on the two projects and shared our experiences using DSpace and Fedora to help other institutions determine which program might be a better solution for building and maintaining an institutional repository for their digital collections. As a group we received many compliments on the thoroughness of our presentation and that it had provided useful information.

Kim Schroeder, our faculty advisor, received the NDSA Innovation Individual award for her work in the region and with our student group. We had secretly nominated her. She thought that they had sent the email to the wrong Kim when they announced the winners. We know that Kim is a valuable asset to our group and we would not have had the opportunities to learn about various aspects of digital preservation and to work on all of the projects that we have done in the last year and a half without her. We willingly accept the “blame.”

Great questions to ponder:

  1. How do you plan for what you haven’t discovered yet?
  2. How do we make preservation a primary goal?
  3. How do we respect data?
  4. What does it mean to use these words to describe an object?
  5. What is reasonable to expect an individual to do?

Some highlights from my notes:

  • Big Data is data made useful. You are able to get an answer before you forgot why you asked the question.
  • Data is often a side effect of another activity
  • Make data and digital preservation a part of the conversation
  • When data becomes globally public, we can’t control who collects and uses it. It can be used in new and unexpected ways.
  • Sometimes things are preserved because they are disposable.
  • Digital objects can lead to “wonky” discoveries.
  • We need to think of a digital object as a new iteration of the original physical object.
  • Data isn’t the whole story. We must have context.
  • We need activism to redefine the public view/presence/space online.
  • Data has human value.
  • Build something not just for yourself, but that could be used by others.
  • Engage the general public in what you are doing. (i.e. EyeWire, Civic Crowdfunding)
    • By giving something a link, it gives people the opportunity to come together.

New Documents available:

  • National Recording Preservation Plan

A good blog post on the main sessions is available at . Our presentation will be available online soon.


About Aubrey Maynard

I am the Vice President for the WSU NDSA Student Group. I have been doing genealogy for a little more than 10 years. A large portion of my research is done on-line. I work as a receptionist at a local software company. I love to read. I have a husband and a puppy who love me to pieces.

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