Ask an archivist … we did!

In honor of Ask An Archivist Day 2018, we’ve reached out to a few of our archivist customers to learn why digital preservation is important to them, and to get a glimpse into some of their favorite collections.

On October 3, archivists around the country will take to Twitter to answer questions about all things archives. This day-long event, sponsored by the Society of American Archivists, is an opportunity to connect directly with archivists. (You can participate by using the #AskAnArchivist hash tag on Twitter.) 

Increasingly, archival work extends beyond the physical and includes digital materials. One focus of this year’s Ask An Archivist Day is the chance to connect with archivists who are tackling the challenges of preserving our digital heritage for the future. And, if you have any questions about digital preservation for us, please tweet or direct message us @Preservica – on Ask An Archivist Day or any day! 

So, here’s what some of our favorite archivists have to say: 

Dartmouth College Library

Caitlin Birch, Digital Collections and Oral History Archivist at Dartmouth College Library

Why is digital preservation important to you?

At the Dartmouth College Library, we have digital assets stored on obsolete media such as floppy disks, along with more recent formats that are becoming obsolete like CDs and DVDs, flash drives and PC hard disks. We conducted an audit of our digital media and identified nearly 1,500 individual media devices each of which contain thousands of digital files, as well as digital content stored on shared network drives. Preservica will help us protect these materials from corruption, accidental deletion, and obsolescence. In addition, we’re committed to making our collections discoverable and viewable online for students, researchers, staff and the public.

What’s one of the favorite items in your collection?

It’s hard to pick a favorite! Dartmouth’s Rauner Special Collections Library is home to more than 100,000 rare books, over six and a half million unique items from cuneiform tablets to manuscripts, oral histories from Dartmouth alumni, and extensive Dartmouth College archives that include the history of the college and the surrounding area from its founding in 1769 to the present day. Over the past 20 years, the library has also been accessioning an increasing volume of digitized and born-digital materials.

Learn more about the Dartmouth College Library archives.

The Philadelphia Museum of Art

Marge Huang, Digital Archivist at The Philadelphia Museum of Art

Why is digital preservation important to you?

It came to a point where we couldn’t ignore the fact that many of our institutional records are now electronic. Emails are being sent instead of letters, Word documents are being created instead of manuscripts. We came to the realization that we would be missing crucial parts of our story if we didn’t address digital preservation. At the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Preservica’s digital preservation system, hosted in the cloud, enables me to get more accomplished and be more successful in my role. 

What’s one of the favorite items in your collection?

We are preserving the museum’s institutional records include audiovisual files, images, museum-related websites, and email accounts, so there really aren’t favorites, but digital preservation will help make all of our electronic records more findable in the future.

Read more about the Philadelphia Museum of Art archives.

Kentucky Department for Libraries and Archives (KDLA)

Beth Shields, State Archivist at Kentucky Department for Libraries and Archives (KDLA)

Why is digital preservation important to you?

At KDLA, we’re proud to provide equitable access to quality library and information resources and services and help state and local government agencies ensure that their work is digitally preserved and made available for public use. At the start of this year, we launched the Kentucky State Digital Archives for enhanced online access for Kentuckians to the digital government records of over 240 state agencies. 

What’s one of the favorite items in your collection?

There are so many great items in our collections, including photographs from the Governors’ inaugural balls, Kentucky Derby photos, and the collection of First Lady dolls. Visit our archives to check them out!

Read more about the Kentucky Department for Libraries and Archives.

Boston City Archives

Marta Crilly, Archivist for Research and Outreach at Boston City Archives

Why is digital preservation important to you?

At the Boston City Archives, we want to build a living and sustainable digital archive so that citizens and researchers can learn more about the city of Boston’s past and the lives of the people who lived there. Preservica’s cloud-based digital preservation software allows us to do this with an easy-to-use online portal for search. We’ve also been able to make our collections more widely available through partnerships with Massachusetts Digital Commonwealth and the Digital Public Library of America (DPLA). By working together to standardize metadata, users of these sites can now seamlessly find and click through to see Boston City Archives records rendered through the Preservica access portal.

What’s one of the favorite items in your collection?

My job provides a glimpse into the lives of the ordinary citizens of the city. Some of my favorite items in the Archives relate to public health records – how people were affected by illness and disease, such as the cholera epidemic in the 1800s and the flu epidemic in 1918. There are records on quarantines, birth and death records, and photos, such as this one of families in a hospital waiting for medical care. 

Read more about the Boston City Archives.

Don’t forget, that October 3 is #AskAnArchivist Day – get your questions ready!

Posted by

David Portman

Marketing Manager

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