Speaking of Digital Preservation

Digital Preservation is the conversation of the day for institutions responsible for collection development. It’s not a new thing. It’s been around awhile. However, the way we look at it and handle it has changed. Once upon a time scanning and uploading photos was just a simple processing keeping copies of items for storage usually after it becomes in danger of being damaged or preventing further damage. The concern was mostly to get it done more so than how it was to be done. The digitalizing of the items were not done with little consideration of description or format and with minimal organization. Now, along with the actual storage, there is the software, hardware, imaging, layout, description, and access techniques that must be taking into the equation. Now preservation before damage occurs, along with providing the most availability with internet access is just as important. Essentially, taking care to preserve is the initial thought instead of a latter one as well as making sure whoever views it in whatever process gets a great image.

When looking at the readings and the discussion posts for this topic I was intrigued by the mention of the site HistoryPin (https://www.historypin.org/en/) that accesses various collections and allows visitors to attach pins to images to make their own collection. I thought this was a pretty neat concept. This site has given access to these historical images to people all over the world. What all did they have to encounter to bring this together? There are copyright issues to manage, image choices to be made, layout and description selections, and the list goes on and on. It is not a simple process by any means. But the work put into this site is significantly appreciated, I would think, to many who can bring together and create their own collections thru it.

Where would we be if the various repositories and museums didn’t digitally preserve their collections? Even the gavel of justice has been affected by digital preservation. It has made a major change in the face of evidence. The images from cell phones and dash cameras have made a significant impact on the mountain of injustice from lack of evidence. Its importance goes without saying. The massive number of items that are conveniently at hand can come at a huge price, not only dollars but in a variety of challenges and conflicts.

In addition to what was previously mentioned, there is a conflict with technology and the lack of permanent storage. Every library, museum, and archive has to deal with the continuous issue of updating and keeping current technology. The ever-present challenge of having to keep files secure, readable, viewable, undamaged, and locatable is constant and continuous. Having the staff members that are able to be technical visionaries and more than just competent, who can withstand the currents of constant change in this area, is vital. It is not an easy feat to accomplish, but a necessary one. It requires those who work in this field to keep their skill levels up to date and impeccable.

Digital Preservation certainly has its challenges and issues, but it is so important to our society in so many ways. It opens doors to more knowledge and information that we can even imagine and provides in by various methods and avenues, like HistoryPin and the infamous Google. Professionals in this area are confronted continuously to stay on top of the skills and technically advanced. There are many considerations to be made but they are certainly worth every effort to provide access to everyone. Digital preservation once upon a time meant just getting it copied when it could be and however it could be done. Not anymore.

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