Digital Preservation

Perspectives on Personal Digital Archiving

Perspectives on Personal Digital Archiving

The Library of Congress has put together some of the most interesting posts on digital archiving from its blog, The Signal, as a free PDF e-book. Perspectives on Personal Digital Archiving is an interesting and readable collection for people in the library world who want to promote digital preservation on a personal level.

There are three sections: “Personal Digital Archiving Guidance,” “Personal Reflections on Personal Digital Archiving,” and “Personal Digital Archiving Outreach.”

The first section offers specific advice, with a heavy emphasis on images. Pictures are often people’s biggest preservation headache, because they have so many of them and it can often be hard to remember just what a picture is about. Other topics include cloud preservation, genealogy, and digital legacies (e.g., what happens to your social media accounts when you die).

The second part, “Personal Reflections on Personal Digital Archiving,” includes accounts by experts in the field on how they preserve their own data, as well as stories of other people’s efforts. Even for the experts, how to deal with things like an ancient Apple Hypercard CD-ROM isn’t always obvious. One of the articles deals with the aftermath of the theft of the author’s computer from her home, not an easy thing for anyone to deal with.

The final part, “Personal Digital Archiving Outreach,” describes a variety of interactions between library people and their audiences. Outreach methods include talks at libraries, webinars, tables at public events, and appearances at professional conferences.

The book does have one limitation: The Library of Congress has to be impartial. You won’t find recommendations of good products or warnings against bad ones. The articles focus on general practices, not specific technologies.

In the introduction, Bill LeFurgy of the Library of Congress writes: “One of the still unfolding impacts of the computer age is that everyone now must be their own digital archivist. Without some focused attention, any personal collection is at high risk of loss – and quick loss at that.” With educational efforts like the ones in this collection, it’s possible to reduce the risk.

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