Former NHPRC Grantee Discusses the Human Element of Digital Preservation

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Each year NHPRC receives dozens of project proposals to digitize and provide public access to nationally significant records. Often times an applicant expends a great amount of time discussing the technological ins-and-outs of how their digitization work will proceed. In each proposal, reviewers will usually read about specific scanners, various analog conversion equipment, TB hard drives, server capability, data management, collection management software, and TIFF, JPG, MP3/MP4 files. All of these are appropriate discussion points for a successful proposal to digitize materials. What some applications lack, though, is more specific detail regarding the more human side of the project involving appraisal and selection of the digitized items. Does the content have value? Does the content fit your project scope? Can you digitally preserve the content in an efficient manner? Do you have all the proper rights to the material scheduled for digitization?

A new (very new) blog and podcast site called Preservation Imperative launched in late November 2014 has as one of its first entries an interview that addresses the human element of digital preservation. Preservation Imperative is the product of Kevin Driedger, the Librarian for Conservation and Digitization at the Library of Michigan, who announces the site as “conversations with people about preservation; exploring what they preserve; how they preserve; and why they preserve.” The interview features Jody DeRidder, Head of Digital Services at the University of Alabama who recently presented a keynote address on this subject at the annual Best Practices Exchange conference. In the interview, DeRidder, who completed an NHPRC digitization grant in 2011, discusses how selection, collection development, and local control of digital content are extremely important considerations for librarians, archivists, and digital preservationists. Take a listen to the interview and keep these thoughts in mind the next time you plan a digital preservation project or application to NHPRC.

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