• Digital Archives

    If you’ve made it as far as the About Me page, you’ll have noticed that I make my living as an Archivist. For those interested, I basically look after old books and paper records, listing, cataloguing and preserving them for future generations. I’ve taken to saying I’m like a Librarian but with old paper as well as books! To find out more about the job of an Archivist, you might want to visit the Archives and Records Association website.

    I’d like to think I’m a little different from your perception of the average Archivist (old, stuffy, big glasses, cardigan etc) in that I’m also a bit of a geek. I’ve always been interested in computers and how they work, and have recently been actively pursuing my interest in digital perservation; i.e. preservation of digital files that are becoming all too common in our everyday lives.

    Digital preservation presents some interesting problems that modern archivists are going to have to grapple with sooner rather than later. Jeff Rothenberg puts it best I think;

    ‘Digital material lasts forever – or 5 years, whichever comes first’

    I’m guessing this is a long standing digital preservation joke, but Rothenberg was where I heard it first! Essentially, more has to be done to ensure that digital media is managed more effectively over time. How many of you  have files from several years ago saved onto floppy discs? And how many of you still have a computer with a floppy disc drive in? The classic example of this media obsolescence is the BBC Domesday Project where the Domesday Book was digitised onto laserdiscs, which, by 2002 where becoming increasingly obsolete. As a result of this, archivists set about trying to rescue the data from these discs to ensure the data was not lost forever. Examples like this will continue to surface as technology moves on, and I for one want to remain ahead of the game.

    There are many resources available online to anyone interested in digital preservation. I’m hoping to blog about anything I read or find interesting, but here are a few interesting starting points and sources of other information;

    Digital Preservation Coalition – UK organisation committed to raising awareness of Digital Preservation

    ‘Ensuring the Longevity of Digital Information’ by Jeff Rothenberg – The source of the quite earlier in the page and a good introductory read

    Digital Preservation at the Library of Congress

    Digital Preservation at the British Library