Thursday, October 20, 2011

Transitioning to a Digital Future - morning notes

I'm watching the webcast of the Transitioning to a Digital Future - part of the Future Directions Symposia put on by the Preservation Dept. at the Library of Congress.

I've been taking notes as I watch and rather than take the time to edit and analyze I'll just throw them up online in their incredible ragged form. (It's just me typing things I hear that might be interesting as I hear them.)

I'm hoping to be able to stay attached to my computer this afternoon to hear those speakers as well. They will be posting this online at some point.

Morning speakers

Deanna Marcum
The Library of Congress’ Role as  Leader: Addressing Past, Present, and Future Preservation Needs.
(I hate introductions)
History of national programs – tried many efforts at preservation at a national level
LC established National Preservation Program – funded by CLIR
Note on the early stuff LC did was the result of funding LC received – funders (especially CLIR) shape preservation.
The bench conservators will get training – people not getting training are people who manage preservation. (this was said a long time ago – and its still the case)
Austin money from CLIR was aimed solely at administration.
Today – no program and no money for Pres Admin.  “It is not enough for conservators to become managers.”
“No congress can commit another congress.” 20 year LC programs are really only year by year programs.
We are losing national preservation planning.
Need to critically address current preservation technology – especially mass-deacidification.
Preservation @ LC – past LC thought of itself as library of last resort – does it need to think of itself as library of first stop – and how does that affect their approach to preservation

Digitization’s relationship to microfilming.
“We have to ask – what are we going to do with all this microfilm? If people don’t use it, what good is it?”
Made an enormous investment into microfilm – need to invest in reformatting the microfilm.
We only need to make it digitally accessible once – work on this collaboratively. (Not sure I agree – diversity of efforts bring benefits.)
Print repositories – component missing – no real provisions for these collections. Needs to be more NB
Think about need for reformatting as managers and not as preservation experts.
Can’t save everything – let’s be smart about what we preserve.
“What must we save as artifacts to properly serve next generation?”
Do we need “trusted organizations” devoted to digital preservation. Currently we are all “playing around” with. Wants a national plan run by a national org to set the standard.
Education. Reason for fall by the wayside of these programs is mostly economic. Wants preservation taught in all library science programs. Make sure “our” voices are being heard.

Richard Kurin (Smithsonian) A Good Old Mission in a New World
Have 137.2 million things (not counting archives/records)
(their bird collection is used to analyze the bird-plane strikes)
Pushing social media – encyclopedia of life –
Stamp museum – 6 million stamps – 4 curators. Use a professional crowd-source site.
Leaf snap app – take a picture of a leaf  and it figures out what you’ve got.

Stephanie Toothman – National Park Service
“Preservation Plus Access to Americas Collections, Ecosystems, Buildings, and Historic Sites”
NPS use of the web to connect people to parks and programs

Digitized National Register – aid in appropriately responding to disasters.
With digital images – can now accept color digital images. (With photographic images only accepted black & white documentation)
No current good option for guaranteeable permanent digital signature.

David Ferriero,
Overwhelming Evidence: Preserving 12+ Billion Records for Permanent Access
Describes himself as a “preservation junkie”
In past, under Cunha he oiled leather bindings – laminated things
Created Duke preservation program.
Nation’s record keeper – provides courtesy storage for Congress.
10 billion pages, 40 million photographs, 7 million charts, drawings, maps
Fed records law still doesn’t recognize electronic records (print and save)

Greatest challenges – have 210 email records from Bush white house (not one of them is Bush’s)
Just received 331 terabytes of records from Census
Electronic Records Administration.
External Collaborative Opportunities – our costs are going up, need more funding
- expand preservation and access through cooperation
- share strength and work together to make voice heard
- more exchanged between institutions


  1. Thank you for posting your comments about both sessions. Very helpful.

    Peter Verheyen

  2. Thanks Kevin for posting your notes, sharing like this benefits all of us who couldn't make the session (even at our desks).

    I'm interested in knowing more about D. Marcum's comment "it's not enough for conservators to become managers." Did she elaborate at all? I'm assuming this is more of the conversation about what happens for P.A.'s now that Texas is no more...although there are far more options for people who want to go into Preservation Administration now than there was in the past.

    I also think that there are a lot of conservators and conservation managers out there that do understand and see the bigger picture as P.A.'s do, so I'm not sure where she is coming from.

    I want to take some time to actually read your notes...the one thing I have little of but this conference looks interesting.

  3. Beth, what I recall her talking about is that Preservation Administration is a different skill set (my words, not hers) than conservation and currently there is no program training specific to Preservation Administration. My understanding of her intent with your quoted line (and I can't guarantee it is a verbatim quote) is that making conservators into P.A.s is not good enough because conservation training doesn't cover all that at PA needs to know.

    That is what I'm recalling from the presentation, but they intend to post the entire thing online so you should be able to hear for yourself.

    You write that there are more options for people who want to go into Preservation Administration now - and I'm curious what you mean - more training, or more job opportunities? Because that really isn't my sense. The opportunities I see, both in terms of training and jobs, are in conservation and digital preservation.