Wednesday, March 19, 2014

The Michigan Scene

(I had written most of this post when I noticed a post pop up today on The Signal by Kim Schroeder also about some of the organizing in Michigan. This wasn’t coordinated but I think just reinforces that Michigan is THE happenin’ place.)writtne ne

It’s a great time for the preservation-minded to be in Michigan (well, at least in the lower peninsula of Michigan – sorry Yoopers.) Opportunities to learn from others, share your own knowledge and questions, and just get to know other preservation practitioners are popping up all over the place. There has been a recent move towards smallish gatherings of preservation practitioners.

A couple weeks ago the Michigan Collection Network (a very loose network of library and archives folks interested in preservation) hosted their 2nd Conservation and Collections CareCamp where nearly 20 conservators and others with collection care responsibilities and interests gathered at Western Michigan University to share different projects, or techniques, or challenges they had worked on.

Last week was the 2nd gathering of theMid-Michigan Digital Practitioners at Grand Valley State University. This gathering is headed by Ed Busch of Michigan State University Archives and brings together digital collections/preservation practitioners into a fairly informal setting to share tips, tools, projects, questions.  About 30 were in attendance.

This group was inspired/influenced by the Regional DigitalPreservation Practitioners where the Region is southeast Michigan (Detroit/Ann Arbor). They meet about quarterly.

And finally, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the National Digital Stewardship Alliance’s Student Chapter at Wayne State University’s School of Library and Information Science and their upcoming 2nd Converge and Ingest  digital preservation colloquium. These events encourage presentations and posters by both working professionals and students. The program for April’s gathering looks quite engaging.

While I’ve not participated in the RDPP gatherings I can boldly state that these gatherings have been a huge success. I think there are a few reasons for their success. 1) They are cheap. Cost to participate is the cost of travel and time. For the MidMichDP and Conservation Camps the host institutions have covered lunches. No major travel expenses or conference fees. 2) They are practitioner based. These gatherings are really about “This is what I did and this is how I did it.” The events are filled with concrete examples of ongoing activities. These gatherings really diminish the whole expert/audience separation. 3) They are human-scaled. These gatherings are reasonably local and reasonably small so participants don’t just witness examples of preservation activities but participants get to know the people and the projects happening at the institutions just a few miles from yours. They are building very real human networks which benefit from being physically together in one place.

So, folks who are unlucky enough to not live in Michigan – let this be a call and a challenge to you to build your own local networks of preservation practitioners. In Michigan it is proving to be a great opportunity for professional growth, and a good bit of fun.

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