Wednesday, October 8, 2014

I still work with books

It occurred to me the other morning, as I was working on making a box that you faithful blog readers might be wondering if I even work with books anymore. There's been little on this blog recently that would demonstrate evidence of book-conservation activities.

Well, yup, I still work with books.

Conservation activities comprise less than 50% of my job description (if I actually had a job description) but I do still repair, and clean, and encapsulate, and make boxes.

I will confess, however, that my mind spends much more time thinking about digital collections and digital preservation than it spends thinking about our physical collections. Right now, the digital stuff feels like bigger, and more urgent problems to solve, while the conservation work has become simply tasks I do. They give me a broken book, I fix the broken book.

This arrangement is a product both of current staffing where I work - my responsibilities cover conservation, digitization, metadata, digital preservation, supervision, and more - and also of a perceived urgency of need. It's also a product of larger forces. I encounter many more twitter feeds, follow more conference hashtags, read more books about digital topics because in the library preservation world of 2014 that is the preponderance of content being created, And I find myself not just observing these digital discussions, but engaging with them as well. I'll be co-presenting on digital preservation at a conference next week, and possibly about digital legal collections next month.

I find my experience with preserving physical collections often informs how I think about digital collections. When thinking about digital collection stuff, I often find myself asking how what is this issue's correlate in the analog world, and how has it been managed in our physical collections.

But, I am glad to still find the time to put on my apron, pull out my tools, and cut and paste, and construct and destruct, and build up a layer of pva on my fingers, so I can have fun pulling it off.

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