Saturday, November 15, 2014

Finding the Personal in Preservation

I find my interests in all things preservation have changed over the years. Early on I was wowed and inspired by interesting bindings and intriguing techniques. Preservation was for me primarily a set of tools and techniques that were applied to objects or environments for the purposed of solving a problem. I was motivated to learn these tools and techniques as best I could to help do my part to solve this problem. (Note: I don't know that there was much time spent thoughtfully identifying, reflecting on, or fully understanding the what exactly the problem was.)

In the past few years, however, I've found that my attention has shifted. I'm increasingly interested in reflecting on what we think these tools and techniques of preservation are supposed to be accomplishing - what really does preservation mean and why do we value it so? I think those interests have been increasingly reflected in my past blog posts.

Another question that I am finding a greater interest in is WHO are we in relation to our preservation activities and our preservation desires?

I started exploring this in my Portraits in Preservation project a couple years ago, but that only whetted my appetite for more, and deeper attention directed to the personal in preservation.

For as scientific and impersonal as literature about preservation tends to be, I know that this work is done by genuine human beings who have personal motivations for why they are doing what they are doing, and who are personally shaped by their work. I want to hear, and share, those stories.

For most people, myself included, preservation is part of my professional life, and revealing inner personal motivations and deep-seated beliefs is not typical or possibly even acceptable professional conversation subject matter. I understand that this level of self-reflection and self-awareness may not come naturally to everyone. I, however, am congenitally contemplative, and derive great satisfaction out of pondering motivations and meanings.

My challenge is whether and how I can actually ask individuals to openly reflect on their life in preservation, share their stories with me, and then share them with others?

I'm moving in the direction of creating a podcast for this purpose. There are a few reasons for considering this format. I think talking to me for an hour is a request that is much easier to accomplish, than writing responses to my more probing questions. (I tried that with the Portraits project and I recognize that the time, motivation, and energy it takes to write thoughtful replies - when there is no penalty for not doing it - is a great disincentive.) I also really like the idea of hearing the personal reflections in the voice of that individual. Podcasts are, or at least can be, a very personal and intimate experience for the listener.

A few challenges lie in the way of me doing a podcast, but what's life without a few challenges. Part of my reason for posting this is more I put this out there, the more I will feel compelled and obliged to actually follow through.

Stay tuned.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Getting Started with Digital Preservation

A while ago Max Eckard, Digital Curation and Metadata Librarian at Grand Valley State University and I gave a presentation at the Michigan Library Association Annual Conference on getting started with digital preservation, our slides and notes appear below. (I hope)