It has been nearly a month since I visited Smith College for a week-long digital preservation management workshop taught by Nancy McGovern and Kari Smith. I’ve been meaning to sit down and sift through my reflections since then, but it’s been a busy month.
The workshop’s schedule itself was incredibly packed–we arrived on Sunday evening to a nice reception and introductions/overview of the week. Monday morning, we wasted no time getting to the heart of the work–the 5 organizational stages of digital preservation. I found out quite quickly that we here at MWWC are just at the beginning of a long road of planning and preparation. Daunted, but not discouraged, I took in as much as I could, feeling optimistic about having so much information to work with to create a plan for our institution.
By Tuesday morning, I had already begun to see the enormity of the task at hand and worried that this would be like many other trainings I have attended–I would return home energized to do something and realize that I was a bit alone in my fervor for progress. It’s not that people here don’t care about digital preservation, but there is a certain kind of paralysis that comes up with technology-based initiatives. We don’t have the expertise, we don’t have the money, we’ll wait until other people have figured out a good solution… these are all excuses that I hear (and sometimes find coming out of my own mouth) to put off dealing with our born-digital content.
So, instead of returning back to Maine and slipping into a state of near-paralysis, I decided to be proactive. I’m going to give a presentation to key stakeholders in our unit and lay out the picture of where we are and where we need to be. I am going to be honest about how much time it will take and how much it will require of us. I’m convening working group meetings with my staff to figure out what we need to do step by step. And even if I am the only one who cares about it, I’ll still carry on as best I can because the time is now.
I can’t sit back and wait for anyone else to figure it out. I’m going to make myself read through the stacks of white papers and power point slides on my desk until I understand how to make this all happen with limited resources and limited staff. It’s my digital year, and I’m going to make it count, despite our firm place at stage one (see the full article here):
“Policy and planning: the preservation policy is often non-existent or may be implicit. Technological infrastructure: may be non-existent or, if it exists, is likely to be heterogeneous…and decentralized…. Content and use: the focus may be reactive to specific collections rather than encompassing the potential scope of materials that need to be preserved.”
We’ve got a lot of work to do, but I look forward to advancing us in our efforts, and to examining the ways that we can use collaboration to solve some of our problems. Onward!