Lessons from Large-scale Digital Curators

Lynn ZimmermannBy Lynn Zimmerman
Associate Editor
Editor, Teacher Education

One advantage of the digital age is that it is easy to save anything. As individuals we save emails, documents, pictures, videos, many more files than we really need on our computers, on remote devices, most recently in the Cloud. We may be more or less organized with our “filing” system so that our digital records are at our fingertips, or not.

For teachers and students alike this ability to store and easily share files can be time-saving and create different ways of interacting with materials and with each other. As we use and save these files, we often assume that they are safe and will be around forever. The same goes for materials we access daily from a variety of websites.

However, imagine that you are responsible not only for your own digital records but for those of an organization, such as a library, museum or a municipal archive. How do you conserve and administer large-scale archives and repositories? How do you provide easy access of these materials to others? Luckily, there are trained professionals who handle the input and output of these large sources of digital information. Their knowledge about archiving and preservation can provide models which can be used in everyday life.

Recently, UNC Chapel Hill, one of the leaders in digital preservation, held the DigCCurr Institute to provide a space for digital curation professionals from around the world to share their ideas and learn about the issues and how to handle some of the challenges of large-scale digital preservation. You can learn more about it at: DigCCurr Institute 2015 Draws Digital Curation Professionals from Across the Country and the World

One Response

  1. Every once in a while, the thought intrudes, uninvited, that so much of my work and resources are stored in digital format on my hard drives. The scary part is that I don’t follow a systematic backup plan for most of the data. For my day-to-day class records (on Excel spreadsheets), however, I routinely back-up to a thumb drive that occupies one of the USB ports on my desktop. I’ve been using PCs since the early ’80s when 5.25″ floppy discs were the popular medium for backups. I later transferred the data to 3.25″ floppies when they became available. As their prices fell and capacity rose, I turned to terabyte hard drives and transferred floppy data to them. After 30-plus years, the few floppies that I kept are still working fine and the data on my hard drives is in good condition. To read the floppies, I’ve kept an old notebook with 3.5″ disk drives. I haven’t had a disk drive in my computers for so long that I can’t remember when I stopped using them. How long will data on hard drives survive? Interesting how we depend so much on a technology that has yet to withstand the test of time.

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