Researchers of family history are in the business of preservation. We hope to preserve not only our own personal documents, but we may also be involved in a larger community project that aims to make content more widely accessible to genealogists and family historians around the world.
One needs only to look around to see digital content everywhere. No one today uses camera film; we take digital photos and videos. We don’t write real-time letters and mail them, but communicate via social media. Who buys music records, except collectors? Instead, we download digital music. What we need to plan for is how to preserve this content for the future. We also need to think about storing it and managing access.
One resource that has importantly contributed to helping researchers understand the value of this quest is the digital preservation blog – The Signal - of the Library of Congress. Access the blog here and also subscribe.
Launched a year ago, it has published 288 posts by nine staff bloggers and more than two dozen guest writers, has had nearly 270,000 page views, and garnered more than 100,000 web mentions. It has been mentioned on museum and library websites and on blogs devoted to art, law, music, genealogy (including this blog), photography and technology.
The goal of The Signal is to communicate with researchers, librarians, archivists and other digital content gatherers, and to raise awareness among everyone else with a personal or other reason to preserve content.
Preservation Week is celebrated in the US during the week of April 22-28.
Although it was created in 2010 to raise awareness of some 630 million items in institutions which require immediate care, it also focuses on protecting personal and family history collections.
Some 80% of institutions have no paid staff to care for collections; and 22% have no staff at all (paid or not) for that purpose. An estimated 2.6 billion items are not covered by an emergency plan, and are in danger from disasters.
Events and programs over the week bring attention to the fact that personal items, family history and community collections are also at risk.
During Preservation Week, libraries all over the US offer events, activities and resources that help us preserve personal and shared collections.