Digital Library Federation (DLF) (2015)

The Professional is personal : reflections on personal digital archiving day in four liberal arts colleges Appel, Rachel; Bocko, Amy; DiPasquale, Joanna; Walden, Sarah


When is the personal the professional? For faculty and students, spending countless hours researching, writing, and developing new ideas, the answer (only sometimes tongue-in-cheek) is “always:” digital archiving of their personal materials quickly turns into the creation of collections that can span multiple years, formats, subjects, and versions. Colleges and universities serve a unique set of users who produce a variety of digital materials for both their personal and professional life, which often overlap and provide different challenges. A student may want to save coursework, personal social media, and student club materials for long-term preservation. A faculty member may want to save research data, drafts of papers, and email correspondence. Staff may have similar issues with being able to organize various digital data across a department. This can become overwhelming and lead to mismanagement and loss of important data. In the library, we know well that “save” and “curate” are very different. What role can liberal arts college libraries play in helping our faculty and students curate and sustain their digital research materials and scholarly communication objects, and provide education and outreach to address all of these complexities? We have found that personal digital archiving events serve as an excellent conversation starter for each of these groups, uncovering a variety of different projects that can benefit from a stronger library partnership, while providing an opportunity to raise awareness about the challenges involved in sustaining digital materials long-term. Amherst, Bryn Mawr, Vassar, and Wheaton Colleges each held Personal Digital Archiving Days for students, faculty, and staff. This panel will introduce what each institution does for their Personal Digital Archiving Day and then follow with a moderated discussion about goals, outcomes, and further plans for comparison and feedback.

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