Calling all digital historians and archivists: If after reading this you have any suggestions please leave them in the comments section. I will make sure they get passed on to the right people. Thanks.
Imagine signing on as the Systems and Emerging Technologies Librarian and being told that the library recently purchased two blogs. For Zach Coble of Gettysburg College the question now is what to do with Civil War Memory and Keith Harris’s Cosmic America.
This is an exciting project for Gettysburg College. Although the Library of Congress is also archiving this site it’s nice to know that it will made available at Gettysburg as well. I’ve suggested before that I think we have to begin to shift our understanding of historical memory in the digital/web2.o world. Blogs and other social media tools have democratized the sharing of history further than anyone could have imagined just a few short years ago and it also has made it possible for a much wider demographic to share their own understanding of the Civil War and its legacy. As a result the categories that frame our understanding of the evolution of Civil War memory will need to be revised if not discarded entirely to make sense of the sesquicentennial years. It is my hope that this site will function as a unique window into the world of Civil War memory at the beginning of the twenty-first century.
It looks like they found just the right person to take the lead on this project:.
It’s exciting to explore new forms of scholarship, but we’re not exactly sure what to do with the blogs. Although the blogs are currently active they will not always be, so we must determine how we want to preserve them. Since none of us are experts in digital preservation, we are trying to understand at a conceptual level how best to approach this project.
This initiative has required us to think of larger issues concerning the library’s role in digital curation. Should libraries even try to preserve blogs and other digital content? Are we equipped, in terms of technology and staffing, to take on this kind of work? Can’t we rely on the big names in the field like the Library of Congress and the Internet Archive to take care of this?
As an employee of a cultural institution, I’m biased to believe that libraries (as well as archives, museums, and others) have a responsibility to preserve cultural content as it fits within the mission, goals, and collection development policy of the organization. I also believe that institutions need to take responsibility and work to inform themselves so they can properly care for the digital materials in their own collections.
The agreement that I signed includes other resources (digital and hard copy) as well, but any discussion of that will have to wait until we sort out some of the details. I will be sure to provide additional updates as this project evolves.