Digital materials can be hard to keep track of, whether they’re images, audio files, or emails.  Add scanned printed materials such as letters, old photos, notes, or manuscripts to the mix, and keeping everything organized and crash-proof becomes even more difficult.  It can be tempting to just dump everything into one folder on the computer’s desktop and deal with all those files later.  However, to really protect digital materials and make them easier to access later, it takes some know-how and work.  Enter the Library of Congress.

The National Digital Information Infrastructure and Preservation Program (NDIIPP) at the Library of Congress is working to preserve digital content on a national level, but has also created a guide to help individuals.  Their “Personal Archiving” web page gives advice and information about how to preserve digital photos, audio, and video, as well as emails and other digital records.  A few examples of what you’ll find on the site:

  • Advice for scanning your personal collections
  • How to organize large numbers of digitized photos
  • Where to store files so they are safe from computer problems
  • Saving and archiving emails
  • How to archive web content
This information has the potential to be extremely helpful to artists, writers, or any other individual with loads of digital content stored on their hard drives, whether that material be photographs of artwork, digital manuscripts of written work,or  videos of theater productions.  For those who are interested in digging a little deeper into digital preservation, the NDIIPP also provides some other helpful resources:
While tips for archiving personal materials will be very helpful to artists and other individuals, there are some great resources for librarians on the site as well.  For librarians looking for a new program idea or with patrons who ask about what to do with all their digital photos, the Personal Digital Archiving Day event kit provides a great starting point.  Hosting a Personal Digital Archiving event is an opportunity to teach the public about preserving their own digital materials, and also to talk about what the library is doing as well. Many of the sites resources are also available as PDFs, which can be easily turned into handouts to share with patrons.  Youth services and school librarians might find the video about “K-12 Web Archiving: Preserving the Present“, a collaboration between the Library of Congress and the Internet Archive that engages kids and teens in the archival process, particularly interesting.  Teaching young people, who do so much communicating and sharing online, about how to archive their online interests seems a great way to start encouraging digital preservation.

Interested? Here’s another video about the K-12 Web Archiving program that the Library of Congress has posted on YouTube:


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