Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Everyday Digital Archives Q&A: Anne Graham

In support of our Everyday Digital Archives campaign, the SGA Outreach Managers are happy to bring you the third installment of our Q&A blog posts! Today’s post is brought to you by Anne Graham, Digital Collections Archivist at Kennesaw State University’s Department of Museums, Archives, and Rare Books.

What digital archives-related resources do you read--blogs, social media, articles, journals, listservs, etc.?
I like to read a variety of blogs. I also follow some organizations on Facebook.
For digital preservation, I like:

For technology, I like:
I also like to keep up on intellectual property (IP) developments:
What advice would you give to an archivist who is nervous to start tackling digital archives?
With digital materials, doing nothing isn’t an option. You have to worry about technological obsolescence, file corruption, and generally not being able to find anything. It can seem overwhelming, but start small and build on your successes.

Do you actively curate or archive your own personal digital materials? If so, how?
Yes! Start to manage your digital files by appraising, describing, and weeding. We all know how to do that. It’s something we do everyday. I actively review the files I’m working on and delete those that I no longer need or that are of poor quality. As an example, I take lots of photographs with my digital camera. Because I’m a terrible photographer – they’re blurred, the subject is out of frame, or I’ve taken another photograph of my feet -- maybe 1 out of 20 is usable. When I download those files to my laptop, I do a quick appraisal and delete all the bad ones. It only takes a couple of minutes and it lowers the amount of work I have to do later. I also take that time to add minimal metadata to the files I’m keeping. Using the file properties, I input a creator, brief description, and copyright holder or licensing information. I also add 2 to 3 keywords by which I can search to retrieve the file. Finally, I create a meaningful filename – IMG_0506 doesn’t tell you much – and I save it to a subfolder within a larger bucket. As an example, I keep all my digital photographs in an “Images” folder and separate them by larger subjects into subfolders. I use abbreviations to name my files, such as th-bankru-20110703, for an image of the beach at Ban Krut in Thailand taken on July 3, 2011. All the images of Thailand sort together because they’re all prefaced with “th.”

I periodically review my files and delete those that I’m no longer working on. I also resist the urge to save temporary files such as that invitation I made for a party or the yard sale sign I created. I back up important files to an external drive and keep copies of files in cloud storage.

Why is curating or archiving your own personal digital materials important?
We all create digital files each day. Preserving them takes action. Since about 2000, all my photographs of friends, family, and important events are digital. If I want to go through them the way I flip through my photo albums, I have to take steps now. Otherwise, they’ll be inaccessible.

Do your personal digital archives exist outside of the virtual/online environment? In what form?

I’m not really a big fan of creating analog surrogates for digital objects. I like using the full functionality of digital formats, including search and retrieval, manipulation, and creating mash-ups.

“Won't personal digital archiving solve itself as the digital generation comes of age?” Your thoughts?
**To give credit where credit is due, this question is taken from Catherine Marshall’s “Rethinking Personal Digital Archiving, Part 1” (

Eventually, the sheer volume of digital material will dictate that most preservation activities are automated. But we’re not there yet. This means that the material created during the interim needs to be preserved manually or as a combination of manual and automated processes. The role of the digital archivist is going to evolve with technology.

Due to the distributed nature of personal digital archives, (i.e. content of an individual all over the web in different arenas: Facebook, Twitter, blogs, etc.) how should archivists approach the challenge of acquiring these dispersed digital materials? Are there tools to help?
As social media sites become more sophisticated, harvesting them becomes more problematic. As an example, I used to be able to save a Twitter stream as an XML file, but Twitter dropped support for XML in 2013.

If you use the Mozilla Firefox browser, the ArchiveFacebook add-on ( allows users to download their Facebook account. Alternatively, you can directly download a copy of their data through the General Account settings.

Users can also request an archive of their tweets from Twitter through their account settings.

What can we do as archivists to change the culture of “benign neglect” that people so often have in regards to their personal digital records?
I think we can try to educate people about the dangers of passive preservation, but it only seems to take hold when someone tries to access an old file and finds that they can’t. Failure appears to be the best path to enlightenment. It’s unfortunate, but I think anyone who’s had experience with disaster planning and recovery recognizes that feeling of apathy. One of the most convincing demonstrations I’ve seen about file corruption involved using the program shotgun (, which simulates bit rot by randomly changing individual bytes.

How do you see people accessing personal digital records/archives in the future? 10 years? 20 years?
So many applications are utilizing cloud storage that I see that as a real contender for personal files. It’s cheap, convenient, (theoretically) backed up, and you can’t lose it like a USB drive. I am an avid user of Dropbox and Google Drive. However, I would never store anything of a private or sensitive nature in the cloud. And, that’s not where I would store important files to which I need on-demand access. Additionally, content providers who also make cloud storage available have the ability to remove content without the permission of the owner or licensor. I’m thinking specifically of Amazon’s recall of George Orwell’s “1984” from its Kindle because of a copyright dispute. So, while I believe distributed storage is where we’re headed, we still have a long way to go.

Thanks to Anne for sharing her insights! Want to volunteer to be interviewed for our Q&A blog posts? Know a digital records steward we should interview? Let us know: outreach [at] soga [dot] org.

--Cathy Miller, SGA Assistant Outreach Manager

Monday, June 23, 2014

RSVP Now, Space Is Limited! Personal Digital Archiving Train-the-Trainer Workshop

You're invited to the latest event in SGA's Everyday Digital Archives Outreach Campaign:

The Society of Georgia Archivists, the Atlanta chapter of ARMA International, and the Georgia Library Association invite you to attend a train-the-trainer workshop on Personal Digital Archiving. Designed for information professionals from all backgrounds and levels of experience, this workshop will empower participants to see themselves as archivists of their own digital records and will cover topics ranging from best practices for creating digital records and rights issues in the digital landscape to strategies for storing digital records and emerging developments regarding the digital afterlife.

After completing the workshop, attendees will be encouraged to teach the workshop to their users--the public, co-workers, students, etc.--in their own diverse institutional contexts (perfect outreach idea for Georgia Archives Month in October!). The end goal of the workshop will thus be to advocate for informational professionals as a source of expertise for assisting individuals (the public, family members, students, corporate employees, etc.) with their personal digital archiving needs.

The workshop will be held at the Georgia Archives in Morrow on Thursday, 7/31, from 10:00 AM - noon, and will be free to attend. Space limited to 25 participants. If you would like to secure a space in the workshop, please RSVP to outreach[at]soga[dot]org by 7/17/2014.

Workshop facilitators:
Oscar Gittemeier, Youth Services Librarian, Atlanta-Fulton Public Library, East Atlanta Branch
Wendy Hagenmaier, Digital Collections Archivist, Georgia Tech Archives, SGA Outreach Manager
Michelle Kirk, Records Manager, VP Corporate Records and Information Management, SunTrust Banks, Inc.

Friday, June 06, 2014

Call for Posters for SGA Annual Meeting: Submit by 6/20

The 2014 Society of Georgia Archivists' Program Committee invites submissions for poster proposals for the annual meeting at The Classic Center in Athens, Georgia, November 5-7, 2014. This year's theme, Plans and Strategies for the Future of Archives, reflects the primary steps and considerations that face archivists when proposing new projects and programs. Submissions may address any perspective on this theme as it applies to current issues in the local, state, national, or international sphere of the archival field. Notification of Program Committee decisions will be made by July 11, 2014.

Proposals that incorporate any of the following are encouraged:

  • Topics on unfinished projects or those still in the planning stages, discussing ideas and theories that were or are being discussed
  • Plans on how best to tackle issues that face archives and archivists, thoughts on best practices and reviewing standards
  • Re-Imaging Archives with digital projects, virtual reference, changes to meet user needs, new considerations and thoughts on how to interact with users
Proposals must be submitted no later than Friday, June 20, 2014. Click here for submission form.

Thursday, June 05, 2014

Back Issues of Provenance Now Online!

An announcement from Provenance editor Cheryl Oestreicher:
I'm very pleased to announce that all the back issues of Provenance are now online!   

The successor to Georgia Archives started in 1983 and features articles by David B. Gracy II, Terry Abraham, Frank Boles, James Gregory Bradsher, Maynard Brichford, Richard Cox, Bruce W. Dearstyne, Pam Hackbart-Dean, Margaret Hedstrom, Peter B. Hirtle, Glen McAninch, James O'Toole, Mary Lynn Ritzenthaler, Kathleen Roe, Helen Willa Samuels, Margery N. Sly, Carl Van Ness, and many others.

Subjects of articles include academic archives, access, appraisal, archival administration, archival education, arrangement, automation, cataloging, collection development, congressional papers, description, electronic records, ethics, GLBT collections, government records, indexing, information management, military archives, Native Americans, oral history, photographs, preservation, presidential libraries, privacy, processing, records management, religious archives, use and users, user studies, volunteers, and women's archives and history. Plus some specific topics such as circus records, folklore collections, Grand Turk Island, internet gopher, and Project Jukebox.

Provenance is one of many journals that contributes to robust and ongoing discussions about the profession. Electronic access to the back issues will aid in education and research. Look for the back issues of Georgia Archive (1972-1982) to be available online soon. 

There are many people to thank that helped with this project: Teresa Brinati, Christine Wiseman, Traci Drummond, Amanda Pellerin, Lynette Stoudt, Marie Force, Faye Phillips, Susan Hoffius, Bill Hardesty, Marty Olliff, Cathy Miller, Heather Oswald, Georgia Historical Society, SGA Board members, Provenance Editorial Board. A special thanks to Jon Hansen at Kennesaw State University for creating, hosting, and uploading content. 

Submissions received by July 31 will be reviewed for that year's issue, though submissions are accepted anytime and can be submitted online:

I look forward to continuing to provide a quality journal to enhance scholarship and education.