I'm at a digital preservation conference this week. It's all about managing your digital files, what are the best ways to store data on a large scale, what are some of the best practices for digital preservation and how to change the mindset of people who think that preservation is 100 years or more. FYI, for digital preservation we are working on 5 year cycles but I won't go into all the whys, wherefores, and whatnots about digital preservation. Just know that all of us digital archivist/librarians are trying to save history.
I'm not too worried about paper. Paper is a very sturdy medium. I worry about all those things that are put on unstable media. Things like film, audio tape and digital media. Especially, digital. Born digital files are those things that never hit paper, like this blog, or your blog, or that report you just typed, or that e-book, I could go on but you get the drift. These are actually more fragile than paper. Think 2 1/4 floppy disk, chances are you'll never get that stuff back. Stuff being the technical term.
The librarian in me says that digital preservation is cool and needed but what about access? How can we take all those things that are not accessible because they are buried in an archive somewhere? And how am I going to afford everything that is needed to make cool stuff accessible and to preserve it at the same time?
Someone who seems to be doing everything they can to preserve digital media, who seems to be actively making what they can available, and can afford it are the Mormons.
The people at Family Search (i.e. the Mormons) have all the cool shit. They have scanning equipment that I, and I imagine most other labs, will never have. They have a ton of staff. They are thinking ahead. They have business model people, computer scientists, development people, preservation people, digitization people, OMG they have a ton of PEOPLE. Is it any wonder they have all those kids? They need people to fuel their genealogy efforts. And the big thing they have is a huge vault built into the side of a mountain. A Freaking mountain! They even have promotional videos about their Freaking mountain vault. Craziness!!!
So think what you want of their wacky beliefs (the speakers even mentioned that they understand that others think they are crazy. Okay, they didn't use the word crazy but I can read between the lines) please know that they are preserving and making available genealogy research materials like mad.
I am so jealous!