Digital Directions Conference in Portland, Oregon

Written by: Amanda Cain, Olympic College

The Northeast Document Conservation Center hosted the “Digital Directions: Fundamentals of Creating and Managing Digital Collections” Conference in Portland, Oregon, July 21st – 23rd. The conference was attended by cultural preservation professionals—archivists, librarians, and curators—from around the country, as well as vendors from a number of digital services. Speakers from institutions including UC Berkeley, NEH, Digital Public Library of America, and the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University presented on curation, funding, digitizing, and copyright.

Over the three days, a few recurring themes emerged. Two in particular stood out. 1) Successful, sustainable digitization projects require thorough planning. 2) Institutions need to determine their audience, long-term funding for storage, equipment, and staffing, and the value of a project with regard to their mission so they can determine if a proposed digitization project is really worth it.

Integrity and durability were also emphasized at the conference. Digital resources are inherently fragile. Digital projects require a series of managed activities that preserve the authenticity of materials and allow for stable, long-term access. Projects should also add value to content. Specifically, content should be fixed, be in a predictable location with a documented chain of custody, be discoverable, and have links to related objects. Conference presenters reiterated that there are no “complete solutions” applications for all the activities associated with digitizing materials, despite what vendors might promise.

Finally, the Northeast Document Conservation Center provides a number of free digital preservation resources.


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