The recurring theme for the day was that doing digital curation is like eating an elephant; you have to break it into pieces in order to manage it successfully. I think the other main theme of the class could be used to extend the metaphor: an elephant, once broken apart, is best eaten with friends, meaning that digital curation cannot be managed by one archivist alone. Partnering with the right people within your organization, including records creators, budget writers, and IT experts, is key to your success.
As I've done for my two previous classes, I'll list the points that stood out most for me in this course:
- The format may change, but the function does not , meaning a record is still a record regardless of its format. This reinforces the idea that our archival skills are still applicable in the digital world.
- Though the same archival processes apply to electronic records, the window of time in which we must gain intellectual control over them is smaller. Whereas a box of paper can sit on the shelf for decades, a born-digital accession may only last a short time - something like 5 years - before the media becomes obsolete and inaccessible.
- As the permanent caretaker of the records, you can define the formats you are willing to accept.
- When forging relationships with others in your institution, don't scare them by talking about all of the horrible things that will happen to your institution's records if they aren't managed correctly. Scaring people does not work. Instead, make them feel comfortable and work to convince them of the benefits of what you are trying to achieve.
- Know what your priorities are, and make them manageable and measurable. Also, have frequent parties to celebrate your victories, no matter how small. If you have students on staff, feed them often.
- NEVER use the word "project." Instead, use the word "program," which implies permanence.
- If your public access interface doesn't look and act like Google, nobody is going to like it or use it.
- Don't reinvent the wheel - other archivists have done these things already, so borrow from them, collaborate with them, and generally draw on the experience and expertise of your colleagues.
I welcome any and all comments on this course or the DAS program in general, and as always, thanks for reading!