Monday, May 4, 2009

Many Eyes example #3

This visualization shows the different types of DVDs that can reside in a collection, their typical uses and storage capabilities. This is a good reference for any digital librarian looking to purchase new media

Many Eyes example #1 and #2

These visualizations depict the relationships between the number of copies of each work, the type of carrier for these copies, and the year the materials were created. Please visit my many eyes site for further manipulation of the visualization. My display name is cjg225

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Redo of Blog #8

The Digital Art collection at the Jack S. Blanton Museum of Art is an eclectic mix of moving image art installations and interactive/visual art documentation. The collection is in desperate need of both long-term preservation planning and immediate preservation action. The very nature of the materials have placed it in a precarious situation in which long-term sustainability will be difficult and hard fought because there is little that we know about how digital objects will behave in the future.

The digital art collection at the Blanton is unique in that these works do not exist in other forms within any other art institution. The loss of even one object will result in the complete loss of that work of art. The actions which are known to help safeguard these objects lay in the areas of documentation and migration. Currently, there is not preservation strategy that encompasses these areas. Many of the digital files included in the digital art collection are in file formats that may not last much longer or on magnetic tape formats that are decades past their projected obsolescence date. The file formats require constant research by a trained digital librarian. Upon receipt of funds, the Blanton will hire a full time librarian for a one year appointment under the supervision of the current registrar and curators of the collection. Job duties will include educating the current staff in long-term preservation needs, full metadata capture of all works, rehousing of all DVDs and CDs, and creation of a disaster plan for the collection. This very librarian will also take custody of creating a metadata document that documents all static elements of the objects to track any detrimental changes within the collection. Following these changes, the librarian will assess all original videotapes for signs of playback difficulties and all DVDs/CDs for media updates. Monies will be allocated towards the acquisition of playback machines for VHS, Beta cam, Digibeta, DVCPro, and U-matic tapes to aide in playback assessment. A separate cool storage container will be purchased to house the many copies of collection materials in archivally sound conditions. These basic changes will make a large impact on this small collection. Many do not realize how little can be done to better the health of a collection. Your grant funds will impact this collection not only now but throughout the life span of the collection. It will further impact the greater spectrum of museums and other institutions that have such digital holdings in that graduate students from the local school of information will be charged with aiding the digital librarian in securing proper server space for digital copies, ingest of files, curation of digital files, and maintenance. These students will go on to become employed in a variety of institutions and the knowledge they gain from this curatorial project will enhance the quality of these future collections as well. Furthermore, the librarian will be required to construct and present his work at no less than two digital conferences or symposiums as a requirement of his appointment. This will enable other institutions to also reap the benefits of the work at the Blanton. All playback machines purchased will be available for use by any person affiliated with the University of Texas as well as any local institutions with a moving image collection.

Digital objects are becoming more and more prevalent in all collections but little is known about their preservation. Your grant will fund research into an unknown aspect of preservation. Together we will become front-runners in the race towards saving our nations digital treasures.

Friday, April 24, 2009

I often feel that I am in a unique position job-wise in that I want to work with a particular material. I would like to find a job working with audio or moving image materials so there are many PA jobs that I see that simple do not interest me. I could see myself in a job that was mainly working with a book or paper collection with a small portion devoted to audio or moving image but I've been searching for jobs lately that have this as a main focus. I feel that this gives me a skewed outlook on the job market because I see very few jobs that are solely what I want to do. Many of these jobs do have a digital component because they deal with reformatting of obsolete moving image formats or providing access to these formats. I've searched the ischool job site as well as the ARSC forums and AMIA listserv for jobs. Some of the more interesting jobs are not at libraries or archives but at private corporate institutions. For example:

Job Number



NBC Universal

Business Segment

NBC Universal - NBC TV Network & Media Works

About Us

NBC Universal is one of the world's leading media and entertainment companies. We develop, produce and market entertainment, news and information to a global market. NBC Universal owns and operates a valuable portfolio of news and entertainment networks, a premier motion picture company, significant television production operations, a leading television stations group, and world-renowned theme parks.

Posted Position Title

Assistant Archivist

Career Level




Function Segment

Library & Archives


United States

U.S. State or China Province



Universal City

Relocation Expenses


Role Summary/Purpose

Under direct supervision of the Senior Archivist, the Assistant Archivist – Exhibits and Loans will be responsible for fulfilling internal and external exhibit and loan requests, installing displays of archival assets, monitoring the displays, and coordinating the safe return of assets. The Assistant Archivist will also assist the Senior Archivist in cataloguing and packing the production assets of NBC Universal that have been chosen for retention in Archives & Collections.

Essential Responsibilities

· Responsible for the planning and implementation of internal and external exhibits featuring Archives & Collections assets. This includes working closely with other departments within NBC Universal including Universal Studios Hollywood to develop themes, select assets, and install exhibits ensuring their safe display and return.

· Responsible for managing all internal and external loans of objects for marketing junkets or small exhibits in external venues. Includes creation of legal documentation, arrangement of shipping, managing the dressing of items, and condition reporting upon return. If damage occurs, works with Senior Archivist to negotiate repair or compensation arrangements.

· Quality checks exhibition during duration of loan to be sure that the requirements detailed in the loan agreement are being followed.

· Responsible for checking in assets and their physical re-housing after they have been returned.

· Assist the Senior Archivist as needed in cataloguing film and television assets chosen for retention in Archives & Collections.


· Bachelor’s degree with coursework in history, fashion, museum studies, or equivalent

· Minimum 3 years experience in museum environment and knowledge of the entertainment industry

Eligibility Requirements:

· Interested candidates must submit a resume/CV through to be considered (note job#: 1035148).

· Manual dexterity to handle fragile collections, and ability to lift 40-pound boxes required

· Must have good communication and writing skills

· Willingness to travel and work overtime, and on weekends with short notice.

· Must be willing to work at the station in UNIVERSAL CITY, CA.

· Must be willing to take drug test and submit to a background investigation.

· Must have unrestricted work authorization to work in the United States.

· Must be 18 years or older.

· Must have a valid driver’s license (if applicable).

Additional Eligibility Qualifications

For U.S. employment opportunities, GE hires U.S. citizens, permanent residents, asylees, refugees, and temporary residents. Temporary residence does not include those with non-immigrant work authorization (F, J, H or L visas), such as students in practical training status. Exceptions to these requirements will be determined based on shortage of qualified candidates with a particular skill. GE will require proof of work authorization. Any offer of employment is conditioned upon the successful completion of a background investigation and drug screen.

Desired Characteristics

· The ability to be a self-starter that works independently

· Detail oriented person, with strong organizational skills

· Experience using word processing, spreadsheet, database and digital imaging software

This posting deals in both the digital realm and the physical. I feel that many of the moving image/audio jobs require that someone have a good grasp of the theory behind metadata creation and digital preservation. I feel that I have a good understanding of the key concepts but I would like a job that deals more with they physical side of the media.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

I ran DROID on a few files on my computer to see what it would make of them. I was not aware of DROID before it was brought up in class and I imagined that it would find information about my files that I would either have a hard time finding or would be hard for me to access. After running the software, I think DROID would be helpful with unknown formats but the information that it displayed was nothing I could not have researched myself. It would have taken me much longer to do the research so I do see how DROID is a useful application for large quantities of files, especially unknown file formats. What troubled me the most was the missing information such as "Technical Environment", "Supported Until", or "Format Risk". In a project I am working on for another class, all of this missing information is information that we are desperately trying to find in reference to some files with the extension: .krz and .arr but I am not sure DROID would recognize these formats as many programs do not. I wish I had access to these files outside of class to see what DROID would make of them. My favorite piece of information that DROID delivered is the "Description". It was like a mini history of the format. DROID was very easy to use but will probably need a few more years of work to become a tool that works consistently and delivers full informative profiles of even the most diverse file format collections.

Here is a sample of some of the files that I had on my computer. The first is a picture and the second is an xml file that I had to work with for another class:

Name: JPEG File Interchange Format
Version: 1.01
Other names: JFIF (1.01)
Identifiers PUID: fmt/43
MIME: image/jpeg
Apple Uniform Type Identifier: public.jpegFamily
Classification: Image (Raster)
Disclosure: Full
Description: The JPEG File Interchange Format (JFIF) is a file format for storing JPEG-compressed raster images. It was developed by the Independent JPEG Group and C-Cube Microsystems, in the absence of any such format being defined in the JPEG standard, and rapidly became a de facto standard; this is what is commonly referred to as the JPEG file format. A JFIF file comprises a JPEG data stream together with a JFIF marker. It begins with a Start of Image (SOI) marker, immediately followed by a JFIF Application (APP0). This is followed by the JPEG image data, which is terminated by an End of Image (EOI) marker. JFIF supports up to 24-bit colour and uses lossy compression (based on the Discrete Cosine Transform algorithm). Other types of compression are available through JPEG extensions, including progressive image buildup, arithmetic encoding, variable quantization, selective refinement, image tiling, and lossless compression, but these may not be supported by all JFIF readers and writers.
Orientation: Binary
Byte order: Big-endian (Motorola)
Related file formats: Has priority over Raw JPEG Stream Is previous version of JPEG File Interchange Format (1.02)Is subsequent version of JPEG File Interchange Format (1.00)Technical Environment:
Supported until:
Format Risk:
Developed by: C-Cube Microsystems Independent JPEG Group
Supported by: None.
Source: Digital Preservation Department / The National Archives
Source date: 11 Mar 2005
Source description:
Last updated: 02 Aug 2005

Name: Extensible Markup Language
Version: 1.0
Other names: XML (1.0)
Identifiers: PUID: fmt/101
Apple Uniform Type Identifier: public.xml
MIME: text/xml
Classification: Text (Mark-up)
Disclosure: Full
Description: The Extensible Markup Language (XML) is a general purpose markup language for creating other, special purpose, markup languages, and is a simplified subset of SGML. The structure and grammar of an XML document can be defined using a markup declaration, such as a Document Type Definition (DTD) or XML schema. A XML document consists of nested elements, each of which may have attributes and content. It typically begins with an XML declaration, defining the XML version and character set used. This may be followed by a Document Type declaration, containing or pointing to a markup declaration for the class of document. An XML document is said to be well-formed if it conforms to the XML specification; it is said to be valid if it additionally complies with a defined markup declaration. The formatting and transformation of XML documents can be controlled using the Extensible Stylesheet Language (XSL).
Orientation Text
Byte order:
Related file formats: Has lower priority than Scalable Vector Graphics (1.0)Has lower priority than Scalable Vector Graphics (1.1)Has lower priority than DROID File Collection File Format (1.0)Has priority over Hypertext Markup Language (2.0)Has priority over Hypertext Markup Language (3.2)Has priority over Hypertext Markup Language (4.0)Has priority over Hypertext Markup Language (4.01)Has priority over Extensible Hypertext Markup Language (1.0)Has priority over Extensible Hypertext Markup Language (1.1)Has priority over Hypertext Markup Language
Technical Environment:
Released: 04 Feb 2004
Supported until:
Format Risk:
Developed by :World Wide Web Consortium
Supported by: None.
Source: Digital Preservation Department / The National Archives
Source date: 11 Mar 2005
Source description:
Last updated: 02 Aug 2005

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Best Manager:
* Manager for a Internet, cable, telephone company
always wanted to make sure we were doing alright
willing to stand up for her employees

* Worst Manager:
spread too thinly in her responsibilities
too young
didn't care enough about the job

I don't think either manager used any particular style of management. I think that most people do not think of what management style they will use. These two particular managers were working in a situation where they rose to management position because they happened to be working at a place long enough to rise to a management position. I am not really sure what type of management style I would use. I have yet to be in a management position. I have a hard time finding a good balance between being a manager that my team finds to be responsible but at the same time fun and easy going. I feel that it is important for a manager to be relaxed in certain situations so that those being managed feel that they can come to their manager for anything but at the same time a manager must be seen as responsible and as an authority figure.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Assignment #8

The Digital Art collection at the Jack S. Blanton Museum of Art is a eclectic mix of moving image art installations and interactive/visual art documentation that is in desperate need of both long-term preservation planning and immediate preservation action. The very nature of the materials already places it in a precarious situation in the way of long-term preservation. There is little that we know about how digital objects will behave in the future. The actions which are known to help safeguard these objects lay in the areas of documentation and migration. Many of the digital files included in the digital art collection are in file formats that may not last much longer. The files formats require constant research by a trained digital librarian. This very librarian could also take custody of creating a metadata document that documents all static elements of the objects in hopes of tracking any detrimental changes that may occur within the collection. The librarian need not be hired full time but grant funds could start a short term project that would lead to the education of staff members already in place. Immediately, the collection is in need of money to rehouse and properly store all of the physical media. Many of the original videotapes are in danger of become unplayable and the DVDs/CDs are in need of updates in their quality. A separate storage area must also be purchased to house the many copies of collection materials. These basic changes can make a large impact on this small collection. Many do not realize how little can be done to better the health of a collection. Your grant funds would impact this collection not only now but throughout the life span of the collection. Digital objects are becoming more and more prevalent in all collections but little is known about their preservation. The rehousing, storage, and documentation of the digital art collection at the Blanton Musuem of Art can be the first step for this type of preservation.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Blog #7

National Endowment for the Humanities:

"NEH is an independent grant-making agency of the United States government dedicated to supporting research, education, preservation, and public programs in the humanities." It also promotes excellence in the humanities and conveys the lessons of history to all Americans by providing grants for high-quality humanities projects in four funding areas: preserving and providing access to cultural resources, education, research, and public programs.
The grants typically go to cultural institutions as well as individual scholars.

Mellon Foundation:

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation currently makes grants in six core program areas - Higher Education and Scholarship, Scholarly Communications, Research in Information Technology, Museums and Art Conservation, Performing Arts, Conservation and Environment.
The grants strive to "build, strengthen and sustain institutions and their core capacities, rather than be a source for narrowly defined projects."

On November 5, 2008 The Mellon foundation released the following statement:

"The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation has certainly experienced some of the effects of the current financial environment. Nevertheless, we do not now foresee significant retrenchment or dislocations in our grantmaking. All existing commitments will be honored, and the Foundation will continue to be alert to the needs of grantees as circumstances develop."

One major trend I see across the board is that the grant committees want to fund programs that are sustainable. This is especially apropos in these hard financial times. The granting agencies are still awarding funding but they want to make sure their money will go towards something that will benefit the public many years to come as seen with the Mellon Foundation grants. Also grant agencies want to know there is something in it for them whether this be notoriety in being associated with a successful project or having the opportunity to have their own products testing out in the market.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Blog #6

There is one part of this article that stuck in my mind the most:
I can't tell you how many people have suggested to us, 'Oh, you just need to digitize all that stuff down in the basement and you'll be all right,' Ms. Wainwright said. 'They have no idea how much effort that requires.'
It often does feel that people outside of the library/information/digitization fields simply cannot wrap their minds around what a giant initiative digitization has become. They see it as an end answer as oppose to what it really is: the beginning of a whole new set of questions and problems. Even large institutions such as the National Archives are having a hard time digitizing their collections. This is disheartening to those tiny institutions with collections that are quickly being lost. The article mentioned how large companies like IBM and Google are helping to fund digitization initiatives but I feel as if this can be a slippery slope. Materials may appear to be becoming more accessible with little to no cost to an institution but we all know that nothing is free these days. The cost often comes from the company holding copyright over the digital versions of your copies or having their own bottom line at heart such as how IBM only takes on projects that will directly help IBM showcase their newest technologies.

I have chosen to look into the digitization strategies of Yale University and the British Library.

The British Library:

GOAL - All of the British Library’s digital collections will reside in a secure digital repository by the year 2016

MAIN STRATEGIES - normalization, migration on request, emulation, and desiccation.
Apply best practice from the print world where it is applicable for the preservation of digital materials. Multiple copies (3) in different physical locations and utilizing backups and integrity checking to ensure that no data is lost due to media decay, or catastrophe.
PREVENTATIVE MEASURES - work with the developers of application software to improve the longevity of proprietary file formats

LONG TERM STRATEGIES - Recording metadata about each digital object and allocating unique, persistent identifiers.

Many of the suggestions were very broad as in "Perform preservation activities with appropriate timeliness" and "use existing tools where they are fit for purpose". Yet at the same time it is important to officially state that you are indeed planning to follow obvious best practices. It serves as reminder to yourself of the basics that might be taken for granted or forgotten. It was interesting to me that plan on applying the best practices from the print world to the preservation of digital objects. It makes me wonder exactly what they mean by this statement.

Yale University:

GOAL - The digital resources are subject to the same criteria for selection and preservation as other resources in the Yale Libraries. Decisions are made by curators and experts on the content of the materials in addition to those dealing in preservation and information technology.
MAIN STRATEGIES - To recognize that preservation strategies and actions for materials vary depending on the content types, formats, and resources and to act accordingly. To thoroughly understand the digital life cycle of each object.
STORAGE: Purchase large quantities of digital storage and provide personnel to manage the space.

I liked that the content of the materials is also taken into account. Also, they stated that they understood that the storage management would take a considerable amount of time, energy, and money to maintain but they are willing to do this work. Metadata was discussed as being an integral part of the collection management as well.

Both institutions covered the main best practices of digital preservation but neither really put forth any new and innovative ideas on the subject. The British Library made some statements that led me to believe that they were thinking towards the future but did not expand on the matter. However, they were both realistic in understanding how much effort and money it would actually take to realize their efforts.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

This past Monday and Tuesday I attending a program called A Race Against Time: Preserving Our Audiovisual Media. The program was held at the HRC in conjunction with the Conservation Center for Art and Historic Artifacts. Many of the speakers gave an overview of what I already knew from my classwork. It appeared that the symposium was held for preservation administrators that were in charge of smaller AV collections that they had little knowledge of. I did gain some insight into the physical storage of electronic media. My favorite speaker was George Blood. He was very charismatic and knowledgeable on the subject of audio recordings. He had anticipated having some 'show and tell' objects for us to handle but unfortunately his baggage did not make it to Austin with him. This was a bit dissappointing as it is always fun to actually handle the meadia you are learning about. The second day was less exciting because it dealt with funding opportunites. I was able to meet with students from the school of information that also liked working with audio visual materials and I feel that this was of great benefit to me because I now know who to ask with questions on certain materials. I am glad I was able to attened this symposium because it helped me to gain a better understanding of the field that I am in.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

I feel that while in school or at a very wealthy institution it is easy to assume and expect that all institutions follow the same guidelines or best practices when it comes to how materials are so different than they use to be and are received in higher quantities. The statistical information in the Greene/Meissner article is quite telling. It appears that many libraries or archives are doing just what they can to get by but much of the current library literature expresses that the only practices are best practices. Very rarely to we see a gradient scale of what should be the bare minimum in way of conservation, acquisition policies, description, and user access. As the article points out, the sheer number of materials coming into these collections is staggering and archives are forced to either keep with a basic level of service for all the materials (both those already in the collection and those coming in) or carefully position the current materials within the confines of the collection and let the incoming materials wait sometimes in a perpetual limbo. This waiting is disastrous for many time sensitive materials such as those from audio/visual collections. The research within the article sometimes caused me to feel a bit hopeless about the situation. This is probably the same feeling that many students have once they start work at their first institution.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Disaster Preparedness  

-Look through the websites of preservation and conservation units in museums
and find out if they have a disaster preparedness plan in place. Choose two,
identify their main characteristics and compare them.

I chose to look at the disaster preparedness of the conservation department at the National Archives and Cornell University.

Both institutions are first and foremost concerned with the safety of the employees before any of the collection materials although the National Archives had step by step actions to take in cases of:

Severe Storms
Hurricane Warning
Tornado Warning
Winter Storm
Utility Failure
Hazardous Material Accident
Civil Disorder and Demonstrations
Bomb Threat and Checklist
Major Transportation Accident
The Cornell site simply stated to seek other sources from administrators for such instructions. The National Archives disaster preparedness plan was also very thorough in explaining how certain disasters such as water and fire can affect the different types of materials within the archive, what to do before trying to salvage items and what to do within the weeks follow salvage to prevent further repercussions of the disaster from occurring. There isn't any mention of exactly what to do first in the event of a disaster other than to save personnel then begin disaster treatment of material. There are several mentions of disaster preparedness drills for both the staff evacuations as well as scenarios involving materials. The Cornell plan is not as involved but it allows for each head of each library, museum or collection to tailor the plan to their own needs. For example, the disaster preparedness plan states:

Each department, unit or library should identify those parts of library
collections which must be protected or salvaged first after an emergency. On the
attached form, list, in order of priority, those library materials, records and collections which should be salvaged first. Along with this priority list, attach a floor plan indicated locations of fire extinguishers, alarms, etc. It is best to list in detail what the collection priorities are in an appendix. Establishing priorities within collections is equally important (e.g. call numbers of specific items within collections). Consider the following points in establishing priorities What is the monetary and intrinsic value of the collection as a whole or its individual items? How fragile is the material? (e.g. brittle, unbound issues of serial, etc.) How vulnerable is the material to damage from a disaster? (e.g. location, under pipes, near water Is the material replaceable? Can the majority of items be replaced in the same or a different format, such as microfilm? What are the economics of replacing items? Which materials can be replaced more economically than they can be salvaged? The estimated average replacement of a monograph is currently $75.00. What are the costs of de-accessioning materials? What materials can be discarded instead of salvaged? What are the legal requirements, if any, for retention of documents/material? Why is preservation of this material critical? The relative importance of collections, to university programs. In addition to the collections, what other items are valuable (e.g. catalog, shelflist, computer terminals.)
( word doc.)

I like the idea of obtaining input from those who know most about particular collections. This way a little bit of everything can be saved first. The plan seems to have enough structure in it to guide the staff but enough flexibility to be helpful to everyone.

Overall I would say that the National Archives disaster preparedness relies on hands on drills of procedures while Cornell has a more traditional preparedness manuals. Both realize that human life is more important than material objects. The National Archives appears to deal with materials that are in more need of rescue or are in more immediate danger while Cornell relies on curators/conservators to list what is most important and irreplaceable.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Initial Impressions of the First On-Site Visit

  • The collection is located in a storage room at the Blanton along with other pieces of art and any soon to be exhibited collections. This space was a little on the warm side. The space only accessible through the use of an access card locked door. A staff member was stationed outside the door at all times for extra security.
  • ALL copies (originals and exhibit copies) of each digital art work were kept in the same metal cabinet space.
  • What was being kept in the cabinet were the only copies. There are no digital files located on any computer or server space.
  • The DVDs and tapes are arranged in a plastic tray that is labeled with each artists name.
  • There is little to no metadata associated with each piece. Much of the metadata present is what was given to the Blanton by the artists. Metadata included: run time, b&w or color, name of work, artist name
  • One portion of the collection resides within a wooden box that the artist made for his art work.
  • Some of the artists are very particular about what happens with their works.
  • Some files were stored on a external drive that is meant to hook up to a projector.
  • My contact had a number of questions about the collection including:
  1. the use of gold DVDs
  2. how to preserve the information on the external drive
  3. metadata issues
  4. how to physically label each DVD
  5. how to store the DVDs
Currently the collection appears to be in good physical condition. The main issues lie with making sure the digital files make it through technological changes in hardware, software, and file formats. Hopefully I will be able to take a look at the actual digital files during my next visit.

Letter of Compromise

Sue Ellen Jeffers, Registrar
Blanton Museum of Art
The University of Texas at Austin
1 University Station D1303
Austin, TX 78712
(512) 471-9203

Dear Ms. Jeffers,

I, Cassandra Gallegos, intend to conduct a preservation assessment of the digital art collection at the Blanton Museum of Art. The main objective of my assessment will be to aid in the long term preservation of this collection through a series of preservation recommendations delivered to you in the form of a written report at the end of the Spring 2009 school semester. The recommendations will include but will not be limited to:
  • Storage media recommendations
  • Environmental recommendations
  • The long term risks associated with each format within the collection with special attention paid to the dangers of changing technology and migration issues upon digital files.
  • Recommendations on how to best handle these long term risks
  • Metadata recommendations
  • File format recommendations
  • Estimated cost of preservation recommendations
Any additional recommendations will aim to not only preserve the life of the materials (both analog and digital formats) but also to preserve the artistic authenticity intended by each artist.

Activities performed during this assessment may include:
  • Accessing the collection both physically and through appropriate technological avenues.
  • Accessing the collection throughout the semester via monitored appointments.
I look forward to working with you and I hope that my preservation report will make a difference in the life of the collection!

Cassandra Gallegos

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Assignment #1

Recent Trends in Book Conservation and Library Collections Care
Maria Fredericks
Journal of the American Institute for Conservation Vol. 31, No. 1, Conservation of Sacred Objects and Other Papers from the General Session of the 19th Annual Meeting of the American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works. Albuquerque, New Mexico, June 3-8, 1991 (Spring, 1992), pp. 95-101
Published by: The American Institute for Conservation of Historic & Artistic Works
Stable URL:

The Maria Fredericks article I chose to review explores how preservation and conservation philosophies are shaped not by our own ideals but by outside forces that often compromise our work. These outside sources include the growing number of collection materials in need of care and the lack of funding available. The Cloonan article appears to be in favor of allowing preservation work to become "... a way of seeing and thinking about the world" despite these outside forces. The forming schism in philosophies is only intensified with the state of our economy. Library budgets are becoming tighter than ever even as public usage of library collections increase. More libraries and archives are beginning to see an increase in requests for access to fragile collections. Conservators understand that these access requests could lead to further deterioration of collections so their preservation philosophy must shift in a way that appears to act against the idea that the conservation and preservation fields exist to save items of cultural significance so that they may be accessed by future generations. Instead of simply denying access, digitization programs have been created in an effort to provide access to materials without causing harm to them. However it appears that the pendulum has swung too far in the direction of technology as a cure all because many institutions have gotten rid of their preservation programs entirely and replaced them with digitization departments. Cloonan urges that "this is shortsighted, narrow-minded, and, ultimately, counterproductive" to the goals of preservation but Fredericks would argue that the surge in digitization is the best way we know how to provide access AND increase the longevity of materials.

Fredericks concludes that it is hard to work against using technology as our only preservation tool because national institutions prefer digitization reformatting as a preservation technique. They see it as the best and cheapest way to benefit governmental constituents. In class we briefly discussed how preservation philosophies differed when considering public, private, and governmental institutions. Cloonan warns that digitization and born digital artifacts often come with their own set of problems that could compromise the health and longevity of cultural artifacts. According to Fredericks, technical solutions are becoming more prevalent among preservation administrators within the government at the highest levels. The Commission on Preservation and Access has concerned itself only with preserving the information of documents and are constantly searching for new technologies to make the information available as oppose to how to preserve the original documents.

Both articles make it clear that preservation administrators are close to losing sight of why we do what we do and that it is easy to see technology as the answer to all of our problems. They respects that original artifacts need to be kept safe but that new technologies can be a part of this safety plan. Furthermore both Fredericks and Cloonan instruct preservation administrators to learn to make technology work for them in pursuit of their preservation philosophy but also to see the problems that are being created and work together to solve them accordingly.