Diving Into the Unknown: Perspectives on Digital Preservation Barriers and Overcoming Them
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Every day more and more digital files are created, like this submission form. While some of them are undoubtedly ephemeral, many with present or historical value will need to be preserved. This need for digital preservation opens a Pandora's box. Best practices and processes for how we preserve these digital materials are still being determined, and as a profession, digital preservation is so new that our recommended practices haven’t existed long enough to be proven, thus we struggle to establish and standardize across the profession. If not already, digital preservation will be an integral part of our work in the decades to come. The philosophical, practical, and resource barriers facing information professionals will have to be identified and mitigated if we are to succeed. As the need for digital preservation becomes more pressing, it can be difficult to determine the best path forward. Institutions and individuals must tackle technological uncertainties, unfamiliarity with applications or vendors and the services they provide, the daunting task of determining a digital preservation workflow that combines local and shared practice, or simply advocating for a digital preservation program in the first place. When community-driven efforts like the Digital Preservation Network (DPN) fail, the challenge intensifies as some institutions and individuals lose faith in collaborative success. This panel aims to address the difficulties and benefits of collaboration and share their own experiences, exploring how different institutions are going about overcoming these barriers. The panel will discuss how these preservation professionals present their business case to stakeholders and determine the scope of their services. Much of the work TDL has done has focused around solidifying community, education about available tools, finding places like distributed preservation storage where it is sensible to share resources towards common goals, and providing clarity about the options available to its members. Included on this panel are professionals from a diverse variety of institutions – some public, some private, and differing in size. While some digital preservation programs are freshly minted, others have been working on digital preservation for years, and are at more advanced stages. Furthermore, our digital collections are vastly different, with some heavy in analog oral histories converted to digital files, some with born-digital complex documents and others more focused on photographs. Our professionals mirror this diversity, with both new professionals and seasoned archivists. Thus, the approaches and concepts that this panel offers are both complementary and unique, allowing for attendees to leave with a better sense on how to tackle preservation obstacles at their own institution through comparison. The panel discussion will also allow time for discussion from the audience to further broaden the scope of experience in the conversation.