The second session was on Technological Solutions to Archival Issues.
Shawn Rounds of the Minnesota Historical Society talked about preserving the records of the E-Legislature, the electronic records of the Minnesota Legislature. She explained that when pursuing a project, collaboration and partnerships were necessary for sharing responsibilities, external skills, and infrastructure and that it was crucial to have a business plan which would show the value of the project to potential partners. She also said that projects needed to be built on practical business cases like helping with disaster recovery or enhanced access. Ms. Rounds recommended using standards for digital storage and making sure there were established routine processes as part of the work flow. It is also necessary to understand users’ needs and expectations and to justify why funding should be received.
Jason Roy from the U of M’s Digital Conservancy
talked about capturing University Web sites for preservation through the U of M’s institutional repository program. The goal of this project is to create access to digital scholarly and administrative works of U of M staff, departments, faculty, and centers. Mr. Roy spoke on how they were working to do this, the issues they encountered, and their need to pursue ongoing stewardship of online resources. He also spoke of trying to meet the needs of younger researchers as they transition through life by keeping up with and ahead of technological advances.
Heather Lawton of Minneapolis Public Library’s Special Collections
talked about using digital preservation for access when coping with a small staff. In 2003 when Minneapolis faced large budget cuts it meant a smaller staff and shorter hours and this was affecting researchers’ ability to use Minneapolis’ Special Collections. As the lone staff person in Special Collections (there had been 7), Ms. Lawton decided she needed to digitize in order to create better access. One project she has worked on is with the Minneapolis Department of Inspections. Both were interested in digitizing building permit cards and were able to work together to make this happen. They should be online in 2008. Minneapolis has also made some of its more popular photos and pre 1923 maps and plat books available through the Minnesota Digital Library (http://www.mndigital.org/). In the future Ms. Lawton will look at digitizing yearbooks in the public domain and pre 1923 city directories. She feels that digitization is becoming a core part of archives’ work. Ms. Lawton also stressed that it is important for archival collections to talk with each other so that there isn’t any duplication of digitization efforts. It was discussed that the Minnesota Digital Library is looking at how to create some sort of clearinghouse that would allow for this to happen.