I'm writing out my final report on the consulting project and reflecting on the incredible experience I've had over the past few months. The preservation association deserves credit for recognizing the need to archive this important collection for future access and research. I've been impressed to see how large the collection turned out to be and the variety of media that are presented among its records. The collection contains numerous opportunities for research, exhibits, and other projects that will support the work of the association.
Even though I've now worked in public history related positions for over five years, this project has demonstrated an even greater link between archives and outreach. The processing of this collection has revealed so many intriguing stories of events and people which contextualizes the historical significant of the Hamilton Willard Shafer Farm. I'm looking forward to presenting some of my favorite finds in an exhibit walk at the end of the month.
I also appreciate the opportunity to understand how to apply information governance principles spanning the entire records spectrum to a smaller, non-profit environment. This experience has demonstrated the need to set realistic goals and milestones. However, I've also learned that these goals are scalable and can be achieved through various means at various levels to ensure that information assets are safe, preserved, and accessible.
Throughout the past few months, I've worked with documents and objects that are over a century old and I've also processed digital records that are barely a year old. Each class of information asset has presented its own challenge, but this project has also shown me the interrelations between them and how collectively they support the organization. Managing this project and ensuring that all of the outcomes were met has been challenging but highly rewarding.
Thank you for following this blog and the progress that we've made with the Shafer/Motherway Collection!
An important component of my project outside of the Shafer/Motherway project was to develop a plan for properly archiving the born-digital records that are being created now as the Burkittsville Preservation Association carries on their day-to-day activities. These records include administrative groups such as the association's official minutes as well as a growing photograph collection documenting progress and activities at the Hamilton Willard Shafer Farm.
At the present, the born digital records total 2 GB of files, predominantly JPG image files. There are also a few video files that are stored among the various photographs. In analyzing this data, I found that the file formats are mostly consistent and are recent enough that their native format is also in conformity with recommended preservation formats. Some of the photograph files are also stored in RAW format which could be migrated to an archival TIFF quality file.
I am recommending that the organization adopt the use of a Google Drive to store these records. Since these records are in an active use stage and need to be accessed on a regular basis, the use of a Google Drive to which access can be given in varying levels will fulfill the needs of the association. The drive also provides a central records storage place that each member of the association can access to upload their files. This will prevent the current activity of storing them on individual cameras, computers, or flash drives. I also recommended creating a backup of these files on an external hard drive that will be stored with the archival collections. A secondary backup would also be advisable and stored in a different geographic location.
The association can utilize Google Drive at this stage because the records they are creating do not pose any serious security risks. Future planning should consider the purchase of a physical or cloud server space where a preservation program could be used to scan all of the files, generate fixities, and perform regular checks for the integrity of the records.
In reviewing these materials, I found images that reflect the progress that we've made throughout the past 4 months. For instance, the below image of the attic shows the "before" scene. Many of the items that became a part of our archival Shafer/Motherway Collection were recovered from this space!
Jody Brumage is a graduate student in San Jose State University's Masters of Archives and Records Administration program. This project is fulfilling the MARA 295 course requirements for an Organizational Consultation Project.