My Own Personal LOCKSS

One of the primary tools in the area of digital preservation is LOCKSS, which stands for “Lots of Copies Keeps Stuff Safe.”  It works similarly to a mirror system: your library saves whatever it wants to save to a computer, and that data is backed up on computers all over the world, on the computers of other participating instititutions.  If there is any difference, the LOCKSS software can repair any difference.

Without really realizing, I’ve been doing the same thing. I’ve been using Dropbox on my laptop and on my desktop.  I’ve been saving all of my job stuff, class stuff, and masters paper stuff in my Dropbox folder; this is saved on my local computer, to the Dropbox servers, and then to my desktop when I turn that on.  Its a good measure for personal data backups, but I don’t know if the LOCKSS program can be sustainable over the long term.  To be a good participant in the system, you would need enough server space for all of your own data, and then a massive amount of extra space to provide backups for other insitutions.  The point of having the data at multiple places is in case of a regional disaster, like an earthquake or hurricane.  But will institutions be willing to give up this much server space?  We shall see.

Last permanent name

The name of this blog, “Last Temporary Name,” was a play on the fact that I could never decide on what to name this blog.  It didn’t help that I didn’t have a focus for the blog, so a title wouldn’t really be forthcoming.  Now that I am in library school, attempting to become an archivist, my blog has taken a turn towards archival issues, when I decide to post.  Therefore, I am going to give it an archival name.  This will be the last time I change the name of my blog, I promise.

The new name is going to be “Among Other Items”, which is a saying that we use here at UNC in our finding aids to describe things that aren’t important enough to make it up to the series level scopecontent note or the collection level scopecontent note.  But that’s it. Now I’m stuck with this name for a long time, because I’m not allowing myself to change it again.

Under construction

As you may be able to tell, my blog theme now looks very very basic.  Well, for all intents and purposes, it doesn’t have a theme right now.  I’m a compulsive tinkerer, and so I’ve decided that I’m not happy with any of the themes that are currently out there.  So, in order to have some fun, have some more control, and to learn some more, I’m going to create my own theme, based off of the WordPress Default theme.  So, hopefully, this will start to look better as I continue to learn and write more.

(I wanted to have one of those animated .gifs of an under construction sign with a guy digging, but I felt that was a little too 1996.)

More Product, Less Process

I was in my Preservation class last week, and we were talking about conservation; we had just visited the Preservation lab in Davis Library, and had talked about how to conserve general library materials.  When we returned to the classroom, we started talking about conservation issues.  We started talking about one bibliographer who was against any conservation measures; basically what he wants is for the book to naturally wear out through the course of its use.  Apparently, any conservation measures prevent him from being able to do his research.

While talking about this person’s views, a member of my class said something to the effect of”Isn’t that the same as More Product, Less Process? Materials should just be used up without any preservation or conservation done on them.”  A friend of mine and I immediately said “No,” but the conservation moved on.

The point of More Product, Less Process is not that materials should never have work done on them if they are in danger of being damaged.  We actually had a good example of the MPLP mindset when we visited the preservation lab earlier that evening.  The library staff used to take all new paperback books that they received and put library binding covers on them.  Library binding covers are those solid color hardbacks that you often see in libraries.  However, the preservation department recently changed their thinking on this.  Instead of automatically binding every paperback book, they now put these paperbacks on the shelves and wait until there are signs that the book is being used before they bind it.  If a book is not being used, it doesn’t need to be bound; its just a waste of money, staff time, and resources.

The same principles come through in archives.  While we know some collections will get a lot of use and therefore process them more intensely, not every collection is like that.  And furthermore, not every part of a collection is going to the get same amount use.  To just blanket process every collection at a predetermined level, whether that level be intensive or light, is foolhardy.  Archivists should be looking at each collection and determining the correct level of processing for each part of that collection.  Things taken into account are the expected amount of use, how much time the staff has, how “important” the collection is, and other things.  But, if after it is processed, it gets more use, we can always go back and reprocess it.  At UNC, the Technical Services and R&I staff work together closely; if the R&I staff finds that a collection needs more processing, the Technical Services staff can go back and reprocess it to suit the use.