Digital Archives Specialist Supports Born-Digital Initiatives

Valerie Prilop, Digital Collections Librarian at the UH Libraries Special Collections, earned a DAS Certificate from the Society of American Archivists.

Valerie Prilop is one of 33 new Digital Archives Specialists (DAS).

Prilop, digital collections librarian at the University of Houston Libraries Special Collections, earned a DAS Certificate from the Society of American Archivists (SAA) after completion of coursework on the theories, problems and solutions in the management of born-digital records.

The DAS curriculum provides participants with the skills and knowledge necessary to address issues in the appraisal, preservation and access of materials originally created in digital format.

Although the management of born-digital materials in academic and research libraries is still largely nascent, it has become an urgent concern for institutional repositories, such as UH Special Collections, which are receiving more and more archival items in digital format.

Born-digital archival materials have a unique set of preservation and access issues. Digital records are fragile and will degrade much more quickly than paper documents, which are stored in climate-controlled stacks within acid-free containers and can be preserved for hundreds of years. “You could discover a file drawer of 75-year-old paper, and in a lot of instances, you can still read the content,” Prilop said.

The same isn’t true for digital files. “Time is of the essence when dealing with born-digital materials,” Prilop noted. The evolution of technology dictates ongoing software and hardware changes, and access to digital files on older versions of technology, such as a floppy disk or zip disk, could be lost to the ages without expeditious archival processing.

Prilop is developing a comprehensive survey of UH Special Collections audio/visual and digital materials, which will inform a future processing plan for those materials. Other ongoing born-digital efforts at UH Libraries include the efficient accessioning and storage process developed for digital University Archives material; and provision of reading room access to born-digital materials in Special Collections.

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Posted on February 17th, 2014 by Esmeralda Fisher and filed under Announcements | Comments Off on Digital Archives Specialist Supports Born-Digital Initiatives