Jeremy Floyd 2015-10-06 06:01:29
Hosting and Evaluating the Impact of a Preservation Workshop at Two Universities A lot can happen between first proposing a poster session for the SAA Annual Meeting and presenting it at the conference. In my case, this included a 2,500-mile relocation across the country and a change in roles and institutions. However, the underlying passion for my Professional Poster Presentation, “Evaluating Outreach Impact of a Preservation Workshop at Two Academic Institutions,” remained. As a processing archivist at Buffalo State College, I eagerly sought ways to better connect with the wider college and raise awareness of the role archives can play and the expertise that archivists provide. Now, as a metadata librarian at the University of Nevada, Reno, I continue to spread the message about archives across the university. Within both academic communities is a sea of potential researchers, donors, allies, and advocates for archives, and there is always work to be done to capitalize on these potential relationships that exist within our own institutions. Connecting with Faculty and Staff In seeking ways to connect with these audiences, I searched for topics that the general public could relate to. A challenge everyone faces—and that archivists have specialized training to address—is organizing and preserving documents and media, in both physical and digital form. I then developed a two-hour workshop, “Preservation Basics for the Personal Archive,” as a way to distill preservation methods and present them to a general audience. At Buffalo State College, a twoweek series of professional development workshops for faculty and staff, known as Winterim, presented the perfect opportunity to reach out beyond the library and archive. Twelve participants— an equal mix of faculty and staff—attended the workshop. My presentation began with an overview of storage containers for materials and environmental factors and conditions that effect preservation. Then I outlined care for paper and photographic materials, before explaining preservation issues associated with audio and video time-based media. In the second half of the workshop, I shifted the focus to care of digitized and borndigital materials. I stressed the importance of regular maintenance, as well as concepts of file format obsolescence and media degradation. I relied heavily on the Library of Congress’s Personal Digital Archiving day kit for developing this workshop, and their handouts and videos complimented the information I presented. Assessing the Impact In developing this workshop, it was also important to me to assess its impact to improve future iterations. Following the event, I provided the attendees with a short, eight-question survey to assess the participants’ knowledge gained, as well as their familiarity with the college archive and archives in general. Overall participants felt better prepared to care for their personal archives and felt that they could directly use the information presented in the workshop to preserve their individual and family collections. While the majority of participants were initially interested in information on preserving paper and photographic materials, all respondents felt that the digital preservation information better prepared them to maintain their digital objects as well as their physical collections. In addition to the survey, I followed up with participants by email two months later to determine if the workshop had lasting effects on their preparedness for preserving their personal archives, as well as their engagement with the college archive itself. Of the twelve participants, four responded that they were undertaking proactive steps toward preserving and digitizing personal collections. One respondent was actively seeking to donate his family papers to a relevant archive. And two workshop participants who had not previously utilized the college archive had returned as researchers following the workshop. What’s Ahead Plans to conduct this workshop multiple times at Buffalo State were disrupted by my acceptance of a position as metadata librarian at the University of Nevada, Reno, in early 2015. However, this was an opportunity to take what I had learned about using outreach activities as advocacy for archives and special collections and adapt them to a new institution. Planned for the upcoming year are two such outreach opportunities: a second personal archiving workshop, planned with Digital Initiatives Librarian Amy Hunsaker, as well as a Wikipedia edit-a-thon, using special collections materials to enhance articles on Nevada-specific topics. I plan to follow the impact of these activities closely to demonstrate that such outreach can have a significant role in creating allies and advocates for libraries and archives across the institution and in the wider community. This information was originally presented during the Professional Poster Presentations at ARCHIVES 2015.
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