Preservation Week: Think Digital

As Choose Privacy Week winds down, it’s time to start gearing up for Preservation Week, which began yesterday and continues through this Saturday.

ALCTS (the Association for Library Collections and Technical Services) has a map of libraries that are holding Preservation Week events this year and while the official site’s description of this initiative focuses on the internal concerns of preserving library collections, it also offers program ideas for this week and for programs throughout the year.

So what does this have to do with teens? While the official Preservation Week literature and materials focus primarily on preserving physical items, digital preservation is also critically important, and teens are usually our most tech-savvy patrons. You could hold a scrapbooking event this week to help teens preserve the memories they’re creating now or involve them in collecting the oral history of seniors in the community (yeah intergenerational programming!)–or you could teach them about preserving their digital photographs, their music collections, and the videos you’ve made with them during Teen Tech Week.

The basics of digital preservation are:

  • Choose open file formats. These will exist even when companies stop supporting their proprietary formats (like Microsoft Word), so you won’t get locked out of being able to read your own data.
  • Make backups. If your hard drive crashes or your cell phone is lost, you don’t want to lose all of your photographs. One of the ways you can “back up” digital content in some cases is by creating hard copies.
  • Be selective. You don’t need to save every single picture you take, and the longer it’s been since you took those photos, the less likely you are to remember who the people are, where you were, or what you were doing.

So have a scrapbooking party or work on that oral history project. But also take the time to talk to your teens about preserving their digital content, too. They’re creating more and more of it every day and as information professionals, we need to help them find ways to select the important stuff and then preserve it for the years to come.