By Rachael Zipperer, Masters Candidate at the University of Texas School of Information
Digital archives can also be a home for materials from community members. Stephen F. Austin State’s Community Collections are a great example of bringing community members into the digital archive. Through this program, the university digitizes community members collections, like family photos or letters, adds the digital copy and appropriate metadata to their digital collection, rehouses the physical materials in archival folders and boxes, and returns the original materials to their owner. While digital collections management software like ContentDM doesn’t provide the same long term digital preservation that a repository like DSpace does, efforts to digitize physical materials and make them available to an online audience still contribute to preservation by creating accessible digital surrogates that might live longer than physical materials.
Other TDL members have done projects following the History Harvest model in which community members donate their materials, volunteers participate in scanning and describing them, and donors are provided with a digital copy. Texas A&M – Corpus Christi recently hosted a History Harvest event to document South Texas history and has plans to host similar events in the future.
To learn more about Rachael’s project and view her exhibit click here.