Personal Preservation is featured this month in the cultural heritage and literacy doin’s.  Get some background with  Projects | At Your Library – Preservation or the Library of Congress’ Personal Archiving site to learn all about it!

Why personal preservation?  Families can use this site and its links to learn more about ways to ignite ideas and wonder about generational stories, memories, artifacts and photos.  Take away one simple idea or conversation starter and give it a try.  Over time see where that one little idea or step may lead and go from there!

America’s Young Archivists VIA @yourlibrary Preservation For Kids: http://www.atyourlibrary.org/passiton/preservation-projects-kids

This video profiles an eight-grade class from the James Moran school in Wallingford, CT, the website-collection choices the students made and their resulting awareness of how websites require active management to ensure their ongoing accessibility.

Teaching younger family members to begin to curate digital and traditional objects that tell your family story  is more important now than ever because so much of this content generated today and tomorrow is and will be digital and ephemeral.  Impermanent.  That’s ok, much of it probably won’t need archiving, but what about the stuff that should be (in this case, your family/personal digital materials)?

Another good reason to really bring this into your family culture is that there is such diversity of media today that older family members may not readily be seeing the stream of photos and videos or notes etc if they are not using computers or social media.  Show them that you have been collecting digitally and everyone can help decide what should get preserved on a more permanent basis (photo enlargements, personal story books, etc.).  Not everyone likes to see these thing on a screen, but everyone has something to add to the story.

Curate?? Kids?? Well maybe you can substitute some other word for it but by all means don’t say – “clean out”!   Yes – when you look at stuff together as you clean or organize or spruce up the clutter, teach yourselves to take a few seconds to determine how the object in hand may be symbolic or valuable to the fabric of your activities and lives together over time.  9 times out of 10, not a keeper, depending on where you are decluttering, but then again, if you don’t think about it and teach them to think about it, who will?

It’s my belief that keeping long loved special volumes of books, photos and manuscripts will increase in importance as more and more families transition to doing more daily things via mobile phone and tablets. For help with preservation of these fragile older materials, read about Personal Archiving.

Awareness is at least the first rung on this ladder. What do you want your great grandchildren to have to hold in their hands to know you by?  In addition to photos, letters and articles, I will have an amazing ice cream scoop with a wooden handle and special metal mechanism that works like no other scoop in the world.  This was from my great grandfather’s grocery store in Fall River, Mass.

So, maybe you aren’t up for any personal preservation family projects just this week or month.  If so, do make time to take your fam to a special GLAM (gallery, library, archive or museum) and think about the hows, whys and whats that they archive or curate.  What is exhibiting on site?  What gets represented digitally (online)? Are these objects only from one museum’s collection or are they pulling in items from related topics and other institutions?  Are the digital collections open to community/social collaboration tagging?  See anything there that you want to add your voice to?  How are exhibits, archives and other collections adapting to shifting preservation formats (e.g. – physical object, digitization of the object, an object that was born digital, an object that becomes something else via its community collaboration.

This week I read of two fascinating examples of  institutions and how they apply new ways to pull all of these considerations together as they preserve the historic and cultural records of their missions.  The nature of curation, archives, formats and collaboration are changing the way we preserve, record access and experience our cultural and academic heritage.  Amazing!

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