INF520 Assessment 1A Press Release

Sydney Shines Spotlight on Local History Preservation Issues for History Week

Key issues regarding the collection and preservation of local historical artefacts will be addressed at public events sponsored by the NSW History Council throughout History  Week 2019: 31 August – 6 September.

Sydney, NSW: Michèle Cloonan[1] states “We can preserve some things some of the time, but not everything all of the time;…our notions of preservation must evolve to accommodate the imperatives of all our clientele.” Join local history experts at History Week events to find out about how the issues and challenges of preserving our local history affect you. Four key topics – significance, digital preservation, risk management, and ethics – will be explored through the events sponsored by the History Council of NSW. Further details about content are given below, times and locations can be found on the website.

  1. Personal Artefacts Roadshow

Have you ever wondered how the professionals decide what is worth collecting and preserving? Hear from the experts about how they assess significance – a leading factor in choosing which items to acquire and maintain – using examples from their institutions’ collections and artefacts from select audience members. Some considerations to be discussed include:

  • Value of the item:
    • Historical (personal, local, regional, national, or global);
    • Artistic and aesthetic;
    • Social and spiritual;
    • Scientific or research potential
  • Comparative value:
    • Provenance – can ownership and the journey of the item from its origin to now be proven and documented?
    • Rarity or representativeness;
    • Condition or completeness – is the item or collection complete? Is its condition such that it will be able to be preserved and maintained with reasonable expenditure of time, effort and money?
    • Interpretive capacity – can the item enhance our ability to document or interpret our local history or context?

Do you think you hold an item worthy of being in a local history collection? Bring along your personal artefact and get started with your own significance assessment.

For more details see: http://www.historyweek.org/artefacts-roadshow-info.

  1. The Myth of the Undying Digital – Challenges in Digital Preservation

Contemporary folk wisdom warns against posting potentially embarrassing material on social media because “once something is on the internet, it is there forever”. However, even though it may be difficult to track down and delete digital data once it has been released on the internet, digital data actually has a shorter “shelf-life” than many traditional mediums. Learn from the experts about the challenges of preserving digital content, including:

  • Bit rot and data corruption – how to check, maintain and repair files to prevent data loss;
  • Obsolescence, proprietary vs non-proprietary formats and format shifting – how to ensure that digital data can still be accessed now and into the future;
  • Planning for preservation from the time of creation – what steps can be taken to maximise longevity of digital data.
  • Avoiding a digital data “black spot” in the historical record through collection, curation, and preservation of digital “ephemera” and archiving of government websites.

For more information: http://www.historyweek.org/digital-myths

  1. Be Prepared – Not Just a Scouting Motto

Responsible management and preservation of local history collections requires being prepared to control the risk of harm to the collection. Up to 85% of effective disaster recovery lies in preparation before the event. Library and museum staff will discuss how to identify risk factors and plan for disaster scenarios. Pick up some tips for ways to safeguard your precious items.

Identifying Risks:

  • Storage environment (water, pests, air, temperature);
  • Access interactions (damage from people, machines, environmental concerns);
  • One-of-a-kind items (is there any way to create a backup in collaboration with another site?)

Planning for Disaster:

  • Prevention: controlling the storage environment and maintaining up to date copies in other sites can help protect from loss before disaster happens.
  • Preparedness: set priorities, create procedures and practice regularly.
  • Response: What to do during the disaster.
  • Recovery: What can you do after an event to preserve the items that have survived?

Details available at: http://www.historyweek.org/be-prepared

  1. Doing Things Right and Doing the Right Thing

Collecting and preserving historical artefacts raises a variety of ethical issues, to be covered in a series of “lightning talks” by local history experts followed by a public Q&A session.

Topics include:

  • Cultural considerations:
    • Repatriation of secret and sacred objects to local Aboriginal people;
    • Respectful handling of artefacts from cultural groups with a history of residence in the local area.
  • Legal considerations, such as:
    • Lawfully obtaining items;
    • Observing copyright and other relevant legislation.
  • Issues of integrity and authority, such as:
    • Maintaining the original context and condition of resources as far as possible, to provide authentic primary resources;
    • Resisting pressures towards censorship. Treading the fine line between respectful inclusion and representation of various points of view and censorship of material due to potential for offense or presentation of unpopular viewpoints.
  • Professional conduct:
    • Knowing and using up to date best practices in preservation and conservation;
    • Collaboration to ensure that the public interest is served by a targeted, curated collection rather than competition amongst organisations for particular items.

More details available at: http://www.historyweek.org/ethical-panel

[1] Pp. 145 -146 from:

Cloonan, M. (2005). The paradox of preservation. Library Trends, 56(1), 133 – 147. Retrieved via ProQuest.

NOTE: Website references and events in this press release are fictional.

This section of the assessment task only received 14/20 marks or 70%/Credit. Thankfully the rest of the sections pulled the overall mark up.

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