Access & Preservation Day at RootsTech
Last week, I attended Access and Preservation Day, sponsored by ProQuest and FamilySearch, at RootsTech 2018, the largest genealogical conference in the world. A keynote speech was delivered by Brewster Kahle of the Internet Archive. Additional speakers included Laura Stone (Arizona State Library), Ken Williams (Utah State Archives), Wendy Hanamura (Internet Archive), Hollis Gentry (Smithsonian), Curt Witcher (Allen County Public Library in Indiana), and Stephen Valentine (Family Search). Unfortunately the check-in line was so long that I missed the keynote. Each of the speakers talked about various digitization or preservation projects at their libraries or institutions. The point was made that access drives preservation – researchers need to be able to access unique resources. Digitizing these resources results in them being accessible to and used by more people. Some interesting projects at the Internet Archive, besides the Open Library, include the TV News Archives (since 2009) and the Great 78 Project, a community project for the preservation, research, and discovery of 78rpm records. Hollis Gentry from the Smithsonian spoke about their project to digitize and transcribe records from the “Freedmen’s Bureau,” the Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands. The Freedmen’s Bureau was created after the Civil War in 1865 and was responsible for providing assistance to four million formerly enslaved individuals and hundreds of thousands of impoverished Southern whites. Transcription of the images was done through crowdsourcing using “digital volunteers”. As one of the speakers said, collaboration is key to these valuable projects.