University Libraries at the forefront of digital preservation
A stack of photographic prints saved in a shoe box is probably more likely to withstand the test of time than your digital photos--unless you take action quickly to remove them from the device you used to take them.
A Metropolitan Sewer District truck is parked in flood water on Winnrose Way in the western part of the city. (Winnrose Way, Louisville, Kentucky, August 4, 2009 flood, August 2009 Flood Collection, University of Louisville Archives and Records Center, Lo
That is why University of Louisville Libraries put out its call for the public to submit digital photos and video of the Aug. 4, 2009, flood -- even before clean up had really begun.
"Many of us are always carrying a device that can take pictures or even video, often on our cell phones, so we can all become 'citizen photojournalists'," said digital initiatives librarian Rachel Howard.
Many citizen photojournalists documented the rising water and flooded landscape when several inches of rain fell in a short time in parts of Louisville last year causing a flash flood that will be remembered as one of the worst in the city's history.
"We wanted to make sure this documentation would be preserved for posterity," Howard said.
"It is of enduring interest to those of us who lived through it and will be of interest to future researchers."
In response to Howard's call for donations, University Libraries received 1228 digital images and 14 digital videos from its request. Some of those now are available online as part of University Libraries' Digital Collections.
Belknap Campus, which was hard hit by the flooding, and the School of Public Health and Information Sciences at the Health Sciences Center, are well represented by submissions from faculty, staff and students.
But the flood collection also has images from people with no UofL affiliation; represented areas include the Chickasaw and Beechmont neighborhoods and points west of Belknap Campus.
University Libraries still will accept digital photos and video related to the flood. Not everything will be added to the digital collections site, but everything will be preserved, Howard said.
The images are being stored in the University Archives and Records Center and preserved through a distributed system that will allow access if UofL's server ever fails, she said. Back-up copies will be available at one of the university's partner institutions in the MetaArchive Cooperative. UofL also has entered into a partnership with Archive-It, a service of the Internet Archive, to preserve Web-based content relating to the flash flood.
The August 2009 Flood collection is only one of four new digital collections presented via the University Libraries' website.
Other new digital collections are soldiers and civilians on the European front in World War I (Andre Jeunet Collection) ; Louisville commercial photographs from the 1930s and 1940s (Royal Photo Co. Collection); and a guest book signed by visitors to the UofL School of Music beginning in 1948 (Dwight Anderson Music Library Collection).