Have you thought about where your home videos will be in five years? What about 500? Well, museums are concerned about keeping memories too.
The Baranov Museum’s executive director, Tiffany Brunson, says it’s important to make sure the museum’s collection is always going to be accessible into the future, regardless of changing file types and evolving programs.
She says it’s really easy to care for a physical photograph. You just put it in a folder.
“And it won’t go anywhere, it won’t get corrupted. For a digital file, that all has the possibility of happening,” says Brunson. “You could be using a proprietary software that the company then changes and all of sudden you can’t access your files anymore. So, these are equally as valuable as our physical collections. It’s part of caring for the history of Kodiak. In the many ways that we’re accepting objects related to Kodiak history, we need to know how to care for them.”
The museum’s intern from the University of Missouri St. Louis, Hannah Streicher, is helping them to do that.
She’s been writing a digital collections management plan for the Baranov and, Thursday night, will share her techniques with the public. She’ll give a talk about preserving videos, photos, audio files, and documents. Streicher says one of the keys, as Brunson mentioned, is to avoid proprietary file formats. Here’s an example.
“If you are creating something in Microsoft Word and it’s saved as a docx file, then that can only be opened in that version of Microsoft word, and they’ve already gone through several file formats. Before that it was just a doc file,” says Streicher. “So, saving something as an rtf is a better solution than saving something as a docx.”
Backing up your files is a good idea. Streicher says making one copy is a start, but making two copies is better.
“Every time you open a file, you change the data that’s associated with it,” she says. “Every time you’re opening it, you’re risking corruption, you’re risking exposing that file to a virus or all sorts of things, so having those multiple copies helps to mitigate some of that risk, since if you can’t open one copy, then in theory you can open another copy.”
She says a couple of the backup methods you could use are external hard drives or online storage. You can learn more and bring your own questions to the lecture at the Baranov Museum tomorrow at 7 p.m.