Name/Title: Annalise Berdini, Digital Archivist
Responsibilities: As Digital Archivist, I am responsible for the ongoing management of the University Archives Digital Curation Program. This generally involves evaluating how we acquire, process, and preserve our born-digital records and crafting policy to support those actions. This involves a lot of preservation tool research and testing, communication with other archives programs to inquire about their digital curation workflows, and lots of webinars. I process born-digital collections, as well as analog ones, help manage our growing web archives collections, and assist with reference services.
Recent projects: While we currently have backed-up storage space for our born-digital records, it is not as robust as a dedicated digital preservation system. I’m working with my colleagues to select a system that will provide us with greater control over our born-digital collections in the long term. There is a fairly widespread misconception that digital records are easier to maintain and preserve than paper records — but paper records won’t be unreadable in 15 years because their software isn’t available anymore! With a digital preservation system, we will be able to carefully monitor our files to make sure the data hasn’t changed over time, migrate them to more stable formats, maintain geographically disparate copies for additional security, and encrypt sensitive data. Aside from that, I’m working on helping pare down our processing backlog, and I’m a part of a number of committees working on developing better delivery systems and policies for our digitized materials.
Worked at Mudd since: I started at Mudd in January 2018 — so I’m still pretty new! Before that, I was the first Digital Archivist at University of California, San Diego in Special Collections and Archives. I also worked at UCSD as a Manuscripts/Archives Processor, and before that, I was a project assistant and processor on the 2013-2014 PACSCL/CLIR Hidden Collections Project in Philadelphia.
Why I like my job/archives: Archives are here for people to use them, for people to be able to interact with their own history. Born-digital records are often unstable, or they are easily lost in the deluge of data that people can so quickly generate. As a result, we’re rushing to reckon with the new ways gaps can form in the record. I’m passionate about preventing these gaps from forming and about preparing for what archives will look like in the future. They won’t only be stacks full of boxes – they will be cloud storage, computer servers, and access interfaces. One of my favorite aspects of working on born-digital records is that my work constantly changes and I’m always learning how to use new tools and skill sets. No one has all of the right answers yet. It’s exciting to be a part of that process of investigation and discovery.
Favorite item/collection: This is a tough one! It’s not necessarily my favorite, but I came across some really interesting maps of land tracts that Princeton acquired from the early 1900s in the Office of Physical Planning Records. The maps depicted some campus buildings and a lot of the farmland surrounding Princeton — much of which is now also part of campus.