Preservation Research Exchange Wrap-up

The Preservation Research Exchange (PREx), held February 17-19, 2012 at the School of Information, was the third annual symposium hosted by Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) Preservation Doctoral Fellows. Building on the successes of the two previous IMLS conferences (From Gray Areas to Green Areas: Developing Sustainable Practices in Preservation Environments, held November 1- 2, 2007, and Engaging in the Preservation of Cultural Heritage, held September 24-25, 2010), this year’s theme was Sustaining Digital Heritage. A primary objective of the symposium was to provide faculty, students, alumni, and other scholars from diverse disciplines an opportunity to come together and share research about the many facets of preserving and sustaining digital artifacts.

The free symposium included four panels of original research that explored the technical, cultural, political, social, and historical aspects of sustaining digital heritage. Panels were organized around four themes: Constructing Digital Culture, Documentation, Design, and Democratization, Identity and Cultural Values, and Collections and Representations. Invited speakers included School of Information faculty Dr. Patricia Galloway, who provided opening remarks, and Dr. Matt Cohen, Associate Professor in the UT English Department, who spoke on the history of destruction, decay, and parasitism in preservation. Local leaders (and iSchool alumni) Gabby Redwine from the Harry Ransom Center, Zach Vowell from the Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, and Megan Peck from the Texas Archive of the Moving Image presented on exciting digital projects and challenges they each face in their work.

The three-day event was designed to give participants many opportunities to interact with each other and exchange ideas about digital heritage preservation. To kick off the symposium, Dr. David Gracy led a crowd on his legendary Capitol Tour that wrapped up with an opening reception and tours at the Texas State Library and Archives Commission (TSLAC) on Friday. A closing reception gave people the chance to chat about future projects, publication possibilities, and the state of preservation research at their institutions. Symposium sessions, all held at the iSchool on Saturday and Sunday, were well attended by UT Faculty and students, as well as participants from other U.S. and Canadian universities.

To make the symposium as accessible as possible, both to presenters and attendees, the PREx symposium was designed as an in-person/virtual hybrid event. Three of the eight presenters were able to present remotely and all presentations were made available online in real-time using the software service Adobe Connect. Remote participants were able to participate in session Q&A via the chat function provided as part of the service. The resulting environment was an attendance of thirty to forty scholars, using digital technology to participate in and extend the discussion about digital preservation.

The PREx symposium was created and organized by third-year IMLS Preservation Doctoral Fellows Carol Brock, April Norris, and Katie Pierce. They would like to acknowledge and extend their appreciation to all the individuals who volunteered time and expertise to helped make PREx a success, For more information about Preservation Research Exchange, please visit ischool.utexas.edu/prex.

Posted: 03/30/2012

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