Introducing our Digital Archivist, Amy Rushing
Greetings, Top Shelfers! It is a great pleasure to introduce myself to you. I come to the UTSA Libraries from the University of Texas at Austin Libraries where I was Head of Digital Access Services. There, I worked on a variety of digital preservation and access projects including the Human Rights Documentation Initiative, Los Primeros Libros de las Américas, and the University of Texas Digital Repository. Prior to working at UT Austin, I was Digital Access Archivist at the University of Arizona Libraries Special Collections. I have been working in the digital realm of academic libraries and special collections since 2004, when I received a master’s degree in library and information science from the University of Arizona.
I am delighted to join the UTSA Libraries Special Collections as the first digital archivist. As you have seen from past Top Shelf posts, Special Collections has been digitizing photographs, manuscripts, and rare books from the collections for over 5 years now. An impressive 26,000 digital objects from 22 collections can be found in the UTSA Libraries Digital Collections.
As Digital Archivist, it is my job to ensure the long-term preservation and access of our digital materials. I will be building upon Special Collections’ digital achievements thus far to establish and cultivate a digital archives program. As we acquire more and more archival collections that are born-digital*, it will be my job to develop strategies, policies, and workflows to facilitate the management and preservation of that digital content over time.
Unlike paper materials whose long-term preservation relies upon a protected and stable physical environment (e.g. temperature and humidity control and acid-free enclosures), digital materials pose complex preservation challenges. The rapid evolution of technology and the relative transience of digital content impose a new series of preservation actions that must be conducted not just once, but throughout the lifecycle of a digital object. I look forward to taking on these challenges and I am thrilled to be joining the UTSA community at such an exciting time in its history.
*born-digital: “materials that originate in a digital form.”
Examples include Microsoft Word documents, digital images taken with a digital camera, and documents available only as a PDF file or a website, etc.