Looking to the Future of Digital Initiatives at South Carolina Political Collections

S.C. Political Collections Celebrates Congress Week

South Carolina Political Collections is a proud member of the Association of Centers for the Study of Congress (ACSC). ACSC is sponsoring its fifth annual Congress Week, April 1 – 7, with the theme “The People’s Branch.” This is the final of five posts celebrating Congress Week.

I first became familiar with the issues surrounding the archiving of born-digital congressional records while working at SCPC as a graduate assistant. In the almost two years between leaving SCPC and returning, I was fortunate enough to be able to continue learning about managing congressional electronic records and to gain experience in helping to set up an electronic records program. I’m pleased to be able to bring what I’ve learned back to SCPC as the new Digital Initiatives Archivist.

laura and VHS tower

As an SCPC graduate assistant, Laura Litwer helped build a tower of VHS cassettes as part of an effort to draw attention to the preservation needs of the media in our collections.

As congressional offices conduct an increasing amount of their business electronically, it has become correspondingly important to insure that congressional papers repositories are equipped to accession, process, store, and ultimately make available the digital records that they receive. My first major goal at SCPC is to build the framework for an electronic records program that is coherent, efficient, and in keeping with the best practices that have been developed for working with digital archival materials. Some of the steps I’ll be taking to accomplish this goal include surveying SCPC’s current digital holdings, developing policies and procedures to guide our work with digital materials, and setting up a dedicated electronic records workstation.

Although our initial framework will undoubtedly need to be modified over time, accomplishing this first step will provide a solid foundation from which to pursue additional goals, such as the processing of the digital components of specific collections, the implementation of long-term storage and access solutions, and the management of information in proprietary databases. It is my hope that some of the work I will be doing at SCPC will also be beneficial to other repositories within the congressional papers community as they develop their electronic records programs.

A-V still life

A still life of some of the obsolete audiovisual formats contained in our collections

In addition to our goals for managing born-digital materials, SCPC is also working to increase access to audiovisual information currently stored on obsolete media (e.g., Betamax tapes). To this end, I’ll be working with other University Libraries staff to digitize selected audiovisual items from our holdings and make those in open collections available for use.

Developing and managing SCPC’s digital initiatives promises to be an engaging and challenging undertaking, and I am thrilled to be able to participate in this exciting endeavor.

By Laura Litwer

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