Spotlight: Becky Ruud, Wardman Archivist on Digital Archives

Recently, our Student Technology Liaison, Pat Rubalcava, sat down with university archivist and librarian Becky Ruud to learn about a recent workshop she attended on digital archiving. Listen in on their conversation and check out some of her more scripted answers below.

Tell us a bit about yourself. Where did you study? Areas of expertise? 

I got my BA in History and MLIS (Master’s in Library and Information Studies) from UCLA. I also have a previous MA from the University of Birmingham’s Shakespeare Institute in the UK. That degree has a very long title: MA Shakespeare, Stratford-upon-Avon, and the Cultural History of Renaissance England.

What does your job consist of here at Wardman?

At Wardman Library I am tasked with collecting, preserving, and providing research assistance for our special collections. These include the Whittier College Archives, John Greenleaf Whittier collection, Jessamyn West collection, Richard M. Nixon collections, Quaker collection, and various smaller collections.

Tell us a little bit about how you’ve worked with DigLibArts (Did you receive grant funding? What did you use it for?)?

I received a travel grant from DigLibArts to attend the Digital Directions conference last summer in Portland, OR which was sponsored by the Northeast Document Conservation Center.

What did you learn about at this conference/workshop?

From this conference I learned quite a bit about how digital collections function from the backend, best practices and standards for digitizing materials, retention policies and digital repository solutions, AV preservation issues, and digital curation and preservation. Lots of digital archives stuff!

Would you recommend this experience to others? 

I would recommend this conference to those managing digital collections. It was perhaps made for those with prior knowledge and experience with those types of collections.

Do you have any tips or tricks that you’d like to share with interested students, faculty, or staff? 

My plea to the public is that there is A LOT that goes into digitizing materials. It is not simply a matter of pressing “scan” on a scanner there is quite a bit more work that needs to be done. This is why not everything is digitized and ready for the internet. It is not a process that can be 100% automated and a human person still needs to be the one entering metadata and creating digital images of physical materials. However, the process is speeding up with new technologies and increased support for digital collections projects. Also, it is nice to have the ability to pull up archival materials in the comfort of one’s own home; but there is still a great need to see the physical object. Without seeing the physical object in person, a researcher will loose a lot of context that is not easily seen with digital imaging. So, if at all possible, it is best to always consult with the original material.