5 Questions with Partner Specialist Jefferson Bailey

August 7th, 2014


Jefferson Bailey collaborates on digital preservation projects on Earth and beyond!

We are excited to introduce Jefferson Bailey as the newest member of the Archive-It team (and our IIPC steering committee representative). Along with the rest of the Partner Specialist team, Jefferson will be working directly with Archive-it Partners to answer their questions about the service, lead trainings, and provide ongoing support. In addition Jefferson will be a Program Manager for the K12 web archiving program, our researcher services, educational partnerships, and other emerging programs.

1. What are you most looking forward to in your first year at Archive-It?

Having previously worked in a number of positions that were very external-facing and involved direct work with partner or member institutions, I’m excited to get to continue to work closely with a whole new community of partner institutions (with some long-time friends and colleagues in that community too, of course). I’m especially excited for it to be one so focused on the preservation of digital materials and ensuring ongoing access to content from the web. As a platform woven into almost every facet of our lives, the web’s preservation is paramount to documenting our social, cultural, and individual moment. So I am most looking forward to collaborating with partners to continue and expand our work to archive the web and support access to those materials, be they government websites or animated gifs of dogs on trampolines.

2. So much of your work in the archives and digital preservation community involves collaboration and networks. Why is this so important in the web archiving community?

The web is vast. The web is ever-changing. The web is just about whatever adjective you want to slap onto it (except maybe ones related to smell — at least not yet). Collaboration and knowledge sharing is vital to maintaining currency with the tools and skills needed to successfully archive the web. Leveraging shared technology development, access models, standards, policies, and other resources, has the potential to maximize the amount of digital content we as a community acquire, preserve, and make available. We’re all in this biz to save stuff, for many of us specifically digital stuff, and collaboration amplifies our ability to do that.

3. What project are you most proud of in your digital preservation career, so far?

Picking favorites can only get one into trouble… so let’s get started. Just kidding. I’ve been lucky enough to be involved in lots of projects that, I hope, have helped further digital preservation. But one that always evokes a smidgen of pride (or at least a multi-exclamation-pointed tweet) when I see/hear/read of its use is the NDSA Levels of Preservation. As a team project (see answer #2 above), I’m only one of many that worked on it. But as an attempt to demystify digital preservation and provide an accessible, succinct point-of-entry for institutions of any size or resource-level to start saving digital stuff, I think it has been a great success. It has been amazing to see its adoption and use by the community.

4. You just moved to San Francisco from New York! To avoid asking you what you’ll miss the most about New York, what are you most excited to experience in San Francisco and California?

The weather. I’m also incredibly excited to experience the weather. And I hear the weather is nice. Did I mention the weather? As a long time East Coast-er, who has suffered a lifetime of heat, humidity, and their attendant miseries, I can say, speaking only for myself, that summer can go jump in a lake. Or it can stay where it is, because I moved to San Francisco and the balmy California coast and never want to see it again. We’re splitsville, long, hot summers. But I’ve only been here a few weeks, so I’m sure there’s a lot more I’ll come to love about San Fran (I’m a taxpayer now, so I can call it that). I’m also excited for an earthquake, something I have never experienced — maybe a medium-scale but rumbly one that causes no loss of life or property.

5. What kind of content from the web do you think are important to archive?

That’s a hard question! I’m not sure I think any kind of content is more important than any other — even if I will use this as an excuse to link to another dog-on-trampoline gif. But as a degree-holding (for whatever that’s worth) archivist, I believe strongly in the principle of archival appraisal and in individuals and institutions having a meaningful, formalized mission and method to their collecting activities. The web may complicate historically entrenched theories or approaches to appraisal, but it doesn’t alter the concept’s core importance. So the most important kind of content is that which is deemed the most important by the institution that is preserving it. One of the great things about my new gig here is that I get to help so many of them do just that.