Behind the Curtain: Heidi Kelly, Digital Preservation Librarian

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Title: IU Libraries Digital Preservation Librarian

Role: Heidi runs the Born Digital Preservation Lab (BDPL), which works to preserve born-digital media, like floppy disks, CDs, hard drives, and electronic file directories. She works regularly with the University Archives to transfer media from physical collections to create disk images and store exact copies of the original media in IU’s secure long-term storage, SDA (Scholarly Data Archive). SDA is managed by the UITS Research Storage team. She’s been working extensively with IU Archives Assistant Archivist Mary Mellon to set up basic procedures and workflows for preserving born-digital media in the IU Archives’ collections.

Educational Background: Heidi holds an MLIS from Wayne State University in Detroit and took part in the inaugural National Digital Stewardship Residency (NDSR) program at the Library of Congress in 2013. She does not have any archival training, which has been a challenge in some of her work with the BDPL because she’s not a digital archivist.

Previous Experience: Heidi’s first job out of library school was at Nazarbayev University in Kazakhstan, where she ran the Digitization Centre and acted as subject liaison for the School of Humanities and Social Sciences. She had some previous background in working abroad prior to that, so she was looking for a librarian position abroad and got lucky to find one that basically let her set up a whole department. From there she took part in the NDSR program- which involved surveying digital assets at  the Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection, a small Harvard research collection for Byzantine, Pre-Columbian, and Garden and Landscape Studies.  She received training from the top experts in digital preservation, like Nancy McGovern and former IU faculty Jake Nadal. When that finished she moved to The Hague and worked at a Royal Dutch Academy of Arts and Sciences institute, Huygens, to try and figure out long-term sustainability of their digital scholarly editions. Heidi got homesick for the Midwest though, and ended up here at IU.

At IU, Heidi has taken part in open source development by taking over as the product owner on HydraDAM2, which is the preservation repository for all of the audiovisual content coming out of the large MDPI project.

Favorite items in the IU Archives: The collections that have really unique media and present digital preservation challenges are probably the most interesting.

Current project: It’s sort of ongoing and varied. She’s been imaging content from different collections as it comes, so it’s too broad to really say.

Favorite experience in the IU Archives: She got to plug in an old hard drive of Mike Pence’s last month, to figure out how to preserve the content on it. That was pretty timely, and reminded her of the relevance her work.

What she’s learned about IU: Dina Kellams gives a great presentation on the history of the IU Libraries, including the story behind the architectural design of the Herman B Wells Library. She stole Dina’s use of the term “triscuit architecture” when describing the building.

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