I realized after speaking with Forrest, Mike, Rachel, and Carmel that I was still lacking key information to be able to fully address IULMIA’s different digital preservation needs. In particular, I still had quite a few questions about how to approach web archiving for IULMIA’s website, blog, and other social media accounts. My supervisor and I both agreed that web archiving was a specific point we wanted to address in my report, but in order to do so effectively I needed to find someone at IU who understood web archiving and had extensive experience with this practice. Fortunately, there are experts in nearly every kind of archival practice at IU Libraries, and Mary Mellon was the person I most needed to speak with in order to better understand the peculiarities of web archiving within IU Libraries.
Mary Mellon is the IU Archives’ Digital Archivist and has held this position since it was created back in October 2019. Important to note is that she had been working with IU Archives before this position was created as an assistant archivist and had been responsible for many of the digital preservation activities she is currently in charge of; there had been no separate position prior to October 2019, highlighting how digital preservation has only recently come to light as a field requiring specific focus and attention. Mary’s insights on IU Archives’ ability to archive web-based content through a website called “Archive-It” were illuminating as she revealed to me that not only has IU Archives’ been preserving IU-affiliated web-based content since the mid 2010s, but IU Archives has also already been regularly archiving IULMIA’s website and blog site since 2016. This revelation certainly came as a surprise both to me and my supervisor, and shows just how important it is to maintain close connections between IULMIA and other member institutions of IU Libraries as we’re all working together to strengthen each others’ missions toward greater knowledge access and preservation.
It would be unthinkable not to thank Mary again for freely giving her time to me to aid the research and writing of my report. Her contributions have been invaluable to my understanding of web archiving at IU, and as with all of my other experts I do not know if I would be able to write my report without her contributions. I certainly would not have anything useful to present to IULMIA at the end of my internship, as just through this interview Mary’s common knowledge about IU Archive’s responsibility to archive IULMIA’s website was a surprise to me and my fellows at IULMIA. In my last post I had mentioned that I had planned to end my interviews after speaking with Carmel and Rachel, but quickly learned that I needed more information that I could only gain by talking to more experts from IU. It turns out that even after speaking with Mary I would have 1 more interview to complete, with a particular expert who has been working behind-the-scenes to help IULMIA work through partial digitization measures int he past. This interview with my sixth expert will constitute the fourth, and probably final, chapter of my mini-series “Learning from the Experts.” More to come soon!