Deciphering Digital Archives: An Overdue Conversation with Trevor Owens

Martin-Hardin, Amanda

In this episode, Columbia literature curator Lina Moe sits down with Trevor Owens, the head of Digital Content Management at the Library of Congress. Trevor is the first person to hold this position because it’s new— in fact, digital content management is new to most institutions.

Lina and Trevor discuss the many, sometimes contradictory, challenges of dealing with digital content. How do we keep the things we want to preserve, but get rid of things that inadvertently get swept into digital archives—like personal, sensitive, or even offensive information?

Lina’s conversation with Trevor is wide-ranging, covering topics including digital forensic sleuthing, recovering overwritten data on wiped hard drives, humanities verses computer science training for librarians, and the overlooked labor that keeps libraries going. Despite working at one of the largest repositories in the country, Trevor also brought up the importance of preservation at smaller community archives, like those in tribal communities. Finally, Lina and Trevor discus the “more product less process” movement within archives, including the ethical questions raised by archival acquisitions like Stanford’s 4chan collection.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Overdue Conversations
Published Here
November 29, 2022


This episode's duration is: 47:21