Let's talk about data archiving

I have a task coming up to preserve and protect all the archive material collected by our local Historical Society. I have some ideas about this, but I am open to suggestions, especially ones from experts in the field. Or even wanna-be experts.

Our material consists of photographs, clippings, handwritten notes, audio recordings and video recordings in cassette, CD, DVD and other digital media. We may add some books.

It seems to me that the goals of this project are (1) preserving and (2) making material easily available and findable.

Preserving: [ol][li]Keeping items in multiple formats[]Converting to newer formats and storage if/when applicable[]Retaining old formats and originals if possible[]Using high-quality conversion techniques if practical[]Storing in multiple locations for safety[/ol][/li]
Making material easily findable:[ol][li]Cross-indexing key words, dates, and names to the maximumConverting or tagging non-text images with text for searching[/ol][/li]
I envision a master database/catalog.

I would rather avoid a proprietary specialty program, as this will be the first to become obsolete. A generic spreadsheet or database manager is much more likely to be around and readable in the long-term or even short-term. I might make an exception for family tree software, but this will not be the master database, just another sub-category.

Any ideas or comments? Pitfalls to avoid?

Perhaps start with this outline of recommended formats, covering text, musical compositions, photographs, audio, moving images, software, and databases/datasets.

A very good start, DPRK, and a document worth reading. Probably overkill for our small outfit. But a quick scan shows that I have some major disagreements. Example:

This seems to exclude anything that was not a “released, final” version of media.

In contrast, I think we should preserve anything that went into the final production of the (book, video, whatever). This includes script files used to edit a video, for example, and author’s notes for a book or article. There are many clips of my video projects (B-roll, etc.) that didn’t make the final edit, but could be quite useful to future archivists. I think even these should be indexed for searchability.