Preparing for the History of the Future

Think about it. Despite all of the organizing, categorizing, and digitizing that I have done with CELC this summer, I have been working primarily with their tangible, paper-bound materials. Now think about the past 13 years. Everything that we do, more or less, is stored on computers. And I only barely scraped the surface of already-digitized documents in terms of the organizing and categorizing components. Just because digital documents take up less physical space is not a reason not to be diligent about their preservation. Moving forward, CELC still must be intentional in continuing to preserve their history and legacy in the Columbus community, especially since so much of this history is already in a digital format.

In this last week, I am asking myself questions such as, “How do I leave behind a system in which new historical items may be slotted into an existing organizational structure? And what is going to be most effective for CELC in the future?” These are questions with no simple answers. Preparing for the history of the future is no easy undertaking.

Overall, though, CELC now has digitized historical records, including everything from photos to articles of incorporation to board of trustees rosters, not to mention the VHS tapes, slides, and award plaques. I can’t be sure that I found everything (having found this week a brochure I hadn’t seen before in amongst a tub of face paint). In digitizing all of these items, CELC’s history is more accessible and can also be more effectively leveraged in marketing and fundraising campaigns, as well as grant applications. Bringing CELC’s history into the 21st century demonstrates the importance of learning from, reflecting on, and appreciating the past.

Preparing for the history of the future has already begun. Though all of this started as a treasure hunt without a map, CELC now has a digital map to locate and explore its previously hidden historical treasures.

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