Archiving Community Storytelling: Challenges and Opportunities

A week or so ago I attended a seminar hosted by Digital Commonwealth at the University of the West of Scotland, in Paisley, near Glasgow. The seminar, a one day event, was on the topic of Archiving Community Storytelling: Challenges and Opportunities.

The event was an opportunity for practitioners, academics and activists to explore the issues, opportunities and challenges of archiving community-based storytelling in the digital age.


Presentations included Eilidh MacGlone (National Library of Scotland) presentating on “Archiving Digital Artefacts: Policy and Practice”, Tamar Millen‘s (Community Media Association) presentation on “Community media archiving in a research context”, Sara Thomas‘ (Wikimedian in Residence at Museums Galleries Scotland) presentation on ‘Reducing barriers to accessing open knowledge’, and more.

As a photographer, and through my work with my colleagues in Document Scotland, this was of course a topic of interest as we deal every day with concepts and implications of digital asset management, of metadata, keywording, and archiving photographs. How do we manage digital data in our long term projects? How do we archive usefully and sensibly in order that it will benefit future generations? Do we archive everything, or selectively edit and archive the edit only, and who does the editing, the artists or the community he/she is working with or documenting? There were many points brought up for discussion, with much to contemplate and take from the day’s seminar as I move forward on my projects.



I think the key point for me for the day was the very line that on our projects now, with the amount of digital data that we amass – images, audio and movie files, that archiving has to be considered and built into the project from the very outset. There has to be a workflow for managing it, cataloging it, maintaining it, and an expectation and plan for the archiving of it – from the very beginning.


Jennifer Jones, one of the organisers and hosts, has very usefully collated Tweets, links and presentations into a Storify page and I link it here (Archiving Community Storytelling: Challenges and Opportunities) as it contains information and links which may be of interest and use to those who grapple with and contemplate the above issues. Many thanks Jennifer and Professor David McGillivray for hosting the event and making it all possible.