Preservation Publication Award: Monique Lassere and Jess Whyte

Monique Lassere, digital archivist at the Houghton Library at Harvard University, and Jess Whyte, digital assets librarian at the University of Toronto, are the 2022 recipients of the Preservation Publication Award given by the Society of American Archivists (SAA) for their article, “Balancing Care and Authenticity in Digital Collections: A Radical Empathy Approach To Working With Disk Images.” The award recognizes the author or editor of an outstanding published work related to archives preservation.

In their article, which appeared in volume 3 (2021) of the Journal of Critical Library and Information Studies, Lassere and Whyte investigate the implications on labor and privacy of the common practice to “take and keep it all” when working with digital collections. In particular, they examine and challenge the practice of taking and keeping disk images in digital preservation.

“Balancing Care” introduces a framework likely relatively new to archival practice and preservation, and constructively offers ways to implement the approaches they suggest. As with many emerging topics, there isn't a perfect solution or seamless route to address all the issues they raise, but they do map out potential mechanisms. By introducing a radical empathy approach to digital preservation, the authors encourage practitioners to associate digital preservation with inclusion and access issues that are critical to address in the field.

One committee member stated, “The article does a fantastic job of contextualizing current practice within history, not only within digital preservation itself but wisely calling out pre-digital conservation approaches and ethics as well. It not only codifies but analyzes and confronts these principles and practices through a new lens.”

The Preservation Publication Award was established in 1993. This year, the Awards Committee awarded a Special Commendation to Amanda Oliver for her article, “The Impact of Climate Change on Canadian Archives,” published in volume 31 of Records Management Journal.