Building Bridges: The USC Shoah Foundation Institute visits the HRDI

On March 10-11, 2010 the UT Libraries Human Rights Documentation Initiative (HRDI) hosted a visit from the USC Shoah Foundation Institute for Visual History and Education (SFI).  Best known for its extensive archive of 52,000 Holocaust survivor testimonies, the USC SFI continues to expand its programming to include testimonies from genocide survivors worldwide.  Dr. Stephen Smith, Executive Director, Sam Gustman, Chief Technology Officer, and Karen Jungblut, Director of Research and Documentation, met with members of the HRDI team to discuss opportunities for collaboration on their respective projects in Rwanda as well as best practices for digital preservation and metadata exchange.

Over the two day period, the two organizations shared their respective strategies for preserving, indexing, and presenting testimonies.  USC SFI is collaborating with Ibuka, the national genocide survivor organization Rwanda, to build a genocide survivor testimony project similar to the Shoah’s established program for the collection of Holocaust survivor testimonies.  The UT HRDI is working with the Kigali Memorial Centre (KMC) to preserve KMC’s collections of genocide testimonies.  The parallel projects offer the opportunity for convergence, particularly in the realm of descriptive practices aimed at facilitating discovery and access across collections.

In addition to discussing more immediate project goals, the two groups addressed higher level issues such as the use of high performance computing for digital preservation and establishment of best practices for an Open Archival Information System (OAIS) compliant digital repository and sharing metadata across institutions.  USC SFI and UT HRDI decided that the incorporation of other stakeholders – libraries and archives, advocacy groups, education and ed-tech groups, scholarly and policy groups, legal support groups – is absolutely vital for building the necessary scalability and sustainability into digital preservation strategies, particularly for human rights documentation.  In 2011, the UT HRDI and USC SFI plan to convene with ten stakeholder organizations to build a concerted international digital preservation effort.

Cross-posted at Tex Libris.