Caring for Your Digital Collections

Creating a file organization system can help declutter your desktop

Our capacity to create digital documents, images, and other electronic files far surpasses that of the physical world of paper, books, and printed photographs. Modern life is now documented in digital formats. With the ease of digital creation, modification, and copying, we can find ourselves virtually buried in digital “paperwork.” In addition to born-digital objects, we also may have scanned versions of paper files. Organization and active management are essential to good digital preservation. You must become your own digital archivist—curate your files to identify those that are most important to keep. The first step toward good preservation is to know what you have, and what you need or want to be accessible in the future. 

Find and identify all your digital files on your computers, removable media like floppy disks, and external storage devices. Include digital files or images on Web sites or in cloud-based storage in your inventory. Evaluate your files and select the ones you want to keep. It may feel overwhelming at the start, especially if your desktop is littered with individual file icons, but this is the first step toward managing and ultimately preserving those things you will need in the future or want to pass on.

Preserving Your Digital Photos and Other Personal Digital Materials


The Library of Congress recommends the specific tips listed to the right for how to get started preserving your digital photos. Additional information on how to preserve your other personal digital materials can be found at the below links:

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