Editors’ Choice: Tool Time, or a Discussion on Picking the Right Digital Preservation Tools for Your Program

Who remembers Home Improvement? Tim the “Tool Man” Taylor was always trying to show the “Tool Time” audience how to build things, make repairs and of course, demo new tools made by the show’s sponsor, Binford. In true sitcom fashion, he broke more things than he fixed, thanks to his “more power” mantra. But I’m reminded of the episode “Be True To Your Tool,” where Tim tested a new saw, took it apart to analyze its construction and refused to endorse it on the show because it wasn’t good enough.

I see this as an object lesson for the digital preservation community. There are lots of tools out there, from checksum validators to digital forensics suites and wholesale preservation solutions. Many people feel it’s important to have the latest and greatest (as someone who regularly upgrades his cell phone, I can sympathize), but in this impulse for the new and the now, we sometimes forget to ask the big question: For your institution, is tool X good enough? Or, to put it another way, is this the right tool for you?

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