Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Preserving Guatanamo's Records

A dedicated law professor, librarian, and attorney are working together to create the Guatanamo Bay Detention Center archive, which will be a "repository of the records and first-person accounts of hundreds of defense lawyers who have worked on detainee cases." The story is reported in the July 10 issue of the Chronicle of Higher Education. The individuals involved are Mark P. Denbeaux, a professor at Seton Hall University School of Law and director of its Center for Policy and Research, which put out an important series of reports on Guatanamo; Michael Nash, director of New York University's Tamiment Library, known for its collections on labor, politics, and public policy; and Jonathan Hafetz, who is a staff attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union's National Security Project and an adjunct professor at Seton Hall. Both Denbeaux and Hafetz have represented Guatanamo detainees. The archive will be housed at Seton Hall and at the Tamiment Library, according to a recent press release. The project is the brain child of Denbeaux, who marched at Selma in 1965 and now regrets the "'million details' that went unrecorded." He wants to make sure the same thing does not happen with Guatanamo. Because all of the detainees will probably not have public trials, "the archive may turn out to be one of the few public sources of information about what really happened at Guatanamo."

As a librarian interested in the preservation of digital information, I was interested to learn that the Guatanamo archive is likely to be "one of the first collections to make its debut under a digital-archiving project called Web-at-Risk: Preserving Our National's Cultural Heritage," which is fully described here. The Chronicle article describes librarians' role in digital preservation projects, and concludes that good institutional partners are a must if a large-scale project like the Guatanamo archive is to be done successfully.

1 comment:

Betsy McKenzie said...

good for them! Thank you, Marie.