LSU prof will study documenting military memories in digital age

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An assistant professor at LSU’s library school has received a $391,000 grant to find the best ways to preserve the digital archives of veterans and active-duty service members.

Edward Benoit III began his “Virtual Footlocker Project” after inheriting a footlocker of letters, photos, journals and other memorabilia from his father’s career as an Air Force officer.

“I began thinking about what items would mark my time in service and of current military personnel,” said Benoit, who is also a veteran.

He already has studied how today’s military members and veterans are documenting their service, since most no longer keep journals, letters and photos on paper.

Such memories can be more than family treasures, becoming part of museums or other archives where they document and humanize wartime experiences and sacrifices.

The grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Science will let Benoit look at the best ways to save those memories for future generations.

Benoit will conduct a series of focus groups, map technical requirements on existing standards, identify technical and policy-based challenges and propose a framework for protocol design, according to an LSU news release. Using those findings, he will develop a series of workshops for archivists.

His project was one of 24 chosen from 88 proposals to the institute’s Laura Bush 21st Century Librarian Program.

Benoit is the Russell B. Long Professor in LSU’s School of Library & Information Science. He received an LSU grant in 2015 for a preliminary study of how contemporary veterans and active duty personnel documented their time in service, the types of formats used and where they stored these documents, videos and images.

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