Badge: Digital Preservation

DPreserv_URLPaper is easily damaged by water, misplaced or discarded. Favorite Web sites vanish overnight or you forget to save the URL. Songs and games, once played, are often forgotten. What can you do to help preserve materials you need for future reference, to ensure you will have them when needed?

NOTE: Information for many of these steps can be found at the Library of Congress (





1. Why start an archive?
Why do you need to archive digital materials? Digital files are fragile. They can easily be lost or damaged. Some reasons for archiving your files might include:

  • Family heritage
  • Cultural heritage
  • Organizational heritage
  • Event documentation
  • Service project documentation
  • Training materials

What other reasons would you want to archive materials?

2. Starting a personal digital archive.
The main reason to start a digital archive is to not lose things you may need in the future. These items might be personal such as family photos and video, support files for volunteer work or even professional documentation. Determine the type of archive you are starting. Then, think about what you need to store. Is it physical items you need to digitize? Digital items that you need maintain a copy of? List everything you need in your archive.

3. Creating an organization system.
You need to organize your digital materials in a way that makes sense to you. You could do it chronologically (by date), by event, by subject, etc. In addition to folders, you can use filenames to help organizing by using years, specific dates, etc. Look at what you’re archiving and determine what will work best for you. When you’ve decided your archival organization, create a document explaining the organization and keep it with your archive.

4. Storage media.
Storage media changes frequently. The CDs you used a few years ago have migrated to DVDs. External hard drives are available. Each storage method has pros and cons. For example, CDs are cheap and easily created . . . but they last an average of 2-5 years. Review the ways you could archive your materials. Decide which will work best for you. Remember, you need to have at least two solutions in case one fails. Don’t forget to address off-site storage solutions.

5. Online storage.
Online storage sounds like an opportune possibility. However, archiving sites may allow others to peruse your materials. Some make your materials their own. Make sure you read the fine print on what you’re agreeing to before uploading your digital files. Compare prices, size limitations and longevity as well.

6. Our changing world.
As technology advances, the ways we store materials will change. The file formats of today may not work tomorrow. Digital files require active management to make sure they are still accessible as change occurs. How are you going to keep your archive updated? One possibility is to work with open formats (formats that are not proprietary to one piece of software or hardware). What other technology exists to help you archive and maintain your files? Create a schedule to check your data files and / or to update the files themselves to newer formats to make sure they continue to be accessible.

7. Sharing materials.
While you may be happy to send your photos to Aunt Martha, there are people you don’t want to have your photos. This goes for anything you create yourself. Copyright has been the way we protected ourselves. If you created it, you owned it. Today, Creative Commons allows us to give away some of our rights. We can allow others to enjoy and share our work without our permission. Review the current copyright laws. Also review the choices you can make via Creative Commons. What works best for you?


Preservation items

8. Photos and visual media.
Photos and other visual items are probably the items you want to archive the most. They are personal and unique. JPG is the most common format today for images. Before you start, create a list of all the photos you wish to archive, including some ideas to help with your archive.

  • Ask other family members to keep copies of photos on hard drives
  • Digitize / print photos you only have one copy of
  • Create non-digital avenues of distribution
  • Create physical items like scrapbooks

Discuss ways you can archive and retrieve your visual media quickly.

9. Podcasts, videos and home movies.
Video and audio take enormous amounts of space to archive. Leaving it on the master tape may sound like a great idea, but what happens if your player no longer works? There are many digital formats for these applications. Research formats and their popularity to find out what formats would work best for your archiving strategy.

10. Web pages.
Per the Library of Congress, it is estimated that the life span of most Web sites is 44-100 days. If you see something you want to keep, your best bet is to get it immediately. Check out some pages you have bookmarked or made favorites. Are they still pertinent? Find a Web page you want to keep and save it to your hard drive. Be aware of the following:

  • Make sure graphics are included
  • Make sure you can access it after you save it
  • Verify that the Web page elements are on your copy

Feel free to check out archives from the Library of Congress on Hurricane Katrina, 9-11 or another event to see how they are archiving our history.

11. E-mail.
Some e-mail programs save all of the header information as well as the e-mail message, making finding the information within the digital file hard to find. Printing emails is a physical storage nightmare. Depending on the information, you may want to save the emails themselves into appropriate folders or even create a database to store information from within the emails themselves.

For example, you can create a text document containing poems to read at your scouting ceremonies by taking the information you need out of emails and then discarding the emails themselves. You’ll have the information, collected in one location, without having to sort through numerous emails later.

Explore ways you can keep e-mail information long term.

12. Making it digital.
Scanning, photographing or resetting words can all be ways to create digital text. Look at your physical materials that you would like to digitize. What about items that are not so easily digitized like songs sung at camp or your thoughts about how the world is changing?

Examine your skills at digitizing materials. How are your typing, photographing, scanning, audio and video skills? Can you edit these files to make them better? Explore how to create digital files and if you have the hardware, software and knowledge to do this yourself. If not, find others who can do the work for you. You may be able to trade off some of the digitizing cost instead of paying for it.

NOTE: When editing items, such as photos, make sure you keep the original intact. You may damage the file during editing and need to start over. Always do a “save as” before working on images. Do not edit the original.

13. Keeping it printable.
Sometimes you need to print out what you have saved. Try printing a photo from your cell phone to see what lack of pixels can do to your prints. For professional reproductions, scanning continuous tone (photos) is best done at 300 ppi and text (documents) at 800 ppi. Saving files at this size take up incredible amounts of room. OCR programs allow you to create text documents out of scans, but you need to make sure there were no errors in the conversion. Examine digital files you have. Are there any you need to replace because they don’t print well? How do you anticipate printing your files in the future? Do you need the resolution of professional reproductions or can you go with a lower resolution (ppi)?

14. Portable document format — PDF.
Adobe Acrobat is no longer the only program you can use to create PDFs. Check out for more possibilities. PDF files are also multi-platform. You can save a PDF on your computer and send it not only to Windows, Apple and Linux machines, but many phones also have applications to view PDFs.

Instead of saving scanned documents as individual pages, you can combine them into a single PDF. Part of the PDF format is compressing your graphics into a smaller PDF file. You can also print Web pages to PDF so you don’t have to worry about missed graphics. Look into the possibility of PDFs for archiving possibilities.

15. What else might you preserve?
To this point, we’ve examined photos, printed documents, scrapbook pages, video and audio. Do you have three-dimensional items you’d like to preserve?

For example, my oldest daughter had special blanket and special pillow that went everywhere with her. For a scrapbook page, I scanned both items. To scan these items, you might want to invest in a dark cloth and acrylic frame. The frame will allow three-dimensional items not to be flattened and the dark cloth will simulate the scanner lid.

What other non-traditional items might you digitize and include in your archive?


Sites to Explore


To download a PDF of this badge program, click here: EP_Digital Preservation

Badge: My Family Today

MFToday_URLStudying family history is a favorite hobby. Document your family today to keep a living history for generations to come.





1. Create fact sheets for family members.
Create fact sheets for family members to fill out or you can ask your questions and record the answers. You can include anything you want to know. Here are some to start:

  • Physical stats
  • Important dates
  • Favorites (movies, television shows, music, etc.)
  • Sketches of themselves
  • Things they have achieved
  • Activities (job, career, volunteer, hobbies, etc.)
  • Unrealized dreams

2. Share your favorite family stories via written or recorded media.
When you’re collecting stories, it’s often better to record them so you don’t miss anything. Different people have different points of view, so you might want to get the same story from multiple family members. Type the stories up and share them with other family members via print or electronic distribution.

3. StoryCorps®.
StoryCorps is an oral history of the United States. Started in 2003, it has over 35,000 interviews on file at the Library of Congress. Find out more about StoryCorps and see if it’s something you might be interested in doing to help preserve your family’s stories.

4. Create a scrapbook.
You can scrapbook a specific event, a family member growing up, one person’s military career, family changes with time or any other theme that fits with your family dynamic. Explore ways to create copies to share — physical and digital. Share your scrapbook with others in your family.

5. Create a photo slideshow.
Select photos and music to fit a theme. Perhaps select a favorite photo and start with that image. If any of your family is a musician, ask them to provide music. Find ways to share your slideshow with your family.

6. Journal a week in your life.
Everyone remembers the big stories and most embarrassing moments. The everyday items get lost to time. Preserve these memories with words, sketches or small paper items you can put into a journal. You can even recreate the times in an art journal to give it more of a feel for a certain time. If you find you enjoy journaling, keep doing it.

7. Create a family recipe book.
Ask everyone to share their favorite recipes and cooking-related stories. Research the cost of print-on-demand and determine whether you will make physical copies available to family members. If the cost is too much, what other ways might you share these items?

8. Create a family traditions book.
What does your family do for birthdays? Which holidays do you celebrate? How do you celebrate the holidays? How have your celebrations changed over the years? Look for photos to illustrate these items instead of writing it all out. The amount of information you put into your “family traditions” may be only a few pages to a full volume.

9. Make a “who’s who” game with family photos and/or facts.
Gather baby photos and see if everyone can identify each other. If you can’t find baby pictures, make a question sheet listing pets, favorite colors, favorite sayings or other items that your family shares now. Ask each family member to identify each other through your quiz.

10. Plan a photo event.
Have you seen the disposable cameras at weddings? This is a low-cost way to help document the event. Add in camera phones and digital cameras and you’ll find most family members already have a way to take photos without you providing one.

Ask family members to take pictures. To keep track of who took the photos, ask them to have someone take a picture of them first (or take a selfie) and then a picture of a sheet of paper with their name written on it. Those two pictures will be your identification markers.

To help them, you may want to give your family a theme or a question to answer with the photos they take. For example, asking everyone to take pictures to share where they spend most of their time may get you photos of flower gardens, craft rooms or even a favorite fishing hole.

Develop and share the photos. You can also use a site such as Flickr or Picasa and have family members upload the files they take. Perhaps you can have them all send CDs to one person to create slideshows for an upcoming family event.

11. Plan a family night.
Everyone’s busy. Make some time just for your family. Plan on a movie, game, etc. to have fun and make memories together.

12. Reunion.
If your family is spread over the country, or even the world, research the possibility of having a family reunion. This can be as large or small as you wish. You can have everyone meet somewhere such as Walt Disney World or have a party in your own backyard.


Sites to Explore


To download a PDF of this badge program, click here: EP_My Family Today

Badge: Ephemera

Badge: Ephemera

Ephemera is any material that was originally designed to be discarded after use. It includes concert tickets, advertising trading cards, postcards, catalogs, greeting cards, pamphlets, matchbook covers and letters. Some people include old photos. Items that are not printed like watch parts and vintage fabric/ lace pieces can be thought of as ephemera. Ephemera is used in collages, mixed media and altered artwork.





1. Purchasing ephemera.
Ephemera is big business. From mixed media artists to scrapbookers, you can find ephemera available on CDs, as printed sheets or as digital images. Find a few companies who sell ephemera to see the variety that is available. You can also check out eBay for people selling originals.

2. Copyright.
The company that is selling ephemera may not have rights to the items. Manipulations done to it, which results in a new product, are protected. Compilations are also protected. If you purchase ephemera, make sure you are aware of how you are allowed to use, distribute and / or sell not only the ephemera itself but any items you create with the ephemera. If you own the ephemera, you can use it any way you wish as long as the copyright to the piece itself has expired.

3. Making a collection.
Starting a collection can be free or costly, depending on how you acquire pieces. Explore the “finding ephemera” steps to start and grow your collection. Sort your collection by date, type, colors or any way that works for you.

4. Inspiration.
Your ephemera collection can be used for inspiration when you’re not feeling particularly creative. Look at designs that work or don’t work. What is visually pleasing for you? What don’t you like? What do you like? Try to explain why you feel this way.

5. Crafting with ephemera.
Ephemera can be used with artistic trading cards, scrapbooks and mixed media projects . . . to name just a few. Check out how ephemera can be incorporated in crafts you like to do. Feel free to share your experiences.

6. Sharing your collection.
Thinking of sharing? You can trade items, sell them or create digital images to upload or e-mail to others. Find others to share with and provide files / copies they can use. This can be a swap group like swap-bot, one-on-one or with a group of like-minded collectors.


Finding ephemera

7. Your current resources — free resources.
You are constantly being bombarded with ephemera that you can repurpose (recycle) into art. See the “Items to Collect” supplement for possible items to collect and use. Add any ideas you have to the list and share with others.

8. Friends and family — free resources.
Many people save small mementos as reminders of their lives. Ask friends and family if they have small items they’d be willing to part with. Again, use supplement for reference.

9. Flickr — free resources.
Flickr membership is free. You may need to join groups to get shared images. Make sure you load the image and download the highest resolution you can. If you plan on printing it out, the greater resolution will give you a larger image before bitmapping makes it unreadable. Even if you don’t think you’re going to print it out, it is better to spend the time now to get a better resolution image than fight later with them.

After you’ve downloaded and sorted some files, experiment with making a PDF or JPG contact sheet. A contact sheet places small images with the filenames in a grid on a page. This will allow you to browse your images faster. A sample contact sheet can be found with the supplements for this badge program.

10. Library of Congress — free resources.
The Library of Congress has a digital collection of Americana. Check out their items and see if anything appeals to you. You might even recognize a few pieces.

11. Flea market / garage sale / yard sale / auction — pay resources.
You can get ephemera from any of these places. The prices will vary depending on the quality, seller, etc. While it may cost, this is generally less costly than purchasing ephemera online. You will also have the physical pieces, so you can control the digital quality if you choose to digitize your items. Try digitizing by photographing or scanning your items. Clean up watermarks, scratches, and other non-original markings.

12. eBay — pay resources.
eBay and other online auctions not only tend to cost more than locally acquired ephemera, but you also have to pay shipping. You cannot see exactly what you are purchasing until it arrives at your door and you are dependent on the honesty of the seller. Explore online ephemera sellers.

13. Dover Publications — pay resources.
Dover Publications sells printed and digitized ephemera. If you are purchasing ephemera, their offerings are some of the most affordable and diverse. Dover does offer free weekly samples of their publications so you can get lower resolution versions. Review their offerings. You may notice that other companies use their images to resell as their own.

14. What else can you find?
What other resources can you find? Do you have local historians or a section in your local library that you can utilize? Do local museums provide samplings online or in their gift shops? Is there a local ephemera group that will share with you? Share what you find.




SUPP_Contact sheet.pdf





Sites to Explore


To download a PDF of this badge program, click here: EP_Ephemera


Badge: Art Journals

Badge: Art Journals

Many people keep journals or diaries of their lives. An art journal takes this activity to the next level. This craft not only allows you to record your life but also to explore your art. You do not have to be an “artist” to create an art journal, you only need the desire to create. These journals are considered “mixed media” because you can pull many art and craft techniques into a single project.





1. What is an art journal?
An art journal is an illustrated diary or journal. It moves into the realm of art when you add illustrations, paintings, embellishments and more to create a visual journal. Art journals are excellent for people who might not always have the words to share their lives as they would in a traditional journal / diary.

Go online and look at art journal samples. Discover what others have done. If you think this is something you might want to try, continue with the steps below.

2. Make a plan.
Would you like to create a theme for your art journal? Perhaps highlighting your experiences with your troop for an entire year? Document your family traditions, family holiday or special trip? Create a normal journal / diary with embellishments? Make a keepsake journal for someone you’ve been separated from? Celebrate a life-changing event like a birth or a wedding? Make a visual representation of a feeling, mood or idea? You may want to journal your dreams or flights of fancy. You can also use an art journal to try art and craft techniques and document your results.

Decide what you will do in your art journal.

3. The journal.
You need to start with a journal. Here are a few ideas. Choose one or find one of your own.

  • Composition book
  • Handmade book
  • Drawing / sketch books
  • Diary / journal
  • Hardcover book (altered art)
  • Single-subject notebooks
  • Dollar store blank notebooks

Before you decide, think about how you will be using your book? Will it stay open as you work on it? Is that less important than a spiral binding that gets in the way? Would you do better with individual sheets and assembling the pages later? Is your paper thick enough for the materials you plan to incorporate?

4. Idea and color files.
Using manila folders, zip-top bags or any other system you feel comfortable with, start collecting ideas and images for your art journal. Note colors or thoughts you have initially for these items. You may find it easier to collect color chips (paint stores) or magazine clippings to show colors instead of trying to describe a color. Dates and times for items may help trigger memories or details. This will help you later as you start to assemble items in your art journal.

5. Writing prompts.
Writing prompts can also help provide you with ideas. Review the list of items you may want to include. Keep notes with enough information to prompt you into activity.

  • Memories
  • Quotes
  • Questions
  • Poems / song lyrics
  • Short stories
  • Clichés
  • Your ideas
  • Theme prompts

Create your own unique list of writing prompts.

6. Basic tools.
Here’s a list of basic tools to start with. Some tools you may have around your house, so check before purchasing more.

  • Paint brushes
  • Glue / adhesives
  • Rubber stamps
  • Scissors
  • Craft knife and cutting mat
  • Stencils
  • Sand paper / emery board
  • Ruler

7. Basic materials.
These are materials you may (not) need depending on the techniques you intend to include. Review the list and find out about any items you are unfamiliar with.

  • Paint / watercolors
  • Gesso
  • Markers
  • Pens / ink
  • Embellishments, scrapbooking
  • Magazine clippings
  • Pencils (colored and others) / erasers
  • Scrapbooking paper / stickers
  • Gel medium
  • Crayons
  • Double-sided tape
  • Ink pads
  • Stickers
  • Photographs

NOTE: If you are intending on creating an archival-safe journal, don’t forget to check every material before you include it.

8. Time investment.
Take time to work on your journal. You may want to work on it every day, on the weekend, etc. Set up a schedule and stick to it. Not only are you more likely to work on it, others will pick up on your “special time” and leave you alone.

Also, schedule a certain amount of time to create a page. This will stop you from working on one page until it is “right.” Nothing is perfect and if you fixate on that perfection, you will not complete the page. Come back to it later and review it, making adjustments if needed.

9. Tutorials.
There are numerous tutorials on the Web covering not only the creative process, but techniques and materials. Some of these are listed in Steps 10-17. Try tutorials on one or more techniques. You may also find some that are not listed to make your art journal unique to you.


Exploring techniques and materials

10. Backgrounds.
You’ll need to start with the background. The background can incorporate colors from the elements you intend to include on the page, the colors that communicate a mood, etc. You can also work on multiple page backgrounds and finish embellishments when you’re feeling “inspired.” Any paper technique can be used to create backgrounds, embellishments or focal elements. This might include paint washes, tea stains, stamping, colored pencils, watercolors, and more. Create backgrounds for a few pages.

NOTE: When working with wet media, the colors may bleed through the paper. Paper will curl if it is too wet. Pages may stick together. Place wax paper under your pages to help isolate these pages as you work on them.

11. Painting.
Acrylic paint is cheap and comes in a variety of colors. You can use it as it is or adjust it with other items for a variety of looks. Also, the brush you use can make a big difference in the coverage and texture you have on a page. Don’t want to use a brush? Try sponges, stamps or a variety of other items to put paint on a page. Experiment with various colors and have fun!

12. Drawing and sketching.
You can draw directly on the page. You can also draw on another page and attach it. Do not worry about being perfect. This is your unique art journal. You don’t have to draw images. Create Zentangle™ patterns or doodle randomly. Try adding to your pages with your drawings.

13. Collage.
Collage is not clutter for its own sake. It’s a collection of items that together explain a feeling, mood or idea. You can use any found bits that lay flat for the pages. If your bits aren’t flat, sketch or photocopy them. Glues have different properties that may make them easier or harder to work with from drying time to thickness. Experiment with a variety of adhesives to find those you prefer to work with to attach your flat elements.

14. Photos.
Do not use your original photos unless you have either the negatives or digital files for a backup. If you mess up, your original will be lost. Photocopies are thinner and easier to manipulate. If you don’t like the final result, you can throw it out and do it again. Find other tips for working with photos.

15. Ephemera.
Ephemera is any vintage item in the public domain you can include in your artwork. This may be images from the Library of Congress or old matchbooks you pick up at a garage sale. Like photos, you may want to work with photocopies. Search through some of the images at the Library of Congress or search Flickr ( for ephemera. Find ephemera to include in your art journal.

16. Recycled.
Recycled materials such as junk mail can be used in art journals. Magazines can be used for images, as background paper for lettering or full words. Brainstorm other recyclable materials you can include in your art journal.

17. Journaling.
You have your prompts. Are you writing in your journal? Gluing words you created from your computer? Assembling letters from a magazine like a ransom note? Calligraphy? Letter art? Sometimes one word is enough to convey your thoughts. Practice journaling at least two different ways.

18. What else speaks to you?
What other art / craft techniques speak to you? What other materials fit your journal? Don’t feel limited to the materials / techniques listed here. This is your journal. Use what you want.

19. Sharing your journal.
Share your journal when it is complete. Photograph, copy or find another way to share your journal. Feel free to share it with other EP members, your family or to the general public.


Sites to Explore


To download a PDF of this badge program, click here: EP_Art Journals