Chapter 1. Introduction

The idea for this issue of Library Technology Reports was born ten years ago. I was finishing lunch with a friend who happened to be a freelance writer. We were discussing technology, and she asked me if I had heard about digital legacy. She was writing a piece on the digital information left behind following a person’s death, also known as digital legacy (Digital Legacy Association n.d.). I was immediately intrigued. The first book I read on the topic was Your Digital Afterlife: When Facebook, Flickr and Twitter Are Your Estate, What’s Your Legacy? by Evan Carroll and John Ramano. Recently, new books are starting to emerge, such as Digital Legacy Plan: A Guide to the Personal and Practical Elements of Your Digital Life Before You Die from Angela Crocker and Vicki McLeod. Each book gives you practical tips and ideas on how to deal after death with the lives, files, and materials that we have created, built, and saved online.

As a former school and academic librarian and as a person who has taught information literacy, I started to think about how important digital legacy should be to our students and library patrons in terms of their digital footprints. The people we work with in libraries learn how to search, investigate, glean, and cull the best information, but do they learn about their digital lives? Our students in K–12 and higher education are creating so much digital information. Will they ponder their legacy?

Death isn’t a topic many wish to delve into, but the legacy we leave behind in both our physical and digital worlds is important. These legacies deserve recognition. The Order of the Good Death (2020) has eight tenets within its movement. The second tenet states, “I believe that the culture of silence around death should be broken through discussion, gatherings, art, innovation, and scholarship.” It is my hope that the scholarship in this report will lead to further discussion on the topic of the digital lives we leave behind.

This Issue

In this issue of Library Technology Reports, we investigate digital footprints, digital legacy, and digital lives. Lucas Maxwell discusses tools that students in K–12 need in order to be responsible digital citizens and the educational technologies that assist educators in teaching students the skills they need. Dr. Nicole Cooke discusses the digital legacies created for people of color. In her words,

We all have a digital footprint and legacy, even if we aren’t the ones actively curating our own trajectories. This can be particularly salient for people of color and other marginalized people who are created, demonized, or unduly hyped by the media.

In her chapter, Dr. April Dawkins discusses the role that school librarians play in providing K–12 digital citizenship education, examines standards that focus on digital citizenship, and provides advice on how to integrate discussions on digital legacy. Katlin Seagraves covers the ways in which we store and share information and how they have changed. Her chapter explores ways in which librarians and libraries can address the growing needs of patrons in managing and preserving their digital lives. The final chapter, by Dr. Heather Moorefield-Lang and Jeffry Lang, focuses on cybersecurity and digital legacy in keeping your legacy safe. These two authors delve into methods for building a safe and secure digital legacy for your friends, family, and yourself throughout your life and after.

There is something for everyone in this report. Authors are from school, public, and academic library settings. They write from schools of library science and of other disciplines. The focus throughout is the digital lives created in the present and what happens to those lives over time.


I envision the readers of this issue of Library Technology Reports to be librarians, classroom teachers, preservice librarians, and professors of library science. This report is for anyone wanting to delve into ideas on digital legacy, digital footprint, and information literacy. Though we focus on library settings and partnerships, the case studies and ideas shared in this report cross disciplines. We have authors from England and across the United States represented in this report. This report was written for the express purpose of generating and sharing ideas as well as inspiring our readers to think further about lives that are created online and what happens to them in the present and the future.


Digital Legacy Association. n.d. Homepage. Accessed 2019.

Order of the Good Death. 2020. “Death Positive Movement.”


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