LIBRARY Step 06: Data


My marriage and my birth certificates are around here someplace, in that old hatbox out in the garage. I need my Military DD-214 form to sign up for the Veteran's Tax-Free shopping site. I know I have it somewhere.


We all have important documents and when we need them, we really do need them. The experts advise us to keep them in a safety deposit box or in a fireproof box in our home in case of a fire.

Some people take a digital photo of their important documents and email them to themselves. That's interesting if you keep the emails. Also, I am not very keen on my important documents being stored in the cloud in my email account. My Social Security Number, my mom's maiden name, I don't think so.

I know, how about putting my important documents in my personal digital library. I have total control; they will be easy to find whenever I need them, and I have no risk of anyone snooping around my hard drives unless I get hacked. Have I protected my hard drives?

What Data Do I Want in My Personal Digital Library?

What do I want to include? Here are some suggestions.

  • Important Documents
    • Birth certificates, Marriage certificates, etc.
    • Passports
  • Financial Records
    • Credit Card info
    • Tax records
  • Miscellaneous Data
    • Household Inventory
    • Big-ticket item receipts
    • Passwords
    • Important Dates list
    • Song list
    • Prescription list
  • Memorabilia
    • Old love letters
    • your kid's crayon drawings
    • Newspaper clippings
    • Ticket stubs

If you can digitize it, you can add it to your personal digital library. It's all about the stuff that is important to you, what works for you.

😎 WordCutter: I have an expresso machine that automatically flashes a maintenance light every month to clean out the machine. It is a complicated "hold down these two buttons while simultaneously pressing the power button for 4 seconds" blah, blah blah. For some reason, I can never remember the sequence.

I put the expresso machines instruction page in my digital library and now just a couple of taps on my smartphone and I have the instructions right in front of me. Problem solved.

Make a List

OK, sharpen your pencil and start writing. You can use the suggested list above to get started but remember, it is all about what is important to you.

Whew! Now you have a list of all your important data.

Round It Up!

Yep, now you must round it all up. Filing cabinet, old hatbox in the garage, shoebox under the bed and don't forget those birth certificates at your parents' house.

Digitize, digitize, and digitize

You must digitize all this stuff. You can use your smartphone, a scanner or even take it down to the local stationary store to digitize all of it.


Make A List

As a Subscriber, here's an extensive checklist so all you need to do is check off what you need, add your own stuff, make notes, then I will email it all to you. Let's go.

  • Don't forget to keep all of the originals in a safety deposit box and/or a fireproof box in your home.
  • Taxes, accounts, assets, obligations, insurance, etc. anything that is generally reelated to money.
  • Don't forget to keep all the originals in a safety deposit box and/or a fireproof box in your home.
  • This is kind of a catch-all checklist. Might sound corny but there are a lot of memories in here.
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Digitize, digitize, and digitize

Here are some things to think about.

  • FORMAT: Save it as a photo (.jpg), a PDF File (.pdf), a Word Document? I recommend a PDF format as the most common and easily moveable file.
  • QUALITY: After you digitize it, you should print out your new digitized copy and take a good look at the result. Can everything be read? Did anything get clipped off? When you finish printing everything, you will have a paper copy to store in another location.
  • HACKER PROTECTION: I personally would not trust this stuff in the cloud. Are your hard drives really, really protected? Make sure.
  • SAFETY BOX: You may want to consider renting a safety deposit box at your bank or credit union. If not, how about a fireproof box for your home.

File Folder Structure

Back in Step 09, we created an overall media library folder structure. Here is that structure.

You want to create some sub-folders under the DATA folder.

Here are some suggestions but you will know better. So, choose your own folder structure that fits your library of digitized data. You may not want any sub-folders, or you may want twenty of them.


You have successfully rounded up all your important data and secured it all in your DATA folder.

In the next step, Step 15, you are going to establish your backup system. Pay close attention to the backup destination for your DATA. This is all highly personal stuff and you want to minimize any risk of it being exposed.

ITEM: My Data

I have all of the same important papers that you have (I think). But I also have a lot of writing that I want to protect. Old articles, emails, websites, and so on. I also have a lot of junk that I really should throw away but I just can't control the Packrat in me and I hang on, and on, and on.

My point here is that we all have different values and just because I have given you a list of typical important documents, don't just check off that list and ignore things that are your personal important documents or data.

ITEM: Test You Digitized Stuff

After going through all of the effort to digitize all of your data don't overlook testing ti to make sure everything digitized correctly.

ITEM: Keep Your Papers

Even though you now have an immaculate digital library of all of your data, there are some documents that must be available in the original paper format. Marriage Certificates, Military DD-214, Immigration documents, and so on. This is a big deal!


It really is worth all of the effort to go through this organizing process. Just do it.