Exploring Digital Preservation, Digital Curation, and Digital Collections in Mexico

By Natalie Baur

This post is the fourth post in our series on international perspectives on digital preservation.

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During the 2015-2016 academic year, I received a Fulbright García-Robles fellowship to pursue research relating to the state of digital preservation initiatives and digital information access in Mexico. The Instituto de Investigaciones Bibliotecológicas y de la Información at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México in Mexico City graciously hosted me as a visiting researcher, and I worked with leading Mexican digital preservation expert Dr. Juan Voutssás.

In Mexico, I was able to conduct interviews with nearly thirty organizations working on building, managing, sharing and preserving their digital collections. The types of organizations I visited were diverse in several areas: geographic location (i.e. outside of heavily centralized Mexico City), organization size, organization mission, and industry sector.

  • Cultural Heritage organizations (galleries, libraries, archives, museums)
  • Government institutions
  • Business/For-profit organizations
  • College and University archives and libraries

Because of the diversity of the types of institutions that I visited, the results and conclusions I drew were also varied, and I noticed distinct trends within each area or category of institutions. For the brevity of this blog post, I have taken the liberty to abbreviate my findings in the following bullet points. These are not meant to be definitive or exhaustive, as I am still compiling, codifying and quantifying interview data.

  • The focus on digital collection building and preservation in business and government tends toward records management approaches. Retention schedules are dictated by the federal government and administered and enforced by the National Archives. All federal and state government entities are obligated to follow these guidelines for retention and transfer of records and archives. While the guidelines and processes for paper records are robust, many institutions are only beginning to implement and use electronic records management platforms. Long-term digital preservation of records designated for permanent deposit is an ongoing challenge.
  • In cultural heritage institutions and college and university archives, digital collection work is focused on building digitization and digital collection management programs. The primary focus of the majority of institutions is still on digitization, storage and diffusion of digitized assets, and wrangling issues related to long-term, sustainable maintenance of digital collections platforms and backups on precarious physical media formats like optical disks and (non-redundant) hard drives.
  • While digital preservation issues are still in the nascent stages of being worked through and solved everywhere around the globe, in some areas strong national and regional groups have been formed to help share strategies, create standards and think through local solutions. In Mexico and Latin America, this has mostly been done through participation in the InterPARES project, but a national Mexican digital preservation consortium, similar to the National Digital Stewardship Alliance (NDSA) in the United States, is still yet to be established in Mexico. In the meantime, several Mexican academic and government institutions have taken the lead on digital preservation issues, and through those initiatives, a more cohesive, intentional organization similar to the NDSA may be able to take root in the near future.

My opportunity to live and do research in Mexico was life-changing. It is now more crucial than ever for librarians, archivists, developers, administrators, and program leaders to look outside of the United States for collaborations and opportunities to learn with and from colleagues abroad. The work we have at hand is critical, and we need to share all the resources we have, especially those resources money cannot buy: a different perspective, diversity of language, and the shared desire to make the whole world, not just our little corner of it, a better place for all.  


natalie_headshotNatalie Baur is currently the Preservation Librarian at El Colegio de México in Mexico City, an institution of higher learning specializing in the humanities and social sciences. Previously, she served as the Archivist for the Cuban Heritage Collection at the University of Miami Libraries and was a 2015-2016 Fulbright-García Robles fellowship recipient, looking at digital preservation issues in Mexican libraries, archives and museums. She holds an M.A. in History and a certificate in Museum Studies from the University of Delaware and an M.L.S. with a concentration in Archives, Information and Records Management from the University of Maryland. She is also co-founder of the Desmantelando Fronteras webinar series and the Itinerant Archivists project. You can read more about her Fullbright-García Robles fellowship here.

Digital Preservation, Eh?

by Alexandra Jokinen

This post is the third post in our series on international perspectives on digital preservation.

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Hello / Bonjour!

Welcome to the Canadian edition of International Perspectives on Digital Preservation. My name is Alexandra Jokinen. I am the new(ish) Digital Archives Intern at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia. I work closely with the Digital Archivist, Creighton Barrett, to aid in the development of policies and procedures for some key aspects of the University Libraries’ digital archives program—acquisitions, appraisal, arrangement, description, and preservation.

One of the ways in which we are beginning to tackle this very large, very complex (but exciting!) endeavour is to execute digital preservation on a small scale, focusing on the processing of digital objects within a single collection, and then using those experiences to create documentation and workflows for different aspects of the digital archives program.

The collection chosen to be our guinea pig was a recent donation of work from esteemed Canadian ecologist and environmental scientist, Bill Freedman, who taught and conducted research at Dalhousie from 1979 to 2015. The fonds is a hybrid of analogue and digital materials dating from 1988 to 2015. Digital media carriers include: 1 computer system unit, 5 laptops, 2 external hard drives, 7 USB flash drives, 5 zip disks, 57 CDs, 6 DVDs, 67 5.25 inch floppy disks and 228 3.5 inch floppy disks. This is more digital material than the archives is likely to acquire in future accessions, but the Freedman collection acted as a good test case because it provided us with a comprehensive variety of digital formats to work with.

Our first area of focus was appraisal. For the analogue material in the collection, this process was pretty straightforward: conduct macro-appraisal and functional analysis by physically reviewing material. However, (as could be expected) appraisal of the digital material was much more difficult to complete. The archives recently purchased a forensic recovery of evidence device (FRED) but does not yet have all the necessary software and hardware to read the legacy formats in the collection (such as the floppy disks and zip disks), so, we started by investigating the external hard drives and USB flash drives. After examining their content, we were able to get an accurate sense of the information they contained, the organizational structure of the files, and the types of formats created by Freedman. Although, we were not able to examine files on the legacy media, we felt that we had enough context to perform appraisal, determine selection criteria and formulate an arrangement structure for the collection.

The next step of the project will be to physically organize the material. This will involve separating, photographing and reboxing the digital media carriers and updating a new registry of digital media that was created during a recent digital archives collection assessment modelled after OCLC’s 2012 “You’ve Got to Walk Before You Can Run” research report. Then, we will need to process the digital media, which will entail creating disk images with our FRED machine and using forensic tools to analyze the data.  Hopefully, this will allow us to apply the selection criteria used on the analogue records to the digital records and weed out what we do not want to retain. During this process, we will be creating procedure documentation on accessioning digital media as well as updating the archives’ accessioning manual.

The project’s final steps will be to take the born-digital content we have collected and ingest it using Archivematica to create Archival Information Packages for storage and preservation and accessed via the Archives Catalogue and Online Collections.

So there you have it! We have a long way to go in terms of digital preservation here at Dalhousie (and we are just getting started!), but hopefully our work over the next several months will ensure that solid policies and procedures are in place for maintaining a trustworthy digital preservation system in the future.

This internship is funded in part by a grant from the Young Canada Works Building Careers in Heritage Program, a Canadian federal government program for graduates transitioning to the workplace.

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Alexandra Jokinen has a Master’s Degree in Film and Photography Preservation and Collections Management from Ryerson University in Toronto. Previously, she has worked as an Archivist at the Liaison of Independent Filmmakers of Toronto and completed a professional practice project at TIFF Film Reference Library and Special Collections.

Connect with me on LinkedIn!

Announcing the Second #bdaccess Twitter Chats: 2/16 @ 2 and 9pm EST

By Daniel Johnson and Seth Anderson

This post is the seventeenth in a bloggERS series about access to born-digital materials.

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Contemplating how to provide access to born-digital materials? Wondering how to meet researcher needs for accessing and analyzing files? We are too! Join us for a Twitter chat on providing access to born digital records. This chat will help inform the Born Digital Access Bootcamp: A Collaborative Learning Forum at the New England Archivists spring meeting.

*When?* Thursday February, 16  at 2:00pm and 9:00pm EST
*How?* Follow #bdaccess for the discussion
*Who?* Information professionals, researchers, and anyone else interested in managing or using born-digital records

Newly-conceived #bdaccess chats are organized by an ad-hoc group that formed at the 2015 SAA annual meeting. We are currently developing a bootcamp to share ideas and tools for providing access to born-digital materials and have teamed up with the Digital Library Federation to spread the word about the project. Information and a Storify about our previous Twitter chat is available in a previous bloggERS post.

Understanding how researchers want to access and use digital archives is key to our curriculum’s success, so we’re taking it to the Twitter streets to gather feedback from practitioners and researchers. The following five questions will guide the discussion:

Q1. _What is your biggest barrier to providing #bdaccess to material?

Q2. _What do you most want to learn about providing #bdaccess?

Q3. _What factors and priorities (whether format-based, administrative, etc) motivate your institution to provide #bdaccess?

Q4. _Have you conducted user testing on any of your #bdaccess mechanisms?

Q5. _Who do you rely on in providing #bdaccess or in planning to do so?

Q6. _Would you be willing to showcase your methods of #bdaccess at the NEA Bootcamp?

Can’t join the chat on 2/16/2017 ? Follow #bdaccess for ongoing discussion and future chats!

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Daniel Johnson is the digital preservation librarian at the University of Iowa, exploring, adapting, and implementing digital preservation policies and strategies for the long-term protection and access to digital materials.

Seth Anderson is the project manager of the MoMA Electronic Records Archive initiative, overseeing the implementation of policy, procedures, and tools for the management and preservation of the Museum of Modern Art’s born-digital records.

Consortial Certification Processes: the Goportis Digital Archive—a Case Study

By Franziska Schwab, Yvonne Tunnat, and Dr. Thomas Gerdes

This post is the second post in our series on international perspectives on digital preservation.

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The Goportis Consortium consists of the three German National Subject Libraries: the TIB Hannover, ZB MED Cologne/Bonn and the ZBW Kiel/Hamburg.

One key area of collaboration is digital preservation. We jointly use the Goportis Digital Archive based on Ex Libris’s Rosetta since 2010. The certification of our digital archive is part of our quality management, since all workflows are evaluated. Beyond that, a certification seal signals to external parties, like stakeholders and customers, that the long-term availability of the data is ensured, and the digital archive is trustworthy.

So far TIB and ZBW have successfully completed the certification processes for the Data Seal of Approval (DSA) and are currently working on the application for the nestor Seal. Here are some key facts about the seals:

Seal Since Extent Focus Certified institutions (01/2017)
Data Seal of Approval 2010 16 guidelines Ingest, Preservation, Access 64
nestor Seal 2014 34 criteria Ingest, Preservation, Access, Organization & Sustainability Aspects 2

Distribution of Tasks

In general, we are equal partners. For digital preservation, though, TIB is the consortium leader, since it is the software licensee and hosts the computing center.

Due to the terms of the DSA—as well as those of the nestor Seal—a consortium cannot be certified as a whole, but only each partner individually. For that reason each partner drew up its own application. However, for some aspects of the certification ZBW had to refer to the answers of TIB, which functions as its service provider.

Beside these external requirements, we organized the distribution of tasks on the basis of internal goals as well. We interpreted the certification process as an opportunity to get a deeper insight in the workflows, policies and dependencies of our partner institutions. That is why we analyzed the DSA guidelines together. Moreover, we discussed the progress of the application process regularly in telephone conferences and matched our answers to each guideline. As a positive side effect, this way of proceeding strengthened not only the ability of our teamwork, it also led to a better understanding of the guidelines and more elaborate answers for the DSA application.

The documentations for the DSA were created in more detail than recommended in order to facilitate further use of the documents for the nestor Seal.

Time Frame

The certification process for the DSA extended over six months (12/2014–08/2015).  In each institution one employee was in charge of the certification process. Other staff members added special information about their respective areas of work. This included technical development, data specialists, legal professionals, team leaders, and system administration (TIB only). The costs of applying for the seal can be measured in person months:

Institution Person Responsible Other Staff Total
TIB ~ 3 ~ 0.25 ~ 3.25
ZBW ~ 1.5 ~ 0.1 ~ 1.6

Outlook: nestor Seal

The nestor Seal represents the second level of the European Framework for Audit and Certification of Digital Repositories. With its 34 criteria, it is more complex than the DSA. It also requires more detailed information, which makes it necessary to involve more staff from different departments. The time effort is not foreseeable at this time.

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Map with relationships between the nestor criteria (Click on the image to enlarge it.) (Read more.)

 

Based on our positive experiences with the DSA certification, we plan to acquire the nestor Seal following the same procedures. The DSA application has prepared the ground for this task, since important documents, such as policies, have already been drafted.

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Franziska Schwab is working as a Preservation Analyst in the Digital Preservation team at the German National Library of Science and Technology (TIB) since 2014. She’s responsible for Pre-Ingest data analysis, Ingest, process documentation, policies, and certification.

Yvonne Tunnat is the Digital Preservation Manager for the Leibniz Information Centre for Economics in Kiel/Hamburg (ZBW) since 2011. Her key working areas are format identification, validation, and preservation planning.

Dr. Thomas Gerdes is part of the Digital Preservation team of the Leibniz Information Centre for Economics in Kiel/Hamburg (ZBW), since 2015. His interests are in the field of certification methods.

Developing a Citizen Archive

By Anssi Jääskeläinen, Miia Kosonen, and Liisa Uosukainen

This post is the first post in our series on international perspectives on digital preservation.

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At Digitalia—the Research and Development Center on Digital Information Management at the South-Eastern Finland University of Applied Sciences—we believe that there is a strong need for a digital preservation service that would give ordinary citizens the right to decide what to do with their personal information. Currently, Finnish citizens must rely upon unsatisfactory solutions to preserve their valuable information for future generations, such as cloud storage (with dubious terms and conditions), or unreliable portable USB drives or optical media. Cloud storage services especially have surged in popularity in recent years, but these services are not OAIS-compliant, have no support for metadata schema such as METS and PREMIS, and make no guarantee that the data or user-generated metadata uploaded will remain safe or searchable. We are developing the Citizen Archive in response to these concerns.

Individuals are increasingly interested in documenting their personal lives and its most valuable artifacts. A personal archive is not only for information storage and retrieval. It represents other important values, such as legacy building, protecting against loss of important personal data, and constructing personal identity (Kaye et al., 2006). It may also turn into a valuable source of information for researchers and businesses.

At the same time, the amount of digital information produced by the average citizen has increased exponentially. Formats traditionally found in personal archives range from print documents and letters to photographs and analog videos. In contrast, digital media allows everyone to share the aspects of their life story easily, and these may consist of born-digital photos, digital videos, and conversations captured in email or on social media.

In an earlier project, South-Eastern Finland University of Applied Sciences developed Open Source Archive (OSA, http://osa.mamk.fi), a service-oriented web-based archive platform. OSA has since been applied by civil sector organizations and non-profit associations, and is now being modified to accommodate personal archives.

For example, one important aspect of modern family heritage is digital interaction between family members. So far, Digitalia has focused mainly on email. We have developed a workflow to convert Outlook data structure files (.pst or .ost) into validated PDF/A-3b files with embedded original attachments and metadata. While .pst or .ost files are not easily transferrable or accessible long-term, PDF/A files are device-independent, and an accepted format for permanent preservation.

The complete processing time is about eight minutes for a one gigabyte .pst file. In the future, this functionality will be extended to cover email retrieved from Gmail, Hotmail, AOL Mail and other commonly used email providers.

Overcoming Social, Technical, and Legal Challenges

The long-term storage and maintenance of personal digital information brings social, technical, and legal challenges. Digitalia is collaborating with leading Finnish specialists in information law and information security. The project is in its early phases. We are developing this platform together with our users, aiming at continuous improvement and a better user experience. We are currently operating through EU research funding. Later, the funding and cost model for the Citizen Archive will be developed together with project partners.

Digitalia is trying to help create a future where people are able to manage their personal information with easy-to-use and low-cost tools. We believe a digital preservation service for ordinary citizens represents a sure step in this direction.

More info about Digitalia: http://www.xamk.fi/en/research-and-development/digitalia-research-center-digital-information-management/

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anssiAnssi Jääskeläinen has an IT MSc. (2005) from Lappeenranta University of Technology and a PhD (2011) from the same university. He has an extensive knowledge of user experience and usability. His current interests are in format migration and open-source development.

miiaMiia Kosonen holds a PhD (Econ. & Bus.Adm.) from Lappeenranta University of Technology (2008), specializing in Knowledge Management. She is an experienced researcher and trainer in knowledge and innovation management, online communities, collaboration technologies, and social media. Her current interests are in the field of digital communication and preserving digital data.

liisa

Liisa Uosukainen has a M.Sc. (Tech.) from Lappeenranta University of Technology (1994). She has years of experience in software development. Her current interests are in digital data and digital archiving.

Practical Digital Preservation: In-House Solutions to Digital Preservation for Small Institutions

By Tyler McNally

This post is the tenth post in our series on processing digital materials.

Many archives don’t have the resources to install software or subscribe to a service such as Archivematica, but still have a mandate to collect and preserve born-digital records. Below is a digital-preservation workflow created by Tyler McNally at the University of Manitoba. If you have a similar workflow at your institution, include it in the comments. 

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Recently I completed an internship at the University of Manitoba’s College of Medicine Archives, working with Medical Archivist Jordan Bass. A large part of my work during this internship dealt with building digital infrastructure for the archive to utilize in working on digital preservation. As a small operation, the archive does not have the resources to really pursue any kind of paid or difficult to use system.

Originally, our plan was to use the open-source, self-install version of Archivematica, but certain issues that cropped up made this impossible, considering the resources we had at hand. We decided that we would simply make our own digital-preservation workflow, using open-source and free software to convert our files for preservation and access, check for viruses, and create checksums—not every service that Archivematica offers, but enough to get our files stored safely. I thought other institutions of similar size and means might find the process I developed useful in thinking about their own needs and capabilities.

Continue reading

Call for Contributors – #digitalarchivesfail: A Celebration of Failure

Here on bloggERS!, we love to publish success stories. But we also believe in celebrating failure–the insights that emerge out of challenges, conundrums, and projects that didn’t quite work out as planned. All of us have failed and grown into wiser digital archives professionals as a result. We believe that failures don’t get enough airtime, and thanks to a brilliant idea from guest editor Rachel Appel, Digital Projects & Services Librarian at Temple University, we’re starting a new series to change that: #digitalarchivesfail: A Celebration of Failure.

So, tell us: when have you experienced failure when dealing with digital records, what did the experience reveal, and why is the wisdom gleaned worth celebrating? Tell us the story of your #digitalarchivesfail.

A few topics and themes to get you thinking (but we’re open to all ideas!):

  • Failed projects (What factors and complexities caused the project to fail? What’s the best way to pull the plug on a project? Are there workflows, tools, best practices, etc. that could be developed to help prevent similar failures?)
  • Experiences with troubleshooting and assessment (to identify or prevent points of failure)
  • Times when you’ve tried to make things work when they’ve failed or aren’t perfect
  • Murphy’s law
  • Areas where you think the archives profession might be “failing” and should focus its attention

In the spirit of celebrating failure, we encourage all authors to take pride in their #digitalarchivesfails, but if there is a story you really want to tell and you prefer to remain anonymous, we will accept unsigned posts.

Writing for bloggERS!

  • Posts should be between 200-600 words in length
  • Posts can take many forms: instructional guides, in-depth tool exploration, surveys, dialogues, point-counterpoint debates are all welcome!
  • Write posts for a wide audience: anyone who stewards, studies, or has an interest in digital archives and electronic records, both within and beyond SAA
  • Align with other editorial guidelines as outlined in the bloggERS! guidelines for writers

Posts for this series will start soon, so let us know ASAP if you are interested in contributing by sending an email to ers.mailer.blog@gmail.com!

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Thanks to series guest editor Rachel Appel for inspiring this series and collaborating with us on this call for contributions!

Digital Preservation in NYC

This year’s meeting of the Preservation and Archiving Special Interest Group (PASIG) took place this October at the Museum of Modern Art in New York.  PASIG brings together an international community to share successes and challenges of digital preservation, with an emphasis on practical applications and solutions.

The conference was three days long, and kicked off with a day of “Bootcamp/101” sessions, focused on bringing everyone up to speed on what it is we’re preserving and how we can go about building infrastructures to support preservation.  Unfortunately I wasn’t able to arrive until Day 2, but many of the presentation slides are available online at the conference’s figshare page.

I arrived on Thursday morning, ready to jump into a morning of presentations and panel discussions on reproducibility and research data.  Vicky Steeves started the presentations with an explanation of reproducibility vs replication, a distinction well worth making especially for those with of us with less experience working with research data.  

“Reproducibility independently confirms results with the same data (and/or code) Replication independently confirms results with new data (and/or code)”

Steeves pointed out that the concerns of reproducibility are really an iceberg, because the environment in which the research was conducted often goes unnoticed–especially in a technological environment where research tools may rely on a certain version of a browser, hardware, or software tools.  These tools may be updated or change in a way that isn’t immediately visible.

One potential solution to this problem was presented by Fernando Chirigati of New York University.  He introduced the tool ReproZip, which allows the researcher to package the data files, libraries, and environment variables.  Reprozip runs in the background while the experiment is conducted, and documents the variables and technological dependencies that future researchers will need when reproducing an experiment in a future where tools and browsers may have changed.  The packaged data and environment variables can be archived, then unpackaged by ReproZip for future use.

Both Peter Brunhill from University of Edinburgh and Rachel Trent from George Washington University Libraries discussed the problem of reproducing research reliant on web resources.  Brunhill’s presentation, “Web Today, Gone Tomorrow” focused on the lack of persistence in web addresses, and the need for ongoing preservation of online articles and other academic resources.  To get an idea of the scope of this problem, 20-30% of referenced URLs are lost within 2 weeks of publication.  Brunhill presented the Hiberlink project, which aims to find solutions for this preservation gap through partnerships with academic publishing outlets.  Rachel Trent’s presentation, “Documenting the Demographic Imagination” discussed the challenges of preserving social media data for reproducible research.  Given the continued migration from one social media forum to another (myspace to facebook to twitter, etc), the archivist can’t assume that future researchers will understand the basis of any of these websites.  Trent discussed the usage of social media managers and web harvesters to automate the collection of social media data, and what metadata can be automatically extracted using these tools.  Trent and her team are now looking for feedback from the community on what’s missing from their social media metadata, and how researchers want to interact with this metadata.

After a brief lunch break, we dove into the challenges of preserving complex and very large data.  Karen Cariani presented on the public broadcasting media library and archives of WGBH.  Working with audio and video files, the preservation needs are significant and uncompressed preservation masters are very large.  The formats are complicated and proxy files are necessary for access purposes.  Cariani discussed how the HydraDAM2 project worked to fill this preservation gap, by extending the HydraDAM system to work with the Fedora 4 repository and creating a Hydra “head” for digital A/V preservation.   

Ben Fino-Radin continued on the theme of preservation at scale, discussing the creation of workflows for digitized time-based media holdings at the MoMA.  The digital repository uses Archivematica for ingest, Arkivum for storage, and Binder for managing these digital assets.  A single 120 minute film once restored at 4k resolution contains 4 Terabytes of data, so the workflows and systems for managing these files have to move quickly and efficiently.  This also means that the MoMA must be efficient in prioritizing film digitization efforts.

Day three focused on sustainability, not only sustaining our cultural and scientific heritage through digital preservation, but also on sustaining our planet and communities.  Eira Tansey from University of Cincinnati pointed out the obvious but rarely discussed point that archives require energy, digital archives especially so.  She urged the audience to consider the energy required for preservation during their daily work in the archive.  Some common practices or digital preservation may be a wasteful use of resources, such as preserving every derivative file as it is migrated from one format to the next, or considering file compression as the enemy of preservation.  She posted the entire text of her talk online, The Voice of One Crying Out in the Wilderness: Preservation in the Anthropocene.

Elvia Arroyo-Ramirez, Processing Archivist for Latin American Manuscript Collections, Princeton University, presented “Invisible Defaults and Perceived Limitations: Processing the Juan Gelman Files.”  She discussed how the systems we use contain the biases of the people who create them, pointing to systems that require file names be ‘cleaned’ or ‘scrubbed’ to remove ‘illegal characters’ including Spanish-language diacritic glyphs.  When working with a born-digital collection created in another language, those glyphs are vital to the understanding of those records.  She asked the community how we can intervene to make our tools and technologies reflect our mission to preserve the records and ‘do no harm.’  

The conference was concluded by Ingrid Burrington, neither an archivist nor a digital preservationist, but self-described writer, mapmaker and joke maker, and author of Networks of New York:  An Illustrated Field Guide to Urban Internet Infrastructure.  She discussed the physical infrastructure that makes up the internet and the corporate infrastructures that keep it running. She pointed to social media as crafting communication and products like Google Maps crafting our understanding of the world’s geography.  Companies like Google can skew their products away from reality–be that the blurring of sensitive government installation or their own data centers. Corporate interest and the public need for information do not always align.

This change of perspective was a great end to the conference, bringing us out of our technical comfort zones and making the audience consider how the work of digital preservation has larger and potentially more dire effects than we may realize.

 

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Alice Sara Prael is the Digital Accessioning Archivist at Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library at Yale University.  She works with born digital archival material through a centralized accessioning service.

#bdaccess Twitter Chat Recap

By Jess Farrell and Sarah Dorpinghaus

This post is the sixteenth in a bloggERS series about access to born-digital materials.

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An ad-hoc born-digital access group with the Digital Library Federation recently held two successful and informative #bdaccess Twitter chats that scratched the surface of the born-digital access landscape. The discussions aimed to gain insight on how researchers want to access and use digital archives and included questions on research topics, access challenges, and discovery methods.

Here are a few ideas that were discussed during the two chats:

You can search #bdaccess on Twitter to see how the conversation evolves or view the complete conversation from these chats on Storify.

The Twitter chats were organized by a group formed at the 2015 SAA annual meeting. We are currently developing a bootcamp to share ideas and tools for providing access to born-digital materials and have teamed up with the Digital Library Federation to spread the word about the project. Stay tuned for future chats and other ways to get involved!

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Jess Farrell is the curator of digital collections at Harvard Law School. Along with managing and preserving digital history, she’s currently fixated on inclusive collecting, labor issues in libraries, and decolonizing description.

Sarah Dorpinghaus is the Director of Digital Services at the University of Kentucky Libraries Special Collections Research Center. Although her research interests lie in the realm of born-digital archives, she has a budding pencil collection.

The Game is Afoot! Digital Sleuthing at the Electronic Records Section/Museum Archives Section Mystery Workshop

By Christine Wang

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Every archivist wears many different hats. Detective is not usually one of them, but at this year’s SAA Annual Meeting in Atlanta, museum archivists donned their deerstalkers for the day as they delved into a mystery workshop designed to introduce participants to principles and practices in managing born-digital records within an institution.  

“Find the Person: Missing Curator Mystery Edition!” led participants (cast as the project archivist at the fictional Three Hills Museum) through the curious case of lead curator and director Jane Stevens, who seems to have suddenly vanished, only leaving behind a mysterious set of files. Tasked with finding out just what had happened to Jane, participants sifted through her filesphotographs, text files, spreadsheets, and other various documentsto solve the mystery (spoiler alert: turns out Jane was perfectly fine, having simply rushed off to Russia in her excitement to examine a potential J.M.W. Turner painting). In the process, they grappled with questions not only about Jane and her whereabouts, but also about the organization, protection, and preservation of files like the ones they were examiningthat is, of digital archiving and records management in a professional setting.

Rachel Chatalbash and Susan Hernandez from the Museum Archives Section, and Ann Cooper, Wendy Hagenmaier, and Carol Kussmann from the Electronic Records Section planned the workshop based on Wendy’s 2014 workshop for the Society of Georgia Archivists. Wendy and Ann led the workshop for the Museum Archivists Section at the 2016 SAA meeting. The materials for the 2016 workshop covered topics and methods in personal digital archiving to support participants in working with a mixture of personal and archival digital records and boost participants confidence in working with digital material.

This year’s workshop revised and expanded upon the ideas of the original personal digital archiving workshop materials, applying them to the management and archiving of born-digital records in a museum environment. If you would like to view the materials from the workshop, follow the links to the Workshop Activity Instructions and Additional Resources.

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Christine Wang is the Nancy Horton Bartels Scholar Intern at the Yale Center for British Art Institutional Archives.