The kitten effect: or, why archivists should be leading the digital preservation charge


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  • University of Montana - Aerial image campus
  • Maureen and Mike Mansfield - Photoof library
  • Archives and Special collections
  • Archives and Special Collections is a separate unit / department within the organizational structure of the Library Conservation & Preservation is a unit under the umbrella of ASC, but is primarily responsible for preservation of paper-based materials from circulating collections ASC staff undertake / are responsible for preservation of archival materials
  • Preservation activities to be discussed / presented are taking place within the organizational boundaries of the LibraryTwo main activities undertaken over the past year
  • Within Archives & Special Collections, one of my main projects as Digital Archivist has been establishing a new workflow to guide the acquisition, accession, arrangement & description, preservation, and access to born-digital materials that are increasingly acquired / found in collections Activities to date include developing policies, procedures, and workflow guidelines.
  • The main focus of current activities has been on the initial processing to be carried out once a collection is acquired by the Archives. This includes establishing physical, administrative, and initial intellectual control over born-digital materials. In particular, removing data from physical electronic media is a key component of new workflow procedures. These activities function to mitigate the risk of potential loss by leaving data on legacy media. Data is prepared for long-term preservation by extracting file and filesystem technical metadata
  • Digital forensics tools and methods have been incorporated into the workflow to ensure that data is removed from media in a manner that maintains its integrity and authenticity. These activities function to mitigate the risk of potential loss by leaving data on legacy media. Data is prepared for long-term preservation by extracting file and filesystem technical metadata, packaged, and moved to secure storage until further processing occurs.
  • CurrentDigital forensics workstation
  • Write-blockers used to ensure data is not inadvertantly modified during transfer / disk-imaging process
  • Digital initiatives librarian moving to another institution provided an opportunity to conduct a thorough analysis of the digitization workflow towards developing recommendations for integration of previously disparate project-based activities Desire to move from projects to integrated program In addition to preservation activities related to born-digital materials I have also worked on a collaborative project to evaluate the current digitization workflow, in order to determine the need for modifications and improvements. My role in this project included analyzing the current workflow from a digital preservation perspective, resulting in recommendations to embed preservation actions through the digital conversion process.
  • A key element in preparing digital objects for long-term preservation is ensuring that technical, structural, and preservation metadata are created / captured / and stored along with the digital objects themselves.Modifying the current digitization workflow to include these steps will improve both near-term and long-term survivability of digital content Image: PREMIS schema
  • We have made progress on these two fronts, but there are still issues / challenges to overcome
  • Activities we are working on now represent pieces of a much bigger project / puzzle
  • That bigger puzzle being developing a long-term preservation strategy for alllibrary digital contentImage: Puzzle
  • Cross-department collaborationCreating a successful comprehensive digital preservation strategy that includes a policy framework and robust technical infrastructure is a project / process that will need participation from multiple units / departments in the Library
  • Specifically, the units / departments displayed are to be included in this process. Each has knowledge, skills, and a stake in determining how such a strategy is developed and implemented
  • Benefits of being small Back to organization context What are the advantages of working in a medium-sized university library ?Not as much bureaucracy to have to negotiate to move forward on projects and make decisions Relationships can be quickly cultivated and solidified Smaller set of people that need to be a part of the conversation / project team Can get things done faster
  • [Main argument]The digital archivist should be the person leading digital preservation efforts for all library digital content Not the first to articulate this point, and not everyone may agree Archival concerns related to ensuring integrity and authenticity of records by capturing and managing context, content, and structure translate to preservation needs of all forms of digital informationAs a digital archivist working in an Archives and Special Collections department I am well-positioned to lead such efforts and make the case for digital preservation This is particularly strategic in relation to the size / nature of the institutionSuggest an expanded definition / role for the digital archivist as a leader of digital preservation efforts, regardless of content as archival
  • The future / what’s next building out policy framework and technical infrastructure with an eye towards future developments expansion of IR project leading to more direct engagement with faculty and student content formalization of relationship between archives and special collections and university records including electronic records system / workflow
  • The kitten effect: or, why archivists should be leading the digital preservation charge

    1. 1. The Kitten Effect, or Why archivistsshould lead the digital preservation charge Sam Meister Session 110 Society of American Archivists Annual Meeting August 9, 2012
    2. 2. University of Montana
    3. 3. Mansfield Library
    4. 4. Archives and Special Collections Department
    5. 5. Access & Collections ServicesArchives & Special Collections Conservation & Preservation
    6. 6. Archives & Special Digital Production Collections Mansfield Library Technology & Systems
    7. 7. Activity 1
    8. 8. Acquisition Accession Born-Digital WorkflowDiscovery Arrangement & & Access Description
    9. 9. Acquisition Accession Born-Digital WorkflowDiscovery Arrangement & & Access Description
    10. 10. Digital Forensics
    11. 11. Activity 2
    12. 12. Integrating preservation actions into digitization workflow
    13. 13. Capture technical, structural, and preservation metadata
    14. 14. Issues still being worked on
    15. 15.
    16. 16. Developing long-term preservation strategy for all library digital content
    17. 17. Cross-department collaboration
    18. 18. Archives & Special CollectionsTechnology & System Digital Digital Production Services Preservation Bibliographic Administration Management Services
    19. 19. Benefits of small size
    20. 20. Closing