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Everyone's A Mechanic


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Presentation delivered at the 2013 Annual Meeting of the Midwest Archives Conference.

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Everyone's A Mechanic

  1. 1. Everyones A Mechanic: Building a Simple E- records workflow Brad Houston University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee April 20, 2013
  2. 2. Are e-records worth it?​Well, *I* think so...​  ​Improved access to content  ​More information about context  ​Increased manipulability for research analysis​BUT...  ​Sheer volume increases opacity  ​Digital preservation and "dark ages"  ​Time and Money for new systems (?)
  3. 3. Where would we like to be with E-records? Source: JohnVW on Flickr
  4. 4. Where are we right now? Source: an0nym0n0us on Flickr
  5. 5. The Mechanic Metaphor Borrowed from a Helen Tibbo talk atPurdue University, September 2012  “In the early days of the automobile, everyone was a mechanic.” The scary implication: You have to knowenough about your process to fix things The exciting implication: You can make itas simple or as complex as you need
  6. 6. Whats standing in our way? ​Uncertainty re: appropriate procedures ​Unfamiliarity with e-records tools and systems ​Unfamiliarity with e-records as a medium ​Perceived complexity of metadata and/orpreservation requirements/systems​The common thread: letting the perfect be the enemy of the good!​
  7. 7. Dirty Little Secret about e-records:You already know how to do this!  Accessioning: gain intellectual/physical control, identify potential problems  Arrangement: Put files in series/other logical order  Description: Provide access at various levels of the collection  Preservation: Ensure the ongoing integrity/usability of the materials
  8. 8. The Local Catalyst/Example ​Office of the Chancellor  ​Records from personal and office computers  ​Various file types and formats​  ​Some pre-appraisal by office staff and archivists  Large volume of files– automation a must ​The desired end product: an AIP!  Short-Term: Provide basic description and preservation metadata  Long-Term: Prepare for ingest into future repository​
  9. 9. The following worked for us, but… ​The tools that work for us may not be thebest for *your* needs!  ​Take stock of your own e-records holdings  ​Browse tool catalogs/reviews and experiment  Document what you did to your files and why​ The “Chewing Gum/Baling Wire” approach  Different tools gather complementary data  …But check outputs for redundancies  One tool’s failure won’t bring down the whole thing (probably)
  10. 10. Accessioning and Pre-appraisal Goals: Establish authenticity, performcollection overview and QC Duke Data Accessioner  ​Quick and easy checksum generation  ​Basic technical metadata for PREMIS—XML format ​DROID and/or JHOVE  ​File Format Identification and validation  ​DROID reporting gives overview of collection  Initial triaging for preservation?
  11. 11. The Working Copy Watershed ​From this step on, minimize changes toyour originals:  Create a working copy for weeding/ arrangement  ​Write-protect originals! Creating a disk image (*.iso, *.uif, etc.)may be helpful for preserving fixity here  See also digital forensics tools for increased authenticity
  12. 12. Appraisal and Arrangement ​Goals: Move files to reflect logical order,identify/restrict confidential info FreeCommander (and family)  ​Two-pane browsing– easy arrangement  ​integrated viewer for quick appraisal ​Firefly SSN Finder  ​Identifies Social security, credit card #s, other sensitive info  ​Supplements, not replaces, manual inspection
  13. 13. Description: File Level Goals: extract technical/descriptive metadataautomatically; improve discovery ​EXIFTool  Pulls embedded metadata from files (esp. photos)  ​ Exports data into CSV for tabular description ​ReNamer  Standardize file names, strip special characters  ​Option to add embedded metadata to filenamesn.b. Automation is especially key for this step.(Think MPLP!)
  14. 14. File-Level Description Table
  15. 15. Description: Collection Level Goals: discovery of collection as a whole ​No special tools necessary- Describe as youwould paper records! ​That said, a few EAD considerations...  ​<phystech> should include hardware, OS, and software needed to render all formats  Describe at series/folder, not file, level  ​Consider IP and/or confidentiality issues if including digital object links
  16. 16. Preservation ​Goal: Avoid obsolescence and/ortechnology failureDigital Preservation Software Platform  ​Normalizes files to preservation formats  ​Logs every preservation action taken  n.b. Use this *in addition* to other metadata gathered.​File Storage Location  ​Use stable media or network storage (backed up) -- i.e. *not* CDs, floppies, etc.  ​Best practice: 2 onsite copies, 1 offsite copy​
  17. 17. XENA AIP Example
  18. 18. Putting it all together  Determine needed metadata for preservation/access − Delete extraneous output  Collocate if you can (XSLT, etc.); document whats where if you cant  Provide access to as much or as little metadata as you need  Keep the originals for authenticity − Access copies for everyday usage
  19. 19. And don’t forget…Digital preservation, like  Click to edit thecar maintenance, is an outline text formatongoing process. − Second Outline  Know your collections Level  Have a monitoring plan  Third Outline  Keep up with best Level practices, discussions − Fourth  Dont give up! Anything you I hated this car…Outline to my but it got me can do is helpful. destination. (Most of the time.) Level  Fifth Outline Level
  20. 20. Resources ​AIMS white paper on Born-Digital Records  ​Digital Curation Centre (UK)  ​The Signal: LOC Digital Preservation blog  Digital Curation Exchange  ​Practical E-records
  21. 21. Thank You Brad Houston University Records Archivist University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Libraries, Archives Dept. This presentation available for download at: y5t