Adventures in digital curation


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This presentation outlines some steps for those new to digital curation (i.e., preserving and providing access to digital collections). This presentation was for the Digital Conversion Interest Group, sponsored by ALCTS-PARS, and was given at the American Library Association Conference in Anaheim, California on June 23, 2012. All content in this presentation is Creative Commons licensed (CC-BY-SA).

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Adventures in digital curation

  1. 1. Adventures in Digital Curationor, advice for the novice solo curator Meg Meiman University of Delaware Digital Conversion Interest Group ALCTS-PARS/ALA June 23, 2012
  2. 2. What is (digital) curation? OED definition: [curation is] “the supervision by a curator of a collection of preserved or exhibited items.” Novice definition: maintaining preservation of digital content into perpetuity (or until I die or quit my job) LOC‟s definition: “the selection, maintenance, collection and archiving of digital assets, in addition to their preservation.”
  3. 3. From curation to stewardship“ „Digital stewardship‟…pull[s] in the lifecycleapproach of curation along with research in digitallibraries and electronic records archiving, broadeningthe emphasis from the e-science community onscientific data to address all digital materials, whilecontinuing to emphasize digital preservation as a corecomponent of action.”From Butch Lazorchak‟s “Digital Preservation, Digital Curation, Digital Stewardship: What‟s in (Some) Names?”The Signal: Digital Preservation. Blog post. August 23, 2011.
  4. 4. Questions for consideration How do we prioritize what to keep for the historical record? (a.k.a., the “triage” approach) In what formats should this content be maintained? How can we build digital curation into our current preservation practices and daily workflow? Who else can help with all of this?
  5. 5. “Triage” -- assessing the scope of what you curate Data → senior theses by undergraduate researchers Metadata → information about undergraduate researchers (names, project titles, faculty mentors) Still more data → students‟ proposals for summer and capstone research projects
  6. 6. Curating born-digital content Senior theses (data) PDF/A  requires embedded references (no hyperlinks)  no video or audio files allowed Information about students (metadata) MS Access →XML files for immediate backup →MySQL for long-term storage and access
  7. 7. Sheer curation (keep it lightweight)“If we focus…on defining strategies for quietlyintegrating curation support into the scientific workflow, we may hope to make a far greater proportion ofthe digital assets being created today available into thefuture. We‟ve tentatively dubbed this approach “sheercuration” – “sheer” as in lightweight and virtuallytransparent….good data and digital assetmanagement at local levels is also goodpractice in preparing for publication and/orpreservation of data and other digital assets.”From Alistair Miles‟ “Zoological Case Studies in Digital Curation.”
  8. 8. “Front-end” curation Implement and refine guidelines for content creators →Theses submitted in PDF format →All URLs in senior theses are typed out, with full references included →Multimedia theses are submitted in alternate formats (CD/DVD)
  9. 9. “Back-end” curation Develop practices to incorporate curation into existing workflow and timeline late May → students upload theses to website early June → download PDFs and save as PDF/A late June → save to network and external hard drive early July → save MS Access data as XML files late July → migrate MS Access data to MySQL
  10. 10. Iterative cycle of digital curation Assess (or re-assess) available resourcesDevelop/refine “good Determine/refine enough” curation scope of curated practices content Develop/refine (Re-)prioritize what guidelines for to curate content creators
  11. 11. Curating in a one-person operation What other avenues are available to assist with digital curation? Institutionalrepositories College and university archives Creators of digital content
  12. 12. Some (hopefully) useful take-aways Assess or re-assess available resources (IT support, technology, staff, and funding) Determine / refine the scope of curated content Prioritize what you absolutely, positively have to curate (get input from stakeholders, if appropriate) Develop /refine guidelines for content creators (“front-end” curation) Develop / refine “good enough” curation practices to incorporate into workflow (“back-end” curation)
  13. 13. Some sources that informed this talkLazorchak, Butch. “Digital Preservation, Digital Curation, Digital Stewardship: What‟s in (Some) Names?” The Signal: Digital Preservation. Blog post. August 23, 2011. (Full URL in handout.)Miles, Alistair. “Zoological Case Studies in Digital Curation – DCC SCARP /ImageStore.” June 6, 2007. Signal: Digital Preservation. Library of Congress., José, Miguel Ferreira, Luís Faria, and Rui Castro. “Relational Database Preservation through XML modeling.” Extreme Markup Languages 2007, Montréal, Quebec, August 7 – 10, 2007. (Full URL in handout.)
  14. 14. I‟d like to thank the Academy… Martha Horan Kevin O‟Sullivan Dr. Lynnette Overby, my supervisor Digital Conversion Interest Group listserv members You – thank you for your time and attention
  15. 15. Questions for consideration How do we prioritize the selection of born-digital content for digital curation? In what formats should this content be maintained? How can we build digital curation into our current preservation practices and daily workflow? Who else can help with all of this?