How do we archive born-digital records? It's a simple question but a really, really, really difficult one to not only answer but to wrap your head around in the first place. Born-digital records are a completely different kettle of fish to digital surrogates or digitized collections and require a major shift in thought around what is deemed a record worthy of retention, preservation and stewardship. It's well past the point where this concept needs to move from abstract thought into something more concrete so I have had a lookie lookie and now present you with some findings...
1. Preserving the born digital record, James G. Neil, university librarian emeritus, Columbia University
I found this was a good piece to start with because it raises a lot of questions. Neil give you the lowdown on the many complications, intricacies and challenges that go hand-in-hand with collecting and preserving these digital beauties. He looks at the varying types and formats these records might come in (and how this is constantly changing), the different and new technologies that are creating these born-digital records, and how institutions like libraries (and other GLAM orgs) might confront this challenge. As he says, "Whether it is the creation of centers of excellence, or new thinking about mass production, or new infrastructures, or new initiatives and programs, we must start from a position of collaboration so as to maximize quality, productivity, and innovation."
2. From Accession to Access: A Born-Digital Materials Case Study, Cyndi Shein, J. Paul Getty Trust
Who doesn't love a good case study? With this issue I think it's perfectly fine to not re-invent the wheel. There are some pretty expert people out there who are doing some pretty expert things and paving the way for the rest of us, so lets learn from them. Collaboration and knowledge sharing is where it's at - "Since the Archives embarked on this endeavor with no substantial experience processing born-digital materials and completed it primarily using free user-friendly tools, this paper offers a reasonable starting point for repositories on the threshold of digital curation—even those with inexperienced staff and limited means."
On the collaboration buzz, Ricky Erway, Senior Program Officer at the Online Computer Library Center, puts forward a good case for what he calls SWAT (software and workstations for antiquated technology) sites - "organizations or institutions that are willing to put their expertise to use for the benefit of the broader community by providing specialized services to institutions with limited resources." From his point of view, it would be near impossible for one organisation to have the funds, expertise, resources and so on to tackle all of their born-digital needs. He maintains that this fact should not be a deterrent, but argues that organisations like libraries (and indeed other GLAM repositories) should work collaboratively to not only meet their needs, and to provide services to their communities.
This is a really handy summary of The Smithsonian Archive's digital archiving programme. It's an easy to follow, concise breakdown of the steps and providers they used to begin their journey. It's also got a bunch of handy links and because of this I now know about some new things like Internet Archives Archive-It, Internet Way-back Machine, and crawlers.
And now some stuff in practice. I was pretty impressed by UK Government Web Archive's born digital archival and search system. They collect all kinds of things related to government information published on the web from staff blogs, to tweets, websites and videos. From memory, they realised the importance of their digitally produced content when a couple of government staff members based in
Previously I found thinking about what an online archive of this stuff might actually look like a bit difficult but the National Archives simple and user-friendly system made it all a little clearer. Their collections are arranged by format, medium or themed and can be searched.
And with that I send you into the weekend with this ode to rorohiko and nerd love....