Developing a Born-Digital Preservation Workflow

Presenters: Bill Donovan and Jack Kearney, Boston College

Bell Tower image
Postcard image of the Boston College Bell Tower, ca. 1930-1945. From the Tichnor Brothers Postcard Collection at the Boston Public Library.

Our presenters described the workflow followed to access records on an external hard drive included in the personal papers of Irish soprano and harpist Mary O’Hara, their first dive into the sea of digital preservation. They described how workflows start as baseline best practices. What happens when the unanticipated occurs? Hearing about the steps taken at Boston College to appraise, ingest and clear unanticipated hurdles along the way reinforced that processing plans/workflows are a starting point. What you find when you open the files can and will drive changes to workflows – sound familiar? Tags: Writeblocker, UNIX, 8.3 Constraint, Fixity (software), Identity Finder (software), XENA tool, Policy writing, FITS tool, JHOVE tool, LOCKSS, DP in a box, Digital Forensics.

Digital Commonwealth 2.0: It’s Alive!

Presenters: Steven Anderson and Eben English

Despite the migration to our new platform in Fedora and Hydra literally happening while we met, our intrepid presenters gave before & after comparisons of the repository website with its streamlined visual presentation and enhanced search capabilities. If you haven’t already, check it out!

Rapid Fire Inspiring Projects

Benjamin Sewall Blake jumping, ca. 1888. From the Francis Blake photographs at the Massachusetts Historical Society.
Benjamin Sewall Blake jumping, ca. 1888. From the Francis Blake photographs at the Massachusetts Historical Society.

Presenters: Christine Clayton, Worcester Art Museum (WAM); Abigail Cramer, Historic New England (HNE); Sean M. Fisher, Department of Conservation (DCR) and Recreation and Rebecca Kenney, Massachusetts Water Resources Authority (MWRA); Larissa Glasser, Arnold Arboretum Horticultural Library (AAHL); Nancy Heywood, Massachusetts Historical Society (MHS); Michael Lapides, New Bedford Whaling Museum; Sara Slymon, Turner Free Library

WOW! Our presenters offered up a smorgasbord of formats, collections and projects they undertook to make records available to their users. For some, their users were internal, like the WAM, which digitized exhibition catalogs, HNE digitized their collection of photographs by Nathaniel Stebbins, DCR and MWRA digitized 8800 images, the largest collection undertaken by Digital Commonwealth so far. AAHL digitized a collection of glass plate negatives…the results? Unanticipated revenue streams – from interior decorators, increased hits on websites, object provenance authentications, access to the identities of early American movers and shakers as reported in contemporary newspapers, accessible Town Reports and High School yearbooks. Several of these projects are still in the pipelines, so not yet searchable on the Digital Commonwealth website.

Submitted by guest reporter Elizabeth Cousins, First Parish in Brookline.

Digital preservation is an issue of interest to many Digital Commonwealth member institutions and virtually all organizations that are responsible for managing and preserving digital content.  One of the keynote speakers at the 2013 Digital Commonwealth conference was Butch Lazorchak, Digital Archivist, Library of Congress.  Butch is involved with the National Digital Stewardship Alliance (NDSA).

The NDSA along with NDIIPP (National Digital Information Infrastructure and Preservation Program) held an annual meeting (Digital Preservation 2013) on July 23-24, 2013 in Alexandria, Virginia.  (NDSA and NDIIPP are both programs of the Library of Congress.)

Even if you missed the meeting focused on issues and some solutions relating to the challenges of caring for digital content over the long-term, thanks to two different blog posts you can read informative summaries and even view video clips of some of the speakers including Hilary Mason, the chief scientist at bit.ly;  Emily Gore of the Digital Public Library of America; and Cal Lee of University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, who is involved with BitCurator.

One blog, “Preserving Our World,” (link: http://newsbreaks.infotoday.com/NewsBreaks/Preserving-Our-Digital-World-digpres2013-91060.asp), written by Barbie E. Keiser, an information resources management consultant, provides summaries about the talks and links to some of the speakers’ slides and/or institutional websites.

Another post, “Digital Preservation 2013 Trip Report,” (link:  http://ws-dl.blogspot.com/2013/07/2012-07-25-digital-preservation-2013.html), by Mat Kelly, includes summaries and embedded YouTube videos.  Kelly’s piece is posted on the blog of Web Science and Digital Libraries Research Group (a department of Old Dominion University).

Some of Digital Commonwealth’s member institutions are also members of NDSA and a few attended the meeting.  Karen Cariani, WGBH (and also President of Digital Commonwealth), spoke on a panel at the Digital Preservation 2013 meeting about her workplace during the “Digital Preservation Tools” session.    Digital Commonwealth will explore ways (other blogs and/or a future conference panel) for its members to hear more about NDSA and digital preservation activities.