Issue no.2

ISSN: 2328-0972
June 2014


Archival repositories that intend to develop programmatic solutions for managing and preserving born-digital holdings will need to establish a dedicated computer workstation (and related devices) to support responsible capture, transfer, appraisal, and preservation steps. This brief examination provides baseline recommendations for implementing and equipping a dedicated Windows-based PC workstation.

In today’s world of digital information, previously disparate archival practices are converging around the need to manage collections at the item level. Media collections require a curatorial approach that demand archivists know certain information about every single object in their care for purposes of provenance, quality control, and appraisal. This is a daunting task for archives, as it asks that they retool or redesign migration and accession workflows. It is exactly in gaps such as these that practical technologies become ever useful. This article offers case studies regarding two freely-available, open-source digital asset metadata tools—BWF MetaEdit and MDQC. The case studies offer on-the-ground examples of how four institutions recognized a need for metadata creation and validation, and how they employed these new tools in their production and accessioning workflows.

Over the last year, archivists at Emory University’s Manuscript, Archives, and Rare Book Library (MARBL) processed thirty-seven 3.5” floppy disks included amongst the papers of writer and activist Alice Walker. Early in this process, forensic images of the disks’ contents were captured and these bit-by-bit replicas of the data were stored as preservation copies. Digital Archives literature has focused on imaging as a practical solution for the transfer of data from aging and often obsolete media, and this article documents attempts at MARBL to put these recommendations into practice.

Tips and Tricks

In 2011, the Senator John Heinz History Center embarked on an NHPRC-funded project to minimally process nearly 600 collections from its backlog. For each collection, a finding aid, an EAD file, and a MARC record would be produced.  We planned to have Archivists’ Toolkit installed by the start of the grant, which would have facilitated the production of the three types of documents from the same data source.  However, in the lead up to the project, it was determined that the organization’s technical infrastructure could not support the software without an increase in resources. With just a short period of time before work was to begin, I turned to Microsoft Access as an alternative.