SPEC Kit 329: Managing Born-Digital Special Collections and Archival Materials · 79
ensure they align with our digital acquisitions. How do we balance the need to support access to our collections with
the restrictive mandates that might be required under copyright or donor agreements?
How to present digital objects in a standardized fashion or to be able to save/render legacy and/or complex formats.
We have only just begun to address these challenges on a piecemeal and ad hoc basis.
Lack of a repository suited for easy upload/ingest of born-digital materials with additional tools available for supporting
preservation metadata. Staff resources/time to describe born-digital materials, prepare them for uploading into an
access system, particularly regarding creation of preservation metadata and other descriptive metadata. Restrictions
placed by donors or by law on access to some born-digital archives and special collections, which need to be maintained
in a repository but without access for a period of time.
Limited staff.
Managing permissions for various types of users (distance researchers, classes of students, faculty, TAs, etc.), which can
change, are time sensitive, need to be secure. Large files can crash our server or significantly slow down the system.
Structure and display of files.
Metadata: we lack full-featured metadata creation and management systems for descriptive, rights, administrative, and
structural metadata. Poor solutions in the past. We are currently in the process of adapting the new Hypatia libraries
on our Fedora platform. Copyright, permissions, privacy: we are working through these issues as they arise. Scaling up
our operation to accommodate born-digital archival collections and other born-digital special collections may be slowed
down by the need to investigate rights status, clear rights, and do risk analyses. Software development: working in
the open source Fedora environment has many advantages but does require significant local investment in software
development. When possible we are leveraging others’ work with Fedora, Hypatia, and Blacklight and contributing code
to those projects.
One of the top challenges right now for providing access to born-digital material is the inadequacy of our current
descriptive tools (EAD and MARC) and their discovery and display interfaces to deal with the nature of born-digital
content. The scale of the born-digital content easily overwhelms the traditional library catalog-style digital library
interface (1 record per item) and the EAD record is not created or managed in a way that can take advantage of the
born-digital components either (too many items to list or link them all; the text and technical metadata for objects
doesn’t have a container in EAD). The Hypatia project, as part of the AIMS grant, worked on ways to build interaction
between these systems so that the individual digital objects can be managed in an appropriate repository environment,
but discovery of them can be integrated with description of non-digital components in a finding aid. We are still working
on developing this kind of system locally. A major issue related to born-digital material is restrictions on access both due
to sensitive or private information and intellectual property rights. They are related, but slightly different issues. Sensitive
and private information is restricted from all view unless permission is granted. In order to provide this information
then we would need to grant access to some users but not to others. In some cases this would be access granted to a
class of user (university affiliates), but in other cases it would be on a case-by-case basis. Issues then would be being
able to identify and remove, redact, or restrict the appropriate content (not always easy to do) and to grant access to
appropriate individuals. Eventually, we would like for all content to be managed through a digital repository, so that
will mean that we will need some sophisticated authentication controls. Issues related to intellectual property arise due
to the fact that we do not own copyright to the majority of the material we collect. When we just provided access to
paper copies that were difficult to reproduce in the reading room to a single user at a time, this access was considered
well within fair use. If we were to simply make access available to born-digital content online to anyone we would have
dramatically changed the situation: now copying is easy and multiple people can see the content. This would increase
our risk of overreaching fair use. As a way to avoid this, we will make some digital materials available only in our
reading room on a dedicated computer used only for viewing content, not copying or taking notes. A third challenge is
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