80 · Survey Results: Survey Questions and Responses
related again to the software formats of much of the born-digital content. We suspect that most users will want to use
a modern file format, especially for materials that we can make widely available on the web. In addition, we will not
be able to find and support every software needed to view every file type in our own reading room for those materials
only available there. For some formats, we know we can migrate to an acceptable access format (modern PDFs can be
derived from early Microsoft Word formats), but for others there is no clear migration path. In addition, there will be
some number of researchers who will want access to the original formats. This would mean that we would need to be
able to get reasonably quick access to both a normalized access format as well as the original.
One significant challenge continues to be donor restrictions and copyright issues. For now, we are only providing access
to the material within the reading room. We also would like to add a more advanced set of tools for researchers to use
while interacting with the born-digital collections. Our current approach is to solicit feedback from researchers and
develop plans for future tool development.
Organizing and describing research data was a significant challenge, but we believe we have developed a methodology
that uses events to describe research context and RDF relationships to link resources within a research project together.
We have also developed a research data application profile that enables us to provide core descriptions of research data
to enable interdisciplinary reuse of data. We are working to resolve the challenge of collection level description, using
EAD, within the RUcore repository. We are developing a context object methodology that uses relationship metadata to
link resources and that creates generic “core” metadata at the object level, so that individual objects do not need to be
described individually. We do not currently have a methodology for describing and managing websites, but are hoping
that the EAD methodology, which supports hierarchical relationships, can be used to manage the more matrix-like site
maps of websites.
Our ingest and storage system is brand new and partially still in the planning stage; discovery and access tools are still
in development. The library is presently building a Hydra/Fedora institutional repository structure and access to born-
digital records in a primary use case.
Overall processing workflows and workloads: this is related to the earlier challenge of insufficient staffing. In the
short-term, we are incorporating these responsibilities along with the other primary responsibilities of existing staff.
Arrangement and description: this is related to the earlier challenge of insufficient staffing. In the short-term, we are
incorporating these responsibilities along with the other primary responsibilities of existing staff. Access for reference
service: this is related to the earlier challenge of insufficient staffing. In the short-term, we are incorporating these
responsibilities along with the other primary responsibilities of existing staff.
Processing efficiently. For physical materials, we are adopting efficient processing procedures where we organize,
appraise, describe, and house materials in less and less granular ways. However, for the first few born-digital collections
we processed, we found that we had to work at the item or file level. This may be because the files were from floppy
disks with no discernible original order or series. An archivist had to open up, evaluate, and provide a descriptive title for
every file/item. She also reviewed the material for confidentiality issues. This level of processing is not sustainable, and
we are actively looking for other methods to automate this work. Many of our born-digital collections are faculty papers
and contain the same sorts of files that physical faculty papers contain: collected articles authored by other individuals,
letters of recommendation for colleagues, drafts of unpublished books, etc. If we provided access to these freely on the
web, we might be in violation of copyright, or we might violate individuals’ reasonable expectation for privacy, or we
might hamper the family’s ability to publish works posthumously. We developed the concept of a Virtual Reading Room
so that we could provide remote access to this content online in the same way as we do to physical items in our physical
reading room. While the metadata for the material is exposed publicly, you have to enter the Virtual Reading Room in
order to view the content of the files. The full-text is not indexed in Google either, thus protecting the individuals about
whom correspondence is written. To enter, we require that researchers complete the same application we would have
them complete if they came into our physical reading room. They sign off on a copyright statement as a condition of
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