44 · Survey Results: Survey Questions and Responses
Obsolete or deteriorating storage media: floppy and optical disks. We are in the process of transferring materials
received on such media to networked storage, to facilitate bit-level preservation. Obsolete or unknown file formats. We
currently rely on available open-source file identification tools, the file-conversion features of desktop applications, such
as MS Word, and the expertise of contract staff familiar with the history of common office work applications. Metadata
capture and management. Metadata for born-digital special collections materials is currently managed using the Special
Collections databases for accessioning and archival description information. We plan to transition in the near future to a
digital repository application with more sophisticated metadata management functionality.
One of the biggest challenges we have faced with our collections is how to satisfactorily handle security and privacy
concerns of our donors. Because it is still early days with born-digital personal collections, we are approaching this
problem by proposing a process that ensures donor confidence, reviewing outcomes then suggesting other approaches
that enable more sustainable practices while also addressing donor concerns. We continue to struggle with identifying
archivist-friendly tools to use for ingest and processing. All we can do for now is follow development of tools and best
practices in the field. Securing dedicated staffing for digital archives work continues to be a challenge. We now have
one dedicated staff member, the promise of another dedicated archivist, and support from other library divisions.
Advocacy with senior management about the needs and importance of digital archives has been our only approach.
Opening Legacy formats. Privacy/Security issues of PII. Workflow for ingest.
Organization: Research Data and Institutional Archives come on unorganized file systems. Files need to be restructured
into standard, flattened directories representing collections of items. This requires significant analysis and scripting.
Metadata: ETDs come from the vendor with transformable metadata. However, metadata is usually non-existent in
Research Data and Institutional Archives. Sometimes it can be derived from full text from documents. In the case of
audio, video and images, it must be entered or derived from external spreadsheets. Disk Space: Archives are guaranteed
preservation only if stored on enterprise data storage. Redundant, highly available enterprise disk is still costly.
Traditional administrative systems use relatively small amounts of storage so the infrastructure must ramp up an order
of magnitude. An entire integrated library system runs on less than half a terabyte while Research Data collections often
utilize 1–10 terabytes each. This creates issues around scheduling and funding disk space acquisition.
Organizations of born-digital material. Have created separate master list that contains organization data. Archiving data
as brought in in appropriate format. Standardizing metadata and quality control.
“Preservation environment” vs. “Repository.” “Repository” is currently under development. Unwritten vs. written policy
(Policy is still underdevelopment). “In permanent develop.” Most ingest software is in an alpha or beta release, with
long-term roadmaps for future development.
Pressure from donors and partner institutions that want us to be able to handle all existing file formats. We’re just
beginning to grapple with questions of workflow, appraisal, and how to make the files available for research use.
Metadata: how much and who creates it? So far we’ve received a lot of assistance from our technical services unit for
materials being ingested in our IR, but we can’t expect them to take on that burden for born-digital archival materials,
emails, etc.
Privacy: partially addressed through limited access by staff and warnings that material is restricted.
Readability of legacy media: some disks that were accessioned in the past are now unreadable. We currently do not
have a strategy to address this. Appraisal: some legacy media acquired in the past was accessioned as part of a larger
collection without thought to whether the disk content has sufficient research value to warrant preservation. We now
need to decide whether or not to reappraise this material. File format: legacy media has a variety of file formats, many of
which are no longer in use. We are piloting the Archivematica preservation system, which will normalize some formats
into an access and/or preservation standard.
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