Are born-digital archives still mystifying you?

October 17th, 2013 by Jackie

Here at OCLC Research we’re always eager to find ways to ensure that our projects have strong positive impact on our professional community, and we’ve clearly hit the mark with our Demystifying Born Digital work agenda. I was reminded of this yesterday upon seeing the news that SAA’s Manuscript Repositories Section is going to reprise its 2013 “Jump In” initiative. What’s that, you say? Read on.

Ricky has been doing the heavy lifting on the Demystifying project, and both of her reports on managing born-digital archival content on physical media have been avidly received. “Finally,” say our archivist colleagues, “guidance that helps me get started rather than assuming I’m already an expert!” That’s exactly what we had in mind when we launched the project. Yay.

The first report, You’ve Got to Walk Before You Can Run: First Steps for Managing Born- Digital Content Received on Physical Media, served as the inspiration for “Jump In.” Here’s how it worked: Archivists were encouraged to follow the brief guidelines in the report for inventorying their born-digital holdings, and more than twenty did the work and submitted a report describing their methodology. The approaches taken varied a great deal and, taken as a whole, revealed that even this very first step in gaining control of born-digital holdings is not necessarily a trivial one. The “Jump In” reports then served as the basis for a panel, which Ricky moderated, at the Manuscript Repositories Section meeting at SAA conference this past August.

In fact, she was everywhere at SAA. Ricky also participated in a lightning round session on born-digital projects at the Research Libraries Roundtable meeting and spoke in a session titled “Defining Levels of Preservation and Management for eRecords.”

Only weeks before the SAA meeting, we released Walk This Way: Detailed Steps for Transferring Born-Digital Content from Media You Can Read In-house, co-authored by Ricky and our amazing Diversity Fellow Julianna Barrera-Gómez, which greatly expands upon the brief technical advice offered in First Steps, enabling archivists to move on to converting content and getting it into secure storage. We brought along 150 copies to the conference, and they flew out of our arms wherever we made them available.

And so, if your library or archives also needs inspiration to get started with managing born-digital stuff, have a look at Ricky’s reports and “Jump In Too/Two” in 2014! You might win the raffle for a free course from SAA’s acclaimed Digital Archivist Specialist curriculum.

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