The digital rescue mission begins!

What a great start to the new year to have the opportunity to begin the digital rescue mission that I blogged about back in September!

On Monday next week an intern is starting work here, and between us we have 8 weeks to 'rescue' digital content from the Borthwick Institute's strongrooms.

The first job that I have made a start on is to run various searches on our databases and pick the brains of staff here to create a list of collections that contain digital media. Though digital media has not been a part of our collection policy until recently, occasional CDs, DVDs and floppy disks have been given to us alongside more traditional analogue deposits. With no digital archiving strategy in place for dealing with these items, the digital media have been stored in the strongrooms awaiting the appointment of a digital archivist (that's where I come in). It is a priority for me to gain some control over this material. Locating the material and getting it securely stored and backed up on a server is the first step - some of the finer details about what happens next will be formulated as the project progresses.

On my noticeboard, squeezed between the family photos and Christmas cards (which I really should take down) there is a copy of a the table from 'NDSA Levels of Digital Preservation'. I'm finding this really helpful. When faced with a big task it is useful to break it down into smaller chunks rather than being overwhelmed by the whole. I am first of all focusing on 'Level One (Protect your Data)' and from that sound base can work my way to Level Two and beyond. Level One sets out the foundations of digital preservation. It is all very basic stuff but absolutely essential that this is carried out before anything else happens. There is no point attempting to carry out file migrations for example until you know your data is securely stored.

I'll be blogging more about progress on this over the next couple of months.

Jenny Mitcham, Digital Archivist


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