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Showing posts from 2014

Plugging the gaps: Linking Arkivum with Archivematica

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In September this year, Arkivum and Artefactual Systems (who develop and support the Open Source software  Archivematica ) announced that they were collaborating on a digital preservation system. This is a piece of work that myself and colleagues at the University of York were very pleased to be able to fund. We don't currently have a digital archive for the University of York but we are in the process of planning how we can best implement one. Myself and colleagues have been thinking about requirements and assessing systems and in particular looking at ways we might create a digital archive that interfaces with existing systems, automates as much of the digital preservation process as possible ....and is affordable. My first point of call is normally the Open Archival Information System (OAIS) reference model. I regularly wheel out the image below in presentations and meetings because I always think it helps in focusing the mind and summarising what we are trying to achieve. OA

A non-archivist's perspective on cataloguing born digital archives

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As blogged in my previous post , earlier this week I attended an  ARA Section for Archives and Technology event on Born Digital Cataloguing and also had the opportunity to talk about some of the Borthwick's current work in this area. I gave a non-archivist's perspective on born digital cataloguing. These were the main points I tried to put across, though some of the points below were also informed by discussions on the day: Born digital cataloguing within a purely digital archive is reasonably straightforward. The real complexity comes when working with hybrid archives where content is both physical and digital The Archaeology Data Service are good at born digital cataloguing. This is partly because they only have digital material to worry about, but also down to the fact that they have many years of experience and the necessary systems in place. Their new ADS Easy system allows depositors to submit data for archiving along with the required metadata (which they can enter b

Born Digital Cataloguing (some thoughts from the ARA SAT event)

First day back to work after my holiday and I am straight back into the fray – no quiet day catching up on e-mails and getting my head slowly back into work mode for me! On Monday I attended an ARA Section for Archives and Technology event on BornDigital Cataloguing and also had the opportunity to talk about some of our current work in this area. It was great to see the event so well attended (the organisers had to find a bigger room due to the huge amount of interest!). This is clearly an important and interesting subject for many archives professionals and it was clear throughout the day that many of us are grappling with very similar issues. Here are some of the main points that I latched on to from the morning’s presentations:   It is important to preserve the directory structure of digital files as submitted into the archive – even if you subsequently move the files into a different structure. This is the equivalent of original order and can give context to the files. End users

To crop or not to crop? Preparing images for page turning applications

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How do you prepare digital images of physical archive volumes for display within a web-based page turning application? I thought this was going to be a fairly straight forward question when I was faced with it a couple of months ago. Over the summer I have been supervising an internship project with the goal of finalising a set of exisiting digital images for display within a page turning application. The images were digital surrogates of the   visitation records for the Archdeaconry of York between 1598 and 1690 (for more information about these records see our project page on the Borthwick website ). I soon realised that there are many ways of approaching this problem and few standard answers. Google is normally my friend but googling the problem surfaced only guidelines geared towards particular tools and technologies - not the generic guides to good practice in this area that I was hoping for. Page turning for digital versions of modern books is fairly straightforward. They will be

Physical diaries versus digital calendars - a digital perspective

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This summer as part of our annual staff festival I had the chance to play at being a ‘real’ archivist. Coming to work at a traditional archive through a digital route with no formal archives training means that there are many traditional archives activities that I have not had any experience of. It was great to have the chance to handle some physical archives as Borthwick staff embarked on a ‘mass list in’ of the Alan Ayckbourn archive. Given a couple of heavy brown archive boxes and a pencil (no pens please!) and paper I was tasked with creating a box list (essentially just a brief description of what the boxes contained) for a selection of Ayckbourn’s diaries. This proved to be an interesting way to spend a morning. My job doesn't take me into the strongrooms or searchroom very often and opportunities to handle physical archives are rare. Opening a box from the archives and lifting out the contents was reminiscent of my past career in archaeological fieldwork, in particular the e

How much data can you afford to lose?

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“How often should I back up my data?” is a question I am sometimes asked. There are several answers to this. A bee - one of the rescued digital images An ideal solution would be a regular and frequent automatic backup that ‘just happens’ behind the scenes. What is often closer to reality (particularly in a personal sphere) is a manual process managed by an individual in a slightly more ad hoc way. Frequency of back up may vary depending on need (how much new data has been added) or engagement (how often the individual remembers or has the inclination to do it!). In the fast-paced digital world that we live, backing up our data is often seen as an additional administrative overhead that can fall to the bottom of our overflowing to do list. My standard answer to the question posed above is “How much can you afford to lose?” Back up strategies are essentially all about risk management. This approach works well across the full range of different types of data and working practices. If your

How does Archivematica meet my requirements?

It seems a long time ago that I first blogged about my failed attempts to install archivematica . This is probably because it *was* quite a long time ago... other priorities had a habit of getting in the way! With the help of a colleague (more technically able than I) I've now had a chance to see the new version of Archivematica. I have been assured that Archivematica version 1.0 is easier to install than it's predecessors so that is good news! Any decent digital preservation system is going to have to be pretty complex in order to carry out the required tasks and workflows so assessing products such as this one is not something that can be done in one sitting. As well as playing with the software itself, I've watched the video , I've signed up to the mailing list and I'm talking to others who are using it. A recent 'Technology Bytes' webinar hosted by the DPC (Digital Preservation Coalition) also helped me find out more. Artefactual Systems (who support a