Incoming Digital Content
The following applies to both "born digital" (has never been in analog form) and "incoming digital" (was digitized by others).
We currently are set up to programmatically manage two kinds of incoming digital content: Electronic Theses and Dissertations (ETDs) and Undergraduate Research Papers. These vary immensely in workflow, as we are not archiving the latter, and the former have metadata input by the creators via ProQuest, that comes to us in proprietary XML.
- For ETDs, see Electronic_Theses_and_Dissertations. Most of this workflow is automated.
- For Undergraduate Research Projects, see Undergraduate_Research_Projects.
Since history didn't stop when the world went digital, other kinds of born digital content are pouring into archives and special collections around the world, and librarians and archivists are scrambling to determine how best to manage the influx.
Incoming Digital Content Intake
Bear in mind that if we are to preserve this content and attest to it remaining unchanged, and if we are to make it usable again, and provide context, we need to retain the original files as is, in the directory structure as is, with any files that may be referred to or utilized by other files, WITH the original file dates and information. We also have to capture as much information as we can about how the files were created, by whom, using what hardware/software (include versions of these), and why these files are important.
Additionally, functional access to some content may depend on other files and where they are in relation to the file accessed. Nearby files may provide clues to the meaning, context, and use of the file under consideration. Hence, if we cannot retain the original directory structure, we must document all we can.
See more at Born Digital Ingest.
Managing Incoming Digital Content
Management of incoming digital content involves:
- virus checking
- testing, gathering metadata, documenting
- identifying significant properties of content
- selecting and documenting appropriate target formats
- normalization and possibly emulation
- organization and description (and sometimes incorporation into hybrid collections)
- online delivery
See more at Managing Incoming Digital Content.
Field Guide for Archivists
A great guide that may be helpful for how to handle and store physical media that houses digital content:
Assessment Procedure for Digital Media from Donor
- Do NOT immediately open the media. We must first make sure that we do not alter any files upon opening nor open anything contaminated with a virus.
- Collect as much information about the media as you can from the donor and record it on the Incoming Digital Form. Also fill out the Digital Services Permissions Agreement.
- Engage write-protect tabs on media, if applicable.
- Plug media into write-blocking hardware (Forensic ComboDock v5) and engage any read-only software.
- Run virus check using virus check software (none selected at this time). If no viruses found, continue to next step. If viruses found, do not proceed any further.
- Make an ISO or applicable capture of the media on the designated external hard drive and label it with the donor name and date.
- If the media you are examining can only be transferred directory-by-directory or file-by-file, we will need to collect the file information before copying the entire directory structure on the external hard drive. Information to collect includes:
- Full path to directory
- File name and extension
- Date of file
- Size of file on disk
- Remove physical media, making sure to properly eject it.
- Label the media item appropriately with donor name and date. (Other label information may be forthcoming). Also, please record any label or writing on the physical media.
Current Media Capacities
We are in the process of determining which types of physical storage media from which we are able to access files. CD, DVD, and USB interfaces are the most accessible at this time. Our current list:
- CD, CD-R/RW
- DVD, DVD-R/RW
- Floppy disks 3.5"
- Zip disks
- Flash drives (USB)
- External hard drives (USB)
- Hard disc drives (SATA)