Managing Incoming Digital Content

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Whether digital content comes to Digital Services that has been digitized by someone else, or born digital, it’s much the same set of issues:

We need to:

  1. protect the original (even opening the file or virus checking it can change it)
  2. virus check it before anything else
  3. find out everything we can about it, including file dates, file structure, who created it, when, what’s it about, etc (hence the latest documentation files)
  4. (if on media) capture a snapshot of it if possible (ISO image), and md5 checksums before and after transfer (then compare!)
  5. find out whether we are to put it online, and/or
  6. find out if we have to preserve it

For the last two, more research may be needed:

  1. what rights do we have with regard to this content? Do we have the right to digitize it? To make copies? To make derivatives? To generate metadata? To preserve it? To provide open access to it? The answers to these questions may determine whether we do anything at all.
  2. what are the significant properties are of the file (text? image? video? software? audio?)
  3. what are the appropriate file types to normalize to (both for web delivery and for archiving)?
  4. what quality should we use for storing it (if the original is low quality, it won't make much sense to normalize it to a high quality archival file)
  5. what should we name it? This involves assignment to a collection, gathering collection metadata if we don't have it, and selecting appropriate item numbers
  6. what should we use for metadata?


Managing digital content created by anyone else is a whole new ball of wax. We are in the process of developing our procedures and workflows for this type of content, so the following is subject to change.

Upon receiving digital content in Digital Services, first notify the Head of Digital Services, who will contact the Associate Deans for prioritization and determination of preservation or web delivery needs.



For content coming in from OUTSIDE UA Libraries, fill in the IncomingDigitalDocumentation file to the best of your ability, asking questions of those who brought you the content.

For content coming from INSIDE UA Libraries, at the Dean's request or with his approval: see In House Born Digital.

For MEDIA:

Do not immediately open the media.

All incoming media must undergo:

  1. Write protection, to avoid inadvertent alteration of content
  2. Virus-checking prior to any access or use


 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.

After virus-checking, IF this content is possibly going to be preserved:

  1. make an ISO capture of the DVD/CD onto designated external hard drive for analysis
  2. if not on a media that enables this, we will need to capture all file information first, one by one, directory by directory, before copying the entire directory structure elsewhere.


IF we are to make this content available online, try to identify the current delivery formats and extensions for the types of files included in the content, and document your findings. Communicate with the Head of Digital Services to determine how to proceed.

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