Digital Preservation Planning: An NDSR Boston Project Update

The following is a guest post by Jeffrey Erickson, National Digital Stewardship Resident at the University Archives and Special Collections at UMass Boston. He participates in the NDSR-Boston cohort.

Jeffrey Erickson, 2015 NDSR Resident at UMass Boston

Jeffrey Erickson, 2015 NDSR Resident at UMass Boston.

I am a recent graduate of Simmons College’s School of Library and Information Science as well as a current participant in this year’s Boston cohort of the National Digital Stewardship Residency (NDSR) program. At Simmons, I focused my studies on archiving and cultural heritage informatics. In the NDSR program, I am excited to continue learning as I work on a digital preservation planning project at the University Archives and Special Collections (UASC) at UMass Boston.

PROJECT

My project involves developing a digital preservation plan for the digital objects of the UASC project called the “Mass. Memories Road Show (MMRS)”. Because the UASC operates with limited IT support, hosted technical systems and services are used wherever possible. Therefore, this project is testing the use of ArchivesDirect, a hosted digital preservation solution that combines the Archivematica digital preservation workflow tool and the DuraCloud storage service.

The project is divided into three phases:

  1. Research and Practice
  • Research digital preservation concepts, good practices, tools and services
  • Assess the digital stewardship landscape at UMass Boston
  • Examine digitization practices and the digital asset management systems employed by the University Archives and Special Collections
  1. Review and Testing

During the Review and Testing phase I will be collaborating with Archives staff, Library leadership and University stakeholders to:

  • Further develop/refine workflows which prepare UASC for continuing digitization projects
  • Develop policies and procedures to implement long-term preservation of holdings using cloud-based storage services
  • Review and test new policies and procedures
  1. Implementation and Final Reporting
  • Apply the new digital preservation policies and procedures to the MMRS digital objects
  • Perform digital preservation tasks
    • Assign technical and preservation metadata
    • Generate and verify fixity information to ensure data integrity
    • Create Archival Information Packages (AIPs), upload them to DuraCloud service
    • Other tasks as necessary
  • Prepare a final report documenting the project, the procedures and my recommendations

COLLECTION

Mass. Memories Road Show logoThe Mass. Memories Road Show is an ongoing community-based digital humanities project operated by UMass Boston’s Archives and Special Collections. The project captures stories and photographs about Massachusetts communities contributed by its residents. The goal of the project is to build communities and create a collection of images and videos collected at public events (“Road shows”) for educational purposes. Members of the community participate by contributing their personal photographs, which are digitized by UMass Boston Archives staff and volunteers. Additionally, participants may be photographed or video recorded telling their stories. The collected images and videos are then processed and uploaded to the UASC’s CONTENTdm repository. The digital objects in this collection require digital preservation because they are original materials that cannot be replaced if they were to become lost or damaged. To date the collection consists of more than 7,500 photographs and 600 video interviews, with several hundred added each year.

PROGRESS TO-DATE

The initial Research Phase of the project has been completed. I have gathered a lot of information about digital preservation concepts and good practices. I have evaluated many digital preservation tools, including Archivematica and DuraCloud. I have familiarized myself with the Mass. Memories Road Show; documenting the digitization workflows and studying the digital asset management system in use at UMass Boston. A Road Show event was held in October on Martha’s Vineyard so I was able to witness first-hand how the digital objects are captured and digitized.

The primary deliverables for the Research Phase of the project were a Digital Content Review (DCR) and a GAP Analysis. The DCR defines the scope of the digital objects in the collection and assesses the collection’s future growth and digital preservation needs. The GAP Analysis considers the current digitization practices and the digital asset management system and compares them to the digital preservation requirement as outlined in the OAIS Reference model. The GAP Analysis and the parameters of the project dictate that digital preservation efforts be concentrated on preparing digital objects for ingest and implementing archival storage.

NEXT STEPS

Moving forward, I will be working with Archives staff and ArchivesDirect consultants to address the following issues.

  1. Identifying tools and developing procedures for generating and reviewing fixity information to ensure the authenticity and data integrity of the collection.
  2. Refining the workflows to determine how best to integrate the new systems, Archivematica and DuraCloud, with the current digital asset management system centered on the CONTENTdm repository.
  3. Developing local storage options to ensure that multiple copies of the collection are preserved in archival storage.
  4. Determining procedures and solutions for incorporating descriptive, technical and preservation metadata requirements into the digital preservation workflow.
  5. Creating an exit strategy to ensure digital preservation can continue in the event that any of the hosted services become unavailable for any reason.

I am looking forward to moving from the research phase to the practice phases of the project and applying the information I have gathered to the tasks involved in the preservation process. I anticipate that the most challenging elements standing between me and a successful completion of the project will be figuring out how Archivematica, CONTENTdm and DuraCloud can best be configured to work together and how to manage the metadata requirements. Integrating the three systems to work together will require me to gain an in-depth understanding of how they work and how they are configured. As a “systems” guy, I look forward to taking a look under the hood. Similarly, I am looking forward to gaining a stronger understanding of how to manage and work with technical and preservation metadata.

I feel like I have learned so much through the first half of my NDSR project. But I realize that there is still a lot to do and even more to learn. Thank you for your interest in my project.

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