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NDSA New England Regional Meeting Recap

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The following is a guest post by Meghan Banach Bergin, Bibliographic Access and Metadata Coordinator, University of Massachusetts Amherst Libraries.

NDSA NE Regional Meeting. Photo Credit: Jennifer Gunter King
NDSA NE Regional Meeting. Photo Credit: Jennifer Gunter King

On October 30th, the second New England Regional National Digital Stewardship Alliance (NE NDSA) meeting was held at the University of Massachusetts Amherst Libraries.  The meeting was generously sponsored by the Five Colleges Digital Preservation Task Force and the UMass Amherst Libraries and coordinated by myself and Jennifer Gunter King, Director of the Harold F. Johnson Library at Hampshire College.  The first NE NDSA meeting was hosted last year by WGBH and the Harvard Library at WGBH in Boston and coordinated by Karen Cariani and Andrea Goethals.

This year’s meeting began with an overview of the NDSA and its goals and purpose by Dr. Micah Altman, Director of Research at MIT Libraries and Chair of the NDSA Coordinating Committee.  Dr. Altman also discussed the NDSA’s 2015 National Agenda, which is aimed at senior institutional decision makers and includes recommendations on specific actions that can be taken now to coordinate the large-scale acquisition and management of all different types of born-digital content – some of which may not be the type of content that is traditionally collected by libraries and archives.  The actions recommended in the National Agenda include things like advocating for resources; enhancing staffing and training; fostering multi-institutional collaboration as well as shared software platforms, tools and services; and developing standards and best practices, especially in the areas of format migrations and long-term data integrity.

This was followed with a presentation by Aaron Rubinstein and Shaun Trujilo about collaborative digital preservation efforts (PDF) among the five schools in the Five Colleges Consortium (University of Massachusetts Amherst, Smith College, Mount Holyoke College, Hampshire College and Amherst College).  Recent efforts included hosting Nancy McGovern’s Digital Preservation Management workshop and the Digital POWRR (Preserving Digital Objects with Restricted Resources) workshop, preparing a digital preservation readiness guide and checklist, and applying what was learned in a practical way with a pilot project to install and test Archivematica.

From Kathryn Gronsbell's, AVPreserve, Presentation. Photo Credit: Jennifer Gunter King
From Kathryn Gronsbell’s, AVPreserve, Presentation. Photo Credit: Jennifer Gunter King

Next was a presentation by Eleni Castro, Research Coordinator at Harvard University, on DataVerse, which is a repository for sharing, citing and preserving research data.  Her presentation highlighted some of DataVerse’s most recent data publishing efforts, (PDF) which include dataset versioning, standards-based data citations and integration with journal publishing workflows.

After that we heard from Michele Kimpton, Chief Executive Officer of DuraSpace, about the new DuraCloud/Archivematica Pilot project to integrate the two services (PDF) and provide a hosted digital preservation platform that will hopefully meet all of the needs identified in the Digital POWRR tool grid.  Our last presentation before we broke for lunch was by Kathryn Gronsbell of AVPreserve, who discussed the role of taxonomies in digital preservation strategies (PDF) and how they can help us to more efficiently find and organize the information we are preserving.

After lunch, we reconvened the meeting with a lightning talk by Casey Davis, Project Manager for the American Archive of Public Broadcasting at the WGBH Media Library and Archives.  Casey talked about digital media failures during the born-digital phase of the American Archive of Public Broadcasting Project.

We then had a series of lightning talks by the residents of the National Digital Stewardship Residency program in Boston.   Andrea Goethals, Manager of Digital Preservation and Repository Services at Harvard, and Nancy McGovern, Head of Curation and Preservation Services at MIT Libraries, gave an overview of the NDSR program (PDF) and discussed the Boston NDSR program more specifically.  Then we heard from the residents themselves about their projects:

  • Samantha DeWitt talked about her residency project at Tufts University.  Samantha is helping Tufts to gain a more complete understanding of the research data produced by its faculty, research staff and graduate students.  She is also investigating strategies for producing metadata for Tufts-created datasets for their Fedora-based repository.
  • Rebecca Fraimow, who is doing her residency at WGBH, explained her involvement with many different aspects of daily operations within the WGBH Media, Library and Archives department and her project which is to examine and help improve the overall workflow for preserving digital media as WGBH migrates from managing files with Filemaker databases and a proprietary DAM system to a Fedora-based Hydra repository.
  • Joey Heinen talked about his project at Harvard Library which is to develop migration plans for three specific, now-obsolete formats — Kodak PhotoCD, RealAudio and SMIL Playlists.
  • Jen LaBarbera then discussed her residency at Northeastern University’s Archives and Special Collections, where she is working on ingesting recently born-digital content into the Our Marathon digital archive that was created as a digital humanities project following the bombing at the 2013 Boston Marathon.  She is working on transferring all of the materials (in a wide variety of formats) from their current states/platforms (Omeka, external hard drives, Google Drive, local server) to a new iteration of Northeastern’s Fedora-based digital repository.
  • Tricia Patterson talked about her residency at the MIT Lewis Music Library.  Tricia is working to develop a digital preservation workflow for digital audio files that are part of the “Music at MIT” digital audio project.
NDSA NE Regional Meeting discussion session. Photo credit: Meghan Banach Bergin
NDSA NE Regional Meeting discussion session. Photo credit: Meghan Banach Bergin

The day concluded with a breakout discussion session where we broke into groups and talked about several topics chosen by meeting attendees.  The topics included preserving born-digital versus digitized content, digital preservation systems and tools, leveraging intellectual data using taxonomies and other tools, and video archiving.

The day’s agenda, presentations, and notes from our afternoon discussions (PDF) are posted here:

Since the first two meetings were so successful, we are hoping to make this an annual meeting with different institutions volunteering to take on hosting and coordination from year to year.  Some plans are already being discussed for next year’s meeting, so stay tuned for more information.

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