Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Tracking Digital Collections at the Library of Congress, from Donor to Repository

Tracking Digital Collections at the Library of Congress, from Donor to Repository. Mike Ashenfelder. The Signal, Library of Congress. April 13, 2015.
An interesting look at the processing of content by the Library of Congress specialists.
When a collection is first received the contents are reviewed and if digital media devices are found, they are transferred to the digital collections registrar, who then records that the materials were received, including the collection name, collection number, a registration number and any additional notes. The following tasks are performed:
  1. Physical inventory of the storage devices (and photograph of the medium)
  2. Write protecting, documenting, and transfer of the files using the Bagit tool
    1. a directory containing the file or files (data)
    2. a checksummed manifest of the files in the bag
    3. a “bagit.txt” file
  3. The content is cataloged, described, and inventoried. 
  4. Transfer of the files to the Library’s digital repository for long-term preservation.
If there are difficulties accessing the content, other tools can be used, such as the Forensic Recovery of Evidence Device (FRED), the Forensic Toolkit, or BitCurator. The final step is to shelve the original digital hardware and software for preservation.

Researchers visiting the Library of Congress can access copies of some of the digital collections but access depends on copyright and the conditions established by the collection donor. There are also technological challenges to serving up records.  Access is currently available only onsite. Also, the Library does not have the software or drives to read every file format. Not all researchers require a perfect rendering of the original file. A lot of researchers "are just interested in the information. They don’t care what the file format is. They want the information.”  For the Library, access and appraisal of digital collections is an ongoing issue.

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