This case study is a summary of practices that Rutgers University Libraries has used with their Fedora system in the treatment of archival masters which have been developed over a period of years. They are recognized as compromises between preservation theory and practice. This will be valuable for others dealing with similar problems. The case study looks at topics such as policies, critical technologies, persistent IDs, normalizing archival masters, using checksums, documenting architectures, generating presentation files, content models, file formats, and others. Video files have been their greatest challenge.
A Data Deluge Swamps Science Historians. Robert Lee Hotz. The Wall Street Journal. August 28, 2009.
The first curator of e-Manuscripts in the British Library struggles with archiving the flood of computer materials. “Never have so many people generated so much digital data or been able to lose so much of it so quickly.” More technical data has been collected in the past year than all previous years combined. “The problem is forcing historians to become scientists, and scientists to become archivists and curators.” People are overwhelmed with all the data. “What you keep and how you pay for it are difficult issues.”
Time to clean up your digital closet. Chris O'Brien. Mercury News. August 3, 2009.
What will happen to data you have stored on devices that become outdated? People don’t really think about it. There isn’t an easy solution, and may never be one due to the dynamic nature of computers. There are some strategies you can put in place. “You will need to start thinking like a librarian and become an active curator of your files. That means relentlessly organizing, labeling and tagging, backing up and deleting.” Keep only the essential data. Develop a system for organizing files online and offline and remember where they are. Label every file and tag them with as much information as you can. Make multiple copies. Investigate ways to keep track of all this and update it regularly.
Think Tank: Google must let us forget. James Harkin. The Sunday Times. August 9, 2009.
With all the data that is now being stored online, there needs to be a way to purge unwanted information. Some companies are gathering information about people from public sites and storing it in a single database. Some data about individuals may be posted by other people. Some say we are creating a “digital memory that vastly exceeds the capacity of our collective human mind”, that there needs to be a way of forgetting the unimportant elements. One way suggested is to put an expiry date on data, then to remove the information on that date.
This article will self-destruct: A tool to make online personal data vanish. Hannah Hickey. University of Washington website. July 21, 2009.
Computers have made it difficult for data to be left behind, but the University of Washington has developed a way to make data expire with a system called Vanish. Vanish, a free, open-source tool that works with Firefox, can place a time limit on text uploaded to any Web service through a Web browser. “After a set time period, electronic communications such as e-mail, Facebook posts and chat messages would automatically self-destruct, becoming irretrievable from all Web sites, inboxes, outboxes, backup sites and home computers. Not even the sender could retrieve them.” It is intended to make information as private as a “phone conversation”.
The Norwegian National Digital Library. Marianne Takle. Ariadne. July 2009.
The National Library of Norway is establishing itself as a digital national library. It plans to digitize its entire collection and has added other practices and strategies. Resources have been redistributed to give priority to digitization, documents are being deposited in digital format, and agreements are in place for digital deposits. It is making collections available to users over the Internet. The three Guiding Principles of Selection for the library are:
- A strategy and priority for different collections: books: (oldest information); newspapers (those in demand); photos (donations); music (endangered sound formats).
- The thematic selection of material across all media types
- Follow up enquiries from other users and institutions and co-operate with them
The greatest obstacle to making information available is copyright.