Digital Curation: Fundamentals and Sustainability
Online Course offered by the Society of American Archivists
October to November 2023
Recently I had become urgently aware of my institution’s need to preserve digital objects created by employees and members. Fearing that these objects would be disposed of by their creators before I knew how to implement a best-practices digital repository, I skipped straight to selecting and storing them with accessioning data on storage media. But I knew that I needed to learn much more if my efforts were going to be sustainable and interoperable/usable in the future. Thanks to CLRC’s generous professional development grant, I was able to attend a “live” 6-week virtual course offered by Society of American Archivists, which provided an overview of how collaboration between the technological and organizational/human aspects of digital preservation can raise efforts like mine to the level of digital curation.
This was an introductory course that sought to teach the building blocks of a sustainable digital curation program through the application of theory models, assessment models, workflow models, and a metadata standard. It was exciting and helpful that the three instructors were highly-accomplished digital archivists who created some of these models through their involvement with the Digital Preservation Management Workshops project. Each week focused on one building block of digital curation: scope, community frameworks for practice, roles/workflows, technology and standards used in preserving digital content over time, advocacy/collaboration, and digital archive program assessment. In addition to the live instruction session, each week there were pre-readings and up to 60 minutes of instructional videos. To support the volume of questions all of this content created, the instructors maintained a classroom discussion board and held in-session student polls via Mentimeter software.
At the conclusion of the course, I realized that as lone arranger archivist, I cannot single-handedly implement and sustain a best-practices digital curation repository. But I can work on implementing individual building blocks that will support it, should the right organizational and financial support, and digital asset management software become available at the same time. I can perform a digital asset audit for my organization and create a digital records transfer schedule. I can improve the accessioning data that I currently collocate with preserved digital objects by using PREMIS metadata standards to document rights information, and fixity testing and format migration. I can learn how to implement free fixity and file registry software, and improve preservation storage device security with the use of encryption and RAID hard drives. Most importantly, I can continue to advocate with my organizational stakeholders to build financial sustainability and institutional capacity for a digital curation program.
Archivist, Sisters of St. Francis of the Neumann Communities
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