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National Digital Stewardship Residents Present Their Preservation Projects
Posted On May 17, 2016
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Tieman also recommends that those involved with digital preservation do the following:
  • Publicly share policies and workflows
  • Bust the silos
  • Recognize that repositories are and should be dynamic

Tieman relied on several authorities and checklists to guide her work toward certification of FDsys, including the Center for Research Libraries’ (CRL) Trustworthy Repositories Audit & Certification: Criteria and Checklist (TRAC), the Digital Repository Audit Method Based On Risk Assessment (DRAMBORA) toolkit, and peer review, such as the partnership between the University of North Texas (UNT) Libraries and the University of Florida’s George A. Smathers Libraries.

NLM’s Cultural Heritage

Nicole Contaxis (@ncontaxis) created a pilot workflow for the curation, preservation, and presentation of Grateful Med, a historically valuable software product developed by the NLM in 1969 to aid in searching the institution’s databases. It was retired in 2001. Beloved by researchers, it is now evidence of NLM’s cultural heritage. For her project, Contaxis conducted research and interviews about the creation of the original software. For a host of technical reasons, preserving Grateful Med itself was nigh on impossible, so Contaxis chose to preserve its tutorial, HowTo Grateful Med.

Archiving Research Data

The afternoon sessions began with a presentation titled “The Rise of Data Publishing in the Digital World (And How Dataverse and DataTags Help),” by Mercè Crosas (@mercecrosas), chief data science and technology officer at Harvard University’s IQSS (Institute of Quantitative Social Science). Crosas discussed the steady increase in the size and complexity of research output and showed how, over the centuries, the formal components of articles have helped to increase our comprehension of them.

While scholarly publishing is concerned with distributing research output, data archiving assures long-term access to research data. A scholarly article cannot hold or accurately describe these vast amounts of data. Researchers are working toward the adoption of FAIR (findable, accessible, interoperable, and reusable) data publishing principles, which includes data citation with persistent IDs to reference data uniquely, supporting versions of fixity and attribution to both authors and repositories, and metadata cataloging (to discover and locate the data) within a trusted repository that will hold the data. Challenges remain, however, as researchers struggle with how to cite streaming and dynamic data (e.g., by using some form of date or time stamp), how best to indicate differences in versions (e.g., between minor and major changes), and how to manage tiered access to data. Dataverse and DataTags provide solutions.

A Mobile Digitization Service

Caroline Catchpole (@CarolineRose85), Metropolitan New York Library Council (METRO) mobile digitization specialist for the Knight Foundation-funded Culture in Transit project (@DigitizeNYC), described her work in a presentation titled “Breaking Down Barriers: Creating a Mobile Digitization Service.” Her project brings mobile scanning equipment to smaller libraries, archives, and museums, as well as to the communities they serve.

During community events, Catchpole takes the mobile digitization kit to library branches and invites residents to bring in family photos and memorabilia to be scanned. She also spends 2 weeks at a time at METRO member libraries that lack the equipment, time, money, or expertise to digitize their collections, and she works with small collections that have some level of organization and metadata already. The results of her work are shared (on thumb drives) with the people who bring items to the library for scanning and the member libraries where the scanning has taken place. The files are available through the METRO repository, shared with the Empire State Digital Network, and harvested by the Digital Public Library of America (DPLA).

Catchpole discussed her struggle to find a happy medium between lightweight components of her mobile scanning kit (so that she can transport it herself on the subway) and the equipment needed to complete projects. Reviews of equipment can be found on the Culture in Transit blog. Project documentation includes checklists, workflows, procedures, and assessment forms.


The final panel of the day, moderated by Julia Kim (@jy_kim29), a 2015 New York NDSR participant and folklife specialist and digital assets manager at the Library of Congress, fielded questions submitted by attendees on their registration forms.

Resources on The Signal Blog

The NDSR symposium, which is held annually, is intended is to show that these projects can (and should) be replicated at other institutions; several toolkits and “lessons learned” emerge from the program. Throughout the year, residents share their experiences on The Signal blog. The symposium is yet another means by which to share knowledge and spark interest in digital preservation projects.

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Barbie E. Keiser is an information resources management consultant located in the metropolitan Washington, D.C., area.

Email Barbie E. Keiser

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