Last week I took part in the Digital Preservation Training Programme. A great three days discussing digital preservation, ending with a feeling that while it is a big job, we really can take steps to address it. An activity I particularly enjoyed was mapping our existing functions/situation to the OAIS to work out where the gaps are. I was happy to see that we’re pretty strong in some areas, and pleased to identify the areas we’re lacking in so that they can be addressed.
One of the noticeable gaps in the OAIS is the ingest of digital material, so I’m pleased that I have been having a wee look a the descriptive metadata requirements from depositors mentioned in Sarah’s last post. I took a one-to-one session with one of our IT training staff in order to create a spreadsheet that we can give to depositors of digital records.
We are aware there will be no one size fits all approach, but due to previous experience I’m convinced that we can pare down the descriptive metadata we have asked of depositors previously. Firstly, I don’t feel that learning ISAD(G) is a good use of time for depositors. Secondly, receiving such standardised descriptions from them, while not unhelpful, does not appear to be the best way to proceed. A lack of standards for the description of born-digital archives may be part of the problem here, but that is another story.
My aim now is to create an easy to fill in spreadsheet with as few fields as possible which we can then enhance at ingest stage for easy import into Calm/Eprints. I think I’m about there in terms of how the spreadsheet works (locked and unlocked areas, protecting the sheet etc.), but terminology continues to be a problem.
So far I have identified three minimum fields
Does it contain any sensitive personal information? [Y/N]
Ideally the field names will not require further explanation, as this is where things can get confused when more than one person is working on the transfer of material. These fields of course also lack the context of a file structure, if that is how people work. So that’s the next thing to consider, while the days of “Pink folder series 1” may soon be over, the days of “New folder” are probably here to stay, which will cause some headaches…