skip to content

24 Hours: The Day of Digital Archives

Thursday, October 6 was the Day of Digital Archives, organized by friend and colleague Gretchen Gueguen at the University of Virginia. I missed the post deadline yesterday, but it's been a busy week, so I might as well walk through some of the highlights of my work related to digital archives that occurred during that 24 hours from 12 am Thursday to 12 am Friday.

12 AM: It's late, but I'm finishing the last bit of work of writing up lecture notes. This fall, I am teaching a class on digital preservation as an adjunct in the iSchool at Drexel University. The iSchool is on the quarter system, so we have only ten weeks to cover a wide variety of material. Last week the students got an introduction to the Reference Model for an Open Archival Information System, and this week's topics (on which I am writing the lecture notes) are selection and appraisal, assessment, provenance, and authenticity. Some of the sources of the week's material include a forthcoming case study from the City of Vancouver Archives, the DCC Curation Manual's chapter on appraisal and selection, sections of the CLIR publication Authenticity in a Digital Environment, and the final report of the W3C Provenance Incubator Group. After this I head to bed.

7:30 AM: I've just gotten up and I'm using some downtime to catch up on mailing lists and blogs while I have my morning coffee. I have the chance to briefly look through the current draft of the Reference Model for Economic Sustainability of Digital Curation, currently under development by Chris Rusbridge and Brian Lavoie. I may incorporate part of this into my class as we're spending a week talking about resource allocation and sustainability. I also use this chance to look through the review of different storage and versioning options, including Git, Boar, and CDL Microservices, for digital curation, as written up by Richard Anderson at Stanford University.

8:15 AM: I'm walking up the hill from my hotel to the Scripps Institution of Oceanography Library for the second day of an ArchivesSpace technical planning meeting. ArchivesSpace is the project to merge the functionality of Archivists' Toolkit and Archon and to create a next-generation archival management system. On the walk up, I was talking to Joe Pawletko from NYU about case studies and other good literature to get an overview of electronic records issues. I give him the heads up about the forthcoming issue of Archivaria for which I was guest editor, our forthcoming whitepaper on the AIMS project Yale participated in with University of Virginia, Stanford University, and the University of Hull, and the CLIR report Digital Forensics and Born-Digital Content in Cultural Heritage Institutions co-edited by Matthew Kirschenbaum, Richard Ovenden, and Gabby Redwine.

9 AM to 5 PM: The rest of the work day is booked solid with the ArchivesSpace meeting. We spend some time picking apart architectural requirements, data model issues, and look at the possibility of revising the data model to include an abstract notion of events. While not an intentional decision, several of us in the room realize that we're inadvertently approaching an object model that looks a lot like that of PREMIS.

7 PM to 9 PM: Most of the ArchivesSpace team goes out for a lovely project dinner at Berta's in Old Town San Diego. Over dinner we start discussing the issues - particularly in terms of flexibility - surrounding the implementation of METS.

9 PM to 10:30 PM: Brian Tingle from the California Digital Library and I meet up with our friend Declan Fleming from UCSD and his wife for good beer. We discuss the potential for organizing a CURATEcamp during SAA next year in San Diego and  possibility of organizing an off-the-grid unconference (possibly in the Pacific Northwest). We also talk a bit about UCSD's Digital Asset Management System and its flexibility provided by representing all of the metadata and relationships within the DAMS as RDF. We argue a bit about how librarians may not feel constrained enough when they have to think beyond implementation of a specific schema or set thereof.

11 PM: I'm back at the hotel and ready to pass out. It's been a long day, and I'm positive I'll start dreaming of electric sheep.