futureArch project

Project Description:

In a nutshell, the project's objective is to provide the Bodleian with infrastructure, policy, processes and skills to curate hybrid archives. We also get to process some of our legacy holdings along the way, providing some newly available collections for researchers. So, what's a 'hybrid archive'? The term is just a shorthand way to describe (largely unpublished) archive and manuscript collections which are partly in digital format and partly in more traditional formats such as paper, videotape, etc. The Library's first major gift of manuscripts was Duke Humfrey's back in the 15th cent.; while we've been collecting manuscript material long enough to see changes in the formats of our holdings, no technological change in the creation, storage and sharing of information has been quite so seismic as digital technology. Nowadays more and more of the deposits we accept from individuals and organisations contain born-digital material. We get all kinds of original digital media (PCs, disks, etc., of various types and ages), we get files transferred on carrier disks (e.g. bog standard CDs and USB sticks containing file directories, email archives, etc.) and over the network. We are also preparing to accept data (and metadata) held in various online silos (gmail, flickr, blogs, etc.). We've been doing some JISC-funded work in the areas of 'digital curation'/'digital preservation' since 2005 (see esp. Paradigm at http://www.paradigm.ac.uk), but last year we felt ready to begin moving our activities from project-based work to something more lasting. To that end, futureArch is integrating curation of born-digital archives into the everyday work of the Library's Western Manuscripts department and developing Bodleian Electronic Archives & Manuscripts' (BEAM) as an infrastructure for curating and disseminating the born-digital elements of hybrid archives while maintaining links with the traditional elements of collections to maintain context. BEAM is an application that will take advantage of the Library's Digital Asset Management System (DAMS) that also underpins applications such as the Oxford University Research Archive (ORA). BEAM will provide means of accepting digital deposits, including: capture of data from original media (digital forensics), accepting online submissions from creators, and extracting data from the online services that our creators use. It will also provide interfaces for the Library's archivists and curators (for curation, management, preservation, etc.), and interfaces for the researchers who want to use our collections.