Personal Archiving Systems for Institutions

Birkin James Diana

Birkin Diana from Brown University, led off the session on institutional personal archiving systems with a presentation entitled “Enriching the Digital Junk Drawer”.  Brown built a personal uploading feature into their institutional repository.  Although there was a concern that users would upload too much unedited personal material, they felt that if good tools were available, quality material would be added.  Quality material means good metadata, but people generally do not add metadata to their uploads, and if they are required to fill out a form to upload a document or photo, they will not do it.  So the developers traded the requirement for metadata for the ease of uploading and rely on automated processes to get the metadata.  All that users are required to add with their materials is a title and a tag.  And when users were shown how what they entered improves the data and the scholarly resources, they were happier to cooperate.

Kathleen Legg

Kathleen Legg described how her institution, the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) is developing digital collections and is preserving institutional memory by making a broad range of collections available.  She used the example of the personal collections of Warren Washington, a renowned climate scientist who had a 40-year career in the field, and how this is being used as a model to archive other collections.  The steps they took were:

  1. Add a finding aid to the open source software, Archon, being used to manage and access the collection, which improved discoverability.
  2. Made people aware of the collection by creating a “digital exhibit” about it.  Students frequently ask for materials on Dr. Washington, and this exhibit has become a resource for them.
  3. Added links to the Washington collection in OpenSky, the institutional repository for all NCAR scholarship, which provides another view and access point to the collection.  Users are able to see all materials on a person or subject.

Don Hawkins
Columnist, Information Today and Conference Circuit Blog Editor

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