The University of Maryland Libraries are in the midst of working on policies, procedures, and workflows for managing born-digital content. 3 1/2″ and 5 1/4″ floppy disks, along with Zip disks, CD-ROMs, and DVDs already live within the archival and manuscript collections within Special Collections and University Archives. The challenges involved in preserving these media and the content stored on them are numerous. Often, equipment or software necessary to use older disks is obsolete or unavailable. The disks themselves may become damaged due to misuse, or, simply, time. Law enforcement agencies who need to read hard drives and other media for forensic research have been at the forefront of developing hardware, software and other tools to work with older media. Funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, BitCurator is a tool designed specifically for libraries and archives. It is a fully-contained system that contains easy-to-use interfaces to allow for some standard activities necessary for copying, reading, and curating digital media. For the University of Maryland Libraries, the existence of BitCurator has saved us from having to reinvent the wheel when it comes to beginning our born-digital activities. Our main installation lives in Hornbake Library, on our Forensic Recovery of Evidence Device (FRED). This fall, two graduate assistants, Amy Wickner (Special Collections and University Archives) and Alice Prael (Digital Programs and Initiatives), will pick up where the UMD Libraries’ Born-Digital Working Group left off earlier this year to finalize some our basic born-digital workflows.
The BitCurator Consortium operates as an affiliated community of the Educopia Institute, a non-profit organization that advances cultural, scientific, and scholarly institutions by catalyzing networks and collaborative communities to facilitate collective impact. The University of Maryland Libraries have signed on as a charter member and are delighted to be involved in this endeavor.
“Managing born-digital acquisitions is becoming a top concern in research libraries, archives, and museums worldwide,” shares co-founder Dr. Christopher (Cal) Lee. “The BCC now provides a crucial hub where curators can learn from each other, share challenges and successes, and together define and advance technical and administrative workflows for born-digital content.” Co-founder Dr. Matthew Kirschenbaum adds: “Tools without actively invested communities wither on the vine, become dead bits. The BCC is not just an extension of BitCurator, in a very real sense it will now become BitCurator.”
Institutions responsible for the curation of born-digital materials are invited to become members of the BCC. New members will join an active, growing community of practice and gain entry into an international conversation around this emerging set of practices. Other member benefits include:
• Voting rights
• Eligibility to serve on the BCC Executive Council and Committees
• Professional development and training opportunities
• Subscription to a dedicated BCC member mailing list
• Special registration rates for BCC events