Digital Collections Audit and Preservation Business Case: New SPRUCE Award

Digital Collections Audit and Preservation Business Case: New SPRUCE Award

SPRUCE and JISC are delighted to be funding a new project with Bishopsgate Library that builds on the results of the last SPRUCE Mashup. With the first round of projects funded by SPRUCE Awards approaching completion, this latest project will take on the challenges of an organisation new to digital preservation.

Bishopsgate Library holds substantial digital collections, which have mostly accrued through an ongoing project to digitise parts of the library’s archival collections, and through deposits of born-digital material from organisations such as the British Humanist Association and History Workshop. The library does not yet have a formal digital preservation strategy in place, or dedicated storage arrangements for its digital collections.

The proposed project will enable Bishopsgate Library to take the first steps towards implementing a sustainable digital preservation strategy. The project has three primary objectives: firstly, to complete a comprehensive audit of the library’s digital collections; secondly, to compile a digital preservation business case; and thirdly, to produce and disseminate a short handbook documenting the project for the benefit of digital preservation practitioners in other organisations.

At the London SPRUCE Mashup event, Peter Cliff demonstrated that the Apache Tika tool, with a custom Java wrapper, could be used to extract and aggregate metadata across digital collections. Building on this work, the tools showcased at the Mashup will be used to carry out an audit of the library’s digital holdings, producing collection-level descriptions with technical metadata for each of the digital collections. The library holds collections of obsolete digital media, including 5.25” floppy disks and zip disks, which will also be documented as part of the audit process.

The purpose of the audit is to evaluate the content and scale of Bishopsgate Library’s digital holdings. Drawing on the guidelines and templates provided by SPRUCE, this information will be used to develop a business case for the introduction of a digital preservation strategy for the library’s collections, to be presented to senior management at Bishopsgate Institute. The information gathered through the audit will support the identification and articulation of the current risks to the library’s digital collections and the benefits of preserving them, as well as determine the skills and equipment requirements that will need to be met before a digital preservation strategy can be implemented.

The project will be carefully documented and a downloadable handbook will be produced describing the processes involved, the tools and resources used and the lessons learned. We envisage that the handbook will be particularly useful to smaller organisations in the UK higher education and heritage sectors contemplating taking their first steps in digital preservation.

Paul Wheatley, Stefan Dickers and Thom Carter


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