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Wednesday, March 29 • 11:15am - 12:30pm
Session 2: Preserving & Serving PDA at Memory Institutions

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Second-Generation Digital Archives: What We Learned from the Salman Rushdie Project (Dorothy Waugh & Elizabeth Russey Roke, Emory University)

Composing an Archive: the personal digital archives of contemporary composers in New Zealand (Jessica Moran, National Library of New Zealand)

Learning from users of personal digital archives at the British Library (Rachel Foss, The British Library)

Presentation Details:

  • Second-Generation Digital Archives: What We Learned from the Salman Rushdie Project (Dorothy Waugh and Elizabeth Russey Roke, Emory University)

    In 2010, Emory University announced the launch of the Salman Rushdie Digital Archives. This reading room kiosk offered researchers at the Manuscript, Archives, and Rare Book Library the opportunity to explore born-digital material from one of four of Rushdie’s personal computers through dual access systems: 1) A searchable, browse-able database of files migrated to PDF/A; and 2) A simulation of Rushdie’s original computing environment provided via emulation.

    Moving from acquiring Rushdie’s computers to providing reading room access to his files and computing environment involved a steep learning curve as archivists and software engineers grappled with how the nature of born-digital files affected arrangement, description and access at a time when relatively few institutions were working with born-digital material. This was also the team’s first foray into digital forensics, and they worked closely with Rushdie to balance concerns regarding privacy and security alongside the needs of our prospective researchers. The resulting first-generation product has proven to be an important case study, but one that we increasingly see as a starting—as opposed to ending—point as best practices related to born-digital archival materials continue to emerge.

    In the six years that have passed since then, the remaining Rushdie computers have been processed. The completion of this work, plus the upcoming deployment of the Hydra repository solution at Emory Libraries, has required a reassessment of the work done in 2010 with an eye to making new Rushdie content available to researchers and migrating the existing Salman Rushdie Digital Archives to our new repository system. This presentation will discuss what we have learned in this process and how these lessons will inform the development of a new tool that we hope will provide access to all of our processed born-digital collections, not just the Salman Rushdie Digital Archives.

  • Composing an Archive: the personal digital archives of contemporary composers in New Zealand (Jessica Moran, National Library of New Zealand)

    The National Library of New Zealand houses the Archive of New Zealand Music and has, since 1974, collected the documentary heritage of New Zealand music and musicians. In recent years the Library has acquired the digital archives of a number of prominent contemporary composers. This presentation will look at the personal digital archive of one such composer and examine how the personal digital archiving practices of the composer have informed, helped, and challenged the preservation of the archive. The digital component of the collection spanned over 20 years and includes generations of proprietary composition and music creation software, often with multiple software and file dependencies. The archive includes digital compositions, scores, and audio and video recordings, as well as digital diaries, correspondence, and other manuscript material. In this case the composer worked consciously to manage and save his personal digital archive before transfer to the library, however this did not translate into a seamless or challenge free processing of the collection, especially for archivists who were more experienced dealing with textual-based digital archives.

    This presentation will discuss the personal digital archiving practices of the composer, the composition of the archive, and the work of the digital archivists, in collaboration with curators, arrangement and description librarians, and audio-visual conservators, to collect, describe, and preserve this collection. In the process it will attempt to offer some lessons learned and share potential considerations for those who may find themselves working with similar collections.

  • Learning from users of personal digital archives at the British Library (Rachel Foss, The British Library)

    As there is currently little provision for public access to the born digital archive collections held at the British Library, there is little data available from researchers about their experience of discovering, accessing and using this material in their work. The British Library aims to be user-led in its provision of services to researchers and user feedback is crucial in helping collecting repositories develop their processing workflows. Archives professionals also need to consider how we assist and educate our researchers to make use of our born-digital collections, which means understanding more about how they want to interrogate these collections as a resource. The British Library holds born-digital archives relating to pre-eminent writers, scientists and cultural organisations. We have piloted access to the born digital material in the Hanif Kureishi Archive and have worked with users to test it and offer feedback which we will use to inform and improve our future workflow and access model.  This presentation will discuss what we have learned.

avatar for Glynn Edwards

Glynn Edwards

Head of Technical Services, Special Collections, Stanford University Libraries
The Head of Technical Services division in the Department of Special Collections & University Archives oversees the acquisition of incoming collections - we take in an average of 1,800 linear feet - or 2.5 million documents - a year. This means that I direct the accessioning, cataloging and processing of incoming material in any format - from papyrus fragments to artifacts and computer media. I plan and direct special large... Read More →


Rachel Foss

The British Library
Rachel Foss is Head of Contemporary Archives and Manuscripts at the British Library where she has curatorial responsibility for the Library’s collections of post war archives across literature, theatre, politics, public life and history of science. Prior to taking this role in 2015 she was the Library’s lead curator for modern literary manuscripts. She studied English Literature and gained a Master’s degree in Victorian... Read More →
avatar for Jessica Moran

Jessica Moran

National Library of New Zealand
Jessica Moran is a digital archivist and currently Leader, Digital Collections Services at the Alexander Turnbull Library, National Library of New Zealand where she is responsible for supporting the teams managing the acquisition, ingest, and management of born-digital cultural heritage collections, including web archives and the heritage access and preservation digitisation programmes. Prior to moving to New Zealand, she worked in libraries and... Read More →

Elizabeth Russey Roke

Digital Archivist, Emory University
Elizabeth Russey Roke is the Digital Archivist and Metadata Specialist in the Rose Library at Emory University. Primarily focused on preservation, discovery, and access to digitized and born digital assets from special collections, Elizabeth works on a variety of technology projects and initiatives related to repository development, metadata standards, and archival description. Elizabeth is particularly interested in linked data approaches to... Read More →

Dorothy Waugh

Digital Archivist, Emory University
Dorothy Waugh is MARBL's Digital Archivist at Emory University where she is responsible for the acquisition and management of the Rose Library's born-digital collections. She received her MLS from Indiana University and her MA in English Literature from Ohio State University.

Wednesday March 29, 2017 11:15am - 12:30pm
Bishop Auditorium Lathrop Library, Stanford University 518 Memorial Way Stanford, CA 94305