OSSArcFlow: Modeling and Synchronizing OSS Workflows
May 9, 2017

Educopia and UNC-SILS receive IMLS funding to study OSS implementation to improve workflows for born-digital materials

The Educopia Institute and the UNC School of Information and Library Science (SILS) have been awarded a grant worth over $681,000 from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) for OSSArcFlow, a project to investigate and support the adoption of open source tools for libraries, archives, and museums (LAMs). The research team will engage with 12 partner institutions to research, devise, and test various strategies for implementing three leading open source software (OSS) technologies, the BitCurator environment, ArchivesSpace, and Archivematica.

By working with institutions of multiple sizes and types, investigators will be able to glean important workflow insights that can benefit a variety of libraries and archives. Ultimately, all project information – including narratives, workflows, summary findings, training modules, and guides – will be widely disseminated to help other institutions successfully adapt OSS digital curation and preservation tools.

“We aim to make the daunting task of implementing digital curation tools more achievable for memory institutions nationally,” said SILS Professor Christopher (Cal) Lee, co-principal investigator for the project. “These activities will catalyze efforts across the library and archives fields by supporting more efficient and effective digital curation programs that ensure ongoing access to our increasingly born-digital legacy for all people.”

Though the amount of culturally significant born-digital material continues to grow, there is no turnkey software system or “one size fits all” workflow that can adequately address the complex and specific needs of individual institutions. Instead, institutions usually adopt and integrate separate systems for different functions, with each system using distinct tools and generating its own forms of metadata. Gaps between tools can make it difficult to push content through a workflow, which results in LAMs devoting large amounts of time to massaging data and metadata.

The findings and recommendations resulting from OSSArcFlow will help alleviate these frustrations and inefficiencies, improving operations both within specific partner institutions and across the profession.

Educopia Executive Director Katherine Skinner will act as principal investigator (PI) and overall coordinator for the project, with SILS’ Cal Lee and Research Scientist Kam Woods and Educopia Preservation Communities Manager Sam Meister serving as co-PIs. Partner institutions for the project are Robert W. Woodruff Library, District of Columbia Public Library, Duke University, Emory University, Kansas Historical Society, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Mount Holyoke College, New York Public Library, New York University, UNC Odum Institute, Rice University, and Stanford University.

“Rather than assuming a ‘lowest common denominator’ approach and expecting all of these institutions to use the tools in the same way, we will be working to understand how different institutional needs and capabilities act as drivers in workflow development,” said Skinner. “The tools and active workflows we produce in the project will serve both as models and as resources that many LAMs can and will draw upon in their own work.”

The Institute of Museum and Library Services is the primary source of federal support for the nation’s 123,000 libraries and 35,000 museums. Its mission is to inspire libraries and museums to advance innovation, lifelong learning, and cultural and civic engagement. Its grant making, policy development, and research help libraries and museums deliver valuable services that make it possible for communities and individuals to thrive. To learn more, visit www.imls.gov and follow IMLS on Facebook and Twitter .

Press release originally posted by Katherine Perales, UNC Chapel Hill: https://sils.unc.edu/news