Researching Archival Workflows for Born-Digital Content

Project PIs and Team


  • Christopher “Cal” Lee (UNC SILS)
  • Sam Meister (Educopia Institute)
  • Katherine Skinner (Educopia Institute)
  • Kam Woods (UNC SILS)

  • Team

  • Alex Chassanoff (UNC SILS)
  • Paul Jones (University of North Carolina)
  • Christopher “Cal” Lee (UNC SILS)
  • Gary Marchionini (University of North Carolina)
  • Cristóbal Palmer (University of North Carolina)
  • Arcot Rajasekar (University of North Carolina)
  • Sarah Romkey (Artefactual Systems)
  • Brad Westbrook (ArchivesSpace)

  • Project Partners
    Project partners were selected based on two main criteria: diversity of voices (libraries, archives, and research centers; public and private institutions; geographically diverse institutions) and stated commitment to implementing the project’s selected tools during the two-year grant period. We strove to maximize diversity in the research partners we selected for this project. Note that most institutions have not yet implemented more than one these tools, and that in particular, fewer smaller and under-resourced libraries have not yet committed to multiple simultaneous implementations. The research will be conducted with these additional institutions in mind--including public libraries, HBUC libraries, and liberal arts colleges. An advisory board will be formed at the beginning of the project with five members representing these additional communities and institutional types. We will also test, evaluate, and spread the research findings within a much broader set of players through the user communities of each of the three selected OSS environments (BitCurator, Archivematica, ArchivesSpace).

  • Duke University
  • Kansas Historical Society
  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • Mount Holyoke College
  • New York University
  • Odum Institute
  • Rice University
  • Stanford University
  • University of Maryland, Maryland Institute for Technology in the Humanities
  • University of Maryland, University Libraries

  • Tool selection criteria and rationale

      1. Open Source Software: We only considered tools that are open source and freely available for use. This ensures that the project findings can be openly shared with and used by all institutions, not just those with pay-for access to a tool or solution.
      2. Software with a consistent developer voice: We gave priority to tools that are relatively stable and that are built in ways that are guided by a consistent developer or architect. This helps to ensure that the project findings will be stable and that the research would be likely incorporated into the software environment.
      3. Developer bandwidth to collaborate: We gave priority to tools/environments with a dedicated developer who could contribute directly to the research of this project in time and energy. This will help us to build strong relationships across the developer community, and work together to resolve thorny issues of redundancy and tool gaps that will inevitably surface during the research.
      4. Production-level software: We gave priority to tools/environments that are in production, not in “beta” or “pre-beta” forms. Predictability and sustainability of these tools/environments are key for the success of this research and its applicability for years following the project period.
      5. Tools that fit together in a workflow: Rather than studying tools that accomplish the same part of a curation workflow, we gave priority to selecting tools/environments that focus on different purposes. These tools/environments may still overlap in some functions, but not in their key purposes. This makes it much more likely that institutions will adopt more than one of these tools and benefit from our research into how they may be paired.
      6. High adoption across a variety of library and archives types: We gave priority to tools/environments that are implemented across library/archives types--public libraries, academic libraries and archives, state libraries and archives, private/corporate libraries and archives, etc. This broadens the reach of both the project and its findings.

    Tools/environments considered included Archivematica, ArchivesSpace, BePress, BitCurator, DSpace, Fedora, Hydra, iRODs, LOCKSS, and Preservica.

    Project Abstract
    The Educopia Institute, in collaboration with the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Information and Library Science (UNC SILS), LYRASIS, and Artefatual, Inc., seek to investigate, synchronize, and model a range of workflows to increase the capacity of libraries and archives to curate born digital content. These archival workflows will incorporate three leading open source software (OSS) platforms—BitCurator, Archivematica, and ArchivesSpace—and the project will be designed to generate findings that can be generalizable to settings that are using other platforms and applications.

    This project will significantly impact curation practices by increasing our understanding of how institutions of different sizes and types may engage in OSS tool integration and workflow development. Our findings will be used to support a broad range of libraries and archives actively collecting and curating digital content. The knowledge gained by working with multiple institutions of different types and sizes will also broaden field-wide understanding of curation approaches and priorities, and how those impact the use of tools and capabilities in Archivematica, ArchivesSpace, and BitCurator. We expect the empirical findings about institutional needs, as well as formal workflow models, to contribute to digital curation research literature.

    Grant Deliverables