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Thursday, 13 September 2012

Installing archivematica ...and running out of memory

For a couple of months now I have been intending to install archivematica and test it out. Described as a "free and open-source digital preservation system that is designed to maintain standards-based, long-term access to collections of digital objects", this sounds like it could be a great starting point for establishing a digital archive here at the Borthwick Institute. Also strongly in its favour from my perspective is the fact that it is compatible with the Open Archival Information System (OAIS) reference model and supports metadata standards such as PREMIS and Dublin Core.

Though I have had a passing interest in this software for some time, in my previous job at the Archaeology Data Service we had a long established digital archive with preservation systems and migration pathways already in place. Setting up archivematica in such a way to interface with our existing processes and procedures there may not have been an easy. Here in the Borthwick Institute we are starting from scratch with digital preservation which in some ways gives us more freedom to make use of some of the new and exciting tools that are being developed in this area. What we need to be able to interface with here are existing systems for cataloguing and providing access to traditional analogue archives. One thing that attracted me to archivematica was the way in which it can work alongside ICA's AtoM. This is a system that supports archival description and can be used by traditional archives to catalogue their holdings and make their catalogues searchable on-line. This is another tool we will be investigating in the not too distant future.

So, to cut a long story short, this morning I set about downloading and installing Oracle VirtualBox and setting up archivematica as a virtual appliance. This all seemed to go quite smoothly despite all the warning messages about non-verified software (all above board according to the installation guide). The only problem was, when I tried to run archivematica and test it out I was disappointed to find I couldn't get past the login screen as there was not enough available memory to continue.

I will try again once my PC has been upgraded so watch this space.

In the meantime I would be really interested to hear from anyone else in the UK who is using both archivematica and ICA AtoM. It would be great to be able to see a real life example of how they work together.

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

First steps for securing digital media within an analogue archive

Isn't it a happy day when a new report on digital preservation appears in your in-box at just the right time? The following report from OCLC is just one of these. I have been in the new post as Digital Archivist for the Borthwick Institute for Archives for 3 months now and had been thinking about what to do with the digital material that is buried deep in the strongrooms of our building.

You've Got to Walk Before You Can Run: First Steps for Managing Born-Digital Content Received on Physical Media by Ricky Erway, OCLC Research

This report describes a simple but straightforward set of steps for locating and securing digital media that exist in a traditional analogue archive. It works on the premis that doing something now is far better than waiting until a more complete digital preservation solution is available. By simply locating the digital media, copying it to a more secure storage area and establishing what we have, we can instantly gain some level of control over our digital holdings. This will put us in a far stronger position for preserving these into the future.

I am currently creating a methodology based on this report and with reference also to the University of Hull's accessioning workflows described in the AIMS project white paper. Once this methodology has been agreed internally we can start work on this digital 'rescue' mission. I for one am very much looking forward to finding out what we have!