One of my biggest takeaways from this year’s SAA was how many awesome digital curation and digital preservation tools are in development. The tools that most stuck with me were related to the appraisal and accessioning of born digital materials. This is something we’ve been thinking about a *lot* at the RAC, and it’s encouraging that so many smart folks are working on these issues, and developing amazing tools that we’ll be able to use. I saw way more tools than I can talk about here, but here are a couple of highlights that I hope to explore more:
Representatives from Artefactual, ArchivesSpace and the Bentley Historical Library discussed the development of a new appraisal tab in Archivematica. Archivematica currently has an arrangement feature for SIPs that are in the backlog; this is located in the ingest tab. Artefactual and the Bentley are developing a new Appraisal and Arrangement tab that would include the ability to arrange SIPs in addition to some new capabilities. This includes the ability to link transfer content to ArchivesSpace resource records, which builds upon the functionality of the Archivematica-Archivists’ Toolkit integration that Artefactual developed for us. Archivists would be able to review, appraise, deaccession, and arrange content in this new tab. Additionally, archivists would be able to apply tabs to objects.
Much of this functionality overlaps with what we use FTK for. In FTK, we apply labels to files to identify items that are restricted, sensitive, or otherwise need to be reviewed. We use FTK’s bookmarks feature to group items into files and series. Since the tagging feature in the forthcoming Appraisal and Arrangement tab can be used to note anything (and multiple tags can be applied), it would be similar to how we use the label and bookmark features in FTK. Additionally, bookmarks are arranged hierarchically by an archivist, which is similar to the ability to structure a SIP in the Appraisal and Arrangement tab before ingest.
One topic that came up several times at SAA–and there was a whole panel devoted to it–was email. Presentations included DArcMail from the Smithsonian Institution Archives (RAC had collaborated on its previous incarnation, CERP) and the Electronic Archiving System from Harvard Library. The tool that I’m most excited about implementing here, though, was ePADD. ePADD is a tool for the appraisal, processing, discovery, and delivery of email archives. (Notably, it does not include email preservation.) The project is hosted at Stanford University and was initially funded by the NHPRC; they recently received a grant from the IMLS for its second stage of development. Among other cool features, ePADD has powerful searching capabilities, which greatly facilitate the appraisal and processing of email. After all, email accounts can have thousands of messages–and going through each individually is time consuming, tedious, and unsustainable.
There were some common themes among the many tools that I heard about at SAA, including those that I talked about here. Tools and systems were largely open source, involved or were capable of integrating with other systems, and involved collaboration between institutions. Building these networks are really important for sustainable digital preservation, so I left SAA really excited about where we’re headed.