StratComm Lessons Learned

I know we’re only supposed to list three takeaways but I’ve got five. Sorry. Brevity has never been my strength.

So here we go…

1. Diplomacy matters.
Probably the one thing that seemed to matter the most during my project was the importance of accurately assessing and navigating interdepartmental politics, and on a related note, accurately assessing workflow considerations for both the initial producers and the end user group. Both of these exercises in diplomacy went a long way towards convincing my organization that the changes I was proposing were not overly cumbersome and that implementation would be beneficial.

2. Considering the organizational scope may actually whittle down the problem set.
My organization was somewhat larger than most of the other class projects, so this probably doesn’t apply across the board, but I found it important with an organization of this scale to keep in mind the functional limits of the department’s purpose. For example, it was a pretty hard sell to convince a communications department that they should start performing annual fixity checks, or that they should consider investing in a specialized tool like Archivematica. Rather, it made more sense to look for relationships that could be formed with other entities where it made more sense to house those capabilities, and to then concentrate on formalizing those relationships and processes through policy.

3. Worry about one step at a time.
I found it crucially important to communicate the incremental approach to digital preservation. StratComm’s daily pace of business is sort of like emergency room triage. At any given moment they are restarting hearts and sewing up bullet wounds. Telling them they should prioritize something like format migrations was kind of like telling them they should tuck their patient in and read them a book. I got much more interest from my leadership when I offered them low hanging fruit that they could achieve with the resources and staff they had on hand. I did mention some of the more complex high resource measures but was careful to emphasize that they were long-term goals to work towards rather than an immediate and dramatic heightening of the bar that they must surmount in one giant leap. During the times that I crafted this message successfully (e.g. the topic of storage and location) I could see the relief on their faces that moving the needle forward was enough. During the times that I botched this message (e.g. the topic of checking fixity) I could see that they basically just shut down and considered the entire subject too wonky and unfeasible.

4. Curation and preservation are not mutually exclusive activities.
So many times during the project I kept drifting into areas that served both curatorial as well as preservation needs. Separating the two seemed at least difficult, if not impossible. For example, addressing the metadata section of the NDSA levels necessarily triggered a larger look my organization’s curatorial goals and what approaches to that metadata would directly enable those ends.

5. Yay, existentialism!
I was struck by how often taking a step back and asking myself really basic existential questions (e.g. who is our user group, what level of usability do they require to achieve their goals, what is outside the realm of our responsibility, etc.) ended up clarifying solutions to what seemed like impossible questions with no good answer. This was particularly helpful for me on the topic of file formats. Several times during the project file formats served as a sticking point, but asking these questions made it easier to weigh the benefits and drawbacks of equally imperfect options and choose a path forward that, if not ideal, was at least logical.

 

The collected works of my StratComm Digital Preservation project are attached here:

StratComm_DigiPreserve_Collected_Works

StratComm Digital Preservation Policy

I. Purpose

This document describes the activities and responsibilities required for the preservation of Strategic Communications’ (StratComm) digital image collection. It is intended to outline the asset’s needs at each stage of the asset lifecycle and to diagram the organizational relationships necessary to execute each stage.

II. Mandate

StratComm creates and manages visual assets for its own use in communicating about the company’s work program, and also to enable the company’s employee population to produce their own communications products via self-service tools. This insight and self-efficacy in the use of the image collection at every level of the company directly strengthens StratComm’s brand objectives.

III. Definition of User Group

StratComm maintains the collection for its own use, and on a broader level, to enable company employees to communicate about their work. In that context, it is the goal of StratComm to preserve functional access to visual assets. As such, migrations of storage media and file format may be undertaken to ensure persistent access to these items is maintained in future computing environments.

Documenting the history of the company is also a priority, and StratComm partners with Corporate Archives in facilitating the retirement and long-term preservation of visual assets for that purpose.

IV. Scope

This policy applies to the following materials:

  • All photography produced by StratComm staff.
  • Some photography submitted by company employees, provided it has some reuse value in communicating about the company work program.
  • Some vector graphics produced by employees, provided they have reuse value and align with the company’s brand guidelines.

V. Collaboration

A Corporate Digital Preservation Committee will be formed in order to bring together the various stakeholders in the Strategic Communications, Corporate Archives, and Enterprise Computing departments. The group will meet at least annually to perform any scheduled audits and to evaluate opportunities to advance the search capability of the image collection.

The committee will include R504 and R301 leadership, Corporate Archives staff, StratComm photography staff, and representatives of Enterprise Computing capable of facilitating storage and backup services.

VI. Asset Lifecycle

StratComm’s visual assets require different stewardship activities at each stage of their lifecycle. These stages and needs are outlined below.

A. Creation

1. Preferred Formats

For final, edited images uncompressed TIFFs are optimal, however provided no exposure adjustments are needed, they are indiscernible from JPEGs saved at the highest possible quality setting. As such, JPEGs are acceptable.

Despite the more open documentation of Adobe’s DNG RAW format, its low adoption levels and scant software support make it somewhat less attractive as an archival format. In fairness, the ubiquity of Nikon and Canon native RAW formats offers no greater guarantee. In the interest of preserving maximum interoperability with today’s available RAW processing tools, native Nikon and Canon raw formats (NEF and CR2) are preferred, however DNGs are acceptable.

For vector graphics, SVGs are preferred, however AI and EPS files are acceptable.

2. File Naming Conventions

Imported RAW files should retain the camera-assigned sequential number, and ideally, also apply the creation date to the beginning of the file name in order to minimize the likelihood of duplicate filenames. They should look similar to the following standard: YYYY-MM-DD_D4S####.NEF

Exported final files should add the project or customer name to the beginning of the standard name outlined above for RAW files. This standard should like similar to this:

Project_Name_YYYY-MM-DD_D4S####.NEF

B. Management

1. Storage

a) Number and Location of Copies.

Three copies of final edited files should be established in different geographical locations in order to diversify StratComm’s disaster threat profile. To accomplish this, each location will save all originals to their site’s multimedia server. This copy will get duplicated to a corporate-level backup server at the same site, and then each location will send a third copy to a server at the other site to protect against any widespread disaster effecting the original site.

b) Folder Naming Conventions.

The photography section of the multimedia server should be organized by year. Each year folder will contain job folders organized chronologically by date, after which each will contain a few words explaining the project or customer. They will adhere to the following standard: YYYY-MM-DD_Project_Name

Folders for each month are acceptable practice for individual use in Lightroom, but should be avoided on the server where browsability by the group is of greater importance than brevity.

2. File Fixity

Checksums should be generated on a collection level for each job after all manipulation and processing of those files is complete. All files from that job will be zipped into a single package and a checksum will be generated for that package.

File fixity should be checked prior to, and after, any transfers or copies are made of the final edited files. The checksum should be stored in a text file accompanying the zip file that houses the collection of images, and it should be supplied to Corporate Archives for verification of fixity upon retirement of the assets.

3. Information Security and Access

Read, write, and delete access to the photography portion of each site’s multimedia server should be restricted to the photography staff and their immediate supervisors. The wider multimedia and design teams may have read-only access to this area, but should be encouraged to use the EnterMedia DAM system as the primary search tool.

4. Metadata

StratComm will record metadata at various points during the asset lifecycle to optimize the asset’s useful potential.

a) Technical

Cameras automatically record technical metadata associated with each capture, and record it as EXIF metadata. Photographers will ensure that EXIF metadata is conveyed from the RAW capture through to the exported final image.

b) Descriptive

Photographers will apply descriptive metadata on a collection level for each job using Lightroom and Bridge prior to uploading into the EnterMedia DAM system. This will consist of a title, description, and keyword tags that are aligned with the company’s subject taxonomy terms.

c) Access and rights

Photographers will program their cameras and metadata templates in Lightroom and Bridge to apply authorship, copyright, and usage guidelines automatically during import and export functions. This will include photographer name, contact info, copyright, and sensitivity level.

d) Preservation

Preservation metadata will be created in collaboration with Corporate Archives staff at the time of retirement.

C. Distribution

The EnterMedia DAM system will act as the primary access point for both StratComm staff and the wider population of company employees. This tool will feature custom, shareable image galleries for delivery of images to customers in a manner that is browsable and also enables download of the high resolution file.

D. Retrieval

The EnterMedia DAM system will also feature both keyword search functionality as well as curated collections of images to facilitate easy browsing of common subject matter.

StratComm will also partner with KICS to optimize the contents of EnterMedia to make them interoperable with the company’s EnterpriseSearch capability.

E. Archiving

1. Sunset Date

StratComm’s desire to use the most recent material possible in most communications products results in a diminished prevalence of usage with age. As such, StratComm will transfer all files to Corporate Archives once they surpass 5 years of age in order to preserve these objects for historical purposes and to make room for new assets. This transfer to Archives will be performed annually.

2. Selection and Accessioning

At time of retirement Corporate Archives and StratComm photography staff will meet to determine which files are appropriate for long term preservation and which can be safely deaccessioned. This may or may not include the deletion of RAW files. Corporate Archives will have ultimate say in the selection of items for long-term preservation.

If StratComm believes an item – or collection of items – should be retained for active usage longer than the 5-year sunset date, or in a non-archival format not supported by Corporate Archives, StratComm will assume the responsibility of maintaining that library of assets for nearline access.

3. Transformation and Migration

At time of retirement Corporate Archives and StratComm photography staff will collaborate on any required format migrations necessary to normalize the collection to an archival standard.

Corporate Archives reserves the right to perform transformations of the original files in order to maintain functional access in future computing environments.

VII. Audits

Annual audits should be performed to check fixity of currently held assets, to facilitate the retirement of assets to Corporate Archives, and to review this policy document for any needed changes. The parties responsible for each of these efforts are outlined below.

A. Fixity Audits

StratComm photography staff will assume full responsibility for performing all audits of file fixity, both before and after transfers, as well as annually to protect against bit rot.

B. Retirement

Corporate Archives and StratComm photography staff will work in tandem to perform annual reviews of materials eligible for retirement to Corporate Archives

C. Policy Review

The full Corporate Digital Preservation Committee, including R504 and R301 leadership, Corporate Archives staff, StratComm photography staff, and representatives of Enterprise Computing, will annually meet to evaluate the need for any changes to this document.

No One Size Fits All, But Some Guiding Principles

Apologies for my late blogging!

The four policies I chose to review are the Dartmouth College Library’s Digital Preservation Policy, the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland (PRONI)’s Digital Preservation StrategyIllinois Digital Environment for Access to Learning and Scholarship (IDEALS)’s Digital Preservation Policy, and Rhizome at the New Museum’s Digital Preservation Practices and the Rhizome Artbase. Although these policies come from a range of archives/institutional repositories, libraries, and museums, there were definitely a lot of commonalities.

Digital preservation policies should align with institutional collection policies and mission – identify the types of items most important to the institution. These policies need to establish what types of material the institution will collect and preserve, but also be flexible enough to for appropriate on-the-ground decision-making between policy review periods. Stanford’s web archiving policy focuses on at-risk content while also making sure that the policy supports other collection policies and strengths, and prioritizes what is likely to be useful to Stanford’s researcher base.

So, a good digital preservation policy would establish what the institution’s mission or responsibility for digital collections is (such as in PRONI’s policy, which reads an original remit about paper-based collections to also apply to born-digital and digitized material); explain challenges to preservation and/or risks (such as Dartmouth and Rhizome’s policies); define audiences/users for digital materials being selected and preserved; establish collecting and preserving priorities (all five policies I looked at do this); delineate principles behind preservation (Dartmouth’s policy explains life cycle management and lists several resources they have access to, like Portico, LOCKSS, and HathiTrust); and sets a regular schedule or deadline for the policy to be reviewed.

There were some interesting differences I noted in these policy documents as well: IDEALS’s policy does not list specific formats, PRONI’s mentions that they have a list of accepted file formats but that is not included in the policy, and Dartmouth’s lists their preferred formats within the policy itself. Rhizome’s policy reads more like a whitepaper than a policy document, and goes into more depth on the multiple different directions future actions could take.

Discussion Questions

    1. Stanford’s web archiving policy is for an institution with high staffing levels and adequate funding. While all of the major points still apply to smaller institutions, how do you scale this type of robust, well-defined collections policy to understaffed or all volunteer-run organizations, such as the ones many of us in class are working with?
    2. Rimkus, Padilla, Popp, & Martin’s analysis of file format policies across ARL institutions brought up that repository managers place more trust in file formats that originate from library reformatting programs. Is some of this built-in trust because many librarians come from humanities backgrounds? Could increasing diversity in library staff’s backgrounds (i.e. more people with media production, art, design, or programming backgrounds) change the level of confidence repository managers and policy creators have in other formats?

Next Steps for the Geneva Historical Society

Introduction

The digital holdings of the Geneva Historical Society, located in New York, are spread out over various websites and institutions. The Society has partnerships with the Hobart and William Smith Colleges, NewYorkHeritage.org, and the NYS Historic Newspapers website. The Society’s digital holdings can be found on these websites, their own Synology NAS storage system, and on Google Photos and Dropbox. These holdings include materials such as photographs, post cards, and microfilmed newspapers.

One of the largest problems the Society faces with their digital items stems from a lack of organization. When an employee digitizes an item, that item is saved and stored according to that employee’s own personal naming and filing system. Staff regularly do not know what other employees have scanned, leading to much duplication and difficulty in finding digitized materials.

Before writing a preservation policy for the Society, I will first review the Society’s current standing in the NDSA Levels of Digital Preservation (LoDP) and then recommend next steps that the Society can take to improve their standing. The NDSA levels can be found here.

Metadata

Although Metadata is ranked as the fourth priority on the NDSA LoDP, it is a critical concern for the Society. To address their duplication and disorganization issues, it is pertinent for the Society to create an inventory of their digital holdings. This inventory can be created on a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet and should have headers for information such as directory location, file format, and file size. Resolution would also be a beneficial header so that, in the future, staff members can know if the digitized image fits the proper resolution that they are looking for. There should be a backup of this inventory in case the original file is accidentally deleted or corrupted. Simple ways to backup the inventory include using Dropbox or Google Sheets.

Other than just creating the inventory, the Society would also benefit from standardizing the documentation of digital materials. This standardization should include a file naming policy so that items are always named in predictable and understandable ways, increasing findability. While creating the inventory, files should be renamed in order to fit the standard. Another way to standardize the documentation of the digital materials is to restructure the directories so that everyone may know the locations of items, instead of them being restricted to a single employee’s desktop. One way to structure the directories can be to base them on the physical locations of the materials. This way, if an employee knows where to find the physical object, they can use that same process to find the digitized version. Thus, the inventorying process would also involve relocating digital objects to fit into the new directory structures.

So that every employee will know how to name and locate items, the Society should create a “file plan” document. The purpose of this document will be to explain the standards for naming and storing items and why the rules exist. For future digitization, staff members should record file information in the inventory right after scanning.

Creating the inventory will be a high resource requirement. Due to the amount of time that creating the inventory will take, the Society can use community volunteers and dedicate staff hours to the project. The Society can also have a “file clean-up” day or time every so often so that every staff member can devote time to inventorying and cleaning up the collection.

Storage and Geographic Location

The Society currently uses a Synology NAS storage system. To satisfy the storage requirements of the NDSA LoDP, an organization needs to have multiple copies of their collection in different geographic locations. To meet the level 1 requirement of LoDP, the Society needs to create a copy of their digital collection. The Society could use an application such as Preservica to store their digital materials. To reach the second level, the Society will need to document the storage systems they are using and what they need to use them (such as access information). The Society will also need to create and find a storage location for a third copy of their digital collection. This third copy can potentially be given to one of the Society’s partners.

Fulfilling these steps will demand a medium resource requirement from the Society. Improving the Society’s standing in this area could cost both time and money (should the Society decide to use an application like Preservica).

File Fixity and Data Integrity

File fixity refers to the digital object remaining as intended through time and transfer, meaning that details such as content and file size do not change. The purpose of fixity checks are to ensure the digital objects have not changed. There are no fixity checks currently being done at the Society. To reach level 1 of LoDP, the Society needs to create fixity information upon creating and acquiring a new digital object. To do this, I recommend that the Society record the file size and file count. This information can be recorded in the inventory. To reach level 2 of LoDP, the Society needs to check file fixity for all acquired digital materials. The Society can do this using AVP’s free application Fixity. I would also recommend that the Society practice annual fixity checks to make sure none of their content has corrupted.

For materials already in the Society’s collection, the Society can record their file size and count while creating the inventory for future reference. Working on file fixity will be a low resource requirement for the Society. Documenting fixity information for existing files can be done while working on the inventory and the procedure for adding fixity information for new digital objects can be added to the file plan. Checking file fixity can be done using free applications, so there does not need to be a financial cost to the Society.

Information Security

Some information security is implemented at the Society in the Photo Archive. Although the public may use the computer, they cannot access all the files that staff can. These access restrictions can be further implemented to protect the digital collection. To reach level 1 of LoDP’s information security section, the Society needs to identify who has read, write, move, and delete authorization to individual files. This should be done after the inventory has been created and existing materials have been renamed and relocated. The benefit of having these restrictions is that unauthorized people will not be able to tamper with or misplace files, maintaining the order and efficiency of the organization. The Society should also document who has the authorizations and access restrictions for the content.

Implementing this level of information security will be a medium resource requirement for the Society. The Society will have to decide and document who will be able to access, alter, move, and delete which collection materials, which may require a lot of time.

File Formats

Although the employees at the Society already know that they use formats such as pdf, tiff, and jpg, it is still important to document all of the file formats in use. This can be done once the inventory is created. After documenting the formats for each item in the collection, the Society will be able to see each the formats being used. The Society should limit their formats to “known open formats,” meaning formats that are widely used and non-propriety. This lessens the risk of the format becoming obsolete. To reach levels 3 and 4 of LoDP, the Society will need to monitor these file formats to see if they are becoming obsolete and migrate at-risk formats when needed.

Working on the file format section of LoDP will be a low resource requirement from the Society, as it should be relatively easy to do once the inventory has been created.

Conclusion

The most pressing need for the Society is the creation of an inventory. Once the inventory is created, the Society will be able to advance in the other areas of LoDP with lower resource requirements.

Next Steps Preservation Plan for the Archeology Program Office

OVERVIEW

The Archeology Program Office of the Prince George’s County Department of Parks and Recreation was established in 1988 to excavate, preserve and protect archeological sites in county parks. It is part of the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission. As part of its mission, the program curates millions of artifacts, and over the years, related documentation has been created in various formats and on disparate media. Documentation is primarily in the form of digital and/or physical copies of reports, catalogs, slides, print photographs, negatives, drawings, maps, and videos. All artifacts and documentation are stored in the same facility. Their goal is to have all digital content centralized on one shared network which is currently in development.

This report outlines recommended next steps to preserve their digital content following a framework designed by the National Digital Stewardship Alliance (NDSA). NDSA’s Levels of Digital Preservation presents a series of recommendations based on five areas of concern for digital preservation – storage and geographic location, file fixity and data integrity, information security, metadata and file format. Level 1 recommendations relate to the most urgent activities need for preservation and serves as a prerequisite to the higher levels.

STORAGE AND GEOGRAPHIC LOCATION

Establish a central storage system for all digital content and maintain at least one complete copy stored in another location.

Digital content is currently stored locally on five desktop computers, two laptops, a back-up drive of files from former staff, approximately 300 compact discs and about 700 3.5” floppy disks. Staff have been working on a shared drive to organize content in one place. While staff are backing up their own drives locally, there is no complete copy of all digital content.

Following NDSA’s Level 1 recommendation, staff should move all files off disparate media and into a storage system and create a complete copy of files that should be stored in a different location. This serves a number of purposes:

– Transferring to a new storage system will guard against potential loss of data on old media.

– Minimizing number of storage locations will facilitate data integrity monitoring.

– Creating a complete copy will provide a back-up in case files are corrupted or lost.

– Storing a copy in a different location will guard against loss specific to one location such as damage to equipment as a result of severe weather or a catastrophic event.

– This process is also a necessary first step in achieving a goal for the program, which is to have all files organized and accessible without extensive searching.

1. Create a complete copy of what is accessible right now.

The development of the shared network in coordination with the program’s IT department will likely serve as their established storage system. A portion of files are currently inaccessible on floppy disks. However, the bulk of digital content is stored locally on various hard drives.  Any content that is currently accessible on hard drives should be copied and stored in another location to safeguard against loss. See “File Fixity and Data Integrity” below for checking data integrity and creating a file manifest. In the short term, storage can be on an external hard drive that is kept in another location in a secure place. Alternatively, staff could use a cloud storage service such as Dropboxwhich would have the added benefit of storing files offsite. Once files are integrated into the shared drive, a copy can be created from this set of content. Staff can work with the IT department to see if they can use a back-up storage system that is already in place with other departments.

2. Establish a file structure in the shared directory

Staff can begin integrating current files that they work with into the networked drive in order to develop a workable structure that will be practical for finding files. Historical documents can then be organized into that structure. Once a structure and naming system has been established, staff should document and follow this structure. This can be done concurrently with the following step.

3. Copy files from compact disks and 3.5” floppy disks using an unnetworked workstation

It will likely take a while to sift through decades worth of files. Given the urgency of potential loss from old media and a potential risk of viruses from disks used by former staff, copy over all the files from compact and floppy disks first onto a an unnetworked drive and run a virus scan before combining with current files.

a. Drive space needed: Assuming approximately 700 MB of data per CD and 1.44 MB per floppy disks, there is approximately 211 GB of data if all the disks are full.

b. Install anti-virus software on unnetworked workstation: Speak with the IT department about installing antivirus software so that it can run in the background while copying over files. Establish a schedule to run full virus scans depending on how regularly files are being copied over.

 c. Install drivers for 3.5” external floppy drive on unnetworked drive: At the time of the survey, staff had an external drive to read 3.5” floppy disks but lacked the software to run the drive. This step is necessary in order to access any of this information.

d. Install fixity software on unnetworked and networked drives: See the section “File Fixity and Data Integrity” below.

e. Transferring files from CDs and floppy disks to unnetworked hard drive: Currently staff use context such as file extensions, file location, file name, and the author name to find content. Therefore, it’s recommended that they preserve these elements and related descriptive information that may be written on the disks as much as possible until they can sort out all the content. Disks were labeled in a number of ways. The majority of floppy disks where organized in boxes of about 10 disks with labels on the boxes suggesting that there were groups of related disks. Some disks had vague or no labeling. Related files kept together on disks or boxes of disks should be copied into a directory folder with the descriptive information from the label. This can either be transcribed onto a text file or a picture can be taken of the label and included in the directory.

f. Timing: While each floppy disk may hold a relatively small amount of data, the process of copying over hundreds of disks can be labor intensive. However, during this window, the work is not being backed up. Therefore, consider either setting a short window of time to copy over all of these files, or setting a schedule where small batches of files are copied over from disks and scanned for viruses before being copied to another location. This can either be added to shared drive or another external drive that is stored in another location. Once files have been safely transferred, they can be integrated into the file structure on the shared drive.

4. Set a schedule of back-ups to maintain a complete copy.

METADATA

The NDSA Level 1 recommendation it to create an inventory of digital content and storage location. Like the digital content itself, the inventory should be backed up and stored in another location. As mentioned in the Section “File Fixity and Data Integrity” below, AVP’s Fixity software includes a function to generate a manifest of file paths that will assist with inventory. Staff can maintain this inventory as they continue to develop the file structure on the shared drive.

For file and directory naming, consider creating a controlled vocabulary and syntax to make it easier for staff to find files. This can include specific terms for archeological site names, document type (e.g., site form, report), and a version, year or other modifier (e.g., draft, final) when needed.

FILE FIXITY AND DATA INTEGRITY

File fixity is a way of ensuring that files have not changed. It is recommended to run fixity checks whenever files are transferred (Owens, p. 110). This will generate an alphanumeric string called a checksum that can be compared before and after the transfer. Changing the content of the file including the format will change the checksum value. If the IT department does not already use fixity software, Fixity is a free tool from AVP that can be used to generate and compare checksum values and ensure that all files have been transferred. The software also generates a manifest of file paths along with the checksums that could prove useful in establishing an inventory of digital content.

The Level 2 recommends virus checking high risk content while Level 3 recommends virus checking all content. Virus checking high risk content is addressed 3b of “Storage and Geographic Location.” Staff should have antivirus software installed at their workstations and run scheduled scans.

Level 3 also recommends checking fixity as fixed intervals to ensure data integrity over time. Consider establishing a yearly schedule of validating fixity. Any corrupt or missing files can be replaced with a copy that passes fixity validation.

INFORMATION SECURITY

This step will outline who has access to the content and what they can do with it. This will prevent files from getting deleted or changed by unauthorized staff. NSDA Level 1 recommends to identify who is authorized to read, write, move or delete individual files. Related to this, Level 4 in the section on file fixity also recommends that no one is authorized to have write access to all copies. This reduces the likelihood of changing or deleting all copies of one or more files.

Staff have taken initial steps in the process by creating three different directories with different levels of access for their users: one directory for onsite archeology staff, one directory for the rest of the Prince George’s County Parks Department, and one directory for Dinosaur Park, another program of the Prince George’s County arm of the Maryland National Capital Park and Planning Commission that shares the same workspace.

However, more levels of access may be necessary if only one person in the office is allowed to have read or write permissions. In addition, staff should clearly delineate working files from historical files that should not change. This will help to prevent the document from being changed or deleted. It will also help with fixity validation since working files will likely involved changes in content which will change the checksum value. This can be accomplished by setting permissions to specific subdirectories or to specific sets of files. Document access restrictions and store in a location that all users can access.

FILE FORMAT

 File formats can become obsolete. In some cases, once the format is obsolete the file might not be able to be opened in another format or will not be rendered in exactly the same way. The purpose of this section is to minimize these problems by using formats that are less likely to become obsolete, or that can be effectively rendered in another format. Widely used formats are generally considered to remain accessible because there will be a demand to either keep them accessible or develop a means of migrating them (Owens, 121).

Since some media have not yet been accessed, a current inventory of file formats that have been used is not available. Formats currently in use are jpegs andfiles generated from different versions of Microsoft Word, Excel and Access. Mapping files are created using GIS (geographic information systems) technologies. Older files have been created using WordPerfect, CAD (computerized aided drafting) software, and Paradox relational database. Staff are currently having trouble with opening Paradox files since the database is no longer supported and cannot be opened using current versions of Access or Excel.

Formats such as jpeg and Microsoft Word and Excel are commonly used, although the latter two undergo regular updates which may render slight changes if a file is opened in a new version. As the files are incorporated into the new directory structure on the shared drive, staff should develop an inventory of formats that they are using, work with the IT department to monitor them for obsolescence, and be prepared to migrate as needed.

FUTURE STEPS

NDSA Level 2 for storage recommends creating a third copy of the content and Level 4 recommends at least three copies stored in locations with different disaster threats. The Archeology Program Office could combine this recommendation with a means of sharing some of their content. This could be through a subject-specific repository for archeology or something more general like the Internet Archive.

Levels 2-4 address steps to maintain storage media so that files continue to be accessible in the long term. Staff should work with their IT department to document storage used for their shared drive and back-up copies, monitor for obsolescence, and have a plan in place for updating systems.

Staff also expressed an interest in resuming digitization of their physical documentation. Some reports and slides have already been digitized. As a starting point, staff can discuss their experiences with past efforts and lessons learned to establish goals for the program and how this will fit into the file structure that they are creating for current digital content. The Still Image and Audiovisual Working Groups of the Federal Agencies Digital Guidelines Initiative can be a good resource to establish best practices for digitization.