Monthly Archives: June 2012

Archive Journal CFP

Very excited to post this call for proposals for contributions to Archive Journal (! 250-word abstracts, along with 1-page CV, are due July 30. The deadline for completed submissions (based on accepted proposals) will be in early October 2012.


The editorial board of Archive Journal ( is pleased to announce an upcoming issue, “Curating the Digital, Curating the Analog,” which will explore how data curation shapes and informs library, archival, scholarly, and pedagogical practices.

Understood as the “active and ongoing management of data through its life cycle of interest and usefulness to scholarly and educational activities” (Data Curation Education Program,, data curation encompasses selection and appraisal, description and representation, preservation, and the work of making a resource usable and repurposable. How we store, represent, and provide access to data affects not only those in the world of libraries, archives, and museums, but also scholars, faculty, students, and artists across the disciplines. What role does data play in fields such as the digital humanities, or media studies? How does data curation involve or affect scholarly production, or approaches to pedagogy?

Guest editors, Patricia Hswe and Erin O’Meara, invite submissions on data curation that address new practitioner roles, new types of scholarship, new storage needs, and new stories that are fast emerging. Possible topics for contributions include – but are not limited to – the following:

– Data and archives
– Data curation practices and challenges
– Curation of born-digital materials
– Humanities data curation issues and practices (including management of data for humanities projects)
– Data curation program development
– Legacy data
– Digital forensics
– Curating a mixed media collection (e.g., print and digital)
– Donors and digital donations
– Ethnographic methods and data curation
– Creator attitudes toward, or perceptions of, data curation
– New roles for librarians, archivists, curators, researchers
– Description methods and data models (e.g., metadata, finding aids, ontologies, etc.)
– Tools, applications, platforms

We invite proposals for contributions of 5000-7000 words; shorter essays (2000-4000 words) about new tools or services are also welcome. We encourage proposals that include multimedia components (video, image, or sounds in standard formats), as well as multi-modal or experimental formats; please contact the editors with any questions about submissions in alternative formats. An open-access, peer-reviewed journal, Archive Journal seeks content that speaks to its diverse audience of librarians, scholars, archivists, and technologists (

Authors interested in submitting to this special issue of Archive Journal should send a 250-word abstract about their contribution and a 1-page CV to Patricia Hswe (Digital Collections Curator, Penn State University Libraries) at and to Erin O’Meara (Archivist, Gates Archive) at by Monday, July 30.

Digital Preservation and ScholarSphere

When I served as Institutional Repository Coordinator at Duke University, one frequently asked question I received was “What is an Institutional Repository?” My stock answer was that it was an access and discovery platform for Duke faculty and student scholarship as well as born digital institutional records.  The follow-up question almost always had to do with preservation of the content; that answer was usually a referral to a list of preferred formats for deposit.

As we head towards the launch of Penn State’s IR, ScholarSphere, these questions now loom large for us. My stock answer at Duke also applies for ScholarSphere as it will offer access and discovery for faculty and student scholarship. ScholarSphere is also built on a robust platform that allows for flexible preservation services. So what is the baseline for content preservation offered by ScholarSphere?

First, all content made available on ScholarSphere will have redundant back-up. All files deposited will get a SHA-1 (Secure Hash Algorithm) checksum which is essentially a digital “fingerprint” in the form of a string of characters that can be generated for any digital file. If the file changes in any way that digital signature will change, indicating the alteration. In addition, ScholarSphere uses FITS (File Information Tool Set) to identify, validate, and extract technical (and some descriptive) metadata from the file, identifying the file type, version, and other information that helps us manage the file. Regular fixity checks will be run against the files to check for changes, such as file corruption. Beyond this initial level of preserving the file for access and discovery, additional preservation services are in the planning stages.

What might these additional preservation services entail? Depending on the Library’s commitment to the files submitted, we may look at normalizing files into standard formats to facilitate the migration of files as formats become obsolete, such as migrating all Word files (such as .docx) to a format like PDF/A, the ISO standardized version of Portable Document Format (PDF). A higher level of preservation would be to preserve both the source file and the normalized copy. For some scholarly works such as certain types of data sets, preservation or emulation of the software used to create the files may also be needed to carry the content forward through time.

The main drivers for the adoption of additional preservation services such as these will be policy and resources. Each of the services listed above requires increasing amounts of resources (staff, expertise, and IT tools) to accomplish. Just as we have policies that guide us in the building and preserving of analog collections as well as limited resources to implement those policies, the same is true with the digital content collected for ScholarSphere. Policy can also help creators make informed decisions with regard to technologies and formats used for their work, which could potentially ease the amount of resources required and enhance the longevity of scholarly content. As ScholarSphere evolves, the Library will be prepared to suggest best practices with regard to different documentary types and file formats.