Bits & Bytes: News from Rockefeller Archive Center's Digital Team
The Digital Program facilitates broad and equitable access to and responsible preservation of materials in the RAC's custody by providing technical leadership and expertise to staff in all program areas. We further our work and the archival profession by taking a collaborative, transparent, and standards-based approach, contributing to open-source systems and communities. We engage researchers and staff to understand their needs, prioritize solutions, and produce high-quality and useful tools and services.
The Digital Program leads a major initiative building sustainable, user-centered and standards-compliant infrastructure to support the ongoing acquisition, management, preservation and access for digital records at the RAC. Titled Project Electron, this project includes a repository to store digital records and metadata about them, as well as an API layer to manage interactions between the repository and other archival systems, and is being undertaken in partnership with Marist College. Further details are available at the project website.
FINDING AIDS, LIBRARY RECORDS AND DIGITAL OBJECTS ONLINE
Finding aids for archival collections and library holdings at the RAC are displayed online using the eXtensible Text Framework (XTF), a discovery system developed by the California Digital Library. This system takes advantage of web technologies to present finding aids and library records in a dynamic and easily navigable format. In the near future, the system will also display digital objects including both born-digital and digitized documents, photographs, audio, and video stored in RAC's digital preservation management system.
DIGITAL PRESERVATION MANAGEMENT SYSTEM
Digital Preservation Policy
The RAC has partnered with Artefactual Systems to collaborate and build on Archivematica, an open-source digital preservation management system. The Digital Program Staff has been working to establish proactive relationships with donors earlier in the life-cycle of records to educate them regarding electronic records management best practice, preservation formats, and archival storage media, as well as to identify donor concerns and needs to target research and development of solutions for archiving born-digital records. The RAC has recently partnered with Archive-It in order to offer preservation of website materials to our donor institutions.
AT REFERENCE MODULE
The RAC has developed a new module for the Archivists' Toolkit to manage researcher registration, recording visits and topics of research, and tracking researcher statistics and research products. The module, named AT Reference is open-source and freely available. Please see our Github site for more information.
REFERENCE SERVICES SYSTEM
Reference inquiries sent to the RAC are managed using osTicket, an open-source ticketing system that allows staff to search previous requests, respond to queries using auto-text, and gather statistics using reporting features. Digital Program Staff are assisting in the RAC's ongoing implementation of Aeon, an automated request and workflow management system that will aid retrieval and return of material for researchers in our reading rooms, researcher requests for photocopies or scans of archival material, and additional processes such as preservation activities and outsourced digitization projects.
COLLECTION MANAGEMENT SYSTEM
The RAC has adopted ArchivesSpace to help manage all of our archival description. ArchivesSpace supports the core functions in archives: accessioning, description and arrangement, authority and metadata management, rights, and reference services. The Digital Program staff work constantly on upgrades and plugins for the system to help automate RAC work.
Assistant Director, and Head of Digital Programs – Hillel Arnold
Digital Archivist – Patrick Galligan
Assistant Digital Archivist – Bonnie Gordon