¶ 1 Leave a comment on paragraph 1 2 Donors and dealers sometimes assess the scope and condition of a body of materials before offering it to a repository. Likewise, repositories have traditionally evaluated archival materials prior to acquisition in order to:
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- Determine whether the content aligns with collecting interests
- Determine potential use or access restrictions
- Obtain as much contextual information about the collection and materials as possible
- Assess whether the items hold cultural and research value
- Decide whether and what to acquire
¶ 3 Leave a comment on paragraph 3 1 In recent years, the relentless pace of technological change and the variety of ways in which individuals use technology have had a significant impact on the types of materials that end up in archives. Digital archival materials have created complications that further underscore the benefits of an initial collection review. It is important for all parties–donor, dealer, and repository staff–to discuss early on whether the donor has digital media and files that form a significant part of the materials being offered for gift or sale. These conversations might involve repository staff members who hold accessioning, acquisition, curatorial, legal, processing, and technical responsibilities. Donors might also want to consider involving technology specialists of their own to work closely with repository staff to locate and assess the digital media and files being offered as part of the acquisition.
¶ 4 Leave a comment on paragraph 4 2 Preliminary assessment of the digital materials can help ensure that the donor transfers only the media and files she intends. Any preliminary collection inventory should include general information about digital media and files, as well as relevant information about physical condition, such as mold, water, or other types of physical damage to hardware. This information will help repository staff evaluate the desirability of born-digital content, predict the storage requirements, estimate the associated staff and equipment costs over time, and decide whether to make an acquisition. A repository’s assessment criteria might include:
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- General technical characteristics of the media or files
- Volume of digital materials (including size range of files)
- Nature of the relationship between born-digital and paper materials within a collection
- Possible transfer options
- Particular preservation challenges
¶ 6 Leave a comment on paragraph 6 1 Basic repository strategies for assessing born-digital materials include sharing relevant information and documentation, conducting collection surveys, and communicating directly with donors about the history of their digital media and files.