Collections Principle 3

Collections Principle 3: A good collection is curated, which is to say, its resources are actively managed during their entire lifecycle. 

Digital curation is concerned with the lifecycle management of a resource from the time it is created or obtained until it is purposely disposed of. Curation encompasses a set of activities that include active data management, archiving, and digital preservation. 

Active data management is required to ensure that objects in a collection can be used and reused over time. It can include creating, correcting, and enhancing metadata; correcting or enhancing the data itself; and adding annotations, linkages to other materials, or other enriching information. It can involve working with the creators of the digital objects to ensure they are appropriately transferred to the custody of the curator, and appropriately described and documented. 

  • Digital Curation Centre website The U.K.’s Digital Curation Center promotes digital curation by sponsoring events like workshops and conferences and collecting or commissioning publications and tools. Their website links to a wealth of information, much of it focused on active data management. The DCC is also publishing a comprehensive Curation Manual in a series of installments. More than 45 chapters have been commissioned so far, covering a wide range of topics from appraisal and selection to technological obsolescence. Although only a handful of chapters have been published so far, this is likely to become a definitive resource on digital curation. 
  • Philip Lord and Alison Macdonald, E-Science Curation Report (2003) Details the requirements of data curation in the sciences and database-intensive social science and humanities disciplines.  

There are industry standard practices applicable to all mission-critical data and are not specific to digital collections. Data center and IT staff should be aware of these good general resources: 

  • ISO/IEC 27002:2005, Information technology – Security techniques – Code of practice for information security management (June 2005) This Wikipedia article describes the standard and links to purchase information. 
  • Web Application Security Consortium website The Consortium produces and releases technical information, articles, guidelines, and documentation for best practice security standards.  

Capture of born-digital materials can present special challenges, particularly ephemeral materials and works with distributed authorship such as websites and emails. Many academic institutions have established institutional repositories for content generated by students, faculty, and staff, but it is difficult to convince authors to deposit their own materials. 

  • Creating an Institutional Repository: LEADIRS Workbook ( 2004) Covers all angles of planning, policy and implementation. Written by MIT for a British audience. 
  • Australian Partnership for Sustainable Repositories (APSR) website APSR supports the implementation and use of institutional repositories at universities in Australia, and promotes linkages among them.  

While some usages equate digital preservation with archiving, preservation is more properly thought of as that subset of archiving concerned with the application of active preservation strategies to ensure an object remains usable despite hardware and software obsolescence. Preservation strategies generally involve format transformation, hardware/software emulation, or combinations of the two. The long-term archiving and preservation of digital materials is a difficult and expensive undertaking that requires substantial resources and serious institutional commitment. Resources are now available that continue to move the discussions forward toward best practice for preservation of digital content. 

  • Trustworthy Repositories Audit and Certification (TRAC): Criteria and Checklist (2007) These metrics will likely become the basis on an international standard for assessing trustworthy digital repositories. 
  • Digital Repository Audit Method Based on Risk Assessment (DRAMBURA) website, Toolkit and supporting tutorials are designed to help a repository do a self-audit against the TRAC criteria. 
  • PREMIS Preservation Metadata Maintenance Activity website, Includes a Data Dictionary for preservation metadata, supporting materials and a forum for the PREMIS Implementors’ Group. 
  • National Library of Australia, Preserving Access to Digital Information (PADI) website Comprehensive clearinghouse of current and historical materials related to digital preservation and curation.  


Last updated: 09/03/2008