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Conference Report


D-Lib Magazine
July/August 2006

Volume 12 Number 7/8

ISSN 1082-9873

Digital Curation and Trusted Repositories, Seeking Success

JCDL 2006 Workshop Report


Carolyn Hank
TRLN Doctoral Fellow
School of Information and Library Science
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Red Line


A workshop entitled "Digital Curation and Institutional Repositories: Seeking Success" was held on June 15th in conjunction with the Joint Conference on Digital Libraries 2006. Sixty people attended this event sponsored by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill's (UNC-CH) School of Information and Library Science (SILS) <> and the University Libraries <>. Helen Tibbo, (UNC-CH SILS) chaired the workshop organizing committee that included Philip Eppard, Department of Information Studies College of Computing and Information, SUNY-Albany; Christopher Lee, UNC-CH SILS; Karen Markey, School of Information, University of Michigan (SI-UM); Soo Young Rieh, SI-UM; and Elizabeth Yakel, SI-UM.

Preservation of access to digital assets is a grand challenge of the early 21st century, preceded by over a decade of work in digital preservation and access. This work has resulted in many research projects, new or enhanced metadata and encoding standards, open source institutional repository platforms, and the Open Archival Information Systems (OAIS) reference model. In 2005, RLG and the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) drafted an audit checklist for certifying digital repositories as trustworthy. While guidelines, such as those provided by RLG and NARA, offer technical and managerial attributes for a trusted digital repository, adherence to such a checklist, by itself, may not ensure a successful digital repository.

The intent of this workshop was to discuss models and practices for evaluating digital repository trustworthiness and success. To accomplish this, the first half of the workshop was dedicated to discussion on the current issues affecting digital curation and the establishment of trusted repositories – the state of digital repositories and the need for contributors, metadata, services, and interoperability and sharing. The second half of the workshop focused on application of models for measuring, certifying, and auditing such systems for trustworthiness and success.

Tibbo began the day by summarizing developments in digital curation and trusted repositories. Clifford Lynch followed with a keynote talk that provided an overview of the current state of institutional repository (IR) development and addressed current issues, such as lack of consensus in defining an IR, as well as exploring potential future challenges. Karen Markey followed Lynch with an update on the University of Michigan School of Information's MIRACLE (Making Institutional Repositories in A Collaborative Learning Environment) Project, releasing preliminary findings from the project's nation-wide survey on IR deployments <>. Jihyun Kim, a member of the MIRACLE Project Team, presented results from a pilot survey investigating faculty motivations for IR contributions.

Kenneth Thibodeau from the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) spoke on factors constituting success in digital repositories. He presented a three-part framework for evaluating success – orientation, coverage, and collaboration – stressing that any evaluation must be conducted in context rather than through isolated criteria.

Two presenters addressed the need for metadata. Miles Efron (Appalachian State University) reported on his preliminary investigation of the application of Dublin Core metadata elements in IRs. David Gewirtz (Yale University) spoke on the need for contextual metadata in the evaluation of trusted digital repositories. Anne Sauer and Alison Jones shared the findings of a paper submitted by Sauer and her colleagues, Robert Chavez and Gregory Crane, at Tufts University. Jones and Sauer stressed services as a necessary factor in digital repository success, describing the partnership between Tuft's Digital Collections and Archives (DCA) and the Perseus Project.

The first half of the workshop concluded with two presentations continuing this theme of partnerships, along with the need for interoperability. Jonathan Crabtree, of the Odum Institute at UNC-CH, and Darrell Donakowski, of the Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research (ICPSR) at the University of Michigan, shared the experiences from the Data Preservation Alliance for Social Sciences (Data-PASS) Project, funded by the Library of Congress's National Digital Information Infrastructure and Preservation Program (NDIIPP). Crabtree and Donakowski provided examples of the benefits that result from collaborating among Data-PASS participants, endorsing such partnerships as a necessary component for future success in building and sustaining trusted digital repositories. William LeFurgy of the Library of Congress (LC) summarized another NDIIPP-funded project. LeFurgy and his co-author, Martha Anderson (LC), summarized the year-long Archive Ingest and Handling Test (AIHT), carried out on a test data set by five universities, including George Mason, Harvard, Old Dominion, Stanford, and Johns Hopkins.

The second half of the workshop began with presentations by the co-chairs of the RLG/NARA Taskforce on Digital Repository Certification, Robin Dale (RLG) and Bruce Ambacher (NARA). Dale described developments following the August 2005 draft release of the RLG/NARA Audit Checklist for Certifying Digital Repositories <>. Ambacher, in his paper prepared for the workshop, discussed use of the checklist requirements in a government archives context.

Stefan Strathmann from the Goettingen State and University Library, Germany, followed with a description of the trusted digital repository certification catalog developed by Germany's Network of Expertise on Long-Term Storage of Digital Resources (nestor) Project. In his presentation, Strathmann elaborated on the draft criteria proposed in the paper he and his co-authors, Susanne Dobratz and Astrid Schoger, submitted.

Reagan Moore from the San Diego Supercomputer Center, and MacKenzie Smith from MIT Libraries spoke on their co-authored paper, an excerpted mapping of the RLG/NARA checklist requirements to the repository management policies of a combined DSpace/Storage Resource Broker (SRB) system. The complete assessment may be found on their NARA-funded PLEDGE Project wiki <>.

Representing the U.K.'s Digital Curation Centre (DCC) and the Humanities Advanced Technology and Information Institute (HATII) at the University of Glasgow, Andrew McHugh emphasized the need for evidence in certifying trusted repositories. He and his co-author, Seamus Ross, identified types of evidence – documentary, observation of practice, and testimonial – that may be used when attempting to apply certification catalogs or checklists, such as the RLG/NARA draft or nestor criteria catalog, to digital repositories.

The workshop concluded with a recap and review by Cal Lee, entitled, "It's a Checklist, Not a Do List." Lee provided a "selective" synthesis of issues that emerged during the workshop, and he suggested some potential next steps. Plans are currently underway to continue the dialogue begun at the workshop and publish the papers. The workshop papers, presentations, and agenda may be found at <>.


Copyright © 2006 Carolyn Hank

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