The No-Nonsense Guide to Born-Digital Content

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  • Description
  • Table of Contents
  • About the Authors
  • Reviews

Libraries and archives of all sizes are collecting and managing an increasing proportion of digital content. Within this body of digital content is a growing pool of ‘born-digital’ content: content that has been created and has often existed solely in digital form. Providing continued, sustainable access to a wide array of born-digital content is a challenge for libraries and archives, particularly because of the broad and highly technical skills needed to build and sustain born-digital content management workflows.

The No-Nonsense Guide to Born Digital Content provides an entry level how-to guide that aims to help ease inexperienced students and practitioners into this area. It explains step by step processes for developing and implementing born-digital content workflows in library and archive settings of all sizes and includes a range of case studies collected from small, medium and large institutions internationally. Coverages includes:

  • the wide range of digital storage media and the various sources of born-digital content;
  • an overview of digital information basics; 
  • selection, acquisition, accessioning, and ingest;
  • description, preservation, and access;
  • methods for designing and implementing workflows for born-digital collection processing;
  • a comprehensive glossary of common technical terms; and
  • strategies and philosophies to move forward as technologies change.

Foreword - Trevor Owens


  • What is born-digital content?
  • Why is this important?
  • About the book
  • Additional resources
  • Representing the world of libraries and archives

1. Digital information basics

  • What is digital information?
  • Hexadecimal
  • Digital file types
  • Storage media
  • Command line basics
  • Code repositories
  • Conclusion
  • Further reading

2. Selection

  • Types of born-digital content
  • Format- versus content-driven collecting decisions
  • Mission statements, collecting policies, and donor agreements
  • Gift agreements
  • Stanford University’s approach to selection in web archiving
  • Conclusion
  • Further reading

3. Acquisition, accessioning and ingest

  • Principles in acquisition
  • Acquisition of born-digital material on a physical carrier
  • Checksums and checksum algorithms
  • Acquisition of network-born materials 
  • Accession
  • Ingest
  • Conclusion
  • Further reading

4. Description

  • General fields and types of information
  • Descriptive standards and element sets
  • General element sets
  • Descriptive systems
  • Use cases
  • Conclusion
  • Further reading

5. Digital preservation storage and strategies

  • A note on acquisition
  • A note on file formats
  • Thinking about storage
  • Certification
  • Digital preservation policy
  • Conclusion
  • Further reading

6. Access

  • Deciding on your access strategy
  • Methods of access
  • Use case
  • Conclusion
  • Further reading

7. Designing and implementing workflows

  • A note on tools
  • Design principles
  • Workflow and policy
  • Examples
  • Case study
  • Conclusion
  • Further reading

8. New and emerging areas in born-digital materials

  • Technology in general
  • Storage
  • Software and apps
  • Cloud technologies
  • Smartphones
  • Digital art and new media
  • Emerging descriptive and access methods
  • Growing your skills
  • Conclusion
  • Further reading


Appendix A – Resources

Appendix B - Basic unix command line prompts

Heather Ryan

Heather Ryan is Assistant Professor, Director of Special Collections & Archives at the University of Colorado, Boulder.

Walker Sampson

Walker Sampson is Assistant Professor, Special Collections & Archives at the University of Colorado, Boulder.

"Take this book as the starting point of a journey into our community of practice and realize that you are not alone. Even if it really is just you working on digital preservation as a lone arranger at a small organization the rest of us are out here working away at the same problems."
— Trevor Owens, Head, Digital Content Management, Library of Congress