OSSArcFlow at the Kansas Historical Society

Jul 10, 2018

Background

The Kansas Historical Society (KSHS), established in 1875, is an Executive Branch state agency. Designated as the trustee of the state in 1879 and as the repository of official government records in 1905, the Historical Society collects and preserves the story of Kansas history. The State Archives houses both digitized and born-digital material in the digital collection. The scope of these items reaches across our manuscripts and public records departments and includes photos, documents, maps, audio- visual material, and a large collection of digitized and born digital newspapers. The State Archives currently stores about 100 TB worth of items in a variety of storage environments. KSHS utilizes multiple systems of discovery for our digital collections.

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The OSSArcFlow Project

OSSArcFlow is an IMLS-funded project led by The Educopia Institute, in collaboration with the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Information and Library Science (UNC-SILS) and Artefactual, Inc. The project will investigate the synchronization and modeling of workflows to help libraries and archives optimize their capacity to curate and preserve born digital content. Twelve project partners, including the Kansas Historical Society, have committed to using a combination of three leading Open Source Software platforms in their digital curation workflows. These platforms include BitCurator, Archivematica, and ArchivesSpace. The project will generate findings that are broad enough in scope to include other platforms and applications. It is the goal of project staff and partner institutions to significantly impact the development of institutional workflows by gaining a better understanding of how institutions of varying size use Open Source Software tools in their digital curation processes.

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OSSArcFlow and the Kansas Historical Society

Current Systems

KSHS utilizes multiple systems of discovery for our digital collections. We have five “home-grown” systems that include our archives and museum catalogs, KansasMemory.org, the newspaper database, and Dart (our internal content management system). Other points of access for our material include Ancestry.com, newspapers.com, Newsbank, Territorial Kansas Online, Civil War on the Western Border, Chronicling America, Family Search, ATLAS (Associated Topeka Libraries Automated System), and Archive-It.

Information about our digital collections is shared internally through multiple systems. Staff can update Dart and the museum catalog with notes about accessions, updates to the collection, and any other relevant information. Information about our newspaper collection is shared through the newspaper database. This database houses inventory information about both our analog and digital newspaper collections. There is a significant portion of our collection stored on servers and information about those items is kept in inventory spreadsheets.

As-Is Workflows

The first deliverable for the OSSArcFlow project was the development and publication of each institution’s as-is workflows. Project staff conducted an interview to determine the current practices and procedures of KSHS staff. Project staff created a visual flowchart as well as a narrative of KSHS’s workflows. The digital collection at the State Archives includes workflows for both born-digital and digitized material. These workflows vary in scope and complexity, but some major phases of each workflow as they currently exist include creation or acquisition, staging, description, and storage. The curation lifecycle typically ends at this point, as few long-term preservation activities are being completed on our digital collection. There have been periodic attempts to generate and check fixity information on our newspaper collection. We also record initial fixity information as part of the digitization workflow on our non-newspaper, digitized in-house items, but we do not currently complete ongoing fixity checks against those checksums.

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Conclusion

The next portion of the project is the completion and fine-tuning of each partner institution’s aspirational workflows. Significant testing of each open-source software system was done throughout the development of these workflows to develop some preliminary ideas of how each system will fill the unique needs of each institution. The remainder of the project will be devoted to more testing and implementing these workflows and providing feedback to project staff through monthly check-in calls.

For more information about the project, including the published workflows, please visit the project website at: https://educopia.org/research/ossarcflow.




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