OCLC Research Reports

  • Demystifying Born Digital Reports

Demystifying Born Digital Reports



You've Got to Walk Before You Can Run: First Steps for Managing Born-Digital Content Received on Physical Media

by Ricky Erway, OCLC Research

This report is intended for anyone who doesn’t know where to begin in managing born-digital materials. It errs on the side of simplicity and describes what is truly necessary to start managing born-digital content on physical media, and it presents a list of the basic steps without expanding on archival theory or the use of particular software tools. It does not assume that policies are in place or that those performing the tasks are familiar with traditional archival practices, nor does it assume that significant IT support is available.

Download the report (.pdf: 45K/5 pp.)


Swatting the Long Tail of Digital Media: A Call for Collaboration

by Ricky Erway, OCLC Research

This report urges a collaborative approach for conversion of content on various types of digital media. As with First Steps, the document refers only to born-digital material on physical media. This essay is intended for managers who are making decisions on where to invest their born-digital time and money. It should help them understand that any expectations that local staff will be able to handle everything are probably impractical. We hope it’ll also help archivists (and others) in the trenches breathe a sigh of relief to think that perhaps they won’t have to deal with an array of obsolete media all on their own.

Download the report (.pdf: 46K/7 pp.)


Walk This Way: Detailed Steps for Transferring Born-Digital Content from Media You Can Read In-house

by Julianna Barrera-Gomez and Ricky Erway, OCLC Research

This report collects the assembled wisdom of experienced practitioners to help those with less experience make appropriate choices in gaining control of born-digital content. It contains discrete steps with objectives, links to available tools and software, references and resources for further research and paths to engagement with the digital archives community.

Download the report (.pdf: 332K/35 pp.)


Agreement Elements for Outsourcing Transfer of Born Digital Content

by Ricky Erway, OCLC Research; Ben Goldman, Pennsylvania State University; and Matthew McKinley, University of California, Irvine

This report suggests the elements that should be considered when constructing an outsourcing agreement (or memorandum of understanding) for transferring born digital content from a physical medium, while encouraging adherence to both archival principles and technical requirements.

Download the report


Several other reports will follow in the coming months.

We called upon an informal group of experts for feedback on our ideas and drafts, and they responded with detailed insights and remarkable energy. While not all details in the reports represent consensus, their spirited debates and valued advice improved them greatly.

  • Nancy Enneking
    Head of Institutional Records and Archives,
    Getty Research Institute
  • Riccardo Ferrante
    Director, Digital Services,
    Smithsonian Institution Archives
  • Ben Goldman
    Digital Records Archivist,
    Pennsylvania State University
  • Gretchen Gueguen
    Data Services Coordinator
    Digital Public Library of America (DPLA)
  • Matthew Kirschenbaum
    Associate Professor of English and Associate Director,
    Maryland Institute for Technology in the Humanities (MITH),
    University of Maryland
  • Christopher (Cal) Lee
    Associate Professor, School of Information and Library Science,
    University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  • Veronica Martzahl
    Electronic Records Archivist,
    Massachusetts State Archives
  • Matthew McKinley
    Digital Project Specialist,
    University of California, Irvine
  • Naomi L. Nelson
    Director, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library,
    Duke University
  • Erin O'Meara
    Gates Archive
  • Chris Prom
    Assistant University Archivist,
    University of Illinois, Urbana/Champaign
  • Gabriela Redwine
    Digital Archivist,
    Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library,
    Yale University
  • Seth Shaw
    Assistant Professor,
    Clayton State University
  • Rob Spindler
    University Archivist and Head, Archives and Special Collections,
    Arizona State University Libraries
  • Susan Thomas
    Digital Archivist and Project Manager, Bodleian Library,
    Oxford University
  • Dave Thompson
    Digital Curator,
    Wellcome Library
  • Jennifer Waxman
    Senior Manager for Preservation & Access, 
    Center for Jewish History

Related information:

Activity page:
Demystifying Born Digital


Report publication announcements:

Suggested citations:
Erway, Ricky. 2012. You've Got to Walk Before You Can Run: First Steps for Managing Born-Digital Content Received on Physical Media. Dublin, Ohio: OCLC Research.

Erway, Ricky. 2012. Swatting the Long Tail of Digital Media: A Call for Collaboration. Dublin, Ohio: OCLC Research. http://www.oclc.org/research/publications/library/2012/2012-08.pdf.

Barrera-Gomez, Julianna and Ricky Erway. 2013. Walk This Way: Detailed Steps for Transferring Born-Digital Content from Media You Can Read In-house. Dublin, Ohio: OCLC Research.

Erway, Ricky, Ben Goldman and Matthew McKinley. 2014. Agreement Elements for Outsourcing Transfer of Born Digital Content. Dublin, Ohio: OCLC Research. http://www.oclc.org/content/dam/research/publications/library/2014/oclcresearch-born-digital-content-transfer-2014.pdf.

For More Information:

Ricky Erway
Senior Program Officer
OCLC Research


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