Digital preservation work at DePaul University Special Collections and Archives has adjusted while working entirely remote. Changing and creating new opportunities has allowed us to reassess the direction that was initially planned for the year. The result has allowed Special Collections and Archives to create and establish new digital preservation strategies and identify additional objectives and goals.
One of the big projects undertaken over the past year was the digitization and preservation of selected legacy audio-visual materials. The previous year we had created an inventory of all the audio-visual material holdings in Special Collections and Archives. This inventory was the basis for us to plan and prioritize materials to send out for digitization. Factors including format accessibility, potential degradation due to age and condition, and researcher usage of particular collections were considered.
After receiving digitized materials back from the vendor, we uploaded access versions (lower resolution derivatives of the original files) to cloud storage for remote access. We developed workflows and trained student assistants on accessing, assessing file quality, and describing the content of the digital materials. The files come from a wide variety of content including oral histories, news broadcasts, and 1990s DePaul University men’s basketball. In the end we described and assessed over 450 files made up of over 6 terabytes of data from nine collections. After a year of work, the materials can now be viewed by researchers and are no longer stuck on inaccessible magnetic tape.
In the end, this project would not have occurred if everything had gone as planned. Without access to our physical collections, we were able to consider new opportunities and provide significant remote work for students. The work we accomplished will inform future projects and enhance access to additional collection materials.