Project overview

Identifying record creators

The project will identify at least two working politicians from each of two major political parties. Involvement of these individuals with the project will not only be worthwhile for the use of their archival material, but also for the profile and understanding that the cause of digital preservation will gain from working with these influential individuals.

In the case of the Bodleian Library, Oxford, which administers the Conservative Party Archives, the party would be the Conservative Party. In the case of the John Rylands University Library, Manchester, which works closely with the Manchester-based Labour History Archives and Study Centre (LHASC), the party would be the Labour Party. The project will in both cases sit outside of the formal arrangements for administering the party archives (as neither of these contains private papers). However, much will be gained by working with existing organisation networks, and using existing archival staff as part of the project team including efficiencies in communication, vast experience in dealing with political papers and politicians and established archival procedures.

Selecting archival materials

The politicians identified by the project will be chosen as examples of individuals currently creating documents in digital form that would be suitable for consideration as archival material. Project staff will then work with these individuals to identify tranches of material, both physical and digital that will be brought into the respective libraries to be considered as archival documents.

Learning about technical, organisational and legal issues in different contexts

Spreading the project across two institutions, individuals, and parties will ensure that the project will embrace a broad spread of content-types, organisational problems, legislative requirements (especially in relation to the Freedom of Information and Data Protection Acts) and IP-related issues, and ensure that the project will be representational.

Harmonising traditional archival processes with digital object management processes

Two parallel approaches will take place simultaneously, namely following the outline workflow identified in the OAIS reference model, and on the ‘traditional’ side, the standard archival accessioning workflow. The project will compare the experience of operating these two workflows together, and will develop guidelines on how the two can be harmonised, and to identify barriers to working the two systems together, and to identify solutions as appropriate. Methodologies for the rapid appraisal of large quantities of e-records will be evaluated.

A Workbook for Digital Private Papers

A major element of the project will be the creation of a Workbook on Digital Private Papers, which will be created cumulatively as the project progresses. The workbook will detail the experiences of the project, outline best practice as identified through project staff working on the Project itself, comparing experience with other digital preservation activities, and through maintaining currency with the literature and best practice globally, through close liaison with groups such as the Digital Preservation Coalition.

Scope and boundaries

Although the project will focus on a particular type of archival material, namely digital private papers, the lessons learned should be applicable to the collection and management of a broad range of digital materials that share similar characteristics (e.g. created by individuals using standards, tools, and technologies over which the archivist has no direct influence; the need to guarantee that the authenticity of the deposited materials is preserved, etc.).