Workbook on Digital Private Papers > Collection development > Introduction


Collection development is an umbrella term for the approaches taken by archives, libraries and museums in developing collections for their end users. It is usual to publish a collection policy which outlines the areas in which the institution collects and which expresses collection development priorities. Institutions also employ collection development strategies to fulfil the aims of a collection development policy. Such strategies are not necessarily public documents, or even documented at all, but they represent the approaches by which an institution will acquire new materials to enhance its collections. Collection development strategies should consider the issues around the collecting of archives and develop approaches which reduce the risk of failing to meet the aims of relevant collection development policies and provide the best opportunity of acquiring appropriate and high value collections for users of the repository.

Traditional collection development strategies have included:

The risk to digital archival materials is that degradation or obsolescence could render them inaccessible, or a complex processing prospect, long before they reach an archive via these routes. This could become increasingly true as those born today may use evolving technologies throughout their lives, producing personal archives that represent several generations of computing technology and practice.

Drawing on its experiences, Paradigm proposed a series of possible approaches to developing collections of born-digital (or hybrid) archives in the belief that pursuing traditional approaches alone risks that institutions collecting personal archives will fail to fulfil the ambitions of their collection development policies and the quality of collections documenting the contemporary period for future research would diminish.

This chapter of the Workbook explores Paradigm's proposed approaches to collection development. These aim to address issues prominent in the collection of personal digital archives, such as media degradation, various kinds of technical obsolescence, distributed storage, abundance and poor structure. Six basic approaches to the development of personal archives including digital materials are described: