Workbook on Digital Private Papers > Collection development > Self-archiving

Self-archiving

Using this approach, heritage institutions would provide digital services to individuals whose personal archives interest them. These services would help individuals to create and use their content, while allowing the Library to bring this information into a managed environment. Relevant services would include email and chat, blog tools and hosting, weboffice facilities, personal digital assistants, data storage and backup. Alternatively, the Library could offer a more basic repository service, which allows users to upload their personal digital collections remotely. In this scenario, the creator could be responsible for creating their own initial descriptive metadata and may need either training or guidelines to encourage consistency of approach.

Advantages

  • The provision of tools and services mean that creators can be encouraged to use open, preservation-friendly, formats.
  • By managing the content for the creator's contemporary needs, the archivist can also monitor the status of digital objects and undertake preservation actions as and when required.
  • The creators may be more likely to embrace such a system as it not only preserves material for posterity but in the near term gives creators the security of having a backup copy saved elsewhere.

Disadvantages

  • Users choose software and services for various reasons: reliability, functionality, branding, defacto - it came pre-installed, familiarity, etc. Heritage institutions have little experience in this area and would be competing with organisations, such as Google, whose primary business is the provision of software and services.
  • A service aiming to supply tools and services for users beyond a secure upload would require substantial investment to establish and maintain.
  • The service would need clearly specified service level agreements and it could be difficult to offer the flexibility needed when dealing with personal collections.
  • There are legal considerations that need more thought. It may not be possible for individuals to use the service for some of their personal records. For example, politicians could not upload records governed by the Public Records Act.
  • The service may conflict with services provided by an employer.
  • Other creators contributing to the individual's personal archive could object.
  • The creator might view the digital repository as a records management service and devolve the management of current and semi-current records to the Library, including storage and retrieval.
  • It is likely that, at least initially, creators would not place extremely personal or sensitive material in a 'self-archiving' repository. In time, as the trustworthiness of such a scheme was proven, ingest of sensitive material may increase.