Workbook on Digital Private Papers > Working with record creators > Introduction


This chapter of the Workbook provides a broad overview of the workflow which takes place during the first two phases in the lifecycle of a digital archive, from record creation through to transfer into archival custody. Much of it is based on Paradigm experience, but many of the procedures developed by the project may be more generally applicable to the kind of digital and hybrid personal archives which will increasingly be acquired by collecting institutions.

By way of initial preparatory work, the project team formulated some ideas about the nature of personal archives and the ways in which the digital environment might change their shape and nature. More detailed research was carried out on the structure of existing personal archives of politicians held at both the Bodleian Library and John Rylands University Library.

Another of the project team's earliest tasks was to produce a deposit agreement for use with participating politicians. Whilst this is specific to the project, the team explored issues raised by the digital environment in relation to gift and deposit agreements more generally, and this resulted in a model gift agreement (see Appendix A: Model gift agreement) which might form a template for adaptation and use by other collecting institutions.

The team's investigation into the personal archives of politicians helped to inform the preparation of a records survey for use with the politicians participating in the project. The survey forms a crucial initial stage in the acquisition process and provides important information for later stages of work, such as the transfer process, appraisal and creation of metadata. The transfer protocol developed by the project is also outlined here, although it is acknowledged that this is only one of many ways in which digital archives might be transferred from creator to repository, and the method adopted may depend on the approach to collection development (see Chapter 02 Collection development) being taken.

Many of the procedures developed during the course of the project will already be familiar to archivists: sound traditional archival practice provides the foundation of Paradigm's acquisition and accessioning process, and this has simply been adapted to take into account the particular challenges raised by the digital environment. The procedures outlined here can also be mapped to the functions set out in the OAIS Model, in order to demonstrate that relevant OAIS mandatory responsibilities are being fulfilled, primarily the obligation to: