Society of Mary (Marist Fathers and Brothers) in New Zealand
As we know context is everything so here’s mine-
- The New Zealand Province of the Society of Mary – Marist Fathers and Brothers brought Roman Catholicism to NZ in 1838. The New Zealand Archives have been in existence since 1960s, with a professional archivist employed since 2005. We are an in-house archives which cares for the records that document the congregation’s temporal and spiritual affairs as well as collecting the papers of members. The archives is open to external researchers of any religious belief.
- The Archives’ operational budget (excluding capital expenditure and my salary) is approximately $15,000US/year.
- In 2015 there was a reduction in staffing from 3 to 1 part-time archivist. I have a sole charge position reporting to a committee of a Provincial Council representative and an outside consultant.
To date the Archives has been a paper-based operation. Former staff members viewed born-digital material as artefacts – since we have the carrier, we have the material. The earliest born-digital was transferred onto floppies in 2001.
In fact the impetus for me to take action was to see a naked hard drive arrive, be put on a shelf and then be told, “You can deal with it in 10 years”! Receiving born-digital material this way is a growth area with an ever-aging congregation – in 2013 there was one naked drive, now there are 5! I received a scholarship in 2014 from the Ian McLean Wards Memorial Trust to work out how to start managing this.
Specific born-digital files entering the Archives as opposed to whole drives are photos, radio broadcasts and documents.
At DigCCurr Professional Institute, Nancy McGovern posed the question “What is good enough in your situation?” So my focus has been to keep my processes simple and manageable. As far as the born-digital sphere goes, I’m setting everything up.
My workflows may appear very simple and basic, but I have demonstrated that it is possible for very small institutions to take charge of their born-digital material.
Before taking action, I needed to check that my storage was adequate. For what I have processed to date, yes. The server is replicated to a separate geographic location. We also back up to an external hard drive.
Digital acquisitions are kept in a separate folder on the network and a spreadsheet holds the metadata.
Digital forensics equipment
To follow the principle in digital preservation of not to create any irreversible changes to the data, I use write-blockers.
A write blocker is a mechanism that does not allow anything to be written to the media. There are software and hardware write blockers. I use hardware ones – for hard drives I have a Wiebetech Forensic Ultradock v5 and for USBs a Wiebetech inline USB write blocker.
To work with born-digital material on a carrier, I use an off-network laptop, loaded with the open-source tools introduced at the SAA Digital Forensics: Advanced course. The two programs used in particular are FTK Imager and BitCurator. Another useful tool is Droid from The National Archives (UK). In addition to the write blockers, I also use a USB floppy drive and an external 2TB hard drive. This equipment set-up cost approximately $1500US. Setting up a desktop as a processing station would bring the cost down.
The Archives has a very narrow collection scope and limited resources so all items need appraising.
For legacy material – digital forensic practices
To follow the principle in digital preservation of not creating any irreversible changes to the data, practices adopted from digital forensics used in e-discovery and law enforcement are applied.
- One practice is to create a disk image, i.e. to create an exact replica of the contents of the source medium – the data, structure and size of the original media contained in a single file. I have tried both FTK Imager and BitCurator. Each program has its own set of strengths.
- Make working copies.
Forensic disk images are used in the first instance to appraise contents. The rule of thumb for me is not to retain the images, just the items selected from the appraisal.
- Appraise by viewing in a Hex editor using the character area. I check the text content to see if it is worth looking at further. If files do not have an extension (e.g. .docx) it can be difficult for a computer to open it; using the hex editor means that I can look for a file signature that indicates the file format. I prefer using the Hex editor in FTK Imager.
- Generate Reports with BitCurator. These reports are used to check for personally identifiable information. A disk image is needed for this step.
- Extract files selected for retention from the disk image.
- Run an anti-virus check over selected files (I update the laptop before using it off-network).
- If required files are normalized, that is creating a copy in a preservation format. The original format is also retained.
- AVPreserve’s Exactly is used to bag and transfer the selected material to the network. This provides checksums for fixity.
- Record information in spreadsheet.
- Monitor the files for fixity by using AVPreserve’s Fixity.
When it has already been agreed that we will accept the files, there is no need to appraise as the donor has already informed us of their contents.
For modern born-digital on a physical carrier and for born-digital transferred through internet
I use a write blocker to transfer from the physical carrier or through Exactly when receiving files over the Internet. Then the same workflow as for legacy media from the virus scan is followed.
For more information, please visit the 2016 SAA Research Forum page (http://www2.archivists.org/proceedings/research-forum/2016/agenda) for my project presentation and the article, “Working with legacy media: A lone arranger’s first steps”, published in Practical Technology for Archives (https://practicaltechnologyforarchives.org/issue6_charlton/).