The futureArch project (2008-12) aimed to transform the Bodleian Library's capacity to manage its archives and manuscripts to meet the requirements of the present and future research community.
The Library’s collections of archives and manuscripts are increasingly hybrid, comprising both traditional paper and newer audio-visual and digital formats. The focus of the futureArch project was to develop a system for the lifecycle management of hybrid archival collections, ensuring that the Library continues to develop, process and make available its rich and unique resources for the benefit of scholars now and in the future.
The Bodleian Library is grateful to the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation for its generous support of this project.
The project made adjustments, large and small, to the Library's curatorial activities and services in the following areas:
PolicyThe project set out to make the financial, organisational, strategic and structural changes needed in order to establish core services (including Bodleian Electronic Archives and Manuscripts or BEAM) and develop these further.
Cultural changeThe project developed new policies, processes, systems and training designed to help curators accustomed to working with traditional archives apply their skills to hybrid collections containing a mixture of digital and traditional formats. Ultimately, curators will be able to select, accession, access, appraise and catalogue hybrid archives and support researchers in their use, irrespective of format.
Infrastructure and systems
The project begun to establish standard capture, preservation and dissemination processes for born-digital materials through the establishment of a new service called Bodleian Electronic Archives and Manuscripts (BEAM). As muchas possible, these are integrated with the Library's curatorial process for archives and manuscripts, ensuring parity of treatment for materials in traditional and more modern digital forms.
BEAM now acts as the Library's trusted digital repository service for digital archive materials. It provides curators with some of the ‘high-level’ tools they need to do their work, while taking care of the more specialist aspects of digital curation. In addition to sitting within the Library's framework for hybrid archives, BEAM is also integrated into the framework of Oxford's digital repositories. It shares skills, services and technologies with repositories within the remit of the Bodleian Libraries, such as digital.bodleian and the Oxford University Research Archive.