futureArch project

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The futureArch project (2008-12) laid the foundations for Bodleian Electronic Archives and Manuscripts (BEAM), providing the Library with baseline lifecycle management for hybrid archival collections.

Project objectives

The project made adjustments, large and small, to the Library's curatorial activities and services in the following areas:

Policy: the project provided a vehicle to begin making the financial, organisational, strategic and structural changes needed in order to establish core services (including BEAM) and develop these further.

Cultural change: the 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 must be able to select, accession, access, appraise and catalogue hybrid archives and support researchers in their use, irrespective of format.

The project provided three graduate traineeships specialising in digital archives, enabling new entrants to the archival professions to develop expertise in digital curation.

Infrastructure and systems: the project developed standard capture, preservation and dissemination processes for many kinds of born-digital materials as part of a new service called Bodleian Electronic Archives and Manuscripts (BEAM). As much as possible, these processes 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.

Digital collections: The project addressed some of the backlog of born-digital material in existing collections, bringing these into a managed environment and making collections available to researchers as appropriate. It was also able to support the Library in the acquisition and care of new hybrid archives to further enrich the Library’s holdings, and in the development of the Bodleian Libraries' Web Archive.

Reader services
: The project developed a prototype system to provide reader access to archives in digital form.

Project Team

Project Manager/Digital Archivist2008-2012 - Susan Thomas
Development Team2009-2011 - Pete Cliff
2008-2012 - Renhart Gittens
2011-2012 - Matthew Wilcoxson
Project Archivists 2009-2011 - Elinor Robinson
2011 - Matthew Neely
Graduate Trainees2009-2010 - Victoria Sloyan
2010-2011 - Emma Hancox
2011-2012 - Rebecca Nielsen

Project Board

  • Richard Ovenden (Chair)
  • Erin Cooper
  • Chris Fletcher
  • Michael Popham
  • Dave Price

Project Advisory Board

  • Professor Roger Zetter, Director of the Refugee Studies Centre, Oxford
  • Professor Elleke Boehmer, Professor of World Literature in English , Fellow of Wolfson
  • Merrilee Proffitt, Senior Program Officer, RLG Programs
  • Matthew Kirschenbaum, Associate Director, Maryland Institute for Technology in the Humanities and Associate Professor of English
  • Helen Hockx-Yu, Programme Manger, Web Archiving, British Library
  • John Hodgson, Head of Manuscripts & Archives, John Rylands Library, Manchester
  • William Stingone, Head of Manuscripts & Archives, New York Public Library
  • Dave Thompson, Digital Curator, Wellcome Library
  • Caroline Brown, Deputy Archivist, Archive Services / Programme Leader and Honorary Lecturer, Centre for Archive and Information Studies, University of Dundee

The Bodleian Library is grateful to the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation for its generous support of this project.




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