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Volume: 10 | Article ID: art00002
Dream the Impossible Dream: Born Digital Stewardship
  DOI :  10.2352/issn.2168-3204.2013.10.1.art00002  Published OnlineJanuary 2013

In 2009, The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation funded a research project that sought to steward born digital archives as well as provide a methodology for others to do the same. Born Digital Materials: An Inter-Institutional Model for Stewardship (AIMS) is the result ( A partnership among the Universities of Virginia, Hull (UK), Stanford, and Yale, this international partnership had thee main areas of focus: process eleven hybrid collections, cultivate a new community of digital archivists, and create a methodology that others could adapt to their local practices. This comprehensive methodology broke the complex workflows down into four main parts: collection development; accessioning; arrangement and description; and discovery and access. Each of these parts represents a highly complex and involved set of services. Each partner used the methodology on the various collections that were identified and also consulted with other libraries and archives across the globe. The result is a flexible framework that can be adapted to any level of organization. It presents a detailed decision tree that allows an archivist to work through the daunting task of stewarding born digital content.This past summer, the University of Virginia Library was able to test much of our methodology in our approach to capturing the historical events related to the resignation and reinstatement of UVa's President, Theresa Sullivan ( These actions provided a unique and compelling opportunity for the library to demonstrate its leadership in this environment and forge new relationships with units across the university—all working together to provide a comprehensive archive of events as they unfolded.Born digital materials offer a unique challenge to any organization's digital preservation strategy and infrastructure. For example, there are serious tensions among keeping the original physical media, a forensic or logical disk image of its content, and what is ultimately archived. This content creates a labyrinth of ethics and infrastructure that anyone dealing with born digital materials must navigate. With the Sullivan Archive, we can add to that problem set, the myriad of third party agreements that must be taken into account before any of this content can be made available. In sum, born digital stewardship poses a series of questions that deeply disrupt the role of libraries and archives and the future of the historical record.

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Bradley J. Daigle, "Dream the Impossible Dream: Born Digital Stewardshipin Proc. IS&T Archiving 2013,  2013,  pp 2 - 5,

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