Beyond the workflow: archivists’ aspirations for digital curation practices

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Colin Post, Assistant Professor (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
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Abstract: The documentation of archival workflows plays an important role in digital curation practice. Capturing the various steps, tools, people, and software involved at different stages, workflow documentation visually represents complex activities, and at times, invisible labor. In this article, we reflect on findings from the OSSArcFlow project, a three-year, grant-funded initiative to investigate and document workflow activities of 12 cultural heritage institutions using three open-source software systems. Building on previously published research on documentation of current digital curation practices, this article reflects on the challenges the project team encountered in modeling archivists’ aspirations for their workflows. While current practices could be accurately represented in linear process models, archivists’ aspirations for how they might advance digital curation practices extended beyond adding or changing discrete workflow steps and often involved sociotechnical factors that could not be easily mapped. This article presents a taxonomy of archivists’ aspirations for their born-digital archives, grouping these goals together around major themes that emerged throughout the research. Our findings show that workflow documentation is an essential artifact in helping archivists to understand gaps and challenges in their current workflows and to imagine the further development of digital curation tools, systems, and practices. Project participants especially benefited from engaging in this reflection on workflow documentation as part of a community of practitioners, with the opportunity to compare across institutional contexts.

Additional Information

Post, Colin, and Alexandra Chassanoff. 2021. “Beyond the Workflow: Archivists’ Aspirations for Digital Curation Practices.” Archival Science 21 (4): 413–32.
Language: English
Date: 2021
Digital curation, Born-digital archives, Workflows, Sociotechnical factors, Communities of practice

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