Search for item elsewhere
Carcanet Press Email Preservation Project
Fran Baker, Philip Butler, Ben Green
Manchester, UK: The University of Manchester; 2012.
Access to files
- FULL-TEXT.PDF (pdf)
Collecting institutions are increasingly facing the challenge of preserving `born digital' material when acquiring recent and contemporary archives. Interim solutions like printing important documents and correspondence to paper are clearly not feasible in the long-term. One of the most important modern archives held by the John Rylands Library is that of Carcanet Press, one of the UK's premier poetry publishing houses. Correspondence with famous poets, critics, editors, translators and artists forms one of the most important elements of this archive. Most of this correspondence is now conducted by email, with the result that the quantity of hard copy correspondence acquired in annual accruals to the archive has diminished significantly. It is therefore vital that libraries like the John Rylands Library are able to preserve these emails in digital form, in order to ensure that this invaluable primary research material is not lost to the archival record. This project aimed to tackle the challenge of capturing and preserving the email archive of Carcanet Press. Basing our work on both traditional archival practice and digital preservation standards, we used this email archive as a test-bed for practical digital preservation. We tested and assessed existing tools for metadata extraction, validation, migration, packaging and ingest. We also explored different long-term preservation formats for email to determine the most appropriate solution for our institutional context. Our preservation planning activities draw and build on the work of the InSPECT Project in identifying the `significant properties' of email. We also established documentation and workflows which can be adapted to deal with similar born-digital archives in the future. Due to data protection, sensitivity and copyright issues, our focus for this project was on preservation rather than access. However, we took into account and explored some of the ways in which researchers might access and use such a body of material in the future. This report sets out the project's findings.