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INF 392K Problems in the Permanent Retention of Electronic Records - Objectives, Spring 2010
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The overall objective of this course is simple: if you as an archives or digital library professional are confronted with the need to construct an effective digital records repository for reliable and permanent or potentially permanent retention of records or other digital objects, you should know what the major difficulties are, what you need to do to meet them, and where you can go for help. More specifically, students will learn:

1) How to use a physical digital records repository

2) Problems of structuring a logical digital records repository

3) Requirements for preserving digital objects with credible authenticity

4) How to provide access to permanent digital records while keeping them secure

You will learn, through consideration of the well-regarded and now widely accepted standard of the Open Archival Information System (OAIS) model and use of the DSpace instantiation of that model, what is required to construct and implement credible standards for your repository. Through group work on specific projects you will gain practical experience in working out all of these requirements for a real-world collection.

Class participation is crucial for me to understand whether you are taking in the readings effectively. This is especially important in that student projects will require that each student serve as a resource for his/her project partners in a designated area of expertise, which few students will fully possess at the beginning of the course.

Assigned readings are designed to expose you to the literature in this field and to accustom you in some cases to reading technical specifications, the point of which is to accustom you to taking control of the technologies you need. You will be asked to write a brief precis of selected readings in order to guarantee that you have thought through them thoroughly. "Perilous to us all," said Gandalf, "are the devices of an art deeper than we possess ourselves." (The Two Towers) This is a particularly scary observation in the context of digital archives.

Writing assignments that include individual and group writing tasks are intended to improve and focus your reading and writing skills.

Because many of the problems associated with permanent preservation of digital objects are social rather than technical, each student project, as well as requiring all students to work with others having varied skills, will entail working with a collection creator or curator and with experts on copyright and intellectual property.