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26 January 2013
ARTstor scheduled upgrade

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Overview: Electronic Archiving System (EAS)

EAS is the Electronic Archiving System, which along with EASi, its User Interface (UI) for archivists, is a prototype system being developed in LTS for archiving electronic content at Harvard. Initially, the system is being designed to permit ingest, archival processing and transfer to the Digital Repository Service (DRS) for long term preservation of email. In the future, the system will accommodate additional born-digital formats.

Email Archiving Project Background

In a March 2008 report to the University Library Council (ULC), the Email Working Group identified email as essential to documenting modern life and business including scholarly communications and the operations of the University. Curators identified capturing and preserving email as one of the highest priorities.
As a result of the report, the ULC funded the email archiving project in January 2009 to create a pilot system that would handle ingest, archival processing, and long-term preservation in DRS of email content. Public delivery of email collections is not being addressed as part of this project. However, since University curators cautioned about the pressing need to accommodate born-digital content beyond email, LTS designed future flexibility into the Electronic Archiving System and its curatorial interface (EAS and EASi). While the system will only be able to manage email initially, following the pilot project it can be enhanced to accommodate born-digital content in other formats.

The collaborative project is a partnership between LTS and three Harvard Library units:

• Countway Library at Harvard Medical School
• Harvard University Archives
• Schlesinger Library at Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study

In February 2011, two new curatorial partners joined the team to learn and test the system and to provide feedback:

• Loeb Library at the Graduate School of Design
• Harvard Art Museums Archives

The work of the project team includes:

  • analysis of the legal and policy issues involved in email archiving that will influence the technical infrastructure development and the archivists’ processing workflows;
  • development of basic archival processing workflows for email that is contributed from Harvard sources and for email contributed by external donors;
  • design and implementation of a minimal technical infrastructure to support archiving by Harvard units;
  • gaining valuable experience through hands-on processing and archiving of email collections from three Harvard units;
  • reporting on what has been learned and making recommendations for further activity.

Current Status

Revised August 2013
The first Beta system of EASi (the EAS UI) was released to the curatorial partners in August 2010 to test with their real-world collections. Since then, nine more prototype releases have included increasing functionality and UI development to enable archival processing of emails and attachments.

Several special features are included with the EASi prototype 10, released in June 2013:

  • Integration with Wordshack for vocabulary control — so that multiple email addresses and names referring to an individual or institutional unit resolve to the same record
  • The ability to capture some essential rights management information using PREMIS
  • Event tracking to document deletions and transformations to email including the conversion to the open standard for preservation (EML, RFC 2882)
  • Improvements to batch processing, including the ability to view a summary of the metadata included in a particular result set  

Release 11 of EASi will include full integration with DRS 2 to support long-term preservation of email and attachments.

Planning for integration with DRS 2 includes:

  • Finalizing the design of a new security architecture for DRS and EAS to support processing and storage of sensitive data in email and attachments (HRCI, or High Risk Confidential Information)
  • A mechanism in EASi for archivists to make deposits to the DRS automatically
  • Word shack and rights management for DRS

The team has engaged in information sharing and communication with NARA, the Smithsonian Institution Archives, the Rockefeller Archive Center, University of Michigan Bentley Historical Library and subscribers of the digital-curation Google group.

Members of the team have presented the project in various forums including presentations at Harvard for the University Library Council, the ULC Collections and Content Coordinating and Manuscripts and Archives Committees, Countway Library heads and staff, and the heads of the partner archives that serve as an oversight committee. Wendy Gogel and Ginny Hunt presented at the New England Archivists Annual Meeting in 2010. Andrea Goethals and Wendy Gogel wrote a paper on email archiving that Andrea presented at the International Conference on Preservation of Digital Objects, iPRES 2010: http://www.ifs.tuwien.ac.at/dp/ipres2010/papers/goethals-08.pdf