Insuring large data collections are migration-ready

Andrea Thomer

Today, many collections in libraries, archives, museums and other memory institutions are “born digital.”  Other collections may be converted to a digital format in order to be preserved and accessible. Whatever their origins, once collections exist in a digital format, one important challenge remains. Curating large digital collections requires finding a long-term storage infrastructure or storing the information in such a way that it can be easily migrated to a new platform.

Dr. Andrea Thomer, an assistant professor at the University of Michigan School of Information, has received a $428,935 Early Career grant from Laura Bush 21st Century Librarian Program at the Institute of Museum and Library Services in order to investigate questions related to the migration of research data collections between different management and preservation platforms. 

“Migration of digital collections from one platform to another is a fundamental aspect of curatorial work, yet there is surprisingly little guidance for information professionals faced with this task,” says Thomer.  “We need to understand the unique data and database migration needs of information professionals, and to begin developing shared, open source, and community-driven tools and best practices which are appropriately tailored and scaled for their work.”

For her project “Managing Research Data Collections,” Thomer and her team of student researchers will work to answer these questions:

•What patterns of use, access, and obsolescence drive the migration of research data collections, and how?

•What are the core curatorial processes that facilitate the migration of research data collections? 

•What tools, guidelines and best practices are needed to better support this work in the future?

Through their research, the team will develop case studies of research data collection migration, a framework of migration patterns and processes common in digital collections, recommendations for best practices and tools needed to support data collection migration work and open access course modules on collection migration.  

The three-year IMLS-funded project (RE-07-18-0118) runs from November 2018 to October 2021.

Posted October 12, 2018