AIMS Born-Digital Collections: An Inter-Institutional Model of Stewardship


  • Foreword
  • The AIMS Framework: The Functions of Stewardship
  • 1. Collection Development
  • 2. Accessioning
  • 3. Arrangement and Description
  • 4. Discovery and Access
  • Conclusions
  • Appendix A: Glossary
  • Appendix B: Bibliography
  • Appendix C: Contributor Biographies
  • Appendix D Institutional Summaries and Collection Descriptions
  • Appendix E: Sample Processing Plans
  • Appendix F: Policies, Templates, Documents, etc.
  • Appendix G: Technical Evaluation and Use
  • Appendix H: Technical Development
  • Appendix I: Digital Archivisit Community

This report presents a framework that attempts to map an emerging world combining traditional archival practices with new technologies. It is one of the primary research outputs of the AIMS project. Four partner institutions (Stanford University, Yale University, University of Virginia and University of Hull) worked collaboratively to identify a methodology for stewarding born-digital archival materials. To further ensure its broad applicability, the partners agreed that the stewardship framework should be developed in compliance with established standards, models, and terminology — whether based on archival, technical, legal, or ethical standards. Two standards of note are the Encoded Archival Description (EAD) and the Open Archival Information System (OAIS).
The Framework is divided into four main functions that should be thought of as sequential steps in a very high level workflow: Collection Development, Accessioning, Arrangement and Description and Discovery and Access. Each functional area is further described in this document with necessary objectives identified for each. These objectives are further detailed through expected outcomes, decision points, and tasks. In addition, “keys to success,” or areas that should be addressed and conditions that should be put into place before beginning work in an area, are defined for each objective.

This very practical framework takes the traditional archival processes (Collection Development, Accessioning, Arrangement and Description and Discovery and Access) and re-interprets them within the context of digital born collection management. It does not address digital preservation management. However, its guidance, when followed, would help ensure the development of an OAIS compliant digital preservation repository. Its audience is traditional paper based archives and academic libraries dealing with the incoming flood of digital born collections. It clearly distinguishes how basic archival processing differs between the two types of collections. Despite the fact that the specific use cases interspersed among the document lack an audiovisual collection use case, a great deal of important and relevant guidance is in the report for the audiovisual archive domain. It is relevant for audiovisual archive policy makers as well as archivists carrying out daily acquisition, accessioning, description and access related tasks. The appendices are rich in practical information as well. This report could be considered an essential text book in how to approach the acquisition and management of digital born material.