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Facet No-nonsense Guides

The No-nonsense Guide to Born-digital Content



This book offers a comprehensive, entry-level guide for librarians and archivists who have found themselves managing or are planning to manage born-digital content. Libraries and archives of all sizes are collecting and managing an increasing proportion of digital content. Within this body of digital content is a growing pool of 'born-digital' content: content that has been created and has often existed solely in digital form. The No-nonsense Guide to Born-digital Content explains step by step processes for developing and implementing born-digital content workflows in library and archive settings of all sizes and includes a range of case studies collected from small, medium and large institutions internationally. Coverage includes:

  • the wide range of digital storage media and the various sources of born-digital content
  • a guide to digital information basics
  • selection, acquisition, accessioning and ingest
  • description, preservation and access
  • methods for designing & implementing workflows for born-digital collection processing
  • a comprehensive glossary of common technical terms
  • strategies and philosophies to move forward as technologies change.

This book will be useful reading for LIS and archival students and professionals who are working with, or plan to work with, born digital content. It will also be of interest to museum professionals, data managers, data scientists, and records managers.

Foreword - Trevor Owens


What is born-digital content?
Why is this important?
About the book
Additional resources
Representing the world of libraries and archives

1. Digital information basics

What is digital information?
Digital file types
Storage media
Command line basics
Code repositories
Further reading

2. Selection

Types of born-digital content
Format- versus content-driven collecting decisions
Mission statements, collecting policies and donor agreements
Gift agreements
Stanford University's approach to selection in web archiving
Further reading

3.Acquisition, accessioning and ingest

Principles in acquisition
Acquisition of born-digital material on a physical carrier
Checksums and checksum algorithms
Acquisition of network-born materials
Further reading


General fields and types of information
Descriptive standards and element sets
General element sets
Descriptive systems
Use cases
Further reading

5. Digital preservation storage and strategies

A note on acquisition
A note on file formats
Thinking about storage
Digital preservation policy
Further reading

6. Access

Deciding on your access strategy
Methods of access
Use case
Further reading

7. Designing and implementing workflows

A note on tools
Design principles
Workflow and policy
Case study
Further reading

8. New and emerging areas in born-digital materials

Technology in general
Software and apps
Cloud technologies
Digital art and new media
Emerging descriptive and access methods
Growing your skills
Further reading


Heather Ryan is the Director of Special Collections, Archives & Preservation and Assistant Professor at the University of Colorado Boulder Libraries. She earned her PhD in Information and Library Science from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Walker Sampson is the Digital Archivist at the University of Colorado Boulder Libraries. He earned his MS in Information Science at the University of Texas at Austin before beginning work at the Mississippi Department of Archives and History in 2011.

'...there is value for everyone in the well-reasoned discussions about overarching strategies, policies, and processes, which are necessary before any of the capturing and processing of resources can begin...Recommended. Graduate students and professionals.'- H. C. Williams, University of Washington, CHOICE


'The book covers varied types of born-digital content such as that found on obsolete media, 3D modelling, audio, relational databases, email as well as internet-based offerings such as websites and Twitter. I appreciated the comment, "Every bit of digital information is encoded in a physical space" (p.22).'


'By adopting a phased approach to the topic of digital preservation Heather Ryan and Walker Sampson help to empower the reader to embark on some born-digital content management from the outset, an intention which is clearly supported by key sections within the book including a range of case studies, a comprehensive glossary of common technical terms, and an appendix containing resources for further research...In addition to archival professionals this book would provide useful reading for museum professionals, data managers, librarians and of course, anyone tasked with the role of managing born-digital content.'

Catholic Archives

'In short, Ryan and Sampson synthesize a myriad of community practices and highly technical documentation, standards, and models into clear prose with minimal jargon, and they make a substantial contribution to the professional literature. I anticipate that The No-Nonsense Guide to Born-Digital Content will prove to be a valuable resource in and outside of the classroom for many years to come.'

The American Archivist

'Overall, I found the book a well-written and engaging guide to what can be an intimidating subject...I would definitely recommend it to anyone trying to get to grips with born-digital content but it should be used as a guide to familiarise yourself with the basics and seen as a starting point for new avenues of exploration.'

Taylor & Francis Online

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