Born Digital/Digital Collections

Current faculty: Trevor Owens


This course will take a holistic approach to digital content, technologies, standards and policies in special collections. Digital materials are an increasingly routine area of work in special collections, including, but not limited to: collection development considerations and appraisal of born digital and digitized materials; acquisition and processing of born-digital materials; planning for management and access to digital surrogates for objects; online finding aids and reference activities; and ensuring long term access to content through digital preservation work. The first and last of these—born-digital materials and digital preservation—are areas of great activity and developing standards and best practices, and the course will include an emphasis on building basic core knowledge in these areas, together with the means to track developing standards and best practices. We will also consider the role of information technology services—either within the home institution or through external partnerships or consortia—in the management of born-digital materials and preservation of both born-digital and digitized content.
During the course we will also consider the role of digitization projects and services in building special collections of the future. Starting from the obvious premise that building collections of digital surrogates has value in their own right, we will consider the variety of options available for building services upon those digitized collections, including strategies for providing access and reference services, contextualizing digital content and enriching the collection through the participation of our users, and the increasingly important role of research in the digital humanities.

Years taught:
Stephen Davison: 2013, 2015
Trevor Owens, 2022