Ingesting materials into a managed repository environment is a pre-requisite for archival curation in the digital era. While managed repository environments exist, there is a shortfall in the ingest tools available to submit materials to them. The quality of the OAIS-based Archival Information Packages (AIP) submitted to a preservation repository will have a significant impact on the 'preservability' of a collection and its future research potential. Both the Personal Archives Accessible in Digital Media (Paradigm) and Digital Curation in Action (DCIA) projects have found the immaturity of existing tools needed for the ingest workflow to be the principal barrier to populating repositories. Research libraries such as those of Oxford, Manchester, and the Wellcome Library require practical tools for ingesting digital materials into repositories to fulfil their missions of curating and providing access to archival and manuscript collections, which are increasingly created and offered in digital forms.
Current technology for ingesting born digital materials is fragmented: it consists of a series of stand-alone tools, many of which are overly-technical, poorly documented and not integrated into practical workflows. This makes it difficult for institutions and individuals, which lack skilled software engineers, but which have archival or library skills, to engage adequately with, and collect, born digital materials.
For adequate digital curation, institutions require tools that automatically create a METS Archival Information Package, which wraps together all the metadata needed to preserve each object. At present, knowledge and understanding of the Metadata Encoding Transmission Standard (METS) standard amongst curatorial staff is still developing and hand-crafting XML-based METS files is onerous. Archivists need tools which simplify the creation of appropriate METS files.
Existing ingest tools do not satisfy the requirements of a repository aiming to acquire and preserve personal digital archives of enduring historical value because:
Ingest for complex digital collections is therefore prohibitively expensive at present.
The project partners believe that the solution to the ingest problem is to bring together existing tools into a documented, automated, integrated workflow, to produce repository-independent metadata packages, in the form of METS files, that will provide the basis for long term life cycle management. This will address the problems outlined above by: