Go with the workflow

Tricia here with the inaugural post for the National Digital Stewardship Residency (Boston) blog! My residency is with MIT Libraries, specifically working on their digital preservation workflow – and even more specifically focusing on digital audio content.

For the past couple years, the MIT Libraries have devoted increased attention to demonstrating good practice in the management of digital content to ensure long-term access. The workflow project I’m toiling on is part of that, and one of my initial projects has been to start a “gap-and-fill” analysis, wherein I am identifying where the workflow documentation is missing and collaborating with my colleagues to fill it in.

Workflow Status 0.8

Draft of the workflow status tracker

I created a status tracker (draft above) as a progress visualization, and I have been creating my gap analysis template as well. The tracker itself is modeled on the current high-level workflow diagram, adopting the same style and language conventions. Since this is my first foray into gap analyses, I am also conducting a literature review on what other examples are out there and how our needs and experiences in developing workflows and conducting gap analyses fit into the bigger context of other fields.

Even in its embryonic phase, there has already been feedback from staff about how documenting a workflow is helpful. It is clarifying different stakeholders’ roles in the overall process and giving everyone an enhanced understanding of where they fit in and what is expected of them at different stages. And while MIT’s newly-launched Digital Sustainability Lab is a test bed for tools like BitCurator and Archivematica, having our workflow in place will give us a more lucid idea of which tools we will actually need to implement.

This being my first post – and my third week on the job – I can already tell that my understanding of this work will fluctuate and flourish as I gain more experience. I feel like I have crammed a lot of new concepts in my brain already, and it has been ever enlightening. In nine months, I may reflect back on this first post with a cringing akin to that of returning to an old high school diary, thinking: “I know so much more now!” And I’m really looking forward to that.

That’s all from me,
Tricia P.


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