Finding The First Answers

Finding The First Answers

Dig into your repository using content analysis.

If you came across our recent blog post “The First Three Questions to Understanding the Complexity of a Digital Library Migration” and realized you couldn’t quickly answer those questions, it’s time for some content analysis. Content Analysis is a catchall term for analyzing text and files in aggregate. It’s an important step to do before you start a content migration.

First, decide what your parameters are. Are you trying to find out the total size of your digital repository? Do you only need to understand how many collections have audio/video components? Are you unsure how many metadata fields actually exist across your digital library? Once you know what data you’re hoping to find, use a spreadsheet to lay it out visually.

University of Houston’s DAMS Task Force, the team charged with selecting and implementing a new digital asset management system, needed to find out what types of files existed throughout it’s digital library. They started with a spreadsheet that included 1) all known digital collections and 2) the types of files that could exist in each collection, and through several iterations it has come to look like this. To compile this information, metadata specialists reviewed the collections, identified the item types in each collection, and recorded at least one example of each item type from that collection.

Figure out how you can get the answers. Is it having the skilled workers in your current digital repository dig in for the info, as UH did, or do you need to ask your IT department? It’s possible to do your content analysis as a meeting. Getting the members of your staff that have the institutional knowledge and memory together to fill out your spreadsheet gives you early access to the caveats and hidden issues that could derail your project if found later down the road.

Finding this type of information might might seem inconsequential, but a 10,000 ft view of your digital repository is extremely helpful as the first steps toward migrating, whether you need to secure finding or give stakeholders an idea of timeline.