The First Three Questions to Understanding the Complexity of a Digital Library Migration

The First Three Questions to Understanding the Complexity of a Digital Library Migration

No migration is easy, but some are less difficult than others.

You can tell a lot about a topic based on the titles of articles surrounding it; a recent article about a digital library migration is entitled Are we still working on this? A meta-retrospective of a digital repository migration in the form of a classic Greek Tragedy (in extreme violation of Aristotelian Unity of Time). Luckily, not all content migrations are classic Greek Tragedies.

The major questions to ask yourself before a migration are:

1 - How standardized is my metadata across collections/objects?

Because CONTENTdm allows for different metadata fields in different collections, the Bridge2Hyku partners have found that metadata normalization and standardization will be a big hurdle in migrating away from that platform. If you’re in a similar boat to the B2H Partners, our toolkit and migration documentation will help you through crosswalking your messy metadata. More Complex Migration.

However, it’s possible your metadata librarians had the foresight to standardize what fields to use early on. In this case, you reap the benefits of a much smoother migration. You will still have to create a crosswalk, but it can apply to your entire digital repository. Less Complex Migration

2 - How many data/file types does my current repository hold?

The B2H partners had on average six different file types, from photographs to videos. Not all platforms will be natural home for every file type. Within the Samvera Community, Avalon is the platform for audiovisual resources, while Hyrax, and thus Hyku, is more suitable to image-based objects. At the University of Houston, for example, this means conceptualizing and migrating to two separate platforms on two very different timelines. More Complex Migration

If your digital repository is specific to one type of file, whether it’s only audio, or only photographs, the amount of testing and troubleshooting during your migration will fall sharply. There is also less that can go wrong if you are only concerned with the ability to download a file and not how it’s viewed through the new platform.
Less Complex Migration

3- How big is my digital repository?

Does 50 collections sound like a lot or a little to you? If it sounds like a lot, then your digital repository is on the smaller side of things. Does 100,000 files sound like a large number? The average number of files in a B2H partner digital repository is 253,963! The need for migration automation is apparent when you understand the scale that many institutions of higher education face. If you had been initially thinking of manually migrating each object in your digital library, then using the tools created for larger institutions will shorten the time you spend moving objects.
Less Complex Migration

Was your answer in Terabytes? Then you already know you need to automate some parts of your migration. Learn more about ways to do that by visiting our toolkit.
More Complex Migration

For a more indepth look at how to evaluate your current digital ecosystem, please read the Bridge2Hyku Digital Collections Survey Report.