Jump In, Too/Two


See Results here.


Last year the steering committee of the Society of American Archivists’ Manuscript Repositories Section introduced the Jump In initiative, an effort to encourage and assist archivists and their institutions to stop waiting and “jump in” to managing born-digital content.  The response to and interest in the project was so positive that we have decided to organize a second round of the initiative.  If you thought about participating in the previous round but the timing wasn’t right, now is your chance to make good on your best intentions!

In the first go-round we invited archivists to use the 2012 OCLC report authored by Ricky Erway “You’ve Got to Walk Before You Can Run: First Steps for Managing Born-Digital Content Received on Physical Media“ as a guide to survey a collection or collections in their repositories for computer media and submit a short report about their results.  Those taking part had the chance to win free tuition for a one-day SAA Digital Archives Specialist (DAS) course. Twenty-three repositories ultimately participated (see results), and five speakers selected from that group presented an informative, interactive, and well-attended session moderated by Erway at the section meeting in New Orleans.  Erway summarized the session on her blog, http://hangingtogether.org/?p=3277.

The terms and requirements are much the same in this iteration.  Pledging to participate and submitting your survey and a short report about your experience will enter you into a raffle to win tuition to a one-day SAA Digital Archives Specialist (DAS) course ($185 value), provided again with the generous support of SAA and Nancy Beaumont. Selected contributors will also be invited to present their experiences in a lightning-round format panel at the Section’s business meeting at the 2014 annual meeting in Washington D.C.  Those who pledge to complete the project will have access to a list-serv of others participating for additional support. 

Participants should focus on surveying materials in their holdings.  The assessment may be of entire holdings, a group of collections, or just a single collection. Drawing from the OCLC report, the survey should take the following steps:

- Locate computer media in any physical form.
- Record the location, inventory number, type of physical medium, and any identifying information found on labels or media such as creator, title, description of contents, and dates. If no identifying information exists, indicate this.
- Record anything that is known about the hardware, operating systems, and software used to create the files.
- Count the number of each media type, calculate the total maximum amount of data stored in each medium, and then calculate the overall total for the collection.

The completed survey should accompany an essay about the overall efforts and findings. Essays must be a minimum of 400 words.  To assist in writing the reports, consider including the following elements:

- Brief description of how you addressed digital content before this project

- What you chose to survey and why you chose it

- Who was involved with conducting the survey of the materials

- Brief description of the survey process and how long it took

- Overall picture of what you found (formats, number and storage capacity, date range of digital content, state of labels and identification, etc.)

- Challenges encountered and other surprises

- Potential next steps and your take away from the project

(Please note these are simply suggestions and guidelines, not required elements of the essay.)

It is not a minimum requirement, but participants are encouraged to take the additional steps of prioritizing collections for further treatment and begin the technical steps for dealing with readable media. The follow-up publication from OCLC “Walk This Way: Detailed Steps for Transferring Born-Digital Content from Media You Can Read In-House,” co-authored by Julianna Barrera-Gomez and Ricky Erway (2013), provides useful guidance for these next steps.


Participants must be from an institution without an electronic records program in place.

Participants must be members of SAA, but do not need to be members of the Manuscript Repositories Section.

Participants must let the Section know by January 15, 2014, of their intent to participate.

Participants must submit an essay describing their efforts, their completed survey, and photographs of both the person who conducted the survey and the objects surveyed. Essays should be a minimum of 400 words and will be posted on the Section website.


January 15, 2014:  Deadline for pledge to participate.

May 1, 2014:  Due date for essays.

May 15, 2014:  Deadline for notification of raffle winner.

June 1, 2014:  Selected entrants notified of invitation to speak at Section meeting in Washington D.C.

Contact Information

Entries and questions should be addressed to Tara Laver, Chair of the Manuscript Repositories Section, at tzachar@lsu.edu.  


Sample Inventory Template

Resources for Digital Curation and Managing Electronic Manuscripts


Society of American Archivists

Manuscript Repositories Section

Section Leadership

Created | 29 June 2004

Last updated | 28 September 2018