The Beinecke Collaborates to Protect “Born-Digital” Materials

November 4, 2013

Collaborative Project Provides Guidelines for Protecting Born-Digital Materials

The Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library is pleased to announce the publication of Born Digital: Guidance for Donors, Dealers, and Archival Repositories, a new Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR) report resulting from a two-year collaborative project undertaken by 10 archivists and curators in the United States and United Kingdom and coordinated by Gabriela Redwine, digital archivist at the Beinecke Library. 

The report was written by Gabriela Redwine, Michael Forstrom, and Nancy Kuhl from the Beinecke; Megan Barnard, of the Harry Ransom Center; Kate Donovan, of the Tamiment Library & Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives at New York University; Erika Farr, of the Manuscript, Archives, and Rare Book Library at Emory University; Will Hansen, of Duke University’s David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library; Jeremy Leighton John, of the Department of Digital Scholarship at the British Library; Seth Shaw, of Clayton State University, and Susan Thomas, of the Bodleian Library’s Western Manuscripts Department.

Born Digital surveys the primary issues and concerns related to born-digital acquisitions and offers recommendations about some of the challenges to consider when transferring digital media (floppy disks, CDs, laptops, hard drives) and files (email, word processing documents) from donors to archival repositories. It is intended for a broad audience with varying levels of interest and expertise, including donors, dealers, and repository staff.

“As the proportion of born-digital materials in the Beinecke’s collection continues to grow, it will become even more essential to discuss disks, email, and other digital files early in the acquisition process,” E. C. Schroeder, director of the Beinecke Library, said. “Born Digital suggests a way forward, both in terms of communication with authors and booksellers, as well as possible future collaborations among archival institutions.”

The Beinecke holds approximately 95 collections with born-digital materials, including the papers of Annie Dillard, Larry Kramer, George Whitmore, Henri Chopin, and Marilynne Robinson, among others.

Born Digital: Guidance for Donors, Dealers, and Archival Repositories is available as a PDF download free of charge at

A previous version of the report was published online with MediaCommons Press in January 2012 and remains open for public comment:

Gabriela Redwine has written a companion blog post, “Born Digital: Planning for Access,” about the challenges of acquiring an Apple Hard Disk 20SC from Tony Giess, a songwriter and Sesame Street staff writer, whose papers the Beinecke holds.