METRO and The Center for Jewish History (CJH) Team Up for Born-Digital Migration Service Pilot Project

by Kevin Schlottmann, Archival Services Manager at the Center for Jewish History

The Center for Jewish History (CJH) and the Metropolitan New York Library Council (METRO), are pleased to announce a library/archives working group, supported by the Delmas Foundation, that is focused on how heritage institutions should best transfer archival content stored on legacy media, including optical media formats, Zip disks, Jaz disks, tape, and floppy disks.

floppiesAccessing, managing, and preserving the records on these objects poses a significant challenge to many archives and special collections, especially small- and medium-sized institutions without the staff or resources to undertake digital acquisition and preservation projects. The comparatively short lifespan of digital storage media often necessitates active conservation and migration actions before policies, infrastructure, or workflows are in place. These hurdles have the potential to discourage institutions from collecting born-digital materials, thereby jeopardizing the overall collection and preservation of contemporary archival materials.

Our working group will test the community-based approach to this problem that was proposed by the OCLC report Swatting the Long Tail of Digital Media: A Call for Collaboration. The report suggests a shared model for transfer of born-digital media, where a local institution develops expertise in transfer and then provides these services to other institutions. CJH is coordinating a group of libraries and archives that will provide legacy born-digital media to METRO, which will transfer the data from the storage media.

In addition to METRO and CJH, the American Jewish Historical Society, the Guggenheim Museum archives, the Leo Baeck Institute, the New-York Historical Society, and Queens Library have agreed to participate. These participants have already surveyed legacy media holdings and selected materials for a pilot transfer project. Discussions about expectations and scope of work, contract agreements, workflows, and deliverables are ongoing. Our group will also explore the feasibility of a broader implementation of this service by METRO on a cost basis.

For more about this working group, please email Kevin Schlottmann, Archival Services Manager at the Center for Jewish History (, or attend Session 601 - Born-Digital Content on Obsolete Physical Media: Challenges and Solutions at the upcoming Society of American Archivists Annual Meeting, where METRO's Margo Padilla will talk about this working group.