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Ford Foundation International Fellowships Program Archives Project

In October 2011, Columbia University Libraries / IS received a seven-year, $1 million grant from the International Fellowship Program of the Ford Foundation to become the permanent home for its archives. The collection will include both paper and digital archives and will be made available to researchers worldwide.

The IFP has since 2001 offered fellowships for post-graduate study to leaders from underserved communities in Asia, Africa, Latin America, and Russia, and will complete its work in 2014. Their archives include documentation and videos of the more than 4,300 IFP fellows who passed through the program as well as comprehensive planning and adminstrative files. 

The completed IFP archive at Columbia will be of great interest to researchers and practitioners interested in the progress of social justice, community development, and access to higher education. Access to the paper and electronic archives will be integrated, offering researchers a fast and comprehensive way to study the content.

One of the key objectives of the grant is to enable Columbia Libraries to build out a full set of repository-based systems and services so that it can more easily acquire, ingest, process, preserve and make accessible both the paper and born-digital organizational records. The technological infrastructure built for this project will ultimately allow Columbia act as the central repository for the electronic records of other institutions whose archives are deposited at Columbia.

Reports and Presentations

• "Education, Development, and Social Justice: The Legacy of the Ford International Fellowships Program, A symposium", September 8, 2016, New York, NY

Video (Part 1)
Video (Part 2)
Format: Symposium
Summary: Keynote speaker: Joan Dassin, Former Director, International Fellowships Program. Sponsored by the Rare Book & Manuscript Library and the Ford Foundation. Event Location: Columbia University, Faculty House Presidential Room 1.

• “Creating Trustworthy Systems: Theory and Practice”, 2016

Title: Finding a Black Cat in a Dark Room: Capture and creation of usable metadata

Authors: Jane Gorjevsky, Dina Sokolova
Format: Book chapter
Status: Published
Summary: The gradual shift from paper to digital records, with the attendant proliferation of software and hardware tools, can sometimes result in multiple archival management and storage solutions employed even within a single institution. As a result, archival repositories face an even greater need for well-organized and standardized metadata strategy in order to allow integrated access to and long-term curation of diverse digital holdings. Given the number of transitions and transformations that digital objects undergo on their way from capture to ingest into a preservation repository, attention must be paid not only to metadata creation, but also to its maintenance throughout the process. Metadata also acquires an additional function of providing an audit trail for the actions that take place during the intake and processing of digital materials. While documents in electronic formats allow for automatic capture of certain key information, the overall metadata creation and maintenance remains time-consuming and labor-intensive. Our experience in capturing, creating and managing metadata, accumulated in the course of archiving digital records of the Ford Foundation International Fellowships Program, illustrates the challenges, encountered during this process, as well as technical and procedural solutions, used to resolve them.

• 2015 Digital Library Federation Forum, October 26-28, 2015, Vancouver, Canada

Title: Navigating the Born-Digital Archive Wilderness - The Ford International Fellowships Program Archive
Format: 20 minute presentation
Authors/Presenters: Stephen Davis and Benjamin Armintor
Summary: Institutional archives are now all born-digital, and the implications of this for libraries who collect these archives are enormous. Columbia has tackled this challenge with a $1 million grant from the Ford Foundation, which enabled us to build a repository and access system for their International Fellowships Program, to be used by researchers and practitioners from the NGO / philanthropic community. Our project update will provide insight into how to acquire, accession, preserve and make accessible a large-scale born-digital archive. It will also describe the new Fedora/Hydra/Blacklight development Columbia has done to provide an effective access environment for this content.

• Society of American Archivists 2015 Annual Meeting, August 16-22, 2015, Cleveland, OH

Title: Testing ePADD: foreign scripts (.pptx)

Format: Part of “ePadd Demonstration and Discussion” pop-up education session
Presentation materials submitted by: Dina Sokolova
Summary: ePADD, a new software platform supporting the appraisal, processing, and provision of public access to email archives, was publicly released on July 1. ePADD project staff will provide a quick overview and demonstration of ePADD from accessioning to delivery. The demo will be followed by 1-2 brief talks by users/testers of the platform, who will address their experience implementing the software at their institutions. ePADD was tested on email accounts of the Ford Foundation International Fellowships Program that contained messages in 7 languages: Russian, Thai, Portuguese, French, Indonesian, Vietnamese, and Spanish. Most of these languages had either non-roman characters or characters with diacritics, which were rendered differently, depending on the encoding used in the original email messages.

• Columbia University Libraries: Digital Program Projects & Updates Blog, March 13, 2015
• “Innovative Practices in Archives & Special Collections” series, "Appraisal and Acquisition" volume, 2015

Title: Terabytes from Far-Off Lands: Lessons Learned from Archiving the Ford IFP Records

Format: Book chapter (a case study).
Authors: Jane Gorjevsky and Dina Sokolova
Status: Published
Summary: The experience, gained in the course of the IFP project, illustrates the evolution of the selection, appraisal and acquisition concepts, as they adjust to the digital realm, and led to creation of the workflows, policies and guidelines that will be used for other digital collections going forward. Archiving digital materials blurs the lines between pre-acquisition selection and appraisal and post-acquisition arrangement and weeding. Ongoing communication with donors prior to content transfer allows for delegating some selection and arrangement work, however, the results are highly uneven, and remediation is needed frequently. “Long-distance” acquisition leads to additional “post-acquisition” appraisal, selection and content weeding, aided by the use of digital forensics tools and preservation software.

• Mid-Atlantic Regional Archives Conference, October 16-18, 2014, Baltimore, MD

Title: Acquisition of Digital Records: Lessons of the Ford Foundation International Fellowships Program Project (.pdf)

Format: 20-minute presentation followed by Q&A, as part of the “Project Management in Digital Collections” session
Presenters: Jane Gorjevsky, Dina Sokolova
Summary: Columbia University Libraries is working on a large-scale project, funded by the Ford Foundation grant, to permanently preserve and make accessible the archives of the International Fellowships Program. We are ready to share the experience, gained in the course of this project.
  The principal points include: Preliminary surveys and record samples as planning tools; Lessons learned from coordinating selection and arrangement work by the donors prior to content transfer; Planning for storage and access influenced by privacy and confidentiality concerns; Transferring materials and ensure the authenticity and trustworthiness of digital objects; Using digital forensics tools and preservation software for further content weeding and post-acquisition processing.

• Society of American Archivists 2014 Research Forum “Foundations and Innovations”, August 12, 2014, Washington DC

Title: Adding Metadata and Ingesting Large Digital-Born Archives with Archivematica (.pdf)

Format: 10-minute presentation
Presenter: Dina Sokolova; Authors: Jane Gorjevsky, Dina Sokolova
Summary: The presentation focuses on metadata and ingest issues we faced when processing this major digital-born acquisition, and on procedural and technological solutions we adopted. The only descriptive metadata on the file level was contained in file names and directory paths, so these were retained as an originalName metadata element in AIP METS file. Files from each office were sorted into three groups by desired access level (online, reading room, and embargoed until 2075). Archivematica software was used to create the Submission Information Packages (SIPs) and subsequently transform them into Archival Information Packages (AIPs). One or more SIPs were created for each access group, depending on the directory size. We developed a formula to calculate if a group of files was small enough to fit in one SIP. Audiovisual materials, databases, emails, and compressed files were addressed separately. Processing included character conversion and format normalization. Access restrictions and SIP-specific descriptive metadata were manually entered into METS file of each package. AIPs were transferred to preservation storage in BagIt format.

• "Digital Preservation 2014" conference, July 22-23, 2014, Washington DC

Title: Infrastructure Development: Multiple Digital Content Types in a Single Collection (.pdf)

Format: 20 minute presentation, including Q&A, as part of a “breakout session” on workflows in  university repositories
Authors/Presenters: Jane Gorjevsky, Dina Sokolova
Summary: One of the key objectives of the IFP grant was to build a set of repository-based preservation, management, and access systems and services, which can later be utilized for other digital and hybrid collections. The project covers all areas of concern addressed in the 2014 National Digital Stewardship Agenda pertaining to Digital Content Areas. The electronic component of the IFP archive contains both born-digital and digitized records and includes office documents, research data, websites, moving images, and recorded sound.  The IFP project is also particularly illustrative of the challenges mentioned in the Technical Infrastructure Development area of the National Agenda, such as working with multiple file formats and character sets, using digital forensic tools for content appraisal, ensuring content integrity at the earliest possible stage, even prior to the content transfer, and addressing privacy and confidentiality concerns.  The presentation will focus on the project workflow and decision-making as well as technological tools, utilized in the process, within the framework of current digital preservation standards and best practices.