Be Prepared … and Flexible

As we are going into the field to collect digital files from people’s homes and offices I am learning what items I should bring with me in my Digital Archivist’s toolbox.  Based on our most recent activity, here’s what I’m putting into my travel toolbox:

  • USB drive and CD disk with basic software tools such as Karen’s Directory Printer and FTK Imager
  • Power strips (2) with 6′ cords
  • Sticky notes (to place on machines and media for temporary identification)
  • USB port with extra slots (esp. for external HDD that require two)
  • Digital camera (for taking images of the equipment, set up and other visual documentation)
  • External HDDs (more than one can help speed the over all transfer time for multiple machines)
  • 3.5 floppy drive (USB connection)
  • Extra cables for computer and monitor power (for older machines that might be decommissioned)
  • Ditto for mouse and keyboard with pin connectors
  • Apron (for basic protection from dust on the floor you are likely to be crawling around on!)
  • Work gloves for handling / carrying equipment and machines, especially out of closets and down staircases.
  • Also, a note to remember to not wear wool and to wear rubber soled shoes on the day of file transfer to reduce the amount of extra static charge that might build up.

This list will grow and adapt as we are involved in more field activities.  If you are engaged with digital archives file transfers in the field do you have a list to share?   [original post Dec. 03, 2012)

UPDATE:  February 3, 2013

Thank you to my colleagues who have suggested adding these items to the Kit:

  • Informational leaflet describing general procedures for acquisition and appraisal
  • USB to PS/2 adapter – So to only have to pack a USB mouse and keyboard
  • External USB Zip drive
  • Flash media reader – getting one that handles a lot of different media types really increases capabilities
  • Pencil & notebook
  • Business cards that can be left with the donor\creator as contact details
  • Copies of all possible forms that a donor creator may have to sign/complete, e.g. transfer agreements.
  • This might be a bit out there but a copy of a Knoppix CD/DVD to more safely probe  MS Windows machines. Assuming they have a CD/DVD
  • A disclaimer that the donor/creator can sign agreeing to you working with their computer. (This one sounds a little scary but I suspect it’s useful)
  • Additional USB ports — the powered variety, just helps to run multiple USB devices
  • Finally, promotional material about your library/archive. This will give the donor/creator a good impression of who you are and the material and users you have.  Never hurts to do a little promotion!

About Kari R. Smith

Kari is Digital Archivist at MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) Libraries. She is also a senior instructor of the Digital Preservation Management Workshops series.
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