Identifying what digital newspaper content an institution possesses is the first step in understanding its current and future preservation needs. Digital newspapers are created and acquired by institutions under a diverse array of circumstances, over wide spans of time, and often under the care of multiple managers. For that reason, an institution’s digital newspaper collections and corresponding content files may reside on a range of different storage media (external hard drives, CDs, disk arrays, tape systems, etc.) and in multiple locations.
Identifying the amount (number of files and sizes), type(s), and location(s) of an institution’s digital newspaper collections is a critical first step in preparing those collections for long-term preservation and archival management. An inventory can help curators not only determine where content resides, but what sorts of information may be needed to ensure its sustainability over time (e.g., format identification, checksums, digital object identifiers, etc).
Producing a digital newspaper inventory is a multi-stage process that helps an institution establish what newspaper content it holds and where that content resides. Good inventories range from general to detailed, depending on the needs, goals, and resources of an institution.
An institution’s digital newspaper inventory may be created and maintained as a text document, spreadsheet, or database. It should be easy to use, available to curators and technologists, scalable for future growth, and updated regularly. It should also explicitly record a “last updated” date.
A basic inventory may provide a description of an institution’s full range of newspaper files, including title, content type, format, size, associations (title/issue and page/article information), and file location. A more detailed inventory might also include information about creation date, copyright/permissions, software needed to render objects, checksums, and digital object identifiers.