During the past few weeks I've run into a number of my library friends and colleagues that have been asking, "why is SULAIR investing in a Digital Forensics Lab?" As a reply, I begin by highlighting the increasing volume of materials we acquire that are born digital. These materials have been created, edited and exist only in digital form. These library materials are ultimately just a series of binary digits (0s and 1s) that are written on carriers such as hard drives, CDs/DVDs and floppy disks. The problem of preserving and providing scholarly access to this special class of collection material is two fold. The first is that we rely on software to interpret the data into something meaningful that we can understand. The second challenge is that physical medium used to store the data (hard drives, CDs/DVDs and floppy disks) have a finite life span.
Building out a digital forensics lab in SULAIR will provide us with specialized software to interpret born digital content and to migrate that content to more stable and redundant forms of media. In short, it will provide our bibliographers with the ability to curate what they acquire for the benefit of Stanford's research missions and to preserve that content for the future.
In summary, here is a brief snapshot of some the first collections that will benefit from this new capability:
- Stephen Jay Gould papers, Influential American paleontologist, evolutionary biologist and historian of science, Gould began his career at Harvard University in 1967 and worked until his death in 2002. One of the most popular science writers of our time, he is the author of 22 books, 479 peer-reviewed scholarly papers, 300 essays, and 101 reviews. Collection contains 60 5 1/4" diskettes, 81 3 1/2" diskettes, 3 computer tapes from 1987, 1988, 1994. The diskettes contain bibliographic databases and working drafts of many of the eminent author's publications. The data tapes appear to contain datasets used in his evolutionary biology research.
- Xanadu Project collection, containing 6 hard drives with papers relating to the Xanadu Project, XOC, and Eric Drexler. The Xanadu Project was founded in 1960 by Ted Nelson, and was the first hypertext project, widely regarded as a conceptual antecedent of today's World Wide Web.
- Robert Creeley collection, containing 53 3 1/4" diskettes. American poet, novelist, short story writer, editor, and essayist. Author of more than 60 books, Creeley taught at Black Mountain College in the 1950s and was one of the Black Mountain poets, an avant-garde group of poets centered around BMC. The Papers feature Creeley's own working manuscripts for his poems and critical writing, both published and unpublished. These appear in a variety of formats: notebooks, filled with autograph drafts of poems; typescripts, often annotated in holograph; frequent pieces written on random scraps of papers, as well as many floppy disks (post-1988) containing files for individual poems and works of prose.
- Peter Koch collection, containing one hard drive with correspondence and graphic arts files Black Stone Press ephemera, 1974-1995. Peter Koch got his start in printing in Missoula when he founded the Black Stone Press, a publishing imprint and letterpress printing office, in tandem with artist Shelley Hoyt, in 1974. Four years later, the press relocated to San Francisco. Koch has operated his own design and printing studio continuously for almost thirty years. A creative force and personality in Bay Area fine press book design, printing, and publishing, Koch’s work has earned an international reputation. His works include editions of ancient Greek philosophers, the musings of maverick poets, and the images of world-renowned wood engravers and photographers. Editions Koch specializes in publishing limited edition livres d'artistes, broadsides, portfolios, and what Koch describes as “text transmission objects.” Koch is the co-founder of the CODEX Foundation, a non-profit organization devoted to promoting and preserving the arts of the book.