MITH Partners with UNC SILS on Digital Forensics Project

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CHAPEL HILL – The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s School
of Information and Library Science (SILS)
has received a grant for
$600,000 from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation for a project that
creates and analyzes systems for archivists, librarians and other
information professionals to incorporate digital forensics methods.

The BitCurator project will be a joint effort-led by SILS and the
Maryland Institute for Technology in the Humanities (MITH) at the
University of Maryland, which will involve contributors from several
other institutions-to develop a system for professionals who manage
collections to incorporate the functionality of digital forensics
tools and methods into their work. The BitCurator project will be a
natural and fruitful extension of two recent Andrew W. Mellon
Foundation grants: “Digital Acquisition Learning Laboratory” at SILS
and “Computer Forensics and Born-Digital Content in Cultural Heritage”
at MITH. The BitCurator project will address a set of needs and
opportunities that were identified in both of those projects.

Materials with significant cultural value are now predominantly “born
digital.” Collecting institutions have great opportunities to acquire
and preserve resources created throughout the creative process. In
order to seize these opportunities, information professionals must be
prepared to extract digital materials from removable media in ways
that reflect the rich metadata and ensure the integrity of the
materials. They must also support and mediate appropriate access:
allowing users to make sense of materials and understand their
context, while also preventing inadvertent disclosure of sensitive

“There are already many cases of self-contained packages that bundle
many of the tools in order to support digital forensics activities,”
said Dr. Christopher (Cal) Lee, principal investigator of the
BitCurator project. “However, they are not likely to be very
approachable to library/archives professionals in terms of interface
and documentation. Even more importantly, there are two fundamental
needs for collecting institutions that are not addressed by software
designed for the digital forensics industry: incorporation into the
workflow of archives/library ingest and collection management
environments, and provision of public access to the data.”

The BitCurator project is an effort to build, test and analyze systems
and software for incorporating digital forensics methods into the
workflows of a variety of collecting institutions. Dr. Matthew
, associate director of MITH is the co-principal
investigator of the project. Kam Woods, postdoctoral research
associate at SILS, serves as the technical lead for the BitCurator
project. Two groups of external partners will contribute to this
process: a professional expert panel of individuals who are at various
levels of implementing digital forensics tools and methods in their
collecting institution contexts, and a development advisory group of
individuals who have significant experience with development of

BitCurator will define and test support for a digital curation
workflow that begins at the point of encountering holdings that reside
on removable media-either new acquisitions or materials that are
within a repositories existing holdings-and extends to the point of
interaction with an end user.  BitCurator will address both the client
side tools required at the point of initial data extraction and
back-end tools for batch processing of disk images, which are likely
to reside on a remote server.

“This project speaks to several of the key findings from the earlier
Mellon-funded report on Digital Forensics and Cultural Heritage
Collections,” said Kirschenbaum. “It’s especially exciting to see an
iSchool and a digital humanities center collaborating on tools that
will benefit not only the archivists processing born-digital
materials, but also the scholars who will be using them.”

For more information about the project, please visit the BitCurator
Web site at: and follow @bitcurator on Twitter.

By | 2017-02-05T21:15:07+00:00 Thu, Oct 20, 2011|Community, News, Research|

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