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Piloting a Digitization Workflow for Analog Agricultural Data


Krzton, Ali
Krzton, Alicia


In the summer of 2021, the head of the Department of Entomology and Plant Pathology contacted the Research Data Management Librarian seeking advice on what to do with the paper records, including original data, of two professors emeriti. In cooperation with the Agriculture Librarian, the Special Collections Librarian, and the Library Archivist, the collection was assessed and the files physically transported to the library. The data can be safely preserved in their original form within Special Collections. However, the department head and librarians all agreed that digitization, which would make the data more accessible and permit machine-readability, is the ideal solution. The Agriculture Librarian and the Research Data Management Librarian will select a subset of the paper records to scope out the time, effort, and level of expertise needed to digitize the data, translate it into machine-readable formats, and add appropriate metadata. Important questions about the process include determining the amount and type of training needed for different stages of the workflow, whether there are any steps where efficiency could be improved through automated processes, and how it can be scaled up to allow for processing the entire collection. The department head requested that we share recommendations for best practices and procedures with him as he works to develop a data archiving policy for the department. Recognizing that more faculty will retire and leave cabinets full of paper data, the librarians are eager to experiment with methods that could make this data FAIR before the problem becomes unmanageable and irreplaceable work is lost.