Digital Forensics and Cultural Heritage

Ever since a Digital Lives seminar at the British Library earlier this year previewed some of the work, I’ve been looking forward to the publication of this CLIR report on digital forensics and the cultural heritage.

The Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR) has now published the report, Digital Forensics and Born-Digital Content in Cultural Heritage Collections, by Matthew G. Kirschenbaum, Richard Ovenden, and Gabriela Redwine.

Digital forensics was once specialised to fields of law enforcement, computer security, and national defence, but because most records today are born digital, libraries, archives, and other collecting institutions increasingly receive computer storage media-and sometimes entire computers-as part of their acquisition of “papers.” Staff at these institutions face challenges such as accessing and preserving legacy formats, recovering data, ensuring authenticity, and maintaining trust. The methods and tools that forensics experts have developed can be useful in meeting these challenges. For example, the same forensics software that indexes a criminal suspect’s hard drive allows the archivist to prepare a comprehensive manifest of the electronic files a donor has turned over for accession.

The report introduces the field of digital forensics in the cultural heritage sector and explores some points of convergence between the interests of those charged with collecting and maintaining born-digital cultural heritage materials and those charged with collecting and maintaining legal evidence.

Digital Forensics and Born-Digital Content in Cultural Heritage Collections is now available electronically at Print copies will be available in January for ordering through CLIR’s Web site, for $25 per copy plus shipping and handling.

I’ve downloaded the electronic edition but have yet to read it (that’s part of  my Xmas reading sorted) but if the seminar is anything to go by it will be a great contribution to the emerging field on personal digital collections and the curation of digital heritage.

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