Further Reading

OSSArcFlow Guide to Documenting Born-Digital Archival Workflows - This is a great resource describing the outcomes and lessons learned from a project which focused on creating a methodology for documenting digital preservation workflows with a range of organizations using open source tools. In particular the section ‘Documenting Born-Digital Workflows’ from page 30 onwards is helpful in providing tips for documentation and the appendices which include templates for documentation which were used throughout the project. The project also produced a short video on documenting workflows.

Write the Docs; - This is a global community of people who care about documentation. It focuses primarily on documenting code, but there is lots of useful information that is more broadly applicable to other types of documentation. They have a helpful Documentation Guide as well as an annual conference about documentation and a reading list.

Journal of Documentation - A whole journal devoted to the topic of documentation! Though the articles are often focused on documentation topics outside of the scope of this guide, there are likely to be some papers that are of interest. Occasional issues of this journal are open access.

Don’t Let All That Work Go to Waste: Documentation Strategies for Success - an online tutorial presented by Nathan Tallman and Carly Dearborn in April 2020 for the Council of State Archivists, State Electronic Records Initiative. There are some great tips here and helpful information about some of the tools that can be used to create documentation (including GitHub).

Tool demos, Digital Preservation Handbook - the Digital Preservation Handbook includes a number of demos of how to use commonly used digital preservation tools (for example DROID, Checksum by Corz and Teracopy). Do link to these demos from your own documentation if it is helpful to do so rather than trying to re-invent the wheel.


It can be incredibly helpful when organizations publish their digital preservation procedures. Often this is done with certification in mind - CoreTrustSeal for example encourages openness and transparency around procedures. Here are some good examples to look at:

TIB - This is a really good example of publicly available documentation. TIB make this available as a comprehensive series of interlinked wiki pages available in German and in English. See for example the page on the ingest process which includes textual descriptions of the process as well as detailed workflow diagrams.

Minnesota Historical Society - This ‘Digital Archivists Manual’ is published as a Google Doc to allow for comment and easy update. This is a great example of publicly available documentation, covering a whole range of digital preservation processes and procedures including instructions on how to run specific tools needed for the workflows.

Archaeology Data Service - The ADS has published much of their procedural documentation (as well as policies) on their website. This is a helpful resource providing detailed information about how this data archive handles a range of different scenarios. See for example data preservation procedures which cover both ingest and specific workflows for different data types.

Bentley Historical Library - The Bentley Historical Library provides published procedures and conventions for the arrangement and description of paper and digital archives as well as the curation of web archives. See for example the procedures specific to web archiving and those specific to digital processing.  

Rockefeller Archive Center - This is a nice example of a suite of documentation that has been built using GitHub and made available online. There is a range of policy and procedure documents here - see for example the Digital Media Transfer Workflow.

Archivists Guide to Kryoflux - This is a community created documentation effort for a specific piece of hardware. It is hosted on GitHub and includes a helpful description of the revision process and some tips on using GitHub.

Community Owned Workflows - a forum for sharing digital preservation workflows with the community, this is a helpful resource to browse to see how others have described and illustrated their workflows.

OSSArcFlow As Is Workflows - during this project, partners modeled and documented a range of born digital workflows using a standard documentation methodology. These workflows are available in this report.

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