Connecting to Collections Care Online Community

Creating Special Collections Local Identifiers

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    • #133972
      Lindsay Schettler

      Hi Folks,

      I have recently accepted a Special Collections Librarian position for a small university. We have two large collections but nothing is housed. I have a preservation and collection care background, thus why I received the position. We will be starting to digitize the items and I plan on creating an inventory project that coincides with the digital projects. Some of the books have a call number and are cataloged in the library catalog but since nothing is housed correctly, I will need to come up with some system to identify and arrange the collections.

      I am not sure how to proceed with this task of creating local identifiers. I would like to follow some of the 5 levels of archive arrangement but some levels might not be necessary. So far I have come up with this:


      Does anyone have an recommendations on either the identifier I came up with or how to create one?

      Thank you!

    • #133976
      Sara Levin

      Hello Lindsay, This seems like a good system, although I have minimal experience with archiving. I will ask around and see if anyone has any more specific advice.

      Sara Levin

    • #133980
      Lindsay Schettler

      Thank you Sara!

    • #133986
      Sara Levin

      Hello again, Tara Kennedy, Preservation Services Librarian at Yale University Library offered the following advice. She also offered to be in touch, so if you’d like to connect with her personally please let me know your email. Hope it’s helpful:

      There are a TON of metadata standards for digitization of archives. SAA has a list here:

      There are many standards one can follow and it depends on institutional practice. In general, the National Archives ( recommends the following for file naming conventions:

      – Are unique.

      – Are consistently structured.

      – Take into account the maximum number of items to be scanned and reflect that in the number of digits used (if following a numerical scheme).

      – Use leading 0s to facilitate sorting in numerical order.

      – Do not use an overly complex or lengthy naming scheme that is susceptible to human error during manual input.

      – Use lowercase characters and file extensions.

      – Use numbers and/or letters but not characters such as symbols or spaces that could cause complications across operating platforms.

      – Record metadata embedded in file names (such as scan date, page number, etc.) in another location in addition to the file name. This provides a safety net for moving files across systems in the future in the event that they must be renamed.

      – Sequencing information and major structural divisions of multi-part objects should be explicitly recorded in the structural metadata (ie the intellectual or physical elements of the digital object) and not only embedded in the file names. So, in an archival collection, it would be important to delineate divisions between folder contents, for example.

      – Although it is not recommended to embed too much information into the file name, a certain amount of information can serve as minimal descriptive metadata (ie information that describes the resource eg title, author, etc.) for the file as an economical alternative to the provision of richer data elsewhere.

      – Alternatively, it may be more practical to use a simple numbering system. An intellectually meaningful name will then have to be correlated with the digital resource in the database.

      For a description of the different types of metadata, check this out:

    • #133987
      Lindsay Schettler

      Thank you! I would love to be put in touch with Tara Kennedy. My email address is

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