Providing Reference to Disk Images | Engineering the Future of the Past

This month I received a reference request that involved a digital collection we acquired some months back. It’s not an unusual type of reference question but I thought I’d blog about it as a use case for digital archives. The request came from the office of origin so we provided the reference directly.

The requestor wanted to know if the collection contained correspondence about a specific topic. The date range was 2006-2008 and perhaps also 2012-2013. Happily, I had three very unique names as terms that I could use for my search. Also, happily the collection is a hybrid collection of both print and digital material. My colleague searched the print archives and did not locate the material. Step two was onto me and digital reference.

The material that I was searching in was the data files from a laptop of the donor. Because the material is under restriction by policy, we had not done much processing beyond triage and understanding the basic nature of the content for our collection description. For the original acquisition, we had captured the data files using Guymager as a E01 disk image.

So, the steps for answering the reference request involved: