Born-Digital Access Working Group

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Revision as of 12:59, 9 December 2021 by Jen.wachtel (talk | contribs) (Added the Documenting Access subgroup under Providing Access. Updated leads and co-leads. Added OSF links and deliverables.)
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The DLF Born-Digital Access Working Group (BDAWG), formed in 2017, produces research on and advances the practice of providing access to born-digital collections. Current activities center on researching born-digital access practices, determining levels of access for born-digital materials, and hosting archivist bootcamps to share ideas and tools for providing access to born-digital materials. While our primary focus is currently on participatory archival research & development, we are intentionally situated under the Digital Library Federation to connect across disciplinary silos. We welcome any librarians or other types of workers who are concerned with providing access to born-digital data of any age into our community and projects.

We are continually building on this wiki so check back for updates as we make this a useful tool for the group and all of DLF. In the meantime, read more here about the group's formation and affiliation with DLF.

Community of Practice

This group strives to create a community of practice and engagement around issues related to born-digital access. In 2020, BDWAG published its first three publications. The Levels of Born-Digital Access guidelines are a set of format-agnostic baseline practices for born-digital access, laying out concrete and actionable recommendations that individual institutions can consider implementing according to their needs, resources, and abilities. “Collecting User Experiences, Needs, and Desires for Accessing Born-Digital Archival Collections: Survey Analysis” is an analysis based on surveys of users of born-digital materials on their actual and desired access experiences. Our Access Values aim to establish a shared set of community values around digital access, especially with regard to born-digital archival collection material.

The group’s main mode of communication for all projects is the Google group. All are welcome to join. The group is also planning to use the Slack platform for communication at

The group has also conducted occasional Twitter chats (#bdaccess) to gain insight on how researchers want to access and use born-digital archives. You can read select chat recaps (chat 1 and chat 2), and let us know if you want to help lead a future chat.


Current Subgroups

Providing Access

Originally established in February 2020 as part of the Digital Library Federation’s Born-Digital Access Working Group (BDAWG), this group—originally known as the Exploring Ideal Access Systems sub-group—spent its inaugural year reviewing relevant literature (particularly BDAWG’s Access Values statement and Levels of Born-Digital Access), developing an annotated bibliography, and outlining a framework envisioning the characteristics of potential ideal access systems for born-digital archival materials.

The Accessibility of Born Digital Access Tools subgroup looks at the platforms for access and samples of born-digital content to assess their accessibility for people with disabilities.

This working group will look at low-cost/no-cost cloud solutions for the display and access of born digital collections.

The Remote Site Visits and Transfers Subgroup is investigating the ways in which practitioners perform remote site visits, especially during COVID-19, and remote born-digital file transfers, which have perhaps increased over 2020-2021 but which are increasingly a method of born-digital acquisition.

The Documenting Access project sub-group is collecting and sharing a snapshot of current documentation about how repositories are providing access to born-digital archival collection materials. In support of this goal, it is also creating a framework for writing new or enhancing existing documentation.

Preparing to Provide Access

The Legal Due Diligence Working Group formed in 2020 in response to discussions held at the 2019 Digital Library Federation Forum around the risk assessment required to provide access to born-digital collections, especially archival ones. We are currently developing a resource that walks archivists through different legal and privacy issues to look for and makes some suggestions about how to manage those issues for born-digital collections.

Case Studies and Tools

This subgroup is looking at how repositories facilitate access to born digital collection materials through their finding aids. We are looking at collecting links existing finding aids that describe born digital materials to share which we intend to tag or categorize and share as a resource.

BDAWG Maintenance

Education and Advocacy

Education and Advocacy seeks to raise awareness about digital accessibility issues in libraries, with a focus on hosting webinars and discussion groups, as well as creating documentation and engaging in advocacy around pressing issues.

Former Subgroups


Sub-Groups of DLF BDAWG are continually producing documents and recommendations from their work. As products are completed, the sub-groups will share the published versions via OSF project pages or through Google Drive.

Current sub-group project deliverables include:

Past sub-group project deliverables include:

Get Involved

The group meets every 2 months from 2pm to 3pm on the first Tuesday of the month as of Summer 2021. If you are interested in joining in the bi-monthly call, email for the Zoom information and reach out to the group’s current chairs to be added to the meeting invite. Often during meetings, calls are made for volunteers to join new sub-groups or attendees are asked if they have a sub-group they would like to propose. Getting involved is easy and you can make the experience what you’d like. On Slack, we share announcements and coordinate event schedules. Join the Slack conversation at Email the BDAWG Google Group for an invitation to the Slack.


DLF BDAWG is co-facilitated by two members who help coordinate activities across the many subgroups, schedule and facilitate bi-monthly meetings, and liaise with DLF staff for community needs. Elections are held once a year to rotate new coordinators. Subgroups have a point person who we also call a coordinator, but for most projects, facilitation and leadership rotates fluidly through the subgroup until the project is complete.


Read more about the group's formation and affiliation with DLF here.

Publication Workflow

  • Draft and develop a review plan for your publication. Typically BDAWG publications go through internal group review, then a wider public review. Typically BDAWG publications are drafted in Google Drive and then published as a PDF. Include everyone in the subgroup who participated in the project as an author of the publication. Include commenters and feedback providers as contributors to your publication.
  • Find out if there is someone in your subgroup who can stage the publication in Adobe Illustrator using DLF’s publishing template.
  • As you approach a completion date for editing, reach out to Gayle Schecter, CLIR Program Associate, and copy BDAWG coordinators. If someone on your team has access to Adobe Illustrator, request the DLF Illustrator template. If no one in your subgroup has access to Illustrator, explain this to Gayle and ask what further publication support can be provided. Share your expected timeline for completing the draft to hand over, and any other dependencies you have (i.e., we are hoping to present the publication at a conference on particular date). Let Gayle know approximate dates you’d like to tweet and when you’ll send the tweets.
  • If your publication is for a subgroup that has not yet been set up in OSF, set up a subgroup space in OSF. Contact the BDAWG coordinators and Gayle for access. Invite everyone from your subgroup as authors on the OSF project page.
  • Draft some Tweets and email announcements to share your publication.
  • Once the publication is complete, upload to OSF. Add the link to all your communication templates.
  • Share the link with the BDAWG Communications team to be added to the Wiki
  • Share your drafted Tweets with Gayle
  • Send emails to listservs announcing your published resource, and go forth to share at conferences, events, and anywhere else people care about access!