Birthing Coetzee s Digital Archive
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J. M. Coetzee s global reputation rests on his literary output, for which he received a Nobel in 2003. Before he embarked on a career as a scholar and writer, the South African-born author was a computer programmer in the early years of the industry s development, working on one of the most advanced programming projects in Britain in the mid 1960s. While readers of Coetzee may be familiar with these experiences from their description in his second fictional autobiography Youth (2002), Coetzee s role on the Atlas 2 project and his sustained interest in computing across his academic and literary career have been largely ignored by researchers to date. This is, we hope, about to change, thanks to Coetzee s digital archive being made available to scholars. Held at the Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas at Austin, Coetzee s papers stretch to 58 linear feet of printed material and are regularly consulted by researchers. In the fall of 2017, his born digital materials, including over 100 floppy disks and various email correspondence, have also been opened for research. In this talk, the speaker discusses the process and decisions entailed in making Coetzee s born digital materials available from the perspective of a digital archivist. The speaker will outline her process for data recovery, preservation and description, and the discovery and access methods she employed. Offering an example of current practice around the preservation of and access to born digital materials, Coetzee s archive also represents an important use case, stretching as it does across 60 years of digital innovation, for how a large hybrid collection can provide researchers with a more complete picture of a creator's life and career than the born digital or analog materials alone can provide.