Goodwill Computer Museum Digital Archiving and Preservation

Collection Background and Objectives

The Goodwill Computer Museum (GCM) originated as a collection at the Norwood Plaza Goodwill in 2003 before being converted into a. museum in 2007. By 2012 the museum had folded, most collections mysteriously disappeared, all of the deeds of gift were gone, and any information on what was in them had disappeared. GCM was brought to the Collection Deposit Library (CDL) at UT in 2012, but has gone through some changing of hands from 2003 onwards. The collection currently exists as a giant collection of approximately 120 boxes, 24 gray crates with no documentation of provenance. The purpose of this project is as follows:

  • Create a pathway by which UT Libraries can establish intellectual control over the collection
  • Assess the potential copyright needs and risks associated with commercially produced and home-made backup disks of softwares;
  • Model a workflow for the ingest and preservation of digital content from a variety of formats into D-Space
  • Establish the equipment needed to image and begin digital preservation of material
  • Preserve and provide access to a subset of materials in D-Space, demonstrating the value of material contained in the collection. 

The collection can be viewed and accessed here.

My Role: Manage project timelines and deadlines. Assist in disk inventory, imaging, and imaging workflows for 3.5" and 5.25" disks. Conduct background research of copyright and legal use policies related to orphaned collections. Collect and organize metadata related to individual items for ingest. Assist in D-Space structure modeling and ingestion.


Our first step was to meet with Wendy Martin at the Collection Depository Library. Our group learned that UT Libraries has no resources or staff allocated to the collection which made it possible for our approach to be open-ended. Due to the size of the collection, this project was broken down into multiple phases including inventory, research, imaging, metadata curation, and D-Space ingestion. 


As we looked at the size of the collection, we decided that it was impossible for the whole collection to be inventoried, but we could focus on a couple of the gray bins that mostly had digital media stored within them. Additionally, we labeled all boxes and bins in the collection with a consistent and standard naming convention for future groups to utilize.


At the completion of inventory, a sample size was selected to be imaged and ingested into the School of Information's D-Space Repository. Before items were moved from the CDL to the Digital Archiving Lab, a separation sheet was filled out so that original order would be maintained throughout the process. The operation sheets our group created were given to the CDL for future use in the collection. 

Grey bins found in the GCM Collection.

Sample disk found in grey bins.

Sample disks with created separation sheet.

Disk Imaging

The chosen samples were imaged using devices in the Digital Archiving Lab. While working to image these disks group members documented challenges and wrote imaging workflow procedures for future use. One of the major challenges encountered during this process was the GUI not produce an .img file and having to use the command line to produce these files instead.

diagram of 3.5" disk workflow.

diagram of 5.25" disk workflow

Workflow Modeling and D-Space Ingestion

 Before the disk images could be ingested in to D-Space we needed to work as a team to establish a hierarchy of communities and collections within the repository. Additionally, we needed to establish community administrators. Community administrators can create sub-communities or collections, and manage or assign management for those sub-communities or collections. The last step before ingestion was to collect and organize all metadata for the disk images so that the ingestion process would be more seamless. 

Diagram of the hierarchy for communities and collections within D-Space. 

Diagram of the ingest process for D-Space. 

Final Recommendations

 As the materials found in this collection have been transported and stored in multiple places over the last six years taking a full inventory of the collection is essential. As inventory is taken, special attention should be given to documenting type of media, type of software (program vs. data), any notes or dates on these media, and what type of operating system it is compatible with. Additionally, any damaged media should be identified and cleaned. As future groups continue to work with this collection, new images should be attempted with other software and devices such as a KryoFlux. 

Using Format