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A FITS Blitz

International collaboration improves digital preservation tool developed at the Harvard Library.


November 19, 2013—The File Information Tool Set (FITS) was created by Harvard Library to support the activities of the Digital Preservation Service (DRS). FITS is used during the DRS deposit process to automatically generate metadata for DRS files. Recognizing the potential benefit of this tool to other institutions responsible for digital preservation, it was released as an open-source tool in 2009.

Since that time FITS has gained a lot of traction and has been incorporated into the workflows of institutions worldwide, open-source repository platforms such as Archivematica and Islandora and preservation planning tools like C3PO. With increased usage, various organizations have wanted to extend FITS to support more formats and functionality. To make it easier for others to contribute to FITS development, Harvard Library recently teamed up with SPRUCE and the Open Planets Foundation to launch “Fits Blitz.” This two-week project will put into place a framework for testing code contributed from developers worldwide. The end result is that new functionality can be incorporated into FITS more quickly, leading to a better preservation tool for Harvard and the digital preservation community.

The development work is being funded by SPRUCE and will be done by software developers from the Open Planets Foundation and Creative Pragmatics, in close communication with Andrea Goethals from Harvard Library and Spencer McEwen from Library Technology Services. SPRUCE is a JISC-funded project that funds digital preservation tool development and organizes community-based events such as hackathons, camps and mashups. The Open Planets Foundation is an international organization that tries to find practical, often software-based solutions to its members’ digital preservation challenges.