In the Driver's Seat: Putting the Curator's Workbench through its Paces


Gregory N. Jansen


The tutorial will cover all the functions of the Curator's Workbench tool and explore its place in workflow through demonstration and practice. The Curator’s Workbench is a collection preparation and work flow tool for digital materials. The Workbench helps you prepare arrangements of files and metadata for ingest into an institutional repository or storage in a dark archive. As the files are selected, arranged, and described, the software generates a METS manifest that documents this information. As items are captured and then automatically staged, checksums and unique identifiers are generated for each object. MODS descriptive records can be created for any object or folder.

The Curator’s Workbench is designed to facilitate processing large batches of objects along with any supplied metadata. The crosswalk tool is used for mapping user-supplied metadata to MODS elements.

Crosswalks allow one to define how each MODS record is created and how they are linked to objects, including which MODS elements are used and where values come from in supplied metadata. The generated MODS records are stored in the METS manifest. When a project is ready for submission, an export function translates the internal METS into a submission package suitable for ingest.


In this three hour tutorial, participants will learn to capture, arrange and describe digital materials, including item-level and batch description via crosswalks, using the Curator’s Workbench. They will also learn through examples drawn from the Carolina Digital Repository about the role the software can play in variety of digital work flows.


This tutorial is open to all experience levels, but is specifically designed for archivists, digital collection specialists, and other professionals with a need to prepare digital materials on a large scale. Participants should have some awareness of the role of manifests in digital work flow, through standards like METS, Bag-It or others. A basic understanding of XML and description using schemas such as MODS will be helpful. This is a hands-on tutorial, so participants will need to bring laptops and have Internet access.


By the end of this tutorial participants should:

  • Have acquired an overview of the concepts underlying the Curator’s Workbench.
  • Installed the workbench and created a project, under the guidance of the instructor, resulting in practical, first-hand experience in using the tool to:
  • Capture, arrange and stage digital materials
  • Create collection and item-level descriptions
  • Generate and link descriptive records from spreadsheet files.
  • Design and make use of workbench-based data dictionaries
  • Perform project export to METS and coordinate next steps in the workflow
  • Perform other forms of project export
  • As time allow, discuss advanced topics, including rapid building of ad hoc web deposit forms and developing work-flows for finding aids


Gregory Jansen is the Technical Lead for the Carolina Digital Repository at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He is a software developer with a focus on preservation, metadata and repositories. He has a background in document management systems and joined the Carolina Digital Repository (CDR) team in 2008 at the prototype stage. Greg is the technical liaison on the Academic Preservation Trust (APTrust) Advisory Group, a consortium of academic institutions that will create and manage a joint preservation repository.
Greg is the developer of the open source Curator's Workbench. This tutorial builds from a series of workshops on the tool, conducted in collaboration with Erin O’Meara, held across the UK in 2011 with support from an International Council of Archives’ grant.


Tessella - Digital Preservation ExLibris - The bridge to knowledge