Digital Humanities Guide: Storage


Organization, Management, Storage, and Preservation

The flexible character of digital resources and their availability in large amonts also makes them vulnerable to misplacement, loss, corruption, and decay. Hence, storage and management -- archiving of resources, identification through a useful and scalable file naming and metadata system, organization, archiving, and preservation -- are part of any good humanities digital workflow. A well organized and managed collection of resources and notes is likewise the starting point for more ambitious digitally based research and analysis. The DHC, Libraries and Information Services provide support for this activity in a number of areas.


An essential part of any humanities scholar's support system is citation and possibly resource management software. A variety of tools are available. Ones most fully supported at the DHC are listed below.

  • Citation Management: Tools for capturing, editing, managing bibliographic references and attached full text, notetaking, bibliography creation, and insertion of citations. (A fuller list of resources on campus is available here.)
    • Zotero (PC and Mac): The most widely used, a free, easy-to-learn open source software with straightforward downloads and capture of attached full text from most Columbia databases and other bibliographic and web sources, a capacity for granular note-taking, and very easy insertion and reformatting of bibliographic citations in close to 2000 styles.
  • Resource Management: Tools used by various researchers to organize and manage collections of resources, but not focused on bibliographic citation management, even though some can be made to work in tandem with a citation management program. For a recommendation based on your specific needs, please contact a librarian.


Working on programming projects, it is important to be able to keep track of changes in one's work, to be able to backtrack when a new version does not work, or when an earlier approach begins to look preferable.  This is even more important when one is working in a group, as is frequently the case with digital humanities projects. GitHub provides a valuable and widely used platform, with Git clients on individual workstations communicating with a shared resource on GitHub.  GitHub also can provide a very useful way of sharing code with others and even publishing websites free of cost.


  • Personal Digital Archiving: The Libraries have assembled a list of links to information about the whole range of issues and techniques related to managing and archiving your individual research data.  
  • Digital Repository: The Digital Scholarship unit at the library manages Academic Commons, a research repository where Columbia researchers can deposit their writings, projects, and datasets for preservation and sharing with the broader scholarly community. Storing your research on Academic Commons is also an excellent way to make your work known to a broader community, as it is regularly crawled by the major web browsers.
  • CU Preservation and Digital Conversion Division: Offers services and tools to prolong the existence and accessibility of collections for current and future Columbia students and scholars. If you are interested in creating a scholarly online exhibit or research project using some of our collections, please contact the digital scholarship librarian to make a consultation.