Duke Data Accessioner

The Duke Data Accessioner provides a graphical user interface to aid in migrating data from physical media to a dedicated file server, documenting the process and using MD5 checksums to identify any errors introduced in transfer. The software also offers a way to integrate metadata tools into the migration workflow. The tool is primarily designed for use by technical services librarians in small institutions with little or no IT support.


Duke University Libraries

Licensing and cost

The software is free and available for non-commercial, educational and research purposes under an open-source, Duke-written license.

Development activity

The Data Accessioner Version 0.3.0 was last updated in September 2011.

A download is also available for Version 0.4.0, which is described as under development.

Platform and interoperability

The software is written in Java, which renders it platform independent. Plugins are used via the Java Plugin Framework (JPF); a noted issue is that the JPF plugins do not work when running in a Mac OSX environment.

Existing plugins for JHOVE and DROID are available on the Accessioner webpage.

Functional notes

The Data Accessioner is comprised of four main components; a graphical interface, a migrator, a metadata manager, and optional adapters. The migrator recursively navigates a file tree, copying it to a given destination with the option of skipping specified files and directories. It also creates a MD5 checksum for both the original file and the new copy, comparing the two to detect and notify the user of any errors. The project has thus far created two adapters; the JHOVE and DROID plugins allow users to insert these outside tools directly into their accessioning workflow. Using a custom metadata manager, the Data Accessioner can also be used as an ingest interface to repository systems such as Fedora.

While the software’s website does not give any information on volume or file format limitations, a University of Illinois case study encountered both. Overall, the user was extremely happy with the software; however, the project was unable to migrate information in CDA format and encountered a JVM error when attempting to migrate a large backup disk.

Documentation and user support

The website offers a short online guide written specifically for Duke employees; while some of the instructions are tailored for that institution, much of the information is universally helpful.

The website also links to an online contact form.


The Data Accessioner uses a simple and straightforward Graphical User Interface.

If the user wishes to exclusively run the migratory element of the software it must be done through command-line; however, this should not be necessary in the vast majority of uses.

Expertise required

The project’s goal was to create software for technical services librarians, able “to be easily adopted by smaller institutions with little or no IT staff.” Metadata customisation, however, entails the construction of a separate plugin, which requires solid knowledge of application design.

Standards compliance

The software includes a PREMIS metadata manager. Incorporation of other metadata standards requires a custom-built module.

Influence and take-up

The Duke University Library uses the Data Accessioner in its accessioning workflow. No statistics are available on outside use. 

Last reviewed: 
12 June, 2012