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Friday, 29 November 2013

COPTR: It's short for "Making my Thursday much easier"

This is a guest post from Nathan Williams, Archives Assistant.
For four days of a working week I can largely be found on the front desk of the Borthwick Institute assisting people with their research, fetching up documents within our vast holdings, and assisting people with interpreting the materials they have in front of them. Part of the role of an Archives Assistant is one of providing researchers with the tools of discovery.

On the fifth day of a working week I don a different cap altogether, for on Thursday I head on up to Jen Mitcham’s office to help with a different challenge altogether: digital preservation.

So it was somewhat of a pleasant surprise when I received an email circulated through the jisc-digital-preservation list regarding the beta launch of COPTR or the Community Owned digital Preservation Tool Registry. Ok, so my title is silly, but here’s why it really should stand for “Making my Thursday much easier”:

  • As an institutional repository with strong University, Research, Diocesan and local and national collections of import, we have varying and ever-increasing demands on our ability to manage digital objects.
  • We don’t currently have an overarching OAIS-compliant preservation system, but we still have to take action on digital objects both in our care and yet to be created.
  • We have to act but resources are limited and the correct tools, used properly, can help us to act now instead of risking our digital assets.
  • Sometimes finding those tools, especially for the entry level practitioner, isn’t easy - COPTR should help to make it easy.
COPTR is not the first such ‘tool registry’ to exist but its aim is to collate the contents of five previously used registries (amongst them those present via the Digital Curation Centre and Open Planets Foundation to name just two).

Here are just a few potentially great things about it:


  1. It’s working to collate all the information that’s currently out there into one place.
  2. It’s managed by us.
  3. It’s browse function already looks really promising - show all the tools, or tools by functional category, or even tools by content they act upon. I don’t think it can be overstated how useful this is for the entry level practitioner!
  4. It brings together advanced and entry level practitioners and allows for collaboration across the digital preservation spectrum.
  5. User experiences go beyond just descriptions but actually provide use cases and general experiences from people who have used a tool. These sections will hopefully get a lot more material added to them as time goes on.
  6. There is already quite a bit to get your teeth into and entries are added to all the time - the activity log already looks promising.
I’ve already found some potential tools for investigation for my second look at finding us a temporary fixity solution. It’s also great to just browse and see what else is out there. What tools will you discover through COPTR?

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