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DPC’s Digital Preservation Awards 2012

I was really pleased to be able to attend the Digital Preservation Awards at the Wellcome Collection in London last night. In it's 10th year, the DPC is celebrating in style with three separate awards: 1. The DPC Decennial Award for an outstanding contribution to digital preservation 2. The DPC Award for Teaching and Communications 3. The DPC Award for Research and Innovation Participants were encouraged by the chair of the ceremony Richard Ovenden to switch on their mobiles and tweet as the results of each category were announced. The excitement in the room was almost tangible! I was very pleased and not at all surprised to see that the Digital Preservation Training Programme (DPTP) was the winner of the award for Teaching and Communications. DPTP was quite ground-breaking when it ran its first residential course in digital preservation back in 2005. I was there to help deliver presentations and case studies on the Open Archival Information System (OAIS) and preservation metadata

The first accession!

I am pleased to report that last week I accessioned the first files into the digital archive here at the Borthwick Institute! This may sound like a rather grand claim at the moment. I will admit that we do not have a 'digital archive' infrastructure in place yet and we are still in the very early stages of considering how best to treat digital material. 'Accessioning' of digital data is not the formal process that I would like it to be, but I am setting up some basic procedures to tide us over until a more cohesive system of managing digital archives alongside their analogue friends and relations is established. It has been said many times that with digital preservation there is no point waiting for the perfect solution because this may be a long time coming. If we keep on waiting, the problem will get bigger and crucially, data loss may occur ...so this is the methodology I have established so far. Once I have checked that the media is readable and free from viruses,

Requirements for software and systems

When I started my job in June, one of the first things I wanted to do was get an idea of what existing systems and software were in place for recording analogue archives and see how I could record and manage digital material alongside this. It is essential that systems for analogue and digital archives are integrated to allow us to catalogue digital material alongside its analogue equivalents. If an organisation has been archiving minutes of their meetings with us in paper form for several decades but has now moved to digital deposition, we need a media-blind system which records the archival material regardless of format and upholds the relationships between these objects. In talking to other archivists at the Borthwick over my first few months it was clear that existing systems for accessioning, cataloguing and providing access to metadata about archives did not meet all of our needs. We decided that this would be a great opportunity to list our requirements and analyse a range of s

Ten years of the Digital Preservation Coalition

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Photo owned by the DPC. Taken by Megan Taylor On Monday this week I was lucky enough to be able to attend the ten year anniversary celebration of the Digital Preservation Coalition . This was held at the House of Lords, Westminster and was a great event. Great because of the fabulous location but also because of the opportunity to get all the members of the DPC in one room together. The last ten years have certainly been an interesting time from a digital preservation perspective. There have been major changes and developments in this field and the DPC has played an important part in facilitating many of these. I can also map my own involvement with digital preservation into this ten year time frame! Knowing pretty much nothing about digital preservation apart from the fact it was 'A Good Thing', I applied for a job at the Archaeology Data Service at the end of 2002. I was lucky enough to get my first job there as a Curatorial Assistant (a strange job title but essentially I w

Testing out Google Forms

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Over the last couple of weeks I have been creating an on-line survey to find out about data management practices amongst researchers at the University of York. The aim is to find out what sorts of digital data is being produced and what plans are in place to manage their data, both for the lifetime of their project and for the longer term. It was suggested that rather than purchasing a licence for a survey tool such as Bristol Online Surveys we use Google Forms. The University of York has moved to Google for e-mail, calendars and document sharing, so this seemed like a logical step. The survey is quite long with 40+ questions and several redirects or dependencies required based on which way an earlier question has been answered. My previous experience of creating on-line forms has primarily been to hand-code them using Coldfusion and a database back end, so this was a new venture for me. Here are my first impressions of Google Forms. Pros: Easy to use. Can quickly jump into it and set

Installing archivematica ...and running out of memory

For a couple of months now I have been intending to install archivematica and test it out. Described as a "free and open-source digital preservation system that is designed to maintain standards-based, long-term access to collections of digital objects", this sounds like it could be a great starting point for establishing a digital archive here at the Borthwick Institute . Also strongly in its favour from my perspective is the fact that it is compatible with the Open Archival Information System (OAIS) reference model and supports metadata standards such as PREMIS and Dublin Core. Though I have had a passing interest in this software for some time, in my previous job at the Archaeology Data Service we had a long established digital archive with preservation systems and migration pathways already in place. Setting up archivematica in such a way to interface with our existing processes and procedures there may not have been an easy. Here in the Borthwick Institute we

First steps for securing digital media within an analogue archive

Isn't it a happy day when a new report on digital preservation appears in your in-box at just the right time? The following report from OCLC is just one of these. I have been in the new post as Digital Archivist for the Borthwick Institute for Archives for 3 months now and had been thinking about what to do with the digital material that is buried deep in the strongrooms of our building. You've Got to Walk Before You Can Run: First Steps for Managing Born-Digital Content Received on Physical Media by Ricky Erway, OCLC Research This report describes a simple but straightforward set of steps for locating and securing digital media that exist in a traditional analogue archive. It works on the premis that doing something now is far better than waiting until a more complete digital preservation solution is available. By simply locating the digital media, copying it to a more secure storage area and establishing what we have, we can instantly gain some level of control over our di