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Showing posts from 2017

How would you change Archivematica's Format Policy Registry?

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A train trip through snowy Shropshire to get to Aberystwyth This week the UK Archivematica user group  fought through the snow and braved the winds and driving rain to meet at the National Library of Wales in Aberystwyth. This was the first time the group had visited Wales and we celebrated with a night out at a lovely restaurant on the evening before our meeting. Our visit also coincided with the National Library cafe’s Christmas menu so we were treated to a generous Christmas lunch (and crackers) at lunch time. Thanks NLW! As usual the meeting covered an interesting range of projects and perspectives from Archivematica users in the UK and beyond. As usual there was too much to talk about and not nearly enough time. Fortunately this took my mind off the fact I had damp feet for most of the day. This post focuses on a discussion we had about Archivematica's Format Policy Registry or FPR. The FPR in Archivematica is a fairly complex beast, but a crucial tool for the 'Preservat

Cakes, quizzes, blogs and advocacy

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Last Thursday was International Digital Preservation Day and I think I needed the weekend to recover. It was pretty intense... ...but also pretty amazing! Amazing to see what a fabulous international community there is out there working on the same sorts of problems as me! Amazing to see quite what a lot of noise we can make if we all talk at once! Amazing to see such a huge amount of advocacy and awareness raising going on in such a small space of time! International Digital Preservation Day was crazy but now I have had a bit more time to reflect, catch up...and of course read a selection of the many blog posts and tweets that were posted. So here are some of my selected highlights: Cakes Of course the highlights have to include the cakes and biscuits including those produced by Rachel MacGregor  and Sharon McMeekin . Turning the problems that we face into something edible helps does seem to make our challenges easier to digest! Quizzes and puzzles A few quizzes

What shall I do for International Digital Preservation Day?

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I have been thinking about this question for a few months now and have only recently come up with a solution. I wanted to do something big on International Digital Preservation Day . Unfortunately other priorities have limited the amount of time available and I am doing something a bit more low key. To take a positive from a negative I would like to suggest that as with digital preservation more generally, it is better to just do something rather than wait for the perfect solution to come along! I am sometimes aware that I spend a lot of time in my own echo chamber - for example talking on Twitter and through this blog to other folks who also work in digital preservation. Though this is undoubtedly a useful two-way conversation, for International Digital Preservation Day I wanted to target some new audiences. So instead of blogging here (yes I know I am blogging here too) I have blogged on the Borthwick Institute for Archives blog . The audience for the Borthwick blog is a bit differen

Preserving Google Drive: What about Google Sheets?

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There was lots of interest in a blog post earlier this year about preserving Google Docs . Often the issues we grapple with in the field of digital preservation are not what you'd call 'solved problems' and that is what makes them so interesting. I always like to hear how others are approaching these same challenges so it is great to see so many comments on the blog itself and via Twitter. This time I'm turning my focus to the related issue of  Google Sheets . This is the native spreadsheet application for Google Drive. Why? Again, this is an application that is widely used at the University of York in a variety of different contexts, including for academic research data. We need to think about how we might preserve data created in Google Sheets for the longer term. How hard can it be? Quite hard actually - see my earlier post ! Exporting from Google Drive For Google Sheets I followed a similar methodology to Google Docs. Taking a couple of sample spreadsheets and downl

Understanding WordStar - check out the manuals!

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Last month I was pleased to be able to give a presentation at ' After the Digital Revolution ' about some of the work I have been doing on the WordStar 4.0 files in the Marks and Gran digital archive that we hold here at the Borthwick Institute for Archives. This event specifically focused on literary archives. It was some time ago now that I first wrote about these files that were recovered from 5.25 inch floppy (really floppy) disks deposited with us in 2009. My original post described the process of re-discovery, data capture and file format identification - basically the steps that were carried out to get some level of control over the material and put it somewhere safe. I recorded some of my initial observations about the files but offered no conclusions about the reasons for the idiosyncrasies. I’ve since been able to spend a bit more time looking at the files and investigating the creating application (WordStar) so in my presentation at this event I was able to talk at

The first UK AtoM user group meeting

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Yesterday the newly formed UK AtoM user group met for the first time at St John's College Cambridge and I was really pleased that myself and a colleague were able to attend. Bridge of Sighs in Autumn (photo by Sally-Anne Shearn) This group has been established to provide the growing UK AtoM community with a much needed forum for exchanging ideas and sharing experiences of using AtoM. The meeting was attended by about 15 people though we were informed that there are nearly 50 people on the email distribution list. Interest in AtoM is certainly increasing in the UK. As this was our first meeting, those who had made progress with AtoM were encouraged to give a brief presentation covering the following points: Where are you with AtoM (investigating, testing, using)? What do you use it for? (cataloguing, accessions, physical storage locations) What do you like about it/ what works? What don’t you like about it/ what doesn’t work? How do you see AtoM fitting into your wider technical inf

Moving a proof of concept into production? it's harder than you might think...

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Myself and colleagues blogged a lot during the Filling the Digital Preservation Gap Project  but I’m aware that I’ve gone a bit quiet on this topic since… I was going to wait until we had a big success to announce, but follow on work has taken longer than expected. So in the meantime here is an update on where we are and what we are up to. Background Just to re-cap, by the end of phase 3 of Filling the Digital Preservation Gap we had created a working proof of concept at the University of York that demonstrated that it is possible create an automated preservation workflow for research data using PURE, Archivematica, Fedora and Samvera (then called Hydra!). This is described in our phase 3 project report (and a detailed description of the workflow we were trying to implement was included as an appendix in the  phase 2 report ). After the project was over, it was agreed that we should go ahead and move this into production. Progress has been slower than expected. I hadn’t quite apprecia

Harvesting EAD from AtoM: we need your help!

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Back in February I published a blog post about a project to develop AtoM to allow EAD (Encoded Archival Description) to be harvested via OAI-PMH (Open Archives Initiative Protocol for Metadata Harvesting): “ Harvesting EAD from AtoM: a collaborative approach ” Now that AtoM version 2.4 is released (hooray!), containing the functionality we have sponsored, I thought it was high time I updated you on what has been achieved by this project, where more work is needed and how the wider AtoM community can help. What was our aim? Our development work had a few key aims: To enable finding aids from AtoM to be exposed as EAD 2002 XML for others to harvest. The partners who sponsored this project were particularly keen to enable the Archives Hub to harvest their EAD. To change the way that EAD was generated by AtoM in order to make it more scalable. Moving EAD generation from the web browser to the job scheduler was considered to be the best approach here. To make changes to the existing DC (

Benchmarking with the NDSA Levels of Preservation

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Anyone who has heard me talk about digital preservation will know that I am a big fan of the NDSA Levels of Preservation . This is also pretty obvious if you visit me in my office – a print out of the NDSA Levels is pinned to the notice board above my PC monitor! When talking to students and peers about how to get started in digital preservation in a logical, pragmatic and iterative way, I always recommend using the NDSA Levels to get started. Start at level 1 and move forward to the more advanced levels as and when you are able. This is a much more accessible and simple way to start addressing digital preservation than digesting some of the bigger and more complex certification standards and benchmarking tools. Over the last few months I have been doing a lot of documentation work. Both ensuring that our digital archiving procedures are written down somewhere and documenting where we are going in the future. As part of this documentation it seemed like a good idea to use the NDSA Leve