Tagged: Digital Preservation

Digitization in the context of collection management

Here is another free chapter from one of our books for International Digital Preservation Day.  This one is about digitization in the context of collection management and is taken from Anna E Bulow and Jess Ahmon’s book, Preparing Collection for Digitization.


Read the free chapter, Digitization in the context of collection management, here

Find out more about the book, Preparing Collections for Digitization, here


Digital preservation strategies for visualizations and simulations

To mark International Digital Preservation Day we have made a new chapter from Preserving Complex Digital Objects freely available to download and view.

The chapter, ‘Digital preservation strategies for visualizations and simulations‘ is by Janet Anderson (formerly Delve), Professor of Digital Humanities, University of Brighton, Hugh Denard, Lecturer in Digital Humanities, King’s College London and William Kilbride, Executive Director, The Digital Preservation Coalition.


The main theme that emerges from the chapter is an acknowledgement that emulation has now come of age as a suitable digital preservation strategy to take preserving complex digital objects.

Read the chapter here

Find out more about the book Preserving Complex Digital Objects here


Extract from Practical Digital Preservation

This is an extract from Adrian Brown DPC Preservation Award-Winning book Practical Digital Preservation. A link to a PDF of the full chapter can be found at the end of this post.

amber fossil

Image source: Flickr cc pic by Walraven

Picture a scene: in a county record office somewhere in England, a young archivist is looking through the morning post. Among the usual enquiry letters and payments for copies of documents is a mysterious padded envelope. Opening it reveals five floppy disks of various sizes, accompanied by a brief covering letter from the office manager of a long-established local business, explaining that the contents had been discovered during a recent office refurbishment; since the record office has previously acquired the historic paper records of the company, perhaps these would also be of interest? The disks themselves bear only terse labels, such as ‘Minutes, 1988-90’ or ‘customers.dbf’. Some, the archivist recognizes as being 3.5” disks, while the larger ones seem vaguely familiar from a digital preservation seminar she attended during her training. On one point she is certain: the office PCs are not capable of reading any of them. How can she discover what is actually on the disks, and whether they contain important business records or junk? And even if they do prove of archival interest, what should the record office actually do with them?

Meanwhile, a university librarian in the mid-west USA attends a faculty meeting to discuss the burgeoning institutional repository. Introduced a few years ago to store PDF copies of academic preprints and postprints, there is increasing demand from staff to store other kinds of content in a much wider range of formats, from original research data, to student dissertations and theses, teaching materials and course notes, and to make that content available for reuse by others in novel ways. How, the librarian ponders, does the repository need to be adapted to meet these new requirements, and what must the library do to ensure the long-term preservation of such a diverse digital collection?

Finally, in East Africa, a national archivist has just finished reading a report from a consultant commissioned to advise on requirements for preserving electronic records. The latest in a series of projects to develop records management within government, he knows that this work is crucial to promoting transparency, empowering citizens by providing them with access to reliable information, reducing corruption and improving governance through the use of new technologies. The national archives has achieved much in recent years, putting in place strong records management processes and guidance. But how to develop the digital preservation systems necessary to achieve the report’s ambitious recommendations, with limited budgets and staff skills, and an unreliable IT infrastructure?

Practical Digital Preservation is intended to help these people, and the countless other information managers and curators around the world who are wrestling with the challenges of preserving digital data, to answer these questions. If the book had been written only a few years ago, it would first have to explain the need for digital preservation at length, illustrated no doubt with celebrated examples of data loss such as the BBC Domesday disks, or NASA’s Viking probe.

Today, most information management professionals are all too aware of the fact that, without active intervention, digital information is subject to rapid and catastrophic loss – the warnings of an impending ‘Digital Dark Ages’ have served their purpose. Hopefully, they are equally alive to the enormous benefits of digital preservation, in unlocking the current and long-term value of that information. Instead, their principal concern now is how to respond in a practical way to these challenges. There is a sense that awareness of the solutions has not kept pace with appreciation of the potential and the problems.

Such solutions as are widely known are generally seen as being the preserve of major institutions – the national libraries and archives – with multi-million pound budgets and large numbers of staff at their disposal. Even if reality often doesn’t match this perception – many national memory institutions are tackling digital preservation on a comparative shoestring – there is no doubt that such organizations have been at the vanguard of developments in the field.

The challenges can sometimes appear overpowering. The extraordinary growth in the creation of digital information is often described using rather frightening or negative analogies, such as the ‘digital deluge’ or ‘data tsunami’. These certainly reflect the common anxieties that information curators and consumers have about their abilities to manage these gargantuan volumes of data, and to find and understand the information they need within. These concerns are compounded by a similarly overwhelming wave of information generated by the digital preservation community: no one with any exposure to the field can have escaped a certain sense of despair at ever keeping up to date with the constant stream of reports, conferences, blogs, wikis, projects and tweets.


Practical Digital Preservation demonstrates that, in reality, it is not only possible but eminently realistic for organizations of all sizes to put digital preservation into practice, even with very limited resources and existing knowledge. The book demonstrates this through a combination of practical guidance, and case studies which reinforce that guidance, illustrating how it has already been successfully applied in the real world.

Find out more

This is an extract from the first chapter of Practical Digital Preservation.  You can read the full chapter here, for free.

Find out more information, browse the table of contents and purchase the book here.

About the author

Adrian Brown is the Director of the Parliamentary Archives and has lectured and published widely on all aspects of digital preservation. He was previously Head of Digital Preservation at the National Archives where his team won the International Digital Preservation Award in 2007.

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Management of cultural heritage information: policies and practices


Image source: ‘Printing the pase: 3-D archaeology and the first Americans’ by Flickr user Bureau of Land Managment Oregon and Washington https://www.flickr.com/photos/blmoregon/

As the iConference 2017 continues this week, we’ve made a new chapter, written by one of the conference chairs Gobinda Chowdhury, freely available to view and download from the Facet Publishing website.

The chapter, Management of cultural heritage information: policies and practices, is taken from the 2015 book Cultural Heritage Information, edited by Gobinda and Ian Ruthven. The chapter includes discussion of:

  • some of the policies and guidelines for digitization that form the foundation of digital libraries of cultural heritage information
  • the social, legal and policy issues involved with managing digital cultural heritage and their implications
  • the provenance and digital rights management issues associated with cultural heritage information.

You can view or download the free chapter here.

Cultural Heritage Information is the first book in the iResearch series. Edited by Gobinda Chowdhury, iResearch is a peer-reviewed monograph series supports the vision of the iSchools and creates authorative sources of information for research and scholarly activities in information studies. Each book in the series addresses a specific aspect or 9781856049306emerging topic of information studies and provides a state-of-the-art review of research in the chosen field and addresses the issues, challenges and progress of research and practice.

Find out more about the book Cultural Heritage Information.

Find our more about the iResearch series.

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Five ways to love your data

Guest post by Gillian Oliver, co-author of Digital Curation, 2nd edition

As with any love story with a happy ending, a successful relationship with data will take effort and commitment.  Here are five practical ways to ensure the course of true love runs smoothly:

1. Data by design


Image source: DATA by flickr user Janet McKnight

Unlike human relationships you can specify your ideal characteristics and so make sure you’re working from the best possible starting point. It’s never too early to begin design, project planning should incorporate awareness of data requirements from the perspectives of the stakeholders involved. If you need convincing, remember that up-front awareness and being proactive will greatly assist in reducing the overall costs involved in data curation. The types of features to think about are likely to include choices relating to open or proprietary file formats, metadata schema and workflows, naming conventions and storage requirements.

2. Learn from others

Learn from others. Don’t try to go it alone – there’s a wealth of experience out there and much of it is freely accessible to make use of.  Here are just two examples of websites which can be mined for practical advice:  The Digital Preservation Coalition contains many useful reports, especially the Technology Watch series.  The Digital Curation Centre has an astonishing wealth of content, ranging from basic explanations of core definitions to very practical tools and guidance.

3. Don’t try to reinvent the wheel

This is further emphasising the point above, which can’t be repeated often enough.  There are many standards available, such as the Open Archival Information System standard which provides ahigh level conceptual model for digital archives, or the Dublin Core schema for descriptive metadata. These standards have been developed by international and cross-disciplinary communities, and are subject to ongoing review.


Image source: data (scrabble) by Flickr user justgrimes

4. Don’t be a loner, get out and socialise

There are plenty of opportunities to collaborate and work together with people grappling with the same problems which can only enrich your relationship with your data. Sharing your knowledge will help continue to build and grow the worldwide community of practice. Socialising can be face to face, if you’re fortunate enough to be able to take advantages of the many conferences, workshops and events that take place around the world, or online. The Open Preservation Foundation provides a central hub for tools, advice and knowledge exchange – particularly useful are the blogs which provide insight into current activities, both successes and failures.

5. Never give up

Good relationships can be established at a much later stage, unappreciated and unloved data need not be rejected if there are signs that there is potential for a fulfilling and positive future. But you will need specialist advice if you need to go down this track.  BitCurator provides a gateway to digital forensics tools and methods in the cultural heritage context. Brown Dog is a project that seeks to bring the long tail of data into the light – the focus of their efforts is past and present uncurated data.

So, what are you waiting for?  Love your data, starting today!

Gillian Oliver is Associate Professor at Monash University and the co-author of Digital Curation, 2nd edition (Facet 2016) and Records Management and Information Culture (Facet 2014), the co-editor of Engaging with Records and Archives (Facet 2016) and a Co-editor in Chief of the journal Archival Science.

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The lifecycle of data management

As Love Your Data Week continues, today we have made a new chapter from Managing Research Data available Open Access. The chapter, The lifecycle of data management by Sarah Higgins, is available to download here.

We will be releasing more Open Access chapters 9781856047562throughout the week and publishing blogposts from our authors. For a chance to win one of our research data management books, share a tweet about why you (or your institution) are participating in Love Your Data Week 2017 using #WhyILYD17. More details about the prize draw are available here.

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