Tagged: international digital preservation day

A wide-ranging overview of how the shift to digital is changing the landscape of archives

Layout 1Facet Publishing announce the publication of Digital Archives:Management, use and access edited by Milena Dobreva.

Today, accessibility to digital content is continuing to expand rapidly and all organizations which collect, preserve and provide access to the collective memory of humankind are expected to provide digital services. Does this transition into digital space require a substantial shift in the professional philosophy, knowledge and practice of archives?

This edited collection attempts to explore these uncharted territories by bringing together inspirational and informative chapters from international experts to help readers understand the drivers for change and their implications for archives. Editor Milena Dobreva said,

“I hope the book will broaden and deepen the thinking and dialogue between all those academics, professionals and students who are working on different aspects of the digital cultural and scientific heritage”.

Reassessment of the role of archives in the digital environment serves to develop critical approaches to current trends in the broader heritage sector, including cultural industries experimenting with sustainable business models for cultural production, digitization of analogue cultural heritage, and the related IPR issues surrounding the re-use of digital objects and data for research, education, advocacy and art.

Professor Kalpana Shankar said,

“Archives and access continue to matter, perhaps more than ever. As digital material proliferates and the tools to manipulate it do so as well, what is real and what is false online become difficult to disambiguate. Human rights, scientific research and ‘wicked’ geopolitical problems (and solving them) rests on accurate and universal access to records and data, whether one is talking about the international crises of forced migration and refugees, human rights, political corruption or climate change. The work of this book is in helping us, the reader, understand how archives and archivists navigate the entanglement of technical, social, organizational and legal challenges they face daily”.

Dr. Milena Dobreva is an Associate Professor at UCL Qatar where she is coordinating the MA in Library and Information Studies leading the introduction of four pathways in the programme including a specialisation on Archives, Records and Data Management. Previously she served as a Head of the Department of Library Information and Archive Sciences at the University of Malta spearheading the redesign and expansion of the departmental portfolio, and as the Founding Head of the first Digitisation Centre in Bulgaria where she was also a member on the Executive Board of the National Commission of UNESCO. Milena is a member of the editorial board of the IFLA Journal, and of the International Journal on Digital Libraries (IJDL) and is the co-editor of User Studies for Digital Library Development (Facet, 2012).

Contributors
Carla Basili, Italian National Research Council and Sapienza University; Pierluigi Feliciati, University of Macerata; Edel Jennings, Waterford Institute of Technology; Enrico Natale, University of Basel; Gillian Oliver, Monash University; Elli Papadopoulou,  European Open Science Cloud pilot project; Oleksandr Pastukhov, University of Malta; Guy Pessach, Hebrew University, Jerusalem; Trudy Huskamp Peterson, archival consultant and certified archivist; Panayiota Polydoratou, Alexander Technological Educational Institute (ATEI) of Thessaloniki; Kalpana Shankar, University College Dublin; Sotirios Sismanis, information professional; Donald Tabone, Middlesex University, Malta.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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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