Tuesday, 7 February 2017

What I Wish I Knew Before I Started...

Senate House Library, the venue for the day
Last month we attended What I Wish I Knew Before I Started: The DPC Student Conference in London. This event is held annually by the Digital Preservation Coalition to give archive students and new professionals advice about working in digital preservation, the art of storing computer files to the same quality as we would with paper documents in an archive. 

Digital preservation is a fairly new area of archival studies but an increasingly vital one, as more and more “born digital” content starts to be collected by archives around the world.

The day consisted of two sessions of talks by sector experts. The first session was advice on getting started with digital preservation projects from the perspective of the information managers and technologists responsible for delivering the schemes. The talks covered various subjects, such as how to set up preservation projects, the best places to look for advice, beginners courses and how to keep up to date with the latest developments in the field.

Technologists perspective - Matthew Addis
Matthew Addis - Arkivum told us about the importance to keep the content active and how essential is to managing data overtime and even more how software preservation can preserve an original experience.

The second session was given by practising digital archivists who discussed what their day-to-day job entails, what kinds of challenges they face on a regular basis and what are the most important lessons they could give to anyone starting out in the field.

Open data was another discussion topic touched by Adrian Brown, Director of the Parliamentary Archives. In his presentation, he spoke about the importance of having a simple metadata and filing system and how significant is preserving the accessibility of useful information in a record office, which holds several million historical records relating to Parliament.

But every archive or museum is different, Glenn Cumiskey - The British Museum left a question for the audience: What does digital mean in the context of your organisation? There is a unique meaning for every organisation. He also recommend us few titles to take a look: Practical Digital Preservation by Adrian Brown, Personal Digital Archiving by Gabriela Redwine.

The DCC Lifecycle model - this was
recommended by one of the speakers
The last speaker of the afternoon was Dave Thompson - Digital Curator of the Wellcome Collection. He emphasised that preservation is about access and how understanding our users and can help us to preserve our archives and libraries.

The final session was a roundtable session with all the speakers answering questions from the audience. One important subject that was discussed here was the state of digital preservation in ten years’ time. Many of the experts felt that as more and more digital content begins to move into archives then the idea of digital preservation will become embedded into the concept of curation and records management.

At end of the conference we got the idea that the digital preservation community is open to help people working on similar projects. So, don’t be afraid to ask around for advice, because there’s probably someone out there who’s had exactly the same problem as you have!

Francisco Castanon and Tom Dealey, Transforming Archives trainees

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