KeepIt course module 1, Southampton, 19 January 2010
Tools this module: DAF, AIDA
Tags Find out more about: this module KeepIt course 1, the full KeepIt course
Presentation referred to in this blog entry The AIDA toolkit: Assessing Institutional Digital Assets (Slideshare)
Presentations and tutorial exercises course 1 (source files)
Steve Hitchcock has organised a series of modules on Digital preservation tools for repository managers, and I was invited from ULCC to present something on Assessing Institutional Digital Assets (AIDA) at the very first module, on 19th January. It was very good to meet with such a warm reception from the intelligent and lively audience, many of whom were repository managers themselves, or involved with building and developing repositories. It was clear from the start they were all very engaged with the work, and understood the issues well.
I thought it would be interesting to set them an exercise that explored two data-management activities within the AIDA toolkit, namely ‘Metadata Management’ and ‘Access and Sharing’. The AIDA self-assessment toolkit is intended simply to offer a snapshot of an Institution’s readiness to carry out management of its digital assets, assessing that capability across three ‘legs’ – Organisation, Technology and Resources – while applying the assessment at the level of the entire Institution, and of a single repository. AIDA’s proposition is simple – the assessment will almost always result in a wobbly three-legged stool, quite often showing that the technology leg is the most advanced of the three. Steve pointed out that a result like this need not surprise us, and this is especially true given the advances being made with a tool such as eprints.
Concentrating on two activities from the larger and more complex AIDA framework was instructional – for me as well, as the manager who must put work into the toolkit to improve it. Two ambiguities in the metadata strand were exposed by the keen minds of the Southampton audience; did AIDA refer to discovery metadata, technological metadata, or preservation metadata? More importantly, the written exemplars in AIDA seem to be making an assumption that automation of metadata is a commonly-desired goal, and that the results of automation are always good. But some repository owners were proud of the quality of their “hand-crafted” metadata.
However, in the closing minutes of the day, one team fed back to me on their discussions on the Access and Sharing strand. Their AIDA-based deliberations showed to them quite clearly that their test repository scored highly in the organisational leg (managed shared storage, centralised management, and agreements about cross-department sharing) and the technological leg (technological capacity and an appropriate infrastructure to support those policies, and how well the strategies are aligned), but there was an imbalance in the resources leg, and resources allocated to technological development were not quite at the correct level to match the strategies and policies. This isn’t simply a matter of lacking the money and staff (who doesn’t!?), but a simple graphic demonstration of where the stool is wobbliest, through findings which can be backed up through the provision of documented evidence, and one which might enable the repository to take steps to achieve stability on all three legs. Many heads in the room nodded instantly as they recognised themselves, and one comment was “I think we could say a lot of repositories fit that model”. A result like that is pure gold to me as the AIDA owner.