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Conditions for digital preservation

(or how to anticipate turnout at your preservation workshop)



if you WANT to DO IT

You will want to do digital preservation if …

View the conditionals now, see slide 2 in the slideshow below, or read on.

Thus began the introduction to my brief interlude linking two practical sessions in Dave Tarrant’s 90-minute EPrints Preservation workshop at the EPrints User Group meeting, at the Open Repositories 2010 Conference in Madrid. The workshop aimed to connect preservation planning with tools provided for use with EPrints repository software. My role was to say something interesting, preferably on the theme of digital repository preservation and, if we were lucky, to link seamlessly back to the second part of the workshop, to the extent that participants would be refreshed, ready for the next challenges, and will know and understand a little bit more about what is to come and be better prepared for it. In this talk we also considered the role of file formats and the essentials of preservation workflow and preservation planning.

The primary resources for this workshop include, specifically, the File Formats exercise (short version) preceding this presentation, the Action and Provenance exercise following it, and the main Presentation. The workshop was scheduled to last 90 mins, so independent users can expect to gain something from these materials in a similar or less time.

[slideshare id=4770011&doc=or10workshop-sh-final-100716032612-phpapp02]

Notes are provided with these presentation slides and can be found by using the View on Slideshare button (bottom right-hand corner on the slide viewer above, or try here). Slideshare seems not to have reproduced the table in slide 12; the original can be found as Table 2 in this earlier blog entry.

@jisckeepit For the few at #or10 not at the EPrints preservation workshop (cough), a quick summary follows in three tweets
10:57 AM Jul 9th

Preservation institutions have identified a workflow for managing file formats and built tools, but no joinup and common interface
10:58 AM Jul 9th

So build preservation tools such as DROID, Plato, etc, into EPrints and access through common repository interface
10:58 AM Jul 9th

The clever part, which our workshop participants now know, is the button for importing a preservation plan from Plato to EPrints
10:59 AM Jul 9th

More on digital preservation conditionals

Originally I had not included ‘so’ in my opening statement. Instead it read: DIGITAL PRESERVATION is NOT DIFFICULT. When I arrived at OR10 the first item I fished out of my delegate pack was a colourful cardboard flyer for DuraSpace, and on the front it clearly said: “Preserving the world’s intellectual, cultural and scientific heritage isn’t easy”. I had to admit they have a point, and I was merely sloganising as a the simplest means of reassurance. So I modified my claim, but the key part really is in the qualifiers.

We have to understand why digital content managers and repository managers are concerned about digital preservation, yet why this translates so little into practice outside specialist preservation institutions. (And to understand the turnout at events like this: @jisckeepit Maybe ‘last day-preservation’ not a perfect fit. So thanks to those who turned up. We hope you found preservation works with EPrints #or10 10:06 AM Jul 9th.) To gauge at what point digital content and repository managers might expect a natural transition from interest/concern to practice, we produced this rough rule-of-thumb metric. If one or more of these criteria apply, then the application of digital preservation is likely to become magically less onerous and more beneficial for your content. So here are the conditionals:



if you WANT to DO IT

You will want to do digital preservation if you have

  1. a lot of digital content
  2. collected over years
  3. a specified responsibility and resources for that content
  4. an understanding of how that content is used now
  5. how it will be needed in future,
  6. how the type of content you collect may change going forward

Can you add more?

Among our KeepIt exemplar repositories, I would say at least three can apply point 1, while perhaps only one might say that point 2 applies, so far. Due to their status as ‘institutional’ repositories, all four exemplars would have understood point 3 but as a result of participating in the project are likely to understand better the connection with preservation, and we hope that all four are making progress on points 4-6 as a result of the KeepIt course. So the conditions apply broadly, to include different types of repository at different stages of development. They do not exclude any repository, and can act as a rough indicator of when preservation should become a higher priority that ought to be properly resourced.

If one or more of these six points describes your repository, you are ready to act now. There are tools available to help. Real tools for real content. Now those tools can be applied directly to your repository – for preservation planning and workflow, and for storage – all accessed and controlled through your repository interface.

Whether your content includes text documents, images, sound, vision, science data, or is used for teaching or research in science, arts or any other field, there are strategies to help you.

If that doesn’t describe your repository now, focus on how you plan to get there. Getting to digital preservation will be your success story.

For some repositories there are preservation tools built into your workflow. For others there are just tools. You can work it out.

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  1. David Tarrant says

    The EPrints Preservation workshop was incredibly well received by all those who attended and everyone completed all the exercises in the given time of 1.5 hours, much to Steve’s amazement.

    It is clear from the feedback that I need to give the repository managers an interface for moving files between risk categories without the need for a complex registry. Based upon the fact that a registry alone CANNOT give a complete indication of risk (due to local institutional factors, e.g. They may maintain the of piece of reader software, so that’s ok) why should the registry be in complete control, it should just advise generally.

    Also I still need to do the work to tie the migrated files to the originals in the formats/risks view.

    Overall though this workshop went very well and is proving a good hands on demonstrator for EPrints. With the above changes made it is time to hand it out of research and into Services to present. This will leave an opening ready to fit the next set of possible new workshops.

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