What do we understand by ‘preserving data’? I recently went to a workshop / conference led by the Preservation and archiving special interest group, or PASIG for short (https://pasigoxford.org/) in mid-September 2017. It was the first time I had entered an area which seems to be the domain of librarians and archivist. I was slightly overawed at being the only IT based person at the conference.
The first day was a boot-camp ( for newbies like myself ) where they introduced digital preservation, what a business needs to do to start this process off and how to keep it going. There were many who stated that it took ages for them to get senior management buy-in but when they eventually did, it was difficult to keep getting it funded. The main issue was to get senior management to understand that
“the scientific record and documentary heritage created in digital form will remain at risk from digital obsolescence and also from the fragilities inherent to digital media”
Digital preservation is not for us but for future generations, therefore the time and money resources we put into this is to keep alive our digital heritage.
Throughout the day, there were interesting talks on how others implemented it and one of the panels was on “What I wish I knew before I started…”, this was funny and hilarious, which is exactly what I needed after lunch. William Kilbride, gave a very interesting talk on sustainability (https://figshare.com/articles/Sustainable_digital_futures/5414986), where he spells out the need for digital preservation and the triple bottom lineTBL). TBL is an accounting framework where we look toward social and environmental factors rather than just financial.
The conference started the next day with a range of talks from international speakers and different sectors. The following were the most moving and informative of why digital preservation is key:
- “Keep your eyes on the information” Patricia Sleeman, UNHCR https://figshare.com/articles/Keep_your_eyes_on_the_information/5436271
- “Digital preservation at the United Nations Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals” Angeline Takawira, UN MICT
- “Creating and sustaining a disruptive digital archive” John Sheridan, The National Archives https://figshare.com/articles/Creating_and_sustaining_a_disruptive_digital_archive/5415007
The three days were an amazing insight into digital preservation, my fear of no IT people being there were unfounded. However, IT people were present but were not affiliated to central services but to the Library. Library systems are a speciality service and require dedicated Library IT teams. I found that disconcerting as something as important as this shouldn’t be sidelined but should be a core service. Funding is always a question, with the limited funding we get, do we spend it on a digital preservation solution for future generations, or build better facilities and attract more lecturers. It’s something we need to understand and push up the chain of command.
If you’d like to discuss this or any points ( my personal ones ) then please don’t hesitate in contacting me.
Information on the conference can be found here : https://pasigoxford.org/
Slides can be found here : https://pasigoxford.figshare.com/