The value of our digital preservation projects to the wider community

The library’s two ongoing projects looking at digital preservation are just two  of nine that are feeding into a larger JISC funded project – Sustainable PReservation Using Community Engagement (SPRUCE). Launched at the beginning of the year and running for two years the project aims to build an enthusiastic community of digital preservation practitioners who will meet online and face to face to address the specific issues that we are all facing with the ultimate objective of building a business case for digital preservation activity.

Over the last two days all those running and working on projects that have been funded by this strand of JISC money got together to share our experiences of our projects so far and to discuss the future work of the SPRUCE project. Although I’d read about the other projects taking place (there is more information on all the projects here) I’d been so focused on all our own objectives that I hadn’t really been following them. But just listening to short 5 minute presentations on each showed me how so many of the projects feed into each other and/or are relevant to other areas of our work. For instance just over the road at the University of London and ULCC Kit Good (UoL Records Manager and FOI Officer) and Ed Pinsent (ULCC Digital Archivist) are testing a number of toolkits that are available to create preservation copies of core business records that require permanent preservation.   This is definitely relevant for our Digital Directorate project and you can follow Ed and Kit’s progress here.

Ed’s colleague Patricia Sleeman is looking at another important area for HE organisations with the Institute of Historical Research – the preservation of digital research data. Specifically they are assessing the training needs of staff at the IHR and designing training programmes based on their findings. Again they have their own project blog and although it’s quite quiet at the moment, their project runs for nine months so will progress over the next few months.

The meeting was a great opportunity to meet people from all areas of digital preservation work, to learn from them, and to discuss those issues that we are all facing. One thing that came up in discussion was that although a lot of work has already been done on digital preservation and there is now a wealth of information out there, ensuring the findings of this work are disseminated to the wider community and sustaining this work is still a challenge. I thought the wiki developed by the AQuA project on quality assurance for digital collections is a great example of the potential for building the infrastructure that the community needs. The fact that SPRUCE will be building on the results of this project is therefore promising. In the meantime I’ve already subscribed to the blogs of the other projects under this strand of funding to get a better idea of how their work is progressing.

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