Today saw the inaugural meeting at ULCC of what we hope will become an ongoing series, intended to complement the successful EPrints UK User Group meeting.

The pow-wow will bring together developers from universities around the UK to learn about the next generation of features and functionality offered by the EPrints repository platform.

The event gives developers a chance to look “under the hood” of EPrints and better understand how to effectively implement and deploy new features at their own institutions. Developers discussed how they can actively contribute to the platform by feeding back changes and enhancements to the EPrints github repository.

 

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Team Linter

Team Linter receiving their prizes. Photo to RepoFringe used under CC

Rory McNicholl, Tim Miles-Board and  Steph Taylor attended the Repository Fringe conference in Edinburgh, 30-31 July. Steph gave a presentation on how to turn a repository into a digital archive. The talk used the ART team’s knowledge of both repositories and digital presentation to give UK repository manages some useful guidelines and tips on how they could start to engage with digital preservation. Tim, already an established member of the UK repository community, made the most of the excellent networking opportunities to bring back many interesting leads and contacts for the team.

Rory, meanwhile, was busy not only networking but also creating the winning entry  in the Developer Challenge that ran for the two days of the conference.  With a brief ‘to do something cool with repositories within the Open Access realm or even better, something aiding Open Access compliance’, the race was on among participating teams.

Rory worked with  two other delegates, Paul Mucur of Altmetric & Richard Wincewicz of EDINA,  as part of ‘Team Linter’ to build a tool to not only check the completeness of repository records but to then fill in those gaps. The tool first identified any missing metadata within a record and then used  existing services such as SHERPA, and CROSS-REF to suggest information to fill those gaps. It was a great time-saving tool, and allowed for a knowing human eye to check the suggestions as they were made. The information was added in a cascade style, with each new piece of information being then used to search for more in-depth information. The record became more and more detailed and accurate as it progressed through the search, gathering information in. The demo showed how a very detailed record could be created from a journal article title alone. The code can be found on GitHub.

The team had espite tough competition from team ‘Are We There Yettt?’ and their  tool to alert repository managers when a paper that is deposited before publication is actually published. But the repository managers loved Team Linter just a little bit more, and showed their appreciation by giving them the loudest applause and cheers.  It was great to see one of our developers get such public recognition for their skills and knowledge, and a great way to end a very productive conference.

Moomins Blogpost

Photo by Todd.vision used under CC

In June, Richard Davis and Steph Taylor attended the Open Repositories conference in Helsinki. Between them, they gave three presentations on various aspects of the work of the ART team. Richard and Steph wrote a joint presentation on the evolution of the repository landscape, using the many bespoke developments carried out by the ART team’s EPrints developers. Repositories showcased in the presentation included the Linnean Society Herbarium, the Atlantic Archive repository and the SAS Open Journals.

Richard also spoke about the ULCC partnership with Arkivum, and how the ART team developers are linking up Arkivum and EPrints to create a repository that is also a digital archive.

And finally, carrying on in the digital preservation theme, Steph gave a short ‘repository rant’ presentation in which she was able to point out (in a rather firm way!),  why a repository is not a digital archive. The conference provided a great opportunity to network with repository people from around the world, to learn about their work and to share what we are doing at ULCC.

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On 21-22 July, we launched our new course, ‘An Introduction to Digital Preservation’. This course is part of our ongoing development of the DPTP (Digital Preservation Training Programme). Aimed at the complete beginner to digital preservation, the course focusses on the basics,  setting  firm foundations for participants to begin to develop digital preservation skills and strategies that suit their own organisations.

The launch was very successful, with participants coming from HEIs, archives, financial and commercial companies, national memory institutions and funding bodies. It’s always nerve-racking to do run a new course for the first time. Months of hard work lie behind each course, as we research, write, edit and endlessly test the content to make sure it’s doing the job we need it to do, to help people learn. So it was wonderful to have such a great group of people to teach on our first ‘Intro’ course. Everyone was engaged, enthusiastic, interested and interesting, and most importantly, keen to take part in whatever we threw at them! We couldn’t have wished for a better experience, and the two days of the course flew by. Our own experience was, from the fedback forms, clearly shared by the participants.

As you might expect, we are very keen to teach this course again! We have already had many people wanting to come on the next ‘Intro’ course, and we plan to run this again in September and November. We hope to be confirming dates in the next few weeks. If you’re interested in the dates for the next courses, details of how to email in to receive updates and advanced notice are available on our home page.

 

NewDPTP_BlogImage from Hartlepool Museum on Flickr

 

We are pleased to announce that the Digital Preservation Training Programme (DPTP) has been updated, and from July 2014, we will be offering two courses. The first course, “An Introduction to Digital Preservation”, is aimed at people who are new to this field. It is a two-day course and will be taking place 21st-22nd July in London. The course outline is now available, and booking is open.

The second course explores digital preservation in more depth, and is aimed at people who have some practical experience of digital preservation, but want to increase their knowledge. It is a three day course and we will be launching it in Autumn 2014. We’ll be announcing the dates via this blog and email lists, and you can also register interest via email and we will contact you once details are confirmed.

We’ve been working on the new courses for quite some time, to ensure that they meet the quality of previous award-winning courses. We decided to create the new courses in response to feedback on our existing course and also to better meet the needs of the digital preservation community. We have been observing some changes in that community. Digital preservation is becoming a much wider requirement for many sectors and in many more roles than those of archives and records management.

As a result of this, we have seen a widening of participation on DPTP. This started with a growing interest from those based in the ‘core’ professions, but working in more diverse sectors such as finance, business, commercial research and more. It was quickly followed with the ‘day jobs’ of our delegates branching out past the ‘core’ professions, and into such areas as research data managers, repository managers and other roles that, a few years ago, might not have shown much interest in digital preservation.

As people who do our best as advocates for digital preservation, raising awareness of the importance it plays in most areas of modern life, we were delighted. We decided to create the two new courses to support both the beginner and the practitioner with more experience. This is an opportunity to give a better introduction and overview to newcomers in one course, using the second course to go into more depth and detail for students who already understand the basics.

We’ve also brought new thinking into the design of the course. We are working towards conformance with the skills and competency levels defined by the DigCurV Curriculum Framework. There will be a blog post about DigCurV soon, explaining how we worked with the framework in more detail, as we’ve found it to be a really useful tool for identifying gaps and planning new courses, but mainly for building training content that meets the needs of the profession.

We have worked closely with the Digital Preservation Coalition (DPC) as we developed the new courses. “An Introduction to Digital Preservation” complements the regular DPC event “Getting Started in Digital Preservation”, and has been devised in full co-operation with them. DPC are also offering scholarship places on the July course.

It’s exciting to be building new courses and, we hope, to develop what we offer to continue to support the needs of the digital preservation community as they evolve and grow.

Watching Melissa Terras’s inaugural lecture on a Decade of Digital Humanities at UCL this evening made me think about the first time I engaged academic endeavours in the field. Courtesy of the Web Archive, here is a report I wrote after attending my first tip academic (or para-academic) conference, Digital Resources in the Humanities, at Glasgow University, September 1998. It was originally published online in the National Digital Archive of Datasets (NDAD) Newsletter No. 4, November 1998.

On September 9th I travelled with Ruth Vyse, the University Archivist, and John Ralph, ULCC’s Computing Services manager, to Glasgow to attend DRH98, the third annual conference on Digital Resources in the Humanities. The conference was hosted by the Humanities Advanced Technology and Information Institute at Glasgow University, and ran from Thursday 10th to Saturday 12th September. The conference focused on the use of digital technology to preserve our cultural heritage, and as such featured a wide variety of presentations about work going on in, and on behalf of, schools and colleges, museums and libraries, publishers and research organisations, mainly in the fields of the Arts and Social Sciences.

We were particularly interested to learn about developments in cataloguing data collections and providing access to computerized catalogues, and to hear what approaches and standards were being used in other large data storage systems.

A number of presentations were given by the Arts and Humanities Data Service (AHDS), including a reception to launch their new web site on the Thursday evening. Of particular interest were the presentation of the recent AHDS report, Creating and Preserving Digital Collections, and presentations on the work of the History Data Service and the UK Data Archive at Essex University.

Also of interest was a TV film, Into the Future: On the Presentation of Knowledge in the Electronic Age, made for the US Public Broadcasting Service by Terry Saunders. It succinctly presented many important issues surrounding the preservation of digital data (but, perhaps invevitably, it was less forthcoming with answers to the problems). In one example, the film showed how the condition of magnetic tapes containing data from NASA’s Viking Mars Lander missions of the 70s and 80s had deteriorated to the point where many were unreadable. In the following discussion, Neal Beagrie from AHDS emphasised that the fragility of computer media, and the speed of technological change made early intervention essential for the preservation of digital records. Our work with the PRO and government departments has made the NDAD project team all too well aware of this issue.

It was encouraging to note that a number of well-supported standards and effective techniques are emerging for digital archives: in some cases this means that multiple catalogues on diverse systems can be searched with a single query. Most presentations concerned systems that were accessible, completely or in part, via the World Wide Web, indicating that the Web has quickly become a preferred medium of access to such resources. An ever growing array of digital resources, including databases, text, images, audio and video, is readily accessible by users at every level, from school-children to statisticians: the challenge for designers of such systems is to provide access tools and methods appropriate to their target audience.

Although NDAD did not make a presentation at DRH98, reference was made to other work that NDAD staff have been directly involved in, including Project Earl (networking UK public libraries) and the British Library’s Electronic Beowulf, which Charles Henry of Rice University spoke warmly of in his capstone lecture The Fire In Grendel’s Eye. We hope to make a presentation on aspects of the NDAD system at next year’s conference, DRH99, which will be hosted by King’s College London.

The conference organisation was superb, and delegates were impressed with the facilities of the Gilmorehill Centre and the ancient University of Glasgow. The Welcome Reception took place in the University’s Hunterian Museum, amongst impressive relics of Scotland’s past, including Roman milestones and the death mask of Bonnie Prince Charlie. On the final night, a civic reception by the Lord Provost of Glasgow was followed by a meal of traditional Scottish fare (Scotch broth, haggis and salmon) and ceilidh, all in the magnificent surroundings of the city’s Kelvingrove Museum . In our few spare moments we also took the opportunity to visit the Hunterian Art Gallery, with its reconstruction of Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s house and large collection of Whistler paintings, and enjoyed the chance to travel on the “clockwork orange”, Glasgow’s underground railway. In all aspects of the Conference, the Glasgow organising committee set a very high standard: King’s College unbdoubtedly has a hard act to follow.