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.

 

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Image from British Library Flickr and in public domain/CC

On Monday 12th May, I attended the Preserving Ebooks event, run by the Digital Preservation Coalition (DPC). The event was based around the launch of the new Tech Watch report on ebook preservation. Richard was one of the presenters, and his talk on the emerging uses of  ebooks in Higher Education and it’s available in the ULCC Publications Archive.

The event was interesting and, certainly for me, very thought provoking. I’ve recently been wrestling with the problem of what an e-book is, in terms of where do we draw the line for preservation purposes? At their simplest, e-books can be static digital copies of hard-copy books – no links, no interaction from the user, in short, nothing fancy. Maybe not that exciting, but from a digital preservation perspective they present a nice, complete object, which everyone can easily recognise as self-contained. The main problem with e-books now is exactly what we would define as an e-book (many, many things in different formats) and how inter-linked such digital objects can be with other digital objects (or, I guess, other parts of themselves).

Although none of the speakers I heard offered a magical solution, it was heartening to see that other people were working on the problem. The talks and the discussions had a real buzz about them, a sense of the community being able to tackle these issues and find a way to deal with them. I think the mix of publishers, digital preservation specialists, librarians, researchers – in fact, about anyone who has an stake in e-books –  made for a good event.

I’ve captured the conversation on the day through the various tweets that happened around the event using Storify, as a record for myself, and  also to give an overview of the discussions to anyone else who is interested in this area.

 

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I’ve been using social media for work since around 2006, so am practically a wise old woman of Twitter in Internet years. As with anything online, though, everything changes so quickly and so frequently that the experience of years doesn’t really mean much. So I was pleased to have the chance to attend a social media workshop for ULCC staff, run by Pauline Randall of Florizel Media.
The workshop was designed to get us thinking about not only how could use social media for work as individuals, but also about how we could collectively use social media within ULCC. To start us off, Pauline ran an interesting session looking at how we all used (or didn’t use!) social media already, both in work and outside of work for hobbies and interests. Some people were clearly experienced and successful bloggers in their hobbies, for example, but didn’t blog at all for work. Some people were quite hostile to using social media in work, with the main complaints being that managing another set of communications channels would be yet another task that would take them away from their core tasks, or that social media was intrusive and they wanted to keep a clear divide between their personal and professional lives. Some also feared that their work was too boring or would be incomprehensible to anyone outside their immediate team.
We had an interesting discussion about social media loves and hates, and I did. of course, share my personal hatred of all things Facebook with the group. Happily, I was not alone! We discussed positive benefits of social media in the different jobs within the group, and although Pauline didn’t push or bully, or over-promote the benefits. I really appreciated her approach, which was to gently prod the interest of people who didn’t use social media for work and catch their interest. By the end of the session we all had something that we wanted to take back and try out. A great result I think.
For myself, the idea of working without the support of social media is now unthinkable. I get most of my professional awareness updates via Twitter and blogs, I can follow conferences that I am unable to attend, take part in discussions and ask questions. Social media had enriched and, I think, improved, my work immensely. On the other side of that equation is a feeling of responsibility to share my own work, useful links and to tweet and blog events I attend. For me, it’s a virtuous circle. I’m part of a community, and that community makes my job easier, inspires me and sometimes is just a fun and friendly place to be. Before I pass a virtual sick bag, I’ll stop and say that I don’t always blog or tweet as much as I much as I should, especially recently. But the workshop made me stop and think about the benefits I get from my professional community, and made me come back to my desk and schedule time into my to do lists for sharing more.
In addition, I have some new ideas and feel a bit more up-to-date. I plan to see if some of the social media tools/channels I enjoy in my hobbies could be used in work. I’ve recently started to listen to a lot of podcasts – they’re portable (I can load them on my phone) and perfect for multi-tasking (I can listen even when walking, unlike videos). Perhaps there’s space out there for creating some podcasts on various aspects of digital preservation and digital research skills?  I intend to streamline my information gathering tools and techniques so I can update and work in a smarter way.  I’ll be looking at Sprout and Hootsuite as possibly better solutions to managing multiple social media accounts than Tweetdeck,  which I use at the moment. I’ll also be reviewing my RSS feed reader options, and have decided to look at what Pinterest might have to offer for work – I already use it personally, and altough I can’t think of an immediate work use, it would be interested to explore it a little from that perspective. And I am resolved to make better use of the tools I already use, blogging more frequently, making better use of our team Twitter accounts and using Storify more as a way of capturing and sharing information.
I must confess, I was a little jaded about social media training. But Pauline’s session was a great chance to get some new ideas and become enthusiastic again, so big thanks both to Pauline and also to Frank Steiner  for organising the workshop.

*Image from British Library on Flickr, no known copyright restrictions.

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Two members of the ART team, Ed Pinsent and Steph Taylor will be attending this DPC event at the National Archives on 4th April 2014. The day is designed, as the name suggests, to help people who are just starting to work with digital preservation. It will be held at The National Archives in Kew. The Digital Preservation Coalition have put together a great programme to introduce the concepts of digital preservation. It includes useful ‘start up’ insights into tools, risk assessment and preservation planning. Some interesting case studies are also included, which will help to put it all into context.

Ed will be speaking about preservation planning, and we’ll be making his slides available after the event.

We’re also hoping to have chance to talk to people new to digital preservation and find out more about what kind of support and training they will be needing as they advance with their work in this area. We’re keen to listen to potential new delegates for the Digital Preservation Training Programme and to make sure we continue to create courses and workshops that will meet the needs of the digital preservation community. So please come up and say hello, and have a chat about your work to us.

Check back on Monday for a more detailed blog post about the day.

Photo by Ewan Munro , via Flickr & used under CC License, with thanks.

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The useful thing about running events is all the interesting and new things you learn. At the lunchtime seminar on Open Access (OA),  I learned a lot from both Dr Jane Winters of the IHR and Adam Crymble, editor of The Programming Historian . My own work around OA has been very focussed on the library and institutional repository point of view, so although I am familiar with OA progress over a number of years, I still find that new perspectives, such as those from working researchers are invaluable to further my own knowledge.

My top 5 things about Open Access have definitely been expanded by taking part in this session. So here is my current personal list, some known to me, some new, and in no particular order  -

1) Open Access can be perceived as restrictive to researchers, as though it is dictating where they can publish. It’s not, and it doesn’t, but I had no idea that it could be perceived in this way.

2) Creating and publishing in a completely Open Access way can save you money. The founders of The Programming Historian decided to go OA for many reasons, but one of those reasons was that they didn’t have the time or money to protect their text book behind a pay wall and to enforce copyright.

3) Open Access isn’t just about sharing. It can also mean positive changes in the way research is compiled,  presented and published. [link to Jane's examples]

4) It is worth re-iterating to anyone and everyone that researchers shouldn’t have to pay to be published. The Gold OA route (negotiating with a publisher to allow an OA copy of an article to be made available, usually involving a payment of some kind to the publisher)  is not the only route.  The Green OA route (self-publishing e.g. in a trusted repository, possibly with a publisher embargo) is equally supported in the UK HE sector. Because of the publicity around the Finch report, the Gold route seems to have had more publicity, thus creating some confusion about what is/isn’t allowable and supported.

5) OA can empower researchers by not only enabling them to share their work, but also giving them the opportunity to get more involved with the publishing process, and to have greater autonomy over what they publish and how they publish it.