In this section
What's New - Issue 45, May 2012
In this issue:
- What's On - Forthcoming events from May 2012 onwards
- What's New - New reports and initiatives since the last issue
- What's What - After Dark Archives, William Kilbride, DPC
- Who's Who - Sixty second interview with Matthew Herring, University of York Library and Archives
- Featured Project - Preserving Complex Visual Digital Objects: Experiences and results from the POCOS project, Leo Konstantelos, University of Portsmouth
- Your View? - Comments and views from readers
What's New is a joint publication of the DPC and DCC
The DCC have a number of events coming up that may be of interest to you. For further details on any of these, please see our DCC events listings at http://www.dcc.ac.uk/events/. You can also browse through our DCC events calendar to see a more extensive list of both DCC and external events.
DPC Planning Day 2012
18 May 2012
http://www.dpconline.org/events/details/45-planning-day-2012?xref=47 (Invitation Only)
This meeting will focus on the 'Assurance and Practice' elements of the new DPC strategic plan. Full members invited on the evening of the 17th May, Associates and Personal members on the 18th.
DigCCurr Professional Institute: Curation Practices for the Digital Object Lifecycle
May 20-25, 2012
The Institute consists of one five-day session in May 2012 and a two-day follow-up session and a day-long symposium in January 2013. Each day of the summer session will include lectures, discussion and hands-on "lab" components.
Screening the Future Conference 2012: Play, Pause and Press Forward
21 - 23 May 2012
Screening the Future serves the global community of stakeholders who keep audiovisual content alive. This annual international conference brings together archivists, small and large archives, production companies, film makers, TV producers, service providers, vendors, funders, policymakers, and educators who are developing solutions to answer the most urgent questions facing audiovisual archives.
OPF Hackathon: A Practical Approach to Preservation Systems
21-22 May 2012
This Hackathon will focus on preservation workflows and systems. It will consider a large number of widely available tools that are being used both by the community and in industry. With a focus on end-to-end digital preservation, this workshop will look at the various tools that can be used at all stages of the digital preservation process and outline how these can be used in simplistic workflows.
DPC Briefing Day: Digital Preservation and Digital Resilience
21 May 2012
This DPC briefing day will provide a forum for members to review and debate the latest development in business continuity management and how it aligns with digital preservation. Based on commentary and case studies from leaders in the field, participants will be presented with emerging policies, tools and technologies and will be encouraged to propose and debate new directions for research.
Digital Preservation Training Programme (DPTP)
28-30 May 2012
The DPTP is a modular training programme, built around themed sessions that have been developed to assist you in designing and implementing an approach to preservation that will work for your institution. Through a wide range of modules, the DPTP examines the need for policies, planning, strategies, standards and procedures in digital preservation, and teaches some of the most up-to-date methods, tools and concepts in the area.
DCC Roadshow Northern Ireland
6 - 7 June 2012
The 12th DCC regional roadshow will take place on 6th and 7th June at the McClay library, Queen's University Belfast. The roadshow is being organised in conjunction with Queen's University Belfast.
Structural Frameworks for Open Digital Research - strategy, policy & infrastructure
11-13 June, 2012
The Nordbib programme proudly announces its 2012 international conference and workshop. We hope it will be one of the pivotal events in getting the capture and re-use of research data and cultural data to the forefront of European research policy thinking as well as spawning cross-border collaborations and implementations.
DPC Director's Group Meeting
28 June 2012
The Directors’ Group provides an extended and informal networking opportunity at which staff, partners, contractors or allies of full members of the Coalition are invited to describe and discuss current, forthcoming and future digital preservation projects. It allows staff, colleagues and supporters - who might not normally attend Board meetings - to contribute to the Coalition’s work plan for the coming year. It encourages the development of bilateral and multi-lateral relationships among members; helps disseminate good practice; and ensures that the work of the coalition remains tied to the changing needs of the workforce.Full members are invited to nominate up to three delegates. Delegates can be drawn from any department, project, partnership or constituent of the Board Member’s institution so long as they are able to contribute to and benefit from an open discussion on digital preservation and cognate issues. Delegates will be expected to present a brief and discursive summary of current and future work.
Robust Linked Data
29 June 2012
DPC briefing day on the challenges of ensuring linked data is robust, Cambridge. Details to follow.
Policies and Practices in Access to Digital Archives: Towards a New Research and Policy Agenda
2-6 July 2012
This course is intended to serve as a bridge between archivists, curators, researchers, legal experts and policymakers whose work deals with digital records, cultural heritage collections and/or open data. Launching an itinerary to reform the political and statutory landscape by uniting the efforts of key stakeholders is one of the broad purposes of the course.
The 7th International Conference on Open Repositories (OR2012)
9 - 13 July 2012
EDINA, the University of Edinburgh's Information Services and the Digital Curation Centre are delighted to announce that the University of Edinburgh will be hosting the Seventh International Conference on Open Repositories (OR2012) from 9-13 July, 2012. The theme and title of the 2012 conference at Edinburgh – Open Services for Open Content: Local In for Global Out – reflects the current move towards open content, ‘augmented content’, distributed systems and data delivery infrastructures.
For more information on any of the items below, please visit the DCC website at http://www.dcc.ac.uk.
DCC Tools and Services Catalogue
The digital curation community has been prolific in creating tools and services to address the myriad challenges facing data creators and curators, but it can be difficult to wade through the wealth of options to find the solution that best fits your need.
The DCC has created a Tools and Services Catalogue to help navigate this landscape, focusing on software and services that directly perform curation and management tasks. The Catalogue is currently populated with nearly 60 entries, each of which has both an in-depth description and a summary table to let you weigh a tool’s costs and benefits against others that perform similar functions. While most of the focus is on free or open source resources, we also include subscription services for those needing to outsource their provision.
Preserving Moving Pictures and Sound - A New Technology Watch Report from the DPC
The DPC, Richard Wright and Charles Beagrie Ltd are delighted to announce the release of the latest DPC Technology Watch Report ‘Preserving Moving Pictures and Sound’, written by Richard Wright, formerly of the BBC.
The report discusses issues of moving digital content from carriers (such as CD and DVD, digital videotape, DAT and minidisc) into files. This digital to digital ‘ripping’ of content is an area of digital preservation unique to the audio-visual world, and has unsolved problems of control of errors in the ripping and transfer process. It goes on to consider digital preservation of the content within the files that result from digitization or ripping, and the files that are born digital. While much of this preservation has problems and solutions in common with other content, there is a specific problem of preserving the quality of the digitized signal that is again unique to audio-visual content. Managing quality through cycles of ‘lossy’ encoding, decoding and reformatting is one major digital preservation challenge for audio-visual as are issues of managing embedded metadata.
re3data.org - Development of a Registry of Research Data Repositories
More and more universities and research centres are starting to build research data repositories allowing permanent access to data sets in a trustworthy environment. Due to disciplinary requirements, the landscape of data repositories is very heterogeneous. Thus it is difficult for researchers, funding bodies, publishers and scholarly institutions to select appropriate repositories for storage and search of research data. The goal of re3data.org is to create a global registry of research data repositories. The registry will cover research data repositories from different academic disciplines. re3data.org will present repositories for the permanent storage and access of data sets to researchers, funding bodies, publishers and scholarly institutions.
True Cost of Freedom of Information (FOI) Requests for Universities Revealed
The true cost to a university of processing a freedom of information (FOI) request has been revealed by JISC infoNet. The research shows that in the seven institutions surveyed, an FOI request takes a university an average of 5 hours 2 minutes to respond, at a cost of £99 rising to £121 when employment overheads are taken into consideration. The report suggests that factors influencing these costs include the size of the institution, the nature of the request and possibly the maturity of the institution’s records management system.
Call for papers - 9th International Conference on Preservation of Digital Objects (IPRES 2012)
The University of Toronto Faculty of Information is pleased to host the International Conference on Preservation of Digital Objects (iPRES2012) in Toronto, Canada in October 2012. iPRES2012 will continue the legacy of previous conferences by further strengthening the link between digital preservation research and practitioners in memory institutions and scientific data centres. iPRES 2012 now invites submissions of full and short papers reporting on novel and previously unpublished work. Full papers report innovative research work, while short papers present new relevant challenges and work in progress. All papers will be peer-reviewed by at least 3 members of the Program Committee. The accepted papers will be published in the iPRES2012 proceedings.
International Research to Speak One Language
Universities and researchers will be able to improve the efficiencies of their research and remove obstacles in their collaborations, thanks to a new strategic partnership between the UK and Canada. The Consortia Advancing Standards in Research Administration Information (CASRAI), a community-driven membership organisation founded in Canada, has invited JISC to be its first UK member. The two organisations will work together to advance a standard data dictionary for research and to advance a common global approach to research interoperability.
Two new resources from Vitae
Information literacy is an umbrella term which encompasses concepts such as digital, visual and media literacies, academic literacy, information handling, information skills, data curation and data management. Interacting with information is at the very heart of research and informed researchers are both consumers and producers of information. In collaboration with the Research Information Network (RIN) and the Society of College, National and University Libraries (SCONUL), Vitae is pleased to announce the publication of The Informed Researcher booklet and an information literacy lens on the Vitae Researcher Development Framework.
Public sector saves £28 million through open access, but much greater rewards to come, says report
Open Access to published scholarly research offers significant benefits to the UK, according to two reports released today by the UK Open Access Implementation Group. The UK public sector already saves £28.6 million by using open access. The reports make it clear that both the public sector and the voluntary sector would see further direct and indirect benefits from increased access to UK higher education research publications.
What's What - Editorial - After Dark Archives
William Kilbride, Executive Director, DPC
I don't particularly like Tia Maria, so I guess I was disproportionately pleased the night I found a bottle secreted among the biology journals at Glasgow University Library. It made me really assiduous in checking references and it taught me the difference between searching and browsing. A great deal has changed in the provision of scholarly journals since then and the rows of journals are disappearing. Say what you like about the advantages of e-only provision, but it's a lot harder to stash booze in modern research library.
E-journals have some of the most sophisticated production workflows among the content types that DPC members regularly deal with. The problem is that libraries rent e-content instead of buying it and material is on-line not in-store. That means they need assurance of permanent access and preservation before they can commit their dwindling revenues to the purchase of e-journal collections - an argument that gets more compelling as budgets are stretched and publishers' margins get narrower. The risk of loss is real, and the impact is potentially very serious.
The solution to both of these problems is typically provided by a small group of escrow services that keep content alive and ensure 'post-cancellation access'. They can step in if a publisher goes out of business or fails to supply access to their back catalogue. This is good news for the publishers as it means they don't need to worry so much about back-content, it means libraries can move more quickly to e-only provision, it means preservation expertise is concentrated more closely where is it needed, and it brings economies of scale. Although the sums are not great, it's also worth pointing out that money does actually change hands here: preservation and post-cancellation access is a revenue generating service.
At first inspection, this is very familiar for and highly relevant to librarians, but it seems somewhat obtuse and esoteric for the rest of the digital preservation community. But there's an obscure point here that is relevant for us all. If the e-journal community has solved the ‘outsourcing question’ then we need to know how and why, and emulate their success as quickly as possible. Is this the business model we've been waiting for all these years?
Outsourcing - it's a horrible euphemism but I have not yet found a better way to express it - is important to digital preservation for at least five reasons. It is potentially sustainable, it matches skills to tasks, and it is more likely to scale to the impending trillion-file-preservation-problem. Outsourcing is already implicit in the way we embed 3rd-party services in our repository architectures (no one in their right mind would suggest that we need to build all the tools in-house from scratch). Moreover, outsourcing is part of the drift to shared service provision which leads IT managers towards the Cloud, and claims of highly elastic, highly accessible economies of scale. Post-cancellation access to e-journals might seem like someone else's solution to someone else's problem, but the promise is much more exciting than first inspection. Has the e-journals community taken the big step that we will soon be forced to follow?
Firstly, it's important to note that there are different models here: in simple terms post-cancellation access and preservation are not the same. There are ‘dark archives’ offering bit-preservation without the planning and infrastructure to offer long term resilience and there are hosting services which call themselves archives but which really exist to ensure resilience and offer redundancy and scale but not preservation. Of the services that really do offer long-term preservation, some are completely dark offering access only to their own administrators; some are completely light, offering direct access to all comers; and others might be described as being 'dim'- not really for access but available if you persist.
For me, the real question is not so much what they offer but what have they had to do in order that libraries and publishers would trust them?
That's exactly the question we posed to them at the DPC member briefing day in January. In simple terms trust seems to be constructed out of a combination of skill, transparency and sustainability, all processes that exist in time. Skill includes technical know-how, planning, standards, infrastructure and research; transparency takes multiple forms but includes audit as well as community ownership, clarity of purpose and scope, and willingness to share methodologies; while sustainability includes business planning, revenue, succession planning and regulatory competence.
In a bit more detail, one might categorize these services into three business models. PORTICO is a service provider and it makes no apologies for simply providing a service that others can buy into. Kate Wittenberg characterised trust in Portico as having a clear mission and scope, in-depth knowledge of the content, transparency of functions including external audit, examples of responses to emerging situations, skills and skills development, and a commitment to research, all built on a global partnership to mitigate local risks. CLOCKSS and the UK LOCKSS Alliance are community based initiatives that build trust in a slightly different way: Randy Kiefer described trust as being constructed out of all of the same things as Portico, but with a greater emphasis on open source software and community ownership. The International E-Depot, an extension of the KB's national legal deposit architecture, brings a further dimension. Marcel Ras made clear the credibility of the mandate and the nature of the business case as a particular strength of a nationally mandated service.
So what can the rest of us learn? Well, in plain terms it is possible for there for be multiple, complementary digital preservation services offered to you by 3rd parties. There are different business models and they can mean different things when they claim to offer you preservation. They may form part of your preservation plan, or they may be your preservation plan. It is likely to change how some people approach preservation and it's going to mean that a lot of people can move more quickly to higher quality services than might be possible on their own.
But there's a lot still to learn: it is too early yet to claim sustainability or success, and each service provider noted that the expectations and the content that they carry continue to become more complex and more demanding. Even with their highly evolved functions and particular niches, contracting to 3rd parties is only ever as good as the contract manager, so digital preservation training will still be needed and may yet need to involve a large measure of contract management. Moreover, the highly developed workflows in publishing are based on content that is in high demand and which is of immediate commercial value. The model might fit for similar sectors like music or broadcast with large volumes of broadly homogenous content of demonstrable value, but for more heterogeneous archives with less well refined workflows and uncertain value, the model is less applicable: all the other processes will need to be created too.
For the record, the bottle of Tia Maria was duly returned to its resting place, but only after I had gleefully paraded it around the other night owls working after dark. It never occurred to me to wonder how it found its way behind a row of journals in the library, but I suppose it was something to do with trust: someone had unreasonable expectations of the sort of safekeeping the library was able to offer.
Libraries have been quick to build networks of trust to safeguard their own holdings and we all will need to do so in time. It's just too early to say which expectations will turn out to be misplaced.
Who's Who: Sixty Second Interview with Matthew Herring, Digital Library Officer, University of York Library and Archives
Where do you work and what's your job title?
My job title is Digital Library Officer and I work for the University of York Library and Archives. I am part of a small team running York Digital Library (YODL), the University’s digital repository.
Tell us a bit about your organisation
The University of York is one of the top ten universities in the UK for teaching and research. It was founded in the 1960s and has some nice brutalist architecture. The Library, where I work, is part of the Information Directorate, which also includes the IT Services and Borthwick Institute for Archives.
What projects are you working on at the moment?
Mostly projects to get different collections of material into YODL. A big one is to make rare music recordings from the Music Department and Borthwick Institute available. These include classical recordings and jazz 78s. I have been involved in creating metadata profiles for this project. Other collections of material at the moment include the photographic archive of Vickers Instruments (York firm which made telescopes, microscopes and the like) and the digitised slide collection of the Department of Archaeology.
How did you end up in digital preservation?
It’s kind of an integral part of my job, really, as a big part of YODL’s role is to preserve digital material on behalf of the University. Having said this, we are really just beginning to scratch the surface of what ‘preserve’ means in the digital context and we are looking forward to working with our new Digital Archivist, who is starting in June.
What are the challenges of digital preservation for an organisation such as yours?
Speaking for the team I’m part of, I guess the biggest challenges are ones of scale and advocacy. I’m pretty sure we are barely scratching the surface of the material which is out there in the University (and beyond), particularly research data. A lot of it is hidden and stored more or less precariously. Building awareness of the service around the University is one challenge, but the biggest challenge is that we are a very small team. A lot of developments which would help, such as self-deposit tools, are planned, but it we need to secure the resources to make them happen. I guess for the University as a whole, the challenge is one of co-ordination – making sure that policies are in place and consistently applied.
What sort of partnerships would you like to develop?
With anybody with interesting stuff we could put in YODL, money or technical expertise – or any combination of those! Less flippantly, we have been developing partnerships with people within and outside of the University who have content that we would like to preserve and make available. Some of those partnerships have involved gaining project funding and some of them have been with people who possess skills that we don’t (e.g. in digital audio). We are always interested in these sorts of partnerships.
I was also on a JISC project, the LIFE-SHARE project, which looked at how we could collaborate with the other university libraries within the White Rose Consortium, of which we are a part. We haven’t yet taken this sort of collaboration very far and I think there is a lot of potential for organisations, such as universities, museums and archives, to look to pool resources and expertise. The first stage, which LIFE-SHARE attempted, was to open dialogue and to compare what the partner organisations each did well or not so well. I think that this is the most interesting and ambitious sort of partnership for us.
If we could invent one tool or service that would help you, what would it be?
A digital repository which met everyone’s needs all of the time!
And if you could give people one piece of advice about digital preservation ....?
I don’t feel like that much of an expert to give advice to others, but I guess that is a point in itself. It’s important to start, even if you don’t have all of the resources and expertise you feel you should have. There are also organisations like the DPC and Open Planets Foundation, which can help and nobody currently has all of the answers anyway.
If you could save for perpetuity just one digital file, what would it be?
This is a hard one – can I have a zip file with everything?
Finally, where can we contact you or find out about your work?
Our web pages about YODL are at: http://www.york.ac.uk/library/electroniclibrary/yorkdigitallibraryyodl/
YODL iteslf is at: http://dlib.york.ac.uk
YODL blog: http://yorkdl.wordpress.com/
Featured Project: Preserving Complex Visual Digital Objects - Experiences and results from the POCOS project
Leo Konstantelos, Research Fellow, School of Creative Technologies, University of Portsmouth
POCOS (Preservation Of Complex Objects Symposia) was a small project with a big ambition: to bring together global thought-leaders, articulate the state-of-the-art in preserving complex visual digital materials, document practices, explore synergies and future avenues, and communicate the findings to stakeholder communities. All in one year!
With funding from the JISC, POCOS set out to deliver a series of three symposia across the United Kingdom in three interrelated areas: Visualisations and Simulations, Software Art and Gaming Environments & Virtual Worlds. The JISC recognised the intellectual and logistical challenges associated with curating and preserving complex digital materials and environments, particularly as these become more commonplace and central to research and learning. POCOS aimed at not only providing a stand for researchers and practitioners to share knowledge and expertise, but also help Cultural Heritage Institutions gain a better understanding of the practicalities, motivation and benefits from preserving these materials.
The POCOS philosophy built on work undertaken in Digital Preservation projects, such as Planets and KEEP. Specific outputs from these projects showed that migration-based preservation techniques – albeit valuable – cannot entirely address the added complexity of such materials as video games, three dimensional virtual worlds and digital art. Technically, complex visual digital objects are difficult to preserve because they feature interactivity properties, time-based components and intricate interdependencies which incorporate composite, heterogeneous, and often custom-built technologies. In POCOS we started off with a realisation that a substantial part of the solution to these challenges was to engage specialists from a broad range of disciplines and the wider digital preservation community in a process of exchanging findings, defining key problems and mapping out a future research agenda.
The symposia were successful on a number of fronts: they featured exceptional, internationally acclaimed speakers; they attracted key audiences and received uniformly positive feedback from attendees; they generated positive media coverage; they actively engaged participants in networking and group activities. Ultimately, the POCOS symposia managed to raise awareness within and among (often disparate) communities of experts and contributed in identifying pertinent, immediate problems associated with preserving complex visual digital materials - and some of their solutions. Part of the success should also be attributed to the POCOS consortium of leading researchers, developers and practitioners from academia, commerce, and memory institutions: the University of Portsmouth as coordinators bringing research and technical input from KEEP; the British Library supplying project management and research expertise from Planets; King’s Visualisation Lab bringing their specialist visualisation and simulation knowledge and experience; the Humanities Advanced Technology & Information Institute (HATII) giving their specialist Software Art expertise from Planets; and Joguin sas supplying graphical input, and technical experience from KEEP.
Beyond the symposia, there is a series of three e-books with topics from and inspired by the themes of each symposium. The first volume on the preservation of Visualisations and Simulations is already available to download from the POCOS website (http://www.pocos.org/index.php/publications/publications) while the remaining two volumes on Software Art and Gaming Environments will be available later this year. Selected material from all three e-books will be published in a compendium edition, alongside a set of pathfinder solutions.
In addition to the e-books, the POCOS website offers a number of valuable resources: video recordings of all presentations from the three symposia; additional reading and training material; as well as presentation slides from all POCOS presenters.
Due to popular demand, we are currently planning an additional “POCOS Plus” symposium to take place at the University of Portsmouth. POCOS Plus will feature speakers and topics from all previous areas of complex digital visual materials and environments, with an aim to synthesize key findings across these areas and actively seek synergies that can advance the future agenda. Further information and registration details will be available through the POCOS website in due course. Stay tuned at http://www.pocos.org/index.php/pocos-symposia!