Sarah Middleton

Sarah Middleton

Last updated on 28 September 2016

In this issue:

  • What's on, and What's new
  • Editorial: Austerity, Impact and Planning (Martin Donnelly, DCC)
  • Who's who: Sixty second interview with Susan Corrigall, National Archives of Scotland
  • One world: Peter McKinney, Digital Preservation Policy Analyst, National Library of New Zealand Access
  • Your view: Commentary, questions and debate from readers
Compiled by Kirsten Riley. What's new is a joint publication of DPC and DCC. Also available as a print-friendly PDF


What's on:

DCC Research Data Management Workshops University of Sheffield
1-3 March 2011
The UK Digital Curation Centre is running FREE regional workshops aimed at supporting institutional research data management planning and training. The 2nd DCC Roadshow organised in partnership with the White Rose University Consortium will take place 1-3 March 2011 in Sheffield. Running over 3 days, different workshops will provide advice and guidance tailored to a range of staff, including PVCs Research, University Librarians, Directors of IT/Computing Services, Repository Managers, Research Support Services and practising researchers.

The Collaborations Workshop
4-5 March 2011
The two-day workshop brings together researchers who use software, funders and software developers. Its goal is to provide attendees with everything needed to create successful collaborations. It’s the perfect forum for people to discuss their research and their project’s requirements, and then meet the people who can fulfil those requirements.

Researching the Third Sector through Time: Methods, Ethics and Insights
9 March 2011
There is a growing interest in the use of qualitative longitudinal and life history methods in third sector research. The aim of the event is to enable a detailed sharing of methodological and ethical issues arising from a qualitative engagement with time in third sector research. Delegates will be able to reflect and share insights that are emerging from these varied studies and to consider the possibilities for data sharing and comparative analysis across these and similar projects.

Good Practice in Information Literacy for Academic Research
14 March 2011
Information is the lifeblood of academic research. The ability of researchers to handle information is of vital importance but there are unknowns about how researchers develop appropriate skills and understanding, the support they receive, the training opportunities provided for them, and the take-up of such opportunities are thus highly pertinent; as is the capacity of the relevant players (librarians, trainers, graduate school personnel, research supervisors…) to ensure that these skills and understanding are imparted professionally. This workshop will address these issues, and will consider the steps being taken to promote a more consistent and cohesive approach to this important but sometimes neglected aspect of researcher development.

Getting Started in Digital Preservation
21 March 2011, Glamorgan Archives, Cardiff
Following on from the very successful 'Decoding the Digital' conference, the British Library Preservation Advisory Centre and the Digital Preservation Coalition are delighted to invite you to the third of four events designed to raise awareness of digital preservation issues, increase involvement with digital preservation activities and sign-post the support and resources available to help you on your way. This event provides an introduction to digital preservation, builds an understanding of the risks to digital materials, includes practical sessions to help you apply digital preservation planning and tools, and features speakers sharing their own experience of putting digital preservation into practice.

Regional workshops on freedom of information and HE researchers
22 March - 12 April 2011
Freedom of information legislation (the UK and Scottish Freedom of Information Acts, and the Environmental Information Regulations) is highly relevant to researchers in Higher Education: as creators of information and/or data, they need to comply with the requirements of the law with regards to allowing access to their research outputs; and as users, they might make use of FoI as a means of obtaining information and/or data. Organisations including RIN, the Information Commissioner’s Office and JISC are now examining the implications of FoI for the Higher Education research community, notably with regards to finding ways of dealing with the disclosure of research data. There is a need for evidence-gathering as a first step in a process to provide researchers and their institutions with appropriate guidance and support. Three free regional workshops are being organised in this context.

LIFE-SHARE Digital Collaboration Colloquium
29 March 2011
To mark the end of our JISC funded project on digitisation skills and strategies, LIFE-SHARE are holding a Digital Collaboration Colloquium on Tuesday 29th March 2011 at the University of Sheffield. The focus of this event is collaborative digital content, to include all areas of the digital lifecycle from content creation through metadata to preservation and long term storage, and everything else in between.

Preserving Digital Art: Directions and Perspectives
30 March 2011
Emerging tools and services for digital preservation are typically built around the long-term needs of archives, libraries and research centres. The needs of art museums and galleries are surprisingly absent from much of the debate in digital preservation even though these institutions have considerable skills and statutory requirements to safeguard large collections for private and public good. Innovations in contemporary art means that the traditional skills of the conservator need to be supplemented, and in some cases radically changed, to take account of new and sophisticated forms of digital creativity. Moreover its subtle and complex demands means that preservation of digital art offers a practical basis for innovation and assessment of the sorts of tools and services which will be required to ensure our digital memory is accessible tomorrow.

Preserving Digital Sound and Video: A briefing
7 April 2011, British Library, London
Emerging tools and services for digital preservation are typically built around the need to preserve texts, documents, images and data sets. Audio and video – broadly defined as time-based-media - have received less attention within the library and archive communities, partly because they have historically been seen as distinct, partly because they present new technical challenges, and partly because they have hitherto represented only a small proportion of the collections which memory institutions and research archives collect. However, the simplicity with which digital video and audio can be captured and the ease and popularity of online distribution means that they are now ubiquitous, creating new concern for long term access. As more and more of our cultural and scientific legacy is being created in digital audio-visual formats, so those managing long term access to data need to understand the challenges and opportunities which these formats bring. New skills and new techniques will be required to ensure our digital audio and video memory is accessible tomorrow.

Getting Started in Digital Preservation
15 April 2011, Innovation Centre, University of York
Following on from the very successful 'Decoding the Digital' conference, the British Library Preservation Advisory Centre and the Digital Preservation Coalition are delighted to invite you to the last of four events designed to raise awareness of digital preservation issues, increase involvement with digital preservation activities and sign-post the support and resources available to help you on your way. This event provides an introduction to digital preservation, builds an understanding of the risks to digital materials, includes practical sessions to help you apply digital preservation planning and tools, and features speakers sharing their own experience of putting digital preservation into practice.

DCC Research Data Management Forum (RDMF)
5-6 May 2011
RDMF events are open to anyone with a serious interest in the effective organisation and management of research data. The theme of this RDMF will be planning for research data management, covering such issues as institutional compliance with the requirements of the major funders, the challenges involved in the provision of data management support services to the research community and the practical measures necessary for sustaining long term institutional arrangements.

What's New:

Shared services in cloud computing to be funded by HEFCE
Universities and colleges in England stand to benefit from a new programme of services and investment to deliver efficiencies through shared services in cloud computing infrastructure and applications. The £12.5 million programme is part of a suite of activities under the University Modernisation Fund (UMF), a HEFCE fund that aims to help universities and colleges deliver better efficiency and value for money through the development of shared services.

DataCite Metadata Scheme
V2.0 of the DataCite Metadata Scheme has been released.

JISC to reshape to deliver in a competitive market
The Higher Education Funding Council (HEFCE) has today announced its findings and recommendations for the future of JISC. The independent review chaired by Professor Sir Alan Wilson and carried out over a four month period concludes that, ‘JISC is an invaluable national resource which has evolved in response to increasing demands over 20 years’. It recommends that due to the breadth and complexity of JISC’s activity its structure, processes, projects, programmes and governance need to be simplified and reshaped, ensuring that it continues to deliver world-class leadership in the innovative use of technology for education and research, for which it is renowned.

DCC guide: How to License Research Data
The Digital Curation Centre (DCC) has published the second in its series of How-to Guides: 'How to License Research Data' by Alex Ball of the DCC, in association with JISC Legal. The guide explains why licensing data is important, what licensing options are available to researchers, and how to go about attaching a licence to a dataset.

The DCC's How-to Guides offer practical introductions for those who need more than the high-level basic awareness given in DCC briefing papers, but less than the in-depth coverage given in the Curation Reference Manual. This guide is aimed at principal investigators, researchers, and those who provide access to research data through a data centre, repository or archive.

Launch of DigCurV
Work has begun on Digital Curator Vocational Education Europe (DigCurV), a new project funded by the European Commission's Leonardo da Vinci programme to establish a framework for vocational education and training in digital curation which was launched in January. DigCurV aims to address the availability of vocational education and training needed by curators in the library, archive, museum and cultural heritage sectors to develop the new skills that are essential for the long-term management of digital collections.

Open Journal Systems now compliant with OpenAIRE: New plug-in released
Open Journal Systems (OJS), the widely used online journal management and publishing system, now includes a plug-in to support authors’ compliance with the European open access policies. The plugin modifies the OAI interface of the OJS software and provides a set of all publications resulting from EC/ERC project funding. OpenAIRE harvests the publications from open access repositories and journals, and presents the aggregated collection at the OpenAIRE portal.

Online Data Management Planning Tool Tames Data and Meets Research Funding Requirements
A group of major research institutions is partnering to develop a flexible online tool to help researchers generate data management plans. This effort is in response to demands from funding agencies, such as the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH), that researchers plan for managing their research data. The partners in this project include the Digital Curation Centre (DCC), University of California Curation Center (UC3) at the California Digital Library (CDL), the UCLA Library, the UCSD Libraries, the Smithsonian Institution, the University of Virginia Library, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and the NSF DataONE project. By joining forces the partners expect to consolidate expertise and reduce costs in addressing data management needs.

LoC Digital Preservation Newsletter
The February 2011 Library of Congress Digital Preservation Newsletter is now available.

Improve your effectiveness with the JISC infoNet Impact Calculator
Further and higher education institutions need to make increasingly tough choices about how they operate and it is often difficult for institutional managers to justify and measure the impact of new initiatives. JISC's Impact Calculator is designed to provide a robust, transparent and consistent means of predicting and measuring the impact of a new process or system on an organisation. The tool is freely available and can be downloaded.

Launch of Open Attribute
Open Attribute is a suite of tools that make it simple to copy and paste the correct attribution for any Creative Commons licensed work on the web.

BMC Research Notes launches a new thematic series on data standardization, sharing and publication
Following our call for contributions to BMC Research Notes on data standards, sharing and publication, the journal and this initiative have received considerable attention from the research community. A new series of educational articles has just been launched as we publish the first of the numerous manuscripts we have received since September.

Special Online Collection: Dealing with Data
In the 11 February 2011 issue, Science joins with colleagues from Science Signaling, Science Translational Medicine, and Science Careers to provide a broad look at the issues surrounding the increasingly huge influx of research data. This collection of articles highlights both the challenges posed by the data deluge and the opportunities that can be realized if we can better organize and access the data.

New BASE version in BASE Lab
BASE is the name of the multi-disciplinary search engine for scientifically relevant OAI-Sources which was created and developed by Bielefeld University Library. Base recently announced a new test version of the OAI-Search-Engine BASE (Bielefeld Academic Search Engine, in the BASE Lab.

American Physical Society to Adopt Creative Commons Licensing and Publish Open Access Articles and Journals
As of 15 February 2011, authors in most Physical Review journals have a new alternative: to pay an article-processing charge whereby their accepted manuscripts will be available barrier-free and open access on publication. These manuscripts will be published under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License (CC-BY), the most permissive of the CC licenses, granting authors and others the right to copy, distribute, transmit, and adapt the work, provided that proper credit is given. This new alternative is in addition to traditional subscription-funded publication; authors may choose one or the other for their accepted papers.

Heritage Lottery Fund consultation on 2013-19 Strategic Framework
The Heritage Lottery Fund are consulting on a new strategic framework for 2013-2019. The consultation is open from 31 January 2011 to 26 April 2011. It proposes significant changes in areas of interest to members of this list. This is your opportunity to share your thinking with a key funder of the sector in the UK, so please do consider responding.

DCC screencasting: please give us your opinion!
The Digital Curation Centre (DCC) is trying out new ways to communicate its resources better. Share your opinions and needs to help influence our work.

New Blog on Digital Collaboration
This new blog focuses on how multidisciplinary work can be made possible through increased collaboration and cooperation between the various disciplinary/professional groups that are involved in the creation of digital libraries, repositories and digitised cultural institutions.

Researchers guide to social media
This guide was produced for the Research Information Network. The guide discusses the use of social media for research and academic purposes.

Martin DonnellyEditorial: Austerity, Impact and Planning (Martin Donnelly, DCC)

As luck would have it, I recently received invitations to two events scheduled to take place on consecutive days in the same venue: Local Government Procurement - Tough Times, Practical Solutions, and Managing the Deficit, a one-day event to "discuss what the cuts mean, summarise where the greatest opportunities for improvement may lie, and also reflect on the way some services may have to change." Procurement is, of course, the original of the "more with less" concept, a mantra much uttered at the moment, and one which the preservation community is obliged to heed. In the nineteenth century, the cooperative movement strove to get better deals for its members via bulk buying. The way this works, and the way the current UK government wants us to work for them, is broadly the same: Pay less, get more.

I won't be attending either event, but I did recently go to two others more directly relevant to my role. The first was the Preservation Advisory Centre conference at the British Library in mid-February. No one needs reminding that we live in dispiriting times, and the mood of this event matched them well. Many of the presentations focused on the UK Government's programme of cuts, and attempted manfully, and womanfully, to put a brave face on matters. Yes, the National Archives will have to make 25% savings over the next four years, but on the bright side this will largely be taken care of via retirements and other "natural wastage." No matter how it's spun, this is a huge change, a huge challenge, and there is always a temptation to turn inwards in times of trouble, to concentrate on the bread and butter and brass tacks. Previous events organised by the PAC have touched on the digital, and such concerns are most certainly shared by the organisations represented at the event, but on this day the core, physical artefact conservation agenda was very much in the foreground; the word 'digital' was not heard until after lunch, when the speaker from the Heritage Lottery Fund, in a rare ray of sunshine, informed us that 2011 would be the first year that the HLF would consider funding digital-only projects, showing the increasing value they're placing on these types of resource.

The second event was titled Research, Impact and Policy, organised in Edinburgh by the Scottish Social Science Knowledge Exchange Network. The programme centred around two key questions: how can research influence policy, and what support do academics need in meeting the growing impact agenda? The research funders' approach to impact is becoming more explicit, with knowledge exchange statements increasingly required to be built in to funding applications. Furthermore, the Economic and Social Research Council hosts a 'Pathways to Impact' toolkit on its website, and JISC an 'Impact Calculator' for records management. From the researcher’s side, however, views of impact and influence range from the positive (bridging a gap, building connections) to the not-so-positive (wading through a swamp, howling at the moon.) At the Edinburgh event, one attendee noted that impact is difficult to capture accurately unless you're doing something readily quantifiable, such as drug discovery. In the arts and humanities it's a far more esoteric concept, and attaching monetary value to it harder still, which tends to set the alarm bells ringing.

So there are serious risks and concerns that accompany this approach. It is not appropriate to reduce everything to blunt impact statistics: obscure datasets rarely accessed in the short term may blossom in time into crucial resources. What happens to digital collections when their impact is only felt fifteen years (or three new governments) down the line? We live in a long-tail world, and there is a need to make provision for this beyond crude stratification and judgements based on usage or access statistics. Use is preservation, you say? Well, yes, to an extent, but we must protect at least some of the unused as well.

You might wonder what my interest is in all this. As well as impact statements, another thing increasingly found within funding applications is the data management plan, and I'm centrally involved in the DCC's various activities in this area. Data management planning is a way of helping to meet impact requirements while at the same time providing a means to be explicit about protecting at-risk resources from the tyranny of statistical judgement and increasing demands not backed with funding. Plans can be made to cover all of these bases, and to feed into procedures and operations. They go on the record, and act as communication resources too, explaining to ourselves and to others how decisions are reached, and by whom, and helping to arrive at these decisions in the first place via the planning process itself and the guidance that supports it. Moreover, a solid plan gives us the confidence to be brave, to go beyond our comfort zones and move things forward, reaching to the future instead of being mired in the immediate.

Leonard Bernstein said "To achieve great things, two things are needed; a plan, and not quite enough time." In this climate we can pretty much guarantee that we'll be short on time: that's out of our control. But much of the rest of it is up to us, and how we organise, plan and communicate within our limitations.

Susan CorrigallWho's Who: sixty second interview with Susan Corrigall, Senior Inspecting Officer and Copyright Officer, National Archives of Scotland

Where do you work and what's your job title?
I work at the National Archives of Scotland as Senior Inspecting Officer and Copyright Officer.

Tell us a bit about your organisation
The National Archives of Scotland (NAS) is both an associated department and an Executive Agency of the Scottish Government. Ministerial responsibility for NAS rests with the Minister for Culture and External Affairs. In summary our collections include the records of the parliament, government and courts in Scotland; former nationalised industries; the church; families, estates and businesses; and maps and plans. We occupy three buildings in Edinburgh: General Register House, West Register House and Thomas Thomson House. From 1 April we will be merging with the General Register Office for Scotland,

What projects are you working on at the moment?
I have recently completed an internal study for the Keeper of the Records of Scotland, called the ‘Digital Data Archive Scoping Study’. Over about 12 months I was tasked with looking at what NAS needs to do to develop its work in the area of electronic records and digital preservation, and how in practice we might do that.

My methodology was four-fold: an investigation of NAS readiness to increase our work on digital records (including interviews with internal stakeholders and a TRAC analysis of NAS); an investigation of what other institutions are doing; liaison with external stakeholders; and digital preservation current awareness.

The report’s 17 recommendations divide into the following areas: policy, procedure, staffing, technical, preservation planning, access and work with record creators. The recommendations are wide ranging, covering issues such as appraisal, referencing and cataloguing of digital records; web archiving; staff training; enhancements to our existing digital repository; detailed preservation planning; and access.

I am also involved in final testing of NAS’s digital repository, the Digital Data Archive (DDA) prior to it going live. This involves updating documentation to reflect new functionality and then planning, executing and recording the tests.

How did you end up in digital preservation?
Gradually! NAS has a policy of periodically moving archival staff around, and after several years working in one of our public search rooms I was moved to the area with responsibility for the records of the Scottish Government, Scottish Parliament and agencies. This area also had oversight of the development of NAS’s digital repository, and I gradually did more and more detailed work on that. I also have responsibility for electronic records issues within my work area.

What are the challenges of digital preservation for an organisation such as yours?
Where to start? I think perhaps the biggest challenge is that we have little or no say over the creation process. This means that procedures and systems which we develop have to able to cope with a multitude of scenarios.

What projects would you like to work on in the future?
I am looking forward to establishing the new e-records unit, and to getting stuck in to that work with my colleagues. We will be doing a wide range of tasks, including providing a sort of internal consultancy on digital records issues and implementing many of the recommendations from the DDA Scoping Study. Should the Public Records (Scotland) bill be passed by the Scottish Parliament,, an early task will be to provide input into its implementation.

What sort of partnerships would you like to develop?
Closer working with record creators. Early intervention in the record creating process has been shown to be cost effective in terms of digital sustainability, and it is essential if an archive such as NAS is to hold viable, intelligible digital records.

If we could invent one tool or service that would help you, what would it be?
I think there is a huge need for empirical research in to what actually happens with particular preservation actions, for example: if you perform action X on Y what exactly is the outcome, and what – therefore – are the trade-offs between different preservation actions? This would benefit all institutions, large and small. Institutions would still have to make their own preservation decisions based on their local policies and requirements, but at least they would have a bank of knowledge on which to draw.

And if you could give people one piece of advice about digital preservation ....?
Make at least two copies of your material, and keep them separate from the originals.  

If you could save for perpetuity just one digital file, what would it be?
Nothing work-related, I’m afraid. This would have to be my own digital photographs of holidays, family and friends. Which reminds me, I really must back them up again (it’s no good having two external hard drives on my desk at home and not updating them regularly!!).  

Finally, where can we contact you or find out about your work?
I work in West Register House, Charlotte Square, Edinburgh, EH1 3YY. My email is: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and my ‘phone number is: 0131 535 1427.

Peter McKinneyOne World

In this section we invite a partner or colleague to update us about major work on their home country that will interest readers, or about major international initiatives. In this issue we talk to....

Peter McKinney, Digital Preservation Policy Analyst, National Library of New Zealand

A shared vision of preserving digital content is emerging in the New Zealand public sector. Archives New Zealand and the National Library of New Zealand have entered into the process of creating a common strategic view and physical environment that will preserve the digital content that they collect. To be certain, achieving this vision is no trivial matter, but advantages to the organisations and to New Zealanders far outweigh possible disadvantages.

Some background first. The National Library of New Zealand, Te Puna Mātauranga o Aotearoa, entered into a developmental relationship with Ex Libris in 2006 to design and build an enterprise-class digital preservation system. Alongside this technical development the Library undertook a far-reaching review of its business processes. The result was that in late 2008, Rosetta[1] was launched in the Library and a new business unit was created to preserve digital collection items. Every business unit in the Library that had a role to play in managing digital materials gained new processes and in may cases new staff. It was a complete re-engineering, the result of which is a shared knowledge throughout the organisation about the day-to-day work of handling and preserving digital content.

The vision now is to have this same integration across both the Library and Archives New Zealand. Building on work they undertook to create the Digital Continuity Plan for government information[2] , Archives now have resources to create the Government Digital Archive (GDA). This archive will control transfers of public archives from government departments, manage reuse of the content by the creating department, give general access to that material and run preservation processes. Crucially, the GDA will share a number of components with the National Library including:

  • strategic vision: A joint digital preservation strategy is being developed that both organisations will work within.
  • preservation policies: We are creating a joint policy manual that will cover all preservation functionality.
  • preservation hardware: Digital content from both organisations will be stored on the same hardware infrastructure.
  • preservation software (Rosetta): Rosetta will be used to manage digital content, allowing distinct organisational flows and administration.

There are of course challenges and these will embrace both the conceptual (how the content defined and how it should be preserved) and the practical (administration of the system). It is our hope that some of the decisions taken by the Library during the development phase of Rosetta will allow both organisations to accommodate some of these conceptual differences without them having to re-imagine their intellectual domain.

The decision was taken early on in the Library’s work that the preservation system would not function as a content management system or resource discovery layer. These functions are the preserve of specific tools that do it far better. Rosetta is (at the simplest level) a data management system with a specific focus on the requirements of digital preservation as they are currently understood. This means therefore that there should be little or no tension over how to intellectually manage content.

There are some areas where the two organisations require new processes within the Rosetta system, e.g.:

  • bulk updating
  • enhanced support for consortium management
  • Institutional Technology Profile in local libraries
  • enhanced support for Plug-ins
  • enhanced functionality for deposit arrangements
  • enhanced functionality for ingest workflows
  • enhanced support for delivery rules
  • enhanced functionality for logon and identity verification.

Clearly these changes will be of benefit to the wider community as we work to include increased support for archival practice in the Rosetta system.

We are still at the beginning of the process, but initial experience on developing the joint strategy and policies is a positive one. There is good knowledge transfer and robust but productive discussions defining the common goals and methods. There is a true sense of building something that will bring great benefit.

While the Library has a fully integrated collection process, Archives have identified this as the area that will require the largest amount of work. The appraisal function will have to manage very large transfers from departments. They are investigating the possibility of having some automation in this area. Government departments will also require easy and trusted access to their content, for which currently there is no provision for.

Specific tasks for the next year include:

  • developing joint policies for digital preservation and identifying any areas of divergence;
  • migrating Archives’ current corpus of 45Tb of digital material to Rosetta;
  • developing Archives’ collection and content management layers to cope with large digital transfers from government departments;
  • two-way knowledge transfer of digital preservation expertise;

New Zealand is a small country and this type of collaboration can bring immediate benefits if done successfully. There is potential to increase the benefits by widening the scope of the venture. The inclusion of other content type could offer opportunities for a whole host of local and national organisations to benefit from the experience and knowledge that Archives and the Library have amassed. Such material may not have the same perpetuity requirements as public records and documentary heritage, but it may have great value for New Zealanders.


Compiled by Kirsten Riley.
What's new is a joint publication of DPC and DCC.

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