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The Royal Institution, London, 1st December 2010 (embargoed till 2200 local time)

Herbert Van De Sompel and Richard OvendenThe Institute for Conservation and the Digital Preservation Coalition (DPC) are delighted to announce that the Memento Project led by Herbert Van De Sompel and colleagues of Los Alamos National Laboratory and Michael Nelson and colleagues of Old Dominion University, USA, has won the Digital Preservation Award 2010.

‘Memento offers an elegant and easily deployed method that reunites web archives with their home on the live web,’ explained Richard Ovenden, chair of the Digital Preservation Coalition.  ‘It opens web archives to tens of millions of new users and signals a dramatic change in the way we use and perceive digital archives.’ 

‘The ability to change and update pages is one of the web’s greatest advantages but it introduces a sort of structured instability which makes it hard to depend on web pages in the long term.  For more than a decade services like the UK Web Archive and the Internet Archive have provided a stable but partial memory of a fragment of the web – but users had no way of linking between current content and earlier versions held by web archives.’

‘The Memento project resolves this by letting users set a time preference in their browser.  The underlying technology then deploys basic, under-used features of the HTTP protocol to direct users to whichever archived copy of a website most closely matches their request’. 

‘The really impressive part of Memento is how it uses existing and widely deployed content negotiation tools embedded within the architecture of the web to connect users with archives’, commented Kevin Ashley, Chair of the Judges for the Digital Preservation Award.  ‘Most of the technology required to make the service work is already widely deployed.’

‘The Memento architecture means you no longer need to search archives or go to a special website to recover earlier versions of pages: with Memento our archives are always, already available.  The benefit for users is obvious, but in creating simple access it transforms the value and impact of web archiving.  In an environment where web archives are widely used and understood, the creation of web archives will seem less like a specialised or esoteric concern.’

Digital Preservation Award Trophy‘Winning the Digital preservation Award is a really significant achievement’, explained William Kilbride, Executive Director of the Digital Preservation Coalition which sponsored the award. 

‘There is no other prize like it, so it attracts genuinely international field and is only awarded after exacting scrutiny.  An expert panel subjects ensures a rigorous analysis of each nomination and the whole membership of the DPC is invited to comment on and select their favourite projects.  The shortlist, which was announced in Vienna this September included two US-based projects, one Trans-Atlantic blue ribbon task force, a pan European project and an initiative from the National Archives in the UK which gained a huge amount of press attention at the time of the General Election.’

‘To have won the Digital Preservation Award in the context of so many strong candidates should be taken as a significant mark of esteem from colleagues and peers.’

The Digital Preservation Award is one of five awards organised by a working party of the Institute for Conservation (ICON), known collectively as The Conservation Awards.  Each award celebrates different aspect of the highest standards of conservation skills, innovation and research, collections care and digital preservation.  The Awards, which were launched in 1991, are supported by Icon and sponsored by The Pilgrim Trust, the Digital Preservation Coalition (DPC), and the Anna Plowden Trust.  Since 2005, the Awards have also been generously supported by Sir Paul McCartney.

Alison Richmond, ICON CE, commented: ‘In today’s current difficult economic climate, with many of our cultural heritage organisations under threat, it is incredibly important to celebrate the outstanding quality of current conservation and research being undertaken in Britain and further afield today. The winning projects clearly demonstrate that conservation of our cultural is not an end in itself, but a passport to wider access, and deeper knowledge and enjoyment of our heritage. ’

Lady Jay presents prize at Conservation AwardsThe Awards were presented at a ceremony followed by a drinks reception and held at the Royal Institution of Great Britain, London on 1 December 2010. Roy Clare (CEO of the Museums Libraries and Archives Council), speaking at the awards, said: ‘The art and science of conservation are vital to sustaining public understanding and enjoyment of cultural heritage and collections of all kinds, for this and future generations. The profession faces growing demands to respond openly and ever-more creatively to new standards, technologies, public expectations and resource constraints. The context is challenging, but I welcome ICON’s determination to work with members and partners to shape effective strategies for ensuring a vibrant future for conservation.’

Notes for editors

The Winner:

The MEMENTO Project: Time Travel for the Web, from Old Dominion University and the Los Alamos National Lab in the United States.  The Memento project, sponsored by the Library of Congress, has proposed, demonstrated, and promoted internationally an approach to integrate the current and past Web in a manner that is fully aligned with the Architecture of the World Wide Web. Memento’s approach is based on a straightforward extension of the very widely used ‘HTTP’ tool that results in a way to navigate seamlessly current versions of web resources as well as prior versions which might be held by Web Archives and or embedded within wikis.  Just enter a web address in your browser, set the time slider to a desired date and see the web as it used to be.

For more details see http://mementoweb.org

Runners up:

·         Web Continuity: ensuring access to online government information, from The National Archives UK

·         PLATO 3: Preservation Planning Made Simple from Vienna University of Technology and the PLANETS Project

·         The Blue Ribbon Task Force on Sustainable Digital Preservation and Access

·         Preserving Virtual Worlds, University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign with Rochester Institute of Technology, University of Maryland, Stanford University and Linden Lab in the United States

The Judges

•      Kevin Ashley, Director, Digital Curation Centre, Edinburgh University

•      Adrian Brown, Assistant Clerk of the Records, Parliamentary Archives

•      William Kilbride, Executive Director, Digital Preservation Coalition

•      Pip Laurenson, Head of Time-based Media Conservation, Tate

•      Zoe Lock, Lead Technologist, the Technology Strategy Board

•      Eefke Smit, International STM Publishers Association, The Netherlands

•      Dave Thompson, Digital Curator, The Wellcome Library

•      Matthew Woollard, Director Designate, the UK Data Archive

•      Richard Wright, Senior Research Engineer, BBC

The Prize and Previous Winners

The Digital Preservation Award consists of 4 elements: a cash prize (£2500); a bespoke glass trophy; a miniature of the trophy to be retained by the winner; a certificate which is retained by the winner.  Previous winners have included: the National Archives for their Digital Archive Project (2004) with a special commendation for the Camileon project at the Universities of Michigan and Leeds; the PREMIS working group for the PREMIS metadata standard (2005), the National Archives for Pronom and Droid (2007). For more details on the award see: http://www.dpconline.org/advocacy/awards

The DPC

The Digital Preservation Coalition was established in 2001 to foster joint action to address the urgent challenges of securing the preservation of digital resources in the UK and to work with others internationally to secure our global digital memory and knowledge base. For further information see the website at www.dpconline.org

The Ceremony

The winner was announced at a prestigious presentation ceremony held at the Royal Institution of Great Britain on the 1st December 2010. Photographs and video of the event as well as interviews with the winner and the judges will be available on request.