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NEDCC Digital Directions Conference 2020 – “Digital preservation is technology enabled but human driven”

Megan Joyce

Megan Joyce

Last updated on 24 November 2020

Megan Joyce is a Curator in the Contemporary Conflict team at Imperial War Museums. She attended NEDCC Digital Directions Conference 2020 with support from the DPC's Career Development Fund which is funded by DPC Supporters.


Digital preservation goes beyond preserving digital objects for the future. It is a combination of policies, strategies and actions to ensure future access to reformatted and born-digital content. This was my main takeaway from the Northeast Document Conservation Center (NEDCC) Digital Directions conference from keynote speaker and the Director of the NEDCC Ann Marie Willer. Last month I was able to attend the conference with a career development fund from the DPC, allowing me to (virtually!) listen and engage with leading digital preservation professionals from various museums, archives and university libraries.

The next three days were dedicated to attending the online conference and watching presentations on creating and managing digital collections, with subjects such as metadata, storage, workflows, preservation tools and access all being covered in short 45-minute segments. As I am currently working with the contemporary born-digital document and sound collections at Imperial War Museums (IWM), this conference provided me with a great opportunity to develop a clearer understanding of the best practices, standards and tools needed when thinking specifically about IWMs born-digital document and sound collections in the Contemporary Conflict team.

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Digital Preservation at the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority - looking back and moving forward

Jenny Mitcham

Jenny Mitcham

Last updated on 20 November 2020

Two years ago today was my first day working at the Digital Preservation Coalition as Head of Good Practice and Standards. My main task, a big project to turn my attention to...NDA final logo Black

I was employed to work on a project called ‘Reliable, Robust and Resilient Digital Infrastructure for Nuclear Decommissioning’. This was a collaboration with the UK Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA), with the aim of helping them establish digital preservation policy and procedure. 

I’m reading back on my notes from our first project kick off meeting two years ago and it really seems an age ago that I was trying to get my head around the important work that the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority does, and understand the specific digital preservation challenges they face. It was a very different context from the higher education world I was used to working in and, at the time, and those differences stood out more than the similarities.

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Some of my highlights from the WDPD blogs

Jenny Mitcham

Jenny Mitcham

Last updated on 12 November 2020

This time last week, World Digital Preservation Day was in full swing. From my perspective a fantastic day of digital preservation knowledge sharing and celebration. So much was going on it was pretty much impossible to keep up with it all and I tended to interact primarily with the tweets and incredible pictures of cake rather than taking time to properly read and absorb all of the information.

So, I like to take a bit of time after World Digital Preservation Day to read through all the blog posts, and get a really good overview of some of the work that is going on across the community.

This task is now complete (yes...it took me a week, yes...I did do other things too!) so I bring you a round up of some of my personal highlights.

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Preserving the bits: a salutary tale from the National Archives of Australia

James Doig

James Doig

Last updated on 6 November 2020

James Doig is the Senior Digital Archivist at the National Archives of Australia


This is a tale that carries a key digital preservation message: recovering the bits from obsolete carriers and ensuring those bits are properly cared for when it is still possible to do so will lead to positive outcomes that may not be fully realised for years into the future. 

Our story begins way back in the early 2000s, a time when what are now universally agreed digital preservation principles and workflows were still being developed, and before familiar standards like PREMIS and OAIS were available.  In 2003 the National Archives of Australia commenced a project to audit obsolete carriers in its collection and to recover the data from those carriers.  The dates of the carriers ranged from 1970 up to the late-1990s.  The audit identified 300 carriers, categorised as follows:

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Not Unchanged

William Kilbride

William Kilbride

Last updated on 6 November 2020

The last rays of sun are now setting on the most westerly reaches of the map and we’ve all now had a chance to celebrate and participate World Digital Preservation Day.  I have a brief moment – for me it’s now the morning after the night before – to offer a few immediate reflections and pick a few highlights.

Our theme for the 5th November, Digits For Good, has a neatly-constructed double meaning implying both purpose and time.  Both are necessary and both were on display.  I encourage you to leave your comments here on your own highlights.

It’s too early to report the full story of World Digital Preservation.  This particular count is far from complete but the success is undisputed.  We counted 85 blogs on the DPC website (yes that’s the most ever) from 22 countries (yes that’s the most ever).  And that’s just one of the many blogging platforms: I know because I wrote for two others besides and we spotted maybe another 25 that we know of.  We have counted well over 5,000 tweets - more than 4,000 on the #wdpd2020 tag and another 750 or so with #dpa2020 from around 1900 different accounts.  There were at least 10 baking ‘incidents’ (I don’t count each individual cupcake or cookie) in the #BitListBakeOff.  Two new initiatives - the digital preservation themed pizza and at least one digital preservation themed cocktail selection, to be enjoyed while marvelling at the musical contributions. The State Library of Queensland has made the parody video into an art form.

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The EaaSI Interaction API

Euan Cochrane

Euan Cochrane

Last updated on 4 November 2020

Euan Cochrane is the Digital Preservation Manager at Yale University Library in New Haven, CT


  • Imagine being able to migrate any data from any legacy format to any compatible modern format automatically.

  • Imagine being guided through using legacy software with real-time demonstrations and tutorials that you can interrupt and take over from at any point.

  • Imagine being able to add a screen reader to any software, enhancing accessibility.

  • Image having access to comprehensive metadata about all software titles.

We are developing Emulation as a Service Infrastructure (EaaSI) software with a long time horizon - we expect the general approach that EaaSI is enabling, i.e. the ability to be able to re-run legacy software at any point in time, to be necessary indefinitely.

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2020, #WeMissiPRES and the best conference I have never attended

Steph Taylor

Steph Taylor

Last updated on 4 November 2020

Steph Taylor is based in Los Angeles, USA. 


I’ve worked in digital libraries and archives for a long time, and I’ve always wanted to attend the iPRES conference,  but I’ve never made it. Given my many failed attempts, I was not expecting 2020, the year of the apocalypse, to be any different. But these are strange times. I heard about an online event called #WeMissiPRES, hosted by DPC and I rushed to book a place. The event was not iPRES, and the organisers (friends of iPRES), explained up front that there would be no heavy papers. Instead, they were aiming for a fringe festival, coffee shop vibe for the event. This sounded perfect.! My 2020 self needed to connect and learn, but in a gentle way.

The event itself was excellent. In recent years, there has been a shift to put more professional content online within the digital preservation community and the event benefited from this move. And in the age of the pandemic, many of us are now video conferencing experts.  Organisers, speakers and delegates easily picked up the etiquette of online interactions and each session ran smoothly. There was also a social element, which was a lot of fun and helped to provide the networking element often missing with online events.

The biggest and most significant shift for me was not the technology or the well-organised programme, but the range of participants. Although I had missed out on iPRES, I’ve had a number of  jobs where I’ve been privileged enough to attend many conferences. These conferences billed themselves as international, but as #WeMissiPRES unfolded, I realised that I had never attended a truly international conference. Most of my conferences had been based in Europe. There would be a lot of European-based delegates, with a smattering of people from elsewhere. I’d only been able to attend one conference outside Europe and was one of only a handful of European-based people there, with most people being from the local region.  So here I was, in a time of restricted national and international travel, when many people around the world were barely leaving their own homes, participating in an actual global event.

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The Business of Preservation is the Practice of Care

Justin Simpson

Justin Simpson

Last updated on 9 November 2020

Justin Simpson is the Managing Director of Artefactual Systems.


Digital preservation can be a hard sell. Institutions may recognize the need. Many do not adequately prioritise the work.  The return on investment for digital preservation efforts is difficult to quantify, and not achievable in a short time span.  

We will not convince the world of the importance of this work in financial terms alone.  While the practice of digital preservation can be understood as a business practice, I believe a more profitable framing is to consider the work of preserving and providing access to cultural memory as a practice of care.

Bernice Fisher and Joan Tronto describe caring as ‘… a species activity that includes everything that we do to maintain, continue, and repair our ‘world’ so that we can live in it as well as possible.’ [1]

This definition describes the work of caring for cultural memory just as well as it describes healthcare, or childcare, or the many other forms of caregiving.  The work of caring, of all kinds, is generally undervalued, and often invisible.  Our conversations about how to provide, for example, healthcare, are often restricted to purely financial concerns. Caring is then turned into a commodity for profit making, at the expense of the real value that caregiving creates.

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WDPD 2020 Blog - Grupo de Preservación Digital

Isabel Galina Russell

Isabel Galina Russell

Last updated on 18 November 2020

Isabel Galina Russell is a Researcher and member of GPD based at Instituto de Investigaciones Bibliográficas, UNAM. 


For a second year, the Grupo de Preservación Digital (GPD) based in Mexico, gpd1is joining in the celebration of World Digital Preservation Day. The GPD, founded in 2017, is a multidisciplinary and interinstitutional group focused on the practice of digital preservation as well as supporting research and training in digital preservation. We also focus on advocacy work for preserving our digital cultural heritage. The GPD originated at the Biblioteca Nacional, Mexico’s National Library which is based at the national university, the UNAM. The group focuses mainly on the digital cultural heritage sector, working with cultural heritage institutions and universities around the country. We now also have an increasing membership of people from other sectors, all concerned about how to address digital preservation issues. 

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In Perpetual Motion: Web Archiving Ongoing Social Phenomena

Natalie Vielfaure

Natalie Vielfaure

Last updated on 4 November 2020

Natalie Vielfaure is the Digital Curation Archivist for the Research Services and Digital Strategies unit at the University of Manitoba Libraries in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.


At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the University of Manitoba Libraries and the University of Winnipeg Archives launched a coordinated effort to archive websites documenting the COVID-19 experience in Manitoba, Canada. This post provides reflections on this experience and the challenges of documenting ongoing social phenomena.

With the global proliferation of COVID-19, many of us working in the GLAM sector have felt the pressures of capturing this unprecedented experience for posterity. Cautionary tales of the ‘forgotten pandemic’ of 1918 stress the importance of documenting the COVID-19 experience through the acquisition of diaries, photographs, web archives, and other documentary heritage. Like many institutions, the University of Manitoba Libraries and the University of Winnipeg Archives undertook a coordinated effort to capture this historical event by crawling websites related to our regional pandemic experience.

The ongoing endeavour led us to reflect on some of the challenges of documenting ongoing social events in perpetuity. The COVID-19 pandemic has no definitive end date. While it is a unique experience, similar challenges present themselves in collections documenting other ongoing social phenomena, such as truth and reconciliation efforts in Canada, and systemic racism. In such cases, the greatest challenge is determining how to effectively and realistically capture a representation of these events without exhausting institutional resources. Like all digital preservation activities, web archiving is constrained by finite resources such as limited storage space and staff time. Consequently, defining the scope of such activities is an important step in ensuring that resources are effectively used. But how do you scope something that is not entirely ‘scope-able’?

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