Bit List Blog

In Perpetual Motion: Web Archiving Ongoing Social Phenomena

Natalie Vielfaure

Natalie Vielfaure

Last updated on 7 June 2021

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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A Framework Enabling the Preservation of Government Electronic Records

Leslie Johnston & Elizabeth England

Leslie Johnston & Elizabeth England

Last updated on 7 June 2021

Leslie Johnston is the Director of Digital Preservation and Elizabeth England is a Digital Preservation Specialist at the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration.


NARA supports digital preservation in a comprehensive manner, including guidance for record creators and record transfers, tools for processing archivists, services for copying records from legacy media, preservation strategy and file format plans, and the cloud based ERA 2.0 processing and preservation repository. Most recently, a NARA cross-agency team developed an extensible Digital Preservation Framework, which was publicly released in 2020 for adaptation and use across the digital stewardship community. The Framework is available on GitHub at https://github.com/usnationalarchives/digital-preservation, including a machine readable version of the format plans.

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The UK Government Social Media Archive – now bigger, more comprehensive and searchable

Claire Newing

Claire Newing

Last updated on 7 June 2021

Claire Newing is a Web Archivist at The National Archives, UK. 


I’m really excited to be writing about how The National Archives (UK) has improved our social media archive. Different types of social media content are listed as either ‘Endangered’ or ‘Critically Endangered’ on the DPC ‘Bit List’ of Digitally Endangered Species so it seems like an appropriate subject for World Digital Preservation Day 2020.

We originally launched our social media archive in 2014 following a project we worked on with our former technical supplier, Internet Memory Research (IMR), to develop a method of capturing YouTube and Twitter content. My colleague, Tom Storrar, wrote about the project in detail in this post on The National Archives Blog: https://blog.nationalarchives.gov.uk/archiving-social-media/.

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Digital preservation for research datasets

Antonio Guillermo Martínez Largo

Antonio Guillermo Martínez Largo

Last updated on 7 June 2021

Antonio Guillermo Martinez is the CEO and founder of LIBNOVA and is based in Madrid, Spain. 


The following blog is also available in Spanish below: 

Last year, in our guest blog post for the DPC we wrote about “Augmenting the community, lowering the risk internationally” and we commented that many times individual problems related to digital preservation have a solution by looking at the experience of the community. This year the theme for the World Digital Preservation Day is ‘Digits: For Good´, and we want to focus on digital preservation of research datasets.

Let's look back, LIBNOVA promise from the beginning is to provide the most advanced digital preservation platform to the community. And we are achieving it step by step.

A few years ago, we created LIBNOVA RESEARCH LABS, to coordinate the lines of research to be followed in technological innovation within the company. At the same time, we have been doing market research to understand the needs and the differences between sectors (e.g., cultural heritage vs research). And finally, last year, the confluence of these two paths has led us to the development and launch of a ground-breaking research data management and preservation tool.

But what have we learned along the way?

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Archiving Australian Media Arts: A cross-continental adventure

Cynde Moya

Cynde Moya

Last updated on 7 June 2021

Cynde Moya is a Postdoctoral Fellow at Centre for Transformative Media Technologies at Swinburne University of Technology  


I’m working on two ARC-funded projects out of the Centre for Transformative Media Technologies at Swinburne University of Technology in Melbourne, Australia. These are Archiving Australian Media Arts: Towards a Method and National Collection (AAMA); and Play It Again: Preserving Australian Videogame History of the 1990s (PIA2).

Both projects are a progression of CI Melanie Swalwell’s career-spanning endeavor to call attention to and preserve these at-risk digital heritage materials. Swalwell has a talent in bringing diverse institutions, roles, and people together to work on common goals.

These projects are end-to-end: choosing materials to preserve, digitizing the obsolete carriers, testing the digitized objects in emulators/Emulation-as-a-Service, checking fidelity of the emulated works with renderings on real computers, storing the digitized works with appropriate descriptive and technical metadata, and providing these emulated works to archivists and curators to store and use in exhibitions.

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Lotus Bloats: Preserving Legacy Email for Good

Evanthia Samaras

Evanthia Samaras

Last updated on 7 June 2021

Evanthia Samaras is the VERS Senior Officer at Public Record Office Victoria.


Over the past few years, Public Record Office Victoria (PROV) has been working to develop and test solutions to appropriately manage and preserve Lotus Notes email accumulations.

This work has been a part of our wider Victorian Electronic Records Strategy (VERS), which is about ensuring the creation, capture and preservation of authentic, complete and meaningful digital records by the Victorian public sector.

This blog will share some findings from our Stage 2, email appraisal, disposal and preservation project.

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Hyperreal Intangible Cultural Heritage: Digital Preservation of Dance

Anna Oates

Anna Oates

Last updated on 7 June 2021

Anna Oates is Scholarly Communication and Discovery Services Librarian at Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis in the USA, and former graduate student of the Illinois School of Information Sciences where these studies originated.


A Roundabout Introduction to Digital Preservation of Dance: Navigating the PDF/A Standard

Four months after its initial submission, my master's thesis [1] appeared on the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign institutional repository. Since this successful ingest, I have been asked to write a brief summary so that those who might find value in the research would not have to traverse through the pages of a laborious discussion on PDF, specifically as manifested in PDF/A (Portable Document Format — Archival) as a recommended format for the long-term preservation of student theses and dissertations. True to the Galleries, Libraries, Archives, and Museums (GLAM) quiddity, my research explored the meta relationship of my student work — a thesis to be deposited in an institutional repository about theses that had been deposited in an institutional repository.

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Preserving Research Data: Finding Our Legs at Scholars Portal

Grant Hurley and Meghan Goodchild

Grant Hurley and Meghan Goodchild

Last updated on 7 June 2021

Grant Hurley is Digital Preservation Librarian, Scholars Portal and Meghan Goodchild is Research Data Management Systems Librarian, Scholars Portal/Queen’s University Library. They are based in Ontario, Canada


As a service provider, Scholars Portal is building a suite of services and infrastructure to support the research data management and preservation in Canada. But a key gap is the ability of our member institutions to make use of these services when there is a lack of policies, procedures, strategies and resources at the local level. This post outlines our work to support research data preservation workflows through an integration project between Dataverse and Archivematica. And it offers some observations on the challenges facing the uptake of these tools that means the preservation of research data continues to be at risk.

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Community Standards for 3D Data Preservation

Community Standards for 3D Data Preservation

Community Standards for 3D Data Preservation

Last updated on 7 June 2021

Jennifer Moore (Washington University in St. Louis), Adam Rountrey (University of Michigan Museum of Paleontology) and Hannah Scates Kettler (Iowa State University) are Primary Investigators for CS3DP (Community Standards for 3D Data Preservation)


 CS3DP 1

Rapid adoption of new technologies can sometimes result in the creation of vast quantities of poorly documented, at-risk data.  While the immediate advantages of a breakthrough technology such as low-cost 3D scanning or high-speed photogrammetry (creating 3D models from a series of photographs) can quickly lead to widespread use, preservation of the resulting data is often overlooked and only considered when the stacks of external drives in the closet are starting to fall over.  Indeed, several years ago, we found ourselves wondering if others were eyeing their rapidly accumulating 3D data with similar anxiety, and in 2017, we decided to conduct a survey targeted at those creating, using, and curating 3D data in various fields to find out. Most responses came from individuals at universities, libraries, and museums in the United States, and the majority of respondents were, as we suspected, not using documented best practices or standards for handling 3D data.  Those who were had largely developed their own standards in house. Of those not using standards/best practices, 69% said that they did not use them because they were unaware of such standards. However, the vast majority (85%) of all respondents said they would like to develop standards and best practices collaboratively as a community.  Survey comments, such as, “I am very excited to see that you are doing this survey and potentially pulling this community together,” from an expert at a leading museum captured the desire for progress in the area as well as the sense that successful standards development would require participation from diverse stakeholders.  These results led to the development of the Community Standards for 3D Data Preservation (CS3DP) program.

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Email at Risk: Challenges and Opportunities in Preserving Email

Sally DeBauche

Sally DeBauche

Last updated on 7 June 2021

Sally DeBauche is Digital Archivist at Stanford University Libraries in the USA


Email offers singular insight into and evidence of a person or organization’s self-expression, as well as records of collaboration, professional, social, and familial networks, and all manner of transactions. Email is an essential component of the archival record -- the modern equivalent of the type or hand-written correspondence of past centuries. However, email is also a complex format that poses many technical challenges to archivists working to preserve and provide access to it. In their 2018 report, the Task Force on Technical Approaches for Email Archives described email as, “…not one thing, but a complicated interaction of technical subsystems for composition, transport, viewing, and storage.”

Compounding this complexity, email is not a constant or consistent format. As email technology has evolved and email clients have fallen in and out of use, archivists working with historical email collections will encounter a wide variety of email file types. Thus, the most essential tasks of capturing, processing, preserving, and providing access to email pose a host of technical obstacles for cultural heritage institutions.

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