Robin Wright

Robin Wright

Last updated on 26 April 2023

At the end of March 2023, the Digital Preservation Coalition (DPC) Australasia and Asia-Pacific held a series of events around Australia and Aotearoa/New Zealand as part of a regional Relaunch Roadshow. The Roadshow was held to replace the planned launch of the DPC’s first international office in 2020 which was cancelled due to the Covid pandemic. The DPC Executive Director, William Kilbride came out from the UK for the events and traveled with Robin Wright, Head Australasia & Asia-Pacific to conduct a series of public events in Melbourne, Canberra, Sydney, Wellington NZ and Adelaide. The roadshow sessions attracted around 200 attendees and were supplemented by a packed schedule of smaller face-to-face meetings which introduced the DPC – and digital preservation more generally – to decision makers and managers in a host of institutions and agencies. The roadshow provided a fantastic opportunity for DPC members and non-members alike with an interest in digital preservation in the Australasian region to come together to meet each other, to find out more about the DPC’s local activities, and to share their experience addressing key challenges affecting those engaged with digital preservation in our region.

A6X smallerIn Melbourne the first Roadshow event was the official launch of the DPC’s Australasia and Asia-Pacific office which is based at the University of Melbourne. The event was held at Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI) on Tues 21 March. It began with a recorded welcome from the President of the DPC Richard Ovenden OBE, from the Bodleian Libraries at the University of Oxford, followed by a short video with DPC members from around the world outlining the importance of the DPC to their work over the last 20 years. William then took the stage to thank the University of Melbourne for its support of the office and to outline the connected themes of the roadshow: partly offering the support and solidarity of the DPC’s members around the world; and partly listening and learning so the DPC can be a better advocate for members’ needs as well as a catalyst for good practice. This was followed by presentations by three local DPC members, the University of Melbourne, the State Library of Victoria and PROV outlining their own digital preservation activities and why they are members of the DPC. After this there was drinks, canapes and time to network. There were around 40 attendees, including DPC members and representatives from other Victorian cultural and heritage institutions.

The next Roadshow event was held in Canberra the following day in the wonderful Arc cinema at the National Film and Sound Archive (NFSA). The NFSA are members of the DPC, and their CEO Patrick McIntyre welcomed delegates at the start of the event. He noted that digital was causing a reckoning for archives as it meant they had to re-examine systems and practices that were developed in the very different analogue audio-visual production and preservation environment. The NFSA are now also collecting video games, immersive media and user-generated content which produces further archival challenges, as they come from a very different production and distribution environment from that the archive has historically dealt with. Rather than needing to preserve single items held in a collection, these objects may consist of thousands of files that interact with various systems and platforms, creating a huge preservation puzzle.

This was followed by a screening of three presentations from the DPC event AI for Digital Preservation that had been held the previous week at a UK-friendly time. Presentations included those by: Jeanne Kramer-Smyth from the World Bank Group in Washington DC who discussed using machine learning to appraise video material; Sarah Higgins, University of Aberystwyth, who spoke about the development of a National AI enabled repository in Wales; and finally Abigail Potter and Meghan Ferriter from the US Library of Congress who called for a community framework for implementing machine learning and AI. There was then a panel discussion led by William with a panel of local experts: Yaso Arumugam from the National Archives of Australia; Kier Winesmith from the NFSA; and Ingrid Mason from the regional chapter of AI4LAM. There was an engaging discussion with the panel members and the audience of around 30 attendees. A video of the local panel session can be viewed here (member login required).

The next day the Roadshow moved on to Sydney for an afternoon session at the Art Gallery of NSW, one of the newest DPC members of the DPC Australasia local community. The event began with a tour of some of the time-based digital artworks by Australian First Nations artists held in the Gallery’s beautiful brand new North Building introduced by Rebecca Barnott-Clement the Gallery’s Senior Time-Based Art Conservator. Around 60 attendees then returned to the Art Gallery’s Centenary Auditorium for a presentation on some of the issues that arise for the Gallery when addressing the complex requirements of digital preservation for First Nations artworks.

AGNSW smallerThe audience then moved to an auditorium for a presentation and discussion, first by Dr Kirsten Thorpe, Chancellor’s Postdoctoral Indigenous Research Fellow at the Jumbunna Institute for Indigenous Education and Research at the University of Technology, Sydney on Indigenous Stewardship of Digital Cultural Heritage Materials. The presentation covered Dr Thorpe’s work exploring new models to support Indigenous archival sovereignty informed by Indigenous ways of knowing, being and doing in the archives. She discussed the use of Traditional Knowledge symbols and ways to support Indigenous Cultural Intellectual Property (ICIP) rights through the use of Indigenous Data Sovereignty principles. She described the NSW Australian Mukurtu hub, a global content management platform that is supporting the transformations needed to enable Indigenous digital stewardship of cultural heritage materials.

Following this Joanna Fleming, Digital Preservation Manager at the Art Gallery of New South Wales and Rebecca Barnott-Clement discussed the specific digital preservation challenges facing the Art Gallery with the digital First Nation artworks held in the collection. Then the participants moved down to the beautifully refurbished archive section of the gallery for food and drinks and more networking.

The next official stop on the Roadshow was in Wellington Aoteoroa/New Zealand on Monday 27 March. This was an invitational roundtable with William which brought together key organizations in Aotearoa New Zealand responsible for preserving digital cultural heritage and government information. The session explored digital preservation activities and challenges in New Zealand and the Pacific, and discussed the DPC and opportunities for collaboration.  The session which was hosted by Archives NZ and the National Library NZ brought together 30 representatives from eight different agencies in Wellington and Auckland working to ensure a secure digital legacy for a range of different content.

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Finally on Wednesday 29 March the Roadshow travelled to Adelaide for a day where the State Library of South Australia and the University of Adelaide had organized a session attended by around 35 staff from across the cultural and educational institutions in the Adelaide city centre. It provided a broad overview of the DPC and its program in Australasia and Asia-Pacific as well as the digital preservation challenge generally. The audience responded to a series of opening provocations and a lively discussion followed around the organisational challenges faced by cultural and heritage organisations when introducing digital preservation. The event ended with a tour of the glorious heritage buildings that form part of the Adelaide cultural heritage complex.

At the conclusion of the Roadshow the DPC was delighted to announce and welcome the National Museum of Australia as the DPC’s newest member. This expanded the total number of members in the local DPC Australasia and Asia-Pacific community to eighteen. It was a fantastic highlight for the Relaunch Roadshow. The whole ten days were hugely enjoyable and energizing, mainly due to the number of people met and the exciting and important discussions held around the digital preservation issues affecting organisations in our region. It was also fantastic to be able to promote the activities being undertaken by the DPC community in our local region. The whole tour re-iterated the importance of meeting members of our local digital preservation community in-person and we will certainly stay in touch and continue the conversation!

Videos of a number of the DPC Aus Roadshow events can be viewed here (member login required).

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