Amy Ibbotson

Amy Ibbotson

Last updated on 14 November 2023

Amy Ibbotson is Collection Management Archivist (Digital), Digital Archive Team, at Queensland State Archives. She attended the NEDCC Digital Directions 2023 Conference with support from the DPC Career Development Fund, which is funded by DPC Supporters.

Thanks to the DPC Career Development Fund I was able to attend the NEDCC online Digital Directions Conference. While the conference was not time-zone friendly for those of us residing ‘Down Under’ (2am wake up thank you very much!), the early starts soon proved to be worth the effort.

For the last 18 months I have been working in the Digital Archive team at Queensland State Archives (QSA) on the design, build and test of our custom-built digital preservation system. When I tuned in to this conference, we were just a couple of short weeks from going live with our shiny new digital archive. Being a novice in the field, I was expecting to be overwhelmed with unfamiliar jargon and concepts I couldn’t quite grasp. However this was not to be the case. This conference was the perfect exercise in reinforcement. Listening to the presenters share their knowledge and passion for digital preservation provided me with the opportunity to reflect on our digital preservation achievements thus far and think about how we will approach digital preservation into the future.

Our digital preservation work is still in its early stages here at QSA. The focus of the past twelve months has been the extraction of legacy physical media already held in our collection, with ingest and preservation activities starting in July this year. Katherine Fisher, in her presentation on Born Digital Collections, highlighted two issues associated with digital collections: that they are unpreserved and inaccessible. This rang true, and is clearly the case with our legacy media collection. These issues, along with the concept of ‘Good Practice’ that Katherine also touched on, has driven a small change in the way we approach extraction for some legacy media we know contain important, permanent value records. For these carriers, we have created a small project creating just the disk image rather than extracting the contents.  Creating the disk image addresses both the problems of preservation and of accessibility. While the long-term preservation of disk images is not part of our digital preservation strategy per se, we are realising the benefits of using the disk image to provide ongoing access to the bitstream before the carrier fails altogether. Having the disk image then allows us to extract the contents when we are ready to tackle the entire project and carry out the preservation activities required for long term preservation.  It is not ideal, but for floppy disks at the end of their lifespan it is better than doing nothing as it may be some time before we will have the opportunity to work on this particular collection.

Katherine also addressed the need to update existing organisational policies and documentation to include digital materials, particularly workflows. This continues to be a focus of our team’s work as the inclusion of digital material touches on almost every standing policy and workflow within the wider collections team. Workflows also featured heavily in Courtney Mumma’s presentation on Digital Preservation Tools. Courtney identified the documentary ‘As-Is’ and the aspirational ‘To-Be’ workflow. Workflows have formed the foundation of our work, and our workflows are consistently becoming more aspirational as we gain deeper understanding and insights into the work we do. Our workflows have become far more dynamic as we gain confidence to explore and incorporate new tools. The focus of our team is moving into live transfers of digital materials, therefore our workflows have evolved to encompass this new direction. Additionally, the refinement of our existing workflows has been necessary as the scope of the legacy media project has widened to include the ingest of digitised AV materials. Regular review of our workflows and procedures have become a necessary feature of the work of the digital archive team at QSA, and these documents are paramount to the digital preservation program’s success both now and into the future.

And about the future. We are looking to start accepting ‘live’ transfers from agencies in mid-2024. We have an idea of what we are going to face regarding digital transfers and the preservation of these materials, however we won’t really know until we get there. Working at scale with born digital collections is a daunting prospect, however the robust testing of our systems and workflows provides us with the confidence to plough forward in our digital preservation journey. Knowing we have done the basics right, scoped our internal legacy media project, created workflows, formulated digital preservation policies and strategies and written procedures, we can move forward with assurance and be brave in our decisions. Digital Directions provided the opportunity to really reflect on how we have done our work and look to the future knowing that we are definitely on track towards preserving both our legacy born digital collections, and those yet to be discovered.



The Career Development Fund is sponsored by the DPC’s Supporters who recognize the benefit and seek to support a connected and trained digital preservation workforce. We gratefully acknowledge their financial support to this programme and ask applicants to acknowledge that support in any communications that result. At the time of writing, the Career Development Fund is supported by Arkivum, Artefactual Systems Inc., boxxe, Evolved Binary, Ex Libris, Iron Mountain, Libnova, Max Communications, Preservica, and Simon P Wilson. A full list of supporters is online here.


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