Judith Carr is Research Data Manager at the University of Liverpool

The University of Liverpool became an associate member of the DPC in August 2018. At the time the nice people at DPC did not tell us that as a member you would be required to blog, nor that on their 2019 schedule we would be in Feb! This blog is rather like our digital preservation journey, a challenge.

We literally have only just started and none of us are experts! Nevertheless, we are trying in our small way to push digital preservation within the institution.

Our small team,  the Head of Special Collections and the Research Data Manager from the Library and the University Records Manager from Computer Services have got together to push/persuade the institution to back an initial project to look at digital preservation. We chose Special Collections & Archives as the first specific area to target because it is increasingly dealing with digital archives, both on an institutional level and from external donors. Also, the service has accredited status from the National Archives and will be expected to show evidence of working towards digital preservation solutions as part of revalidation, which is due in 2021.

Writing papers and reports takes time and we are taking baby steps at present, but we are hoping that in 2019 something will become a reality.

Aside from the task of getting senior management to agree to spend money on a project, we are also trying to raise awareness. In 2018 we had two initiatives:

  • One was a poster at an internal conference. We are quite proud of this poster and thought it summed up the need for preservation in a visual and succinct way. It did raise awareness and start conversations around the subject but, and there is a big but, we feel that other departments do not see this issue as really affecting them. The majority of people at a University work in a very digital environment, but we work in silos and people seem to assume that someone else will have ‘preservation stuff’ sorted.
  • Our other initiative was to launch a survey on 2018 World Preservation Day. This was an institution wide survey, a short survey with 4 yes or no questions. As you would anticipate we were not inundated with responses and while in no way could the sample be representative, it did produce some statistics for this blog (phew).

What can I tell you? Well 86% of respondents have come across data in a file that they had no idea how to access, an unrecognisable format; whilst 71% had data/information that they plan to keep and access in the longer term. 61% had lost data because it was saved in an old format that they could not open and 62% have tried to reformat data to a new format, only to have the data corrupted and unreadable. Interestingly, only 42% believed they currently had data that would be difficult now to access.

What can I extrapolate from this? Well format recognition is a problem, increasing perhaps as the data is held for longer periods of time. Despite people losing data, the majority continue to believe their data will be safe in the future. Evidence of an assumption that ‘someone else is dealing with this’.

Ever the optimists, the team hope to have moved on so that our 2020 blog will continue to log our journey.

Scroll to top