Jenny Mitcham

Jenny Mitcham

Last updated on 8 November 2022

As head of Good Practice and Standards at the DPC I’m always on the look out for examples of digital preservation good practice within the community and I’m keen to find ways to amplify them. World Digital Preservation Day is a great opportunity to see such examples and in this post I share a few World Digital Preservation Day blogs that caught my eye last week, in particular thinking about elements of the theme for this year - “Data for all, for good, forever”.

Data for all…

This aspect of the theme for me is not only about sharing the data that we are preserving, but also about sharing the knowledge that we as a community produce as a result of our work. Some nice examples of both here:

Born-digital Literary Archives — How We’re Capturing the Future - Callum McKean, British Library: I really enjoyed reading this blog post which discusses some of the British Library’s thinking around the preservation of literary archives and draws on similarities to their analogue counterparts. It was an interesting insight into the work of the Contemporary Literary and Creative Archives of the British Library and some of the challenges that they face, which ultimately they do so “to preserve, interpret and provide access to our collections for the inspiration and enjoyment of everyone.”

Open reel to open source: digital preservation of the UK’s videotape heritage - Michael Norman, British Film Institute: Aside from being a hugely helpful blog post, jam packed full of useful information on file formats and workflows for the digitisation and preservation of videotapes, what I also loved about this was the fact that the BFI point to their own GitHub repository where many of the scripts that they use within their workflows are shared with all - absolutely within the spirit of the ‘data for all’ theme!

Starting with 3D Data: A 3D Data Book Sprint - University of Bristol Theatre Collection: The deposit of a 3D scan of an artist’s studio to the theatre collection at the University of Bristol led to some interesting community discussions about how to manage and future-proof that data, and also what steps to take to ensure that future 3D deposits come with the right information to enable preservation to happen more effectively. I really like this blog post as a great example of a small and focused collaborative activity that has led to useful outputs which others can also benefit from.


…for good…

This aspect of the theme focuses on how the data we are preserving can be used for good. A couple of nice examples of this came out on World Digital Preservation Day:

World Digital Preservation Day 2022 - Juulia Ahvensalmi, Michelle Harricharan and Kirsten Hylan, St George’s, University of London: this blog focuses some of the unique datasets held at St George’s that contribute both to scientific knowledge and the teaching of medicine. It provides examples of how preserving and providing access to this data continues to contribute to ground-breaking medical research. Though much of the data mentioned in the blog is historic and originally in analogue form, it has now been digitised for easier access and can be used alongside more recent born digital information sets to continue to inform research into medical conditions such as Spina Bifida. A great example of using data for good!


Data for All for Good – Archiving Reproductive Health - Clare Lanigan and Lorraine Grimes, Digital Repository of Ireland: This blog post focuses on the public good of archiving digital material related to social movements, using the Archiving Reproductive Health project at DRI as a case study. Whilst I was already familiar with this project (hopefully you are too - it won a 2022 Digital Preservation Award), it was good to hear more about it and get the word out about the work of this important project.


And lastly on to the theme of forever. This is really where the long term preservation aspect of our work fits in - even if not always intending to preserve things ‘forever’, as a community we always have our eyes on the distant horizon:

Emulation makes WORM media a reasonable digital preservation choice - Euan Cochrane: This blog post touches on the concept of ‘forever’ with a look at the viability and use of very long term Write Once Read Many (WORM) media such as DNA alongside an emulation based strategy to digital preservation. He concludes that the static nature of this type of storage might be appropriate for an emulation based preservation strategy, particularly if the media holds the software and emulation environment as well as the data itself. I found this blog post and the ideas within it really interesting.

Discovering the digital: Developing born digital access - Laura Peaurt, University of Nottingham: In this blog post, Laura mentions that the University of Nottingham have been focusing on the ‘Forever’ part of this theme through their recent work to move their digital collections into a digital preservation management system, but the blog post itself focuses on how they are now establishing provision for access to those collections and includes a mention of the tools and frameworks they are using to support this work.

Reviving Digital Preservation Policies at National Library of New Zealand - Martin Gengenbach, National Library of New Zealand: The preservation policy of any organization typically focuses on the principles in place for ensuring that content can be preserved for the long term. In this post, Martin introduces policy review as an ‘unheralded act’ lacking the fanfare that accompanies the creation of new policies. He discusses his work to demonstrate the benefits of up-to-date, relevant, and useful digital preservation policy and to more fully integrate digital preservation policy into the work of the library. I found this blog really interesting - policy review and revision is such an essential activity and we don’t talk about it enough!




So that was a few of the ‘good practice’ highlights from the blogs that came out on World Digital Preservation Day 2022. As ever I had a fun day watching the #WDPD2022 hashtag on Twitter, reading many blog posts and eating digital preservation themed bakes.

In case anyone wanted to know the final result of the twitter poll, the biscuits I created for World Digital Preservation Day have been named 'RAMmy dodgers'!

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