Jenny Mitcham

Jenny Mitcham

Last updated on 24 October 2023

Earlier this year, we established our DPC Reading Club. It is something we had talked about doing for a while but we finally put those thoughts into action and held our first session in April this year. It has been a monthly fixture in our events calendar ever since and we even managed a face-to-face session at our unconference in June.


Our Reading Club sessions are small, informal and friendly and genuinely one of the highlights of my month. I was really sad to miss last month’s after being called away to a conference in Stockholm. I mean, the Stockholm conference was great, but I’d so been looking forward to seeing what everyone thought of ‘Alexa, is this a historical record?’! 


I’d love to get a few more people coming along though, so this blog post is a series of (highly persuasive) counter arguments to any excuses you might have for not signing up to one of the forthcoming sessions in our events calendar…


I missed the first one and it's too late to start coming now…

Though we have a few regulars who have come to several Reading Club sessions, we also have new people every week. Each session focuses on a different topic. So long as you have done the reading, you’ll be perfectly placed to join in with the discussion.

I don’t have time to do the reading

Hmmm yes…I do get this one. One of the reasons I think Reading Club is necessary is because it is so hard to fit reading into a busy working life with so many different priorities to balance. Before I started organizing Reading Club, I very very rarely found time to sit down and read anything apart from the occasional blog post. Since it started I can confidently say I have made time to read something new every month. Having the event in my calendar means that I make time to do the reading beforehand and it feels good. This is important because there is so much going on in the world of digital preservation and it is valuable to step away from what we are doing and scan the horizon occasionally.

I don’t like the look of the article you’re reading

Not everyone is going to be interested in everything we read in our Reading Club and that is to be expected. We try to make sure our reading covers a range of topics and themes relevant to digital preservation. So far we have covered topics such as digital forensics, accessibility, ethics, AI and skills - all really interesting stuff. We do also encourage suggestions for what we should read. If you don’t like what we’re reading, feel free to get in touch and suggest something for next time. We have a pretty short and straightforward list of criteria on our main Reading Club page - that is just to make sure that we don’t end up setting reading that is too long, too old or hidden behind a paywall.

It falls on a bad day or time

We don’t have a set time or day for DPC Reading Club. We rotate it around so it suits our Members across the world and that everyone can join the occasional session. Check out our events page to see when the next Reading Club sessions are scheduled and which topics they are on.

It is hard to justify to my boss

I see keeping up with relevant and topical digital preservation literature to be a key element of the professional development of anyone working in digital preservation. Even better is having the opportunity to discuss that reading with a group of interested people. We talk about what we liked about the article, what we didn’t agree with, what surprised us, what we learnt that was new to us and whether we might change anything we do as a result of this new knowledge. It makes that reading so much more valuable than the more typical approach of read it and forget it! Why not talk to your boss about Reading Club and flag it up as an element of your own continuous professional development?

I’m worried about making a fool of myself

It can be daunting joining a small group discussion when you don’t know who else will be there - I totally get that. You will be made to feel very welcome though and you can join in as much or as little as you like. We have a real mixture of people who have joined a Reading Club session, from Members who are new to the profession to those who are experienced practitioners (but even those experience practitioners may not know much about the topic or article we are discussing). If you prefer to mostly sit and listen, that is totally fine. Hopefully you will soon see that your thoughts and opinions are as valid as anyone else’s and will feel confident enough to join in.


Hope to see you soon!

…so we’d love to see you at one of our forthcoming Reading Club events (no excuses).

We have three sessions to choose from right now - hopefully at least one of these is of interest.

  • On October 25th (next week) at 08:00 UTC we are discussing an interesting article from James Cummings called "Academics Retire and Servers Die: Adventures in the Hosting and Storage of Digital Humanities Projects". I know it is interesting because I read it well in advance. This is a pretty honest account of what can go wrong with the preservation of data from digital humanities projects - loads of lessons to learn here.

  • On 23rd November at 22:00 UTC we’ll be focusing on web archiving with an article called “Representing Biases, Inequalities and Silences in National Web Archives: Social, Material and Technical Dimensions” from Kieran Hegarty. This article came as a recommendation from one of our members in Australia and I’m looking forward to reading and discussing it.

  • And the last session of the year will be on 18th December at 16:00 UTC and we’ll be looking at a paper from Sophie van Hoek called "Walking a tightrope across the gap of digital preservation and environmental sustainability: The National Archives of the Netherlands and the challenge of achieving a climate-neutral digital archive". Again, I think this one is guaranteed to lead to an interesting conversation.

  • Who knows what we'll be reading in January but feel free to suggest something...

These sessions wouldn’t work so well with a large group so places are deliberately limited. Do sign up early to avoid disappointment.


More information about Reading Club (and a reading list so you can catch up on anything you've missed) can be found here.

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