Clair Waller

Clair Waller

Last updated on 6 September 2022

Clair Waller is Digital Archivist at the University of Kent


The University of Kent Archive (UKA) is the repository for records created by Kent’s central administration and other constituent parts of the University. It was established in the year of our 50th anniversary, 2015, and has been developing in terms of scope, practice, and content since then. The UKA holds collects and preserves content from across the university, including papers on foundation and establishment of the University, minutes of committees, printed material such as Annual Reviews, prospectuses, newsletters, photographs documenting staff, students and the campus, student generated content, and records of campus institutions, such as the Gulbenkian Theatre.

Why now?

During the inaugural years of the UKA, efforts were very much focused on ingesting the important administrative and historical documents pertaining to the University since its establishment in 1965. However, in the last couple of years our attention has broadened, and we’re beginning to consider how we can better represent the large and diverse community of staff and students at the university. This includes the wide range of events, activities, and research that happens on campus.

In July 2022, a blog post caught the attention of our University Archivist, announcing a new Kent podcast, Researching the Rainbow.  The podcast is being developed by the LGBT+ Staff Network, and explores the exciting world of LGBTQIA+ research taking place at the University of Kent and beyond. This seemed to us like the perfect opportunity to investigate how we might capture this kind of activity for the UKA. Not only is it a fascinating and important area of research, but in the wake of the Lambeth conference 2022 hosted at Kent, it’s important we represent how Kent is supporting LGBTQIA+ people and research.

So… we got to talking about how we could make this happen!

Considering the process

Once we had decided we’d like to pursue preserving this podcast for the UKA, our first step was of course to contact the creators, host Dr Rasa Mikelyte (she/her), and producer Josh Turner (he/him), to see if they were open to the idea. We were incredibly pleased to hear that they were enthusiastic and happy to meet to discuss!

Next, Beth Astridge (our University Archivist) and myself (Digital Archivist) got together to discuss how we were going to do this. This included questions around what format we should collect, what rights needed managing, if we should also preserve the RSS Feed, is there any contextual information we wished to preserve, and how we were going to ingest the material. Through what could be called coincidence or kismet, I happen to currently be researching podcast preservation at UK HEI’s as part of my Masters dissertation, so I had some prior understanding of what might need to be considered. I have summarised our decisions about these questions below:

  • Formats

Luckily, we already hold a large amount of AV material in our archives, some born-digital and some digitised. So this decision was relatively easy – we would request Broadcast WAVE files for preservation, and create MP3 files for access purposes.

  • Rights

Podcasts can have multiple rights associated with them, such as those belonging to the host, producer, speaker and broadcaster. In this case, we needed to clear permission with both Rasa and Josh as creators, host and producer of the podcast, but we also needed to make sure they were happy to seek agreement from each guest for their episode to be preserved and made available via the UKA. In any event that a guest objected to this practice, we decided we would record the episode in the archive for clarity and completeness, but that we would not preserve the actual content.

  • RSS Feeds

RSS (Really Simple Syndication) feeds are a form of Extensible Markup Language (XML). The RSS feed includes episodic schedule information and metadata describing the podcast. RSS feeds are used to share and distribute the podcast content to the relevant podcast applications or website(s). We felt it would be useful for us to preserve this data alongside the audio content to enable future users to have access to this information.

  • Context

As with many types of resources, podcasts are not created in isolation. During their production, related material may be created, such as preparatory notes, websites, social media posts, and correspondence. It is of course up to the individual archivist or archive what they wish to retain for their collection. In this case, we decided we would like to collect preparatory notes (or show notes) related to the episodes, and the original blog post that announced the podcast, for the UKA.

  • Ingest method

As the podcast in question is being created at Kent, we decided that the easiest way for us to gain access to the content would be via Microsoft OneDrive. The podcast creators will simply drop the content in to a shared OneDrive at prearranged intervals (such as every six months), and from there we will download it and ingest it in to the archive.


Podcasts have become a hugely popular way of engaging and communicating with audiences. Podcasts can provide a record of current events and activities and therefore it is important that we preserve them in the archive. With varied content that can include discussions and interviews, documentaries, investigative reporting, drama, comedy and fiction, they will undoubtedly provide a hugely useful future research resource, and an opportunity to capture personal stories and perspectives, and context around events that might not have been recorded in other ways.

We’re yet to ingest any podcast content into the archive, however we feel that we have a solid plan of action going forward, and we’re excited about what opportunities this partnership might open up.

Our conversation with Rasa and Josh was incredibly positive, and we hope to start the process of ingesting the Researching the Rainbow content very soon. Our talk with them also sparked other questions about podcast archiving, whether or not podcasts should be viewed as research outputs or research data, and should we be recording them in the institutional repository, or in the data repository. After speaking with our Research Support colleagues, they decided this wasn’t something they wished to actively pursue at this point. However, our researchers are able to record podcasts in our institutional repository independently if they wish to.

Through thinking about how we might ingest this specific digital format, and what processes we need to put in place to enable this to happen, we’ve forced ourselves to learn a little bit, and we hope that it will naturally lead to further development of our born-digital archiving processes. We’re keen to embrace these challenges, and although it’s sometimes a little scary to learn by doing, realistically it’s the only way we’re going to come across the gaps in our workflows, and in our understanding.

If you have any questions or suggestions related to this ongoing piece of work – please get in touch! This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..



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