Michelle Lindlar

Michelle Lindlar

Last updated on 23 March 2018

The following is a guest post by the iPRES2018 Social Media Team. The interview was lead by Michelle Lindlar.


iPRES - the International Conference on Digital Preservation - is without a doubt the biggest and most important conference of the year for everyone involved in digital preservation, curation and long-term data stewardship. The conference series has been bringing together researchers and practitioners from around the world for the past 15 years, with the conference locations alternating between Asia-Pacific, Europe and North America. This September, iPRES will be returning to the US and will be co-hosted by MIT and Harvard. Let’s hear directly from the co-organizers Nance McGovern and Ann Whiteside what we can expect from the iPRES2018.

How would you describe iPRES to someone who has never heard about the conference series?

Ann: iPres is an amazing opportunity to learn about digital preservation from the international perspective; to hear from people in many different kinds of institutions, and to learn from all of those perspectives. One will get a global view of digital preservation at this conference.

Nance: iPRES is where researchers, practitioners, instructors, students of all kinds, and providers can contribute and learn about recent and emerging digital preservation developments and advances. I have participated in every iPRES, one way or any other, since the second conference - it’s the one week of the year when everything features digital preservation!

And now the 15th International Conference on Digital Preservation is coming to Boston & Cambridge! What can we expect?

Nance: For people who have attended previous iPRES conferences, there will be a familiar combination of compelling and current programming. 2018 is the 15th anniversary and we are going to roll out the fun for that looking back at accomplishments and highlights and ahead to new opportunities and challenges. We are also trying some new things this year - our first digital preservation gameroom (in any form - board or video or whatever people come up with); a new category for original grahpics that explain, illustrate, inform or highlight core concepts and practice for digital preservation. We are trying to encourage even broader participation through early feedback for paper abstracts, expanded outreach, and lightning talks plus some opportunities for virtual participation we’re exploring. We are using the Open Science Framework for the proceedings to openly and comprehensively share the proceedings.  

Ann: We can expect the usual high quality and range of papers and panels, workshops and tutorials, and the themes are exciting and forward looking: sustainable approaches to digital preservation, lessons learned and shared in and across domains, and collaboration.

iPRES is traditionally a conference which brings together research and practice. How is iPRES 2018 embracing both strands?

Ann: We are sharing information about iPres 2018 across multiple domains and communities to ensure that we can bring together research and practice and make connections between the two.

Nance: We hope that the theme (where are and science meet: the art and science and the science in art) will encourage submissions from researchers and practitioners who might not normally see themselves at iPRES to join in and hopefully come back to future conferences. Digital preservation is an applied field - research and practice belong together, both deepen our understanding and extend our practice.

This is the first time that two institutions are co-sponsoring iPRES. Twice the fun or twice the work? How is the organization of the conference split between the two institutions?

Nance: Digital preservation is a shared responsibility and collaboration between and across organizations is a a key to success for sustained good practice. Co-sponsoring iPRES is another way to emphasize the importance of working together. Our partnership - the strengths of both institutions - inspired the conference theme, which has been really fun to focus on. Whether they realize it or not, attendees will benefit from the best of both organizations and really enjoy their time in Boston and  Cambridge. It has been fun working with Ann and others at Harvard. Shout out to Andrea Goethals for her efforts in getting our planning started before she started her new position in NZ.

Ann: I think this is a great opportunity, and it reflects the theme of collaboration in the conference itself. We are bringing our institutional strengths to the conference through our perspectives and the keynote speakers, and the events.

Let’s turn the clock forward to October and the two of you are sitting somewhere and looking back at a successful conference. What made it successful and what was it like?

Nance: We will have had a wonderful mix of engaged attendees who were buzzing about what they heard, saw, learned, contributed, and want to do next. Success will be that new projects, partnerships, and possibilities emerged as a result of the conference. We will have been in some way successful in expanding participation in person and virtually - more people from different places, domains, and backgrounds. The 15th anniversary was embraced and provided a frame for future directions and themes.  The new things we tried were enjoyed and some continue.

Ann: We will have had a full house of attendees from a diversity of countries and perspectives shared in the sessions. Attendees will have had the opportunity to see our two institutions (at receptions) and will have met our institutional colleagues. And our institutional colleagues will be able to share what they learn at the conference with each other.

Ann Baird Whiteside is Librarian/Assistant Dean for Information Services at the Harvard University Graduate School of Design.

Nancy Y. McGovern is the Director for Digital Preservation at MIT Libraries.


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