Caroline Gauld

Caroline Gauld

Last updated on 2 August 2017

They say culture trumps strategy every time so when we devised our Digital Preservation Strategy at the University of Melbourne we built it with culture as the first principle. Our university is fairly large (47,000 students, 6,500 staff and over 100 research centres/institutes) so identifying and preserving valuable digital materials has to be a distributed and cooperative effort, no individual department has the resources to take on the challenge single-handed. The Library already has significant digital collections of enduring value, and also the expertise to lead the preservation strategy, but we know that across the university teams and individuals are managing vast amounts of digital research data, university records and collections locally, and most have little or no support for curation or preservation. Our primary challenge has been how to foster this culture change so that our staff and students recognize both the value of digital materials and their inherent fragility, and take actions to preserve them. 

dp1Joining the Digital Preservation Coalition is an exciting step for us. There is no similar group here in Australia addressing digital preservation issues and no easy way to have a conversation with like-minded people, or find out how other organisations have integrated applications or developed awareness programs. Just being able to access the knowledge base and view the recorded webinars will be a great benefit, although we would much rather attend events in person of course! Our ten-year strategy has a very broad scope covering research outputs, research data and records, University records and cultural collections. This means we are looking at everything from digital preservation training for graduate researchers through to a digital archive to house vital University records in perpetuity. The DPC website has some fantastic resources for us and the information many of you are sharing about your own preservation activities will give us very helpful guidance in the future as we do similar things.

To give you an idea of our project I will list a few of the activities underway at the moment:

  • Staff from the University Archives are trying out some workflows using Archivematica to assist them with preservation of important cultural collections such as the Germaine Greer Archive and with the preservation of vital University records such as the University Council Minutes. This is part of a larger project they are running to implement a Digital Archive and associated services;
  • We are waiting for the first group of Graduate Researchers to finish the new Managing Data @Melbourne program (based on MANTRA and incorporating digital preservation) so we can review and potentially improve it;
  • Staff from our Research Platform Services team are reviewing our existing research support infrastructure, including figshare and MediaFlux, against the NDSA Levels of Digital Preservation to determine what we need to do to augment platforms and applications to support the preservation of research data and records;
  • Our Institutional Repository team are working on a pilot implementation of a digital archive for repository material. The repository runs on Dspace and hosts a variety of publications and cultural collections. The team are using the digital thesis deposit process as the pilot material, and testing Archivematica to provide automated workflow support;
  • We are working with the Architecture Building and Planning Faculty to determine what infrastructure and organizational support is needed for preservation of faculty materials. This faculty has a range of digitized and born digital collections which need to be preserved and made accessible to students, staff and the public so they make a good pilot faculty who can help us determine the priority services and support needed, and who to work with on curation and preservation projects;
  • We are in the early planning stages of working with three research groups across the university who have significant research data, records and outputs they need to manage and preserve, to support them to identify digital material of enduring value and to effectively curate and preserve it in line with their funder’s requirements and their discipline needs.

We have started out small and plan to iteratively develop with projects and activities that will grow in complexity over time as they include more of the university community. By working with other departments who provide research support or curation services we are developing an overall plan for a digital preservation environment at the same time as we build up a culture of valuing and preserving our digital materials.


Nick Thieberger
6 years ago
Not forgetting that U.Melbourne has been a partner in the Pacific and Regional Archive for Digital Sources in Endangered Cultures (PARADISEC) since 2003. It houses a digitisation lab and is home to PARADISEC's Director. And PARADISEC had a special commendation from DPC 2 years ago:

Scroll to top