Richard Ovenden

Richard Ovenden

Last updated on 26 November 2018

Richard Ovenden is President of the Digital Preservation Coalition, and Bodley's Librarian at The Bodleian Libraries, University of Oxford

I am really pleased to be celebrating World Digital Preservation Day (#WDPD2018) in Amsterdam, with the Netwerk Digital Erfgoed at the Annual Digital Preservation Awards event at the Amsterdam Museum. #WDPD2018 succeeds International Digital Preservation Day and aims to celebrate the work that is done across the globe to protect information created in digital form, and to mark the efforts made by the communities of practice that work in this vitally important area.

This seems like a really good moment to be marking the importance of digital preservation. As the volume of digital communication and knowledge creation continues to multiply exponentially, and as the systems and technologies that interact with this information become more complex and develop ever-more rapidly, the challenges that society faces in preserving and maintaining access to this information becomes greater and greater. The emergence of AI and the role of technology in major social, economic and political events (such as referenda and elections) also grows, we need to be ever-more mindful that the data that underpins these phenomena has the power to profoundly influence our lives- for good or ill. Who has the responsibility for keeping this data, and the software algorithms that utilise it, so that we can properly understand how our world is being changed, and to hold those responsible to account. The recent seizure of emails from Facebook by the UK Parliament is a sign of things to come.

The Digital Preservation community has matured into a sizeable, lively, and highly professional array of organisations and individuals across the world, which has developed a well-recognised and respected set of standards, approaches, and methodologies to help those with a need to ensure long-term access to information in digital form.  The Digital Preservation Coalition has been at the heart of all of the key developments in the field since its foundation in 2001, and it is an uplifting experience to reflect on its growth, from ten ‘memory’ organisations among its founding group, to 88 organisations today, including a much broader array of institutions, corporations, and official bodies, ranging from the European Central Bank, CERN, the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority and the United Nations, as well as more traditional institutions like the National Archives and my own, the Bodleian Libraries (on behalf of the University of Oxford). This past year 11 new members have joined, and the pipeline looks strong. One notable feature of the DPC in 2018 is its growing international scope – both through its membership (we now have members in Europe, North America, and Australia) and in our work: as we routinely livestream our Briefing Days, run more and more webinars, and as the content of our Tech Watch reports and other research – such as the recent CLIR Report on the Future of Email Archives which we were collaborators on – is purposefully international in its coverage. Digital Preservation may have national and regional flavours, but the substance of DP has global applicability.

The DPC’s work continues to be a mixture of advocacy, training, research and information sharing, and projects. Current project work is focussed on some key areas for our community such as focussing on standards (such JPEG2000 and veraPDF), on topics like Research Data Management (where we are working closely with JISC). Two projects I am closely involved with have benefitted greatly from DPC expertise ; the joint Digital Preservation at Oxford and Cambridge Project (generously funded by the Polonsky Foundation) and the Legal Deposit Libraries’ work on implementing the 2013 Non-Print Legal Deposit Regulations. In both cases, DPC expertise has been hugely supportive in helping national institutions build their capacity in DP.

As President of the DPC, I would like to pay tribute to Juan Biiccaregui and the Board of the Coalition, to Executive Director William Kildbride, and to DPC Staff members Paul, Sara, Alyson, Sharon, Jenny and Sarah for their skill, hard work, and dedication to the cause of DP. The world needs your work more than it ever has.

Keep on saving those bits folks!

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