Lamia Sassine

Lamia Sassine

Last updated on 3 November 2021

Lamia Sassine is Digital Curation Lab Coordinator at the University of Salford

As a relative newcomer to digital preservation the theme Breaking Down Barriers really spoke to me. My background is in archaeology and museum studies, but I started to get attracted to digital curation during my PhD. My research investigated perceptions of Phoenician collections from 20 different museums, and I envisioned the best way to bring them together would be through a digital platform, but this is a story for another time.

So, what about now?

I just started my new role as Digital Curation Lab (DCL) Coordinator based at the University of Salford's MediaCity UK campus, and there are exciting times ahead. My job involves developing a digitization station with long-term preservation services for different types of materials: audio, video, photographs and more. At the DCL, we will work with a range of clients and collections to digitize, preserve, and curate for long-term preservation.

I have only been with the DCL for a short time, but I am really looking forward to the digital curation works ahead. To me, this is an opportunity to interact with collections I would never have encountered if I had followed a more traditional route in academia or museum studies. Another aspect I am enthusiastic about is the fact that I get to be at the heart of a digital curation hub and can work on all these different projects. This means I will be able to find connections and links between them to potentially expand on and deliver more interdisciplinary and barrier-breaking programmes down the line.

So, this is what's in it for me, but there's definitely more to it. The Digital Curation Lab was established by Dr Toni Sant at MediaCityUK in 2019, who continues to lead it through this new development. The location is significant because it‘s at the heart of a wide range of activities both within the cultural sector as well as beyond it. The facilities allow for a crossover between different industries, from arts, film, radio, architecture, and even the financial sector. As digital curation is everywhere, it’s for everyone. Our job at the DCL is to make it more accessible and sustainable.

Speaking of which, I was asked to discuss sustainability during my interview for this position. Obviously, the DCL aims to be financially self-sustaining and have as low an environmental impact as possible. To me, sustainability means more than that. It also means offering a service that is wanted and needed, by addressing the needs of an audience or community. After all, what is the point of preserving something perpetually in the digital space if it has no relevance to anyone? So, I am also hoping to work on community-led projects during my time at the lab. I genuinely believe that listening to people is the best way to create relevant cultural materials, and I am glad the lab offers a platform for this. As someone with a mixed personal heritage background, I don't always feel represented in the cultural and academic space and I am working to change this. My role as Digital Curation Lab Coordinator is not only to facilitate digital curation projects but also to amplify all the voices within the collections.

To come full circle, I think the potential of digital preservation in general and the DCL in particular is huge. This is a space to connect disciplines, collections, and ultimately, people. Working directly with objects in museums is where I started.  In a digital curation context, I am starting to see that materiality can transcend the physical dimension of things. Now, as I work with physical collections and born-digital objects, I get to bring their stories onto a new stage.

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