Sarah Middleton

Sarah Middleton

Last updated on 27 July 2017

In this issue:

  • What's On - Forthcoming events from April 2013 onwards
  • Who's Hiring - Job vacancies from DPC members and associated institutions
  • What's New - New reports and initiatives since the last issue
  • What's What - Capital, revenue and the great Post-it note crisis of 2006, William Kilbride, DPC
  • Who's Who - 60 Second Interview with Natalie Harrower, Digital Repository of Ireland
  • Featured Project - The DEDICATE project - Digital Preservation for Architecture, Ruggero Lancia, HATII
  • Your View? - Comments and views from readers

What's New is a joint publication of the DPC and DCC


What's On

The DCC have a number of events coming up that may be of interest to you. For further details on any of these, please see our DCC events listings at You can also browse through our DCC events calendar to see a more extensive list of both DCC and external events.

Getting Started in Digital Preservation
10 April 2013 (Glasgow), 13 May 2013 (London), 6 June 2013 (Aberystwyth), 10 July 2013 (Belfast)
The British Library Preservation Advisory Centre and the Digital Preservation Coalition are delighted to invite you to join them at one of three events which will equip collection managers, archivists, librarians and conservators with the skills necessary for ‘getting started in digital preservation’.

PREMIS and METS: (almost) everything you wanted to know about Preservation Metadata
23 April 2013
This DPC briefing day anticipates the launch of the second edition of the popular Technology Watch Report on Preservation Metadata published in 2005. Leaders in the field will be invited to provide an introduction to both standards. Recent case studies will be presented and speakers will be invited to consider emerging and future trends. Participants will be invited to reflect on their own needs and an extended discussion will follow.

DCC event: Research Grant Funding and RDM infrastructure
25 April 2013
The DCC is routinely asked to advise on methods and approaches to investing in infrastructure for research data management. One particular recurring topic concerns the use of research grant funds in the development of institutional infrastructure for research data management. For example, is such expenditure restricted to within individual funded projects; how much infrastructure funding should be included in grant proposals; and can research grants fund human infrastructure as well as equipment and facilities?

Linking datasets and articles for publication – cross-linking and workflows
30 April 2013
Data is being increasingly recognised as the foundation of the scientific record. Data journals and other data publishing models (such as enhanced publications) are opening up data and other research products for further use, re-use and validation. A key part of data publication, and linking data to other scientific outputs, is a formalised and standardised method of permanently cross-linking between the dataset (as held in a repository) and the related article (as hosted in a journal). The PREPARDE project is funded by Jisc to address key issues arising from data publication, including cross-linking between repository and journal. It aims to produce guidelines applicable to a wide range of scientific disciplines and data publication models. The project initially focuses on earth science disciplines, and the Geoscience Data Journal, a partnership between the Royal Meteorological Society and Wiley-Blackwell.

SPRUCE Digital Preservation Mashup
30 April 2013
SPRUCE Mashups provide the perfect environment to work closely with your peers and solve concrete digital preservation challenges. Practitioners will (bring along and) contribute their digital data and their requirements, and will have the chance get their challenges solved, while building a business case to help them get the resources they need to preserve their data. Developers will have the chance to work closely with practitioners and solve their digital challenges while working alongside some of the top technical experts in the digital preservation field. Whether you're a digital preservation expert or a novice, there's something for everyone at our world renowned digital preservation mashups.

3D Laser Scanning: Seeking a New Standard in Documentation
1 May 2013
Current best practice guidance for the long term preservation of 3D laser scan data, in particular the required metadata is found to be onerous by data creators. This workshop will bring together leading practitioners from the archaeological community, alongside leading data archivists and software suppliers in the UK and Ireland to work towards agreeing a new metadata standard to facilitate preservation. This event will allow for communication between archivists, creators and purveyors of software and hardware for laser scanning, as well as equipment manufacturere. The aim is to ensure that the export of metadata is much simpler and more convenient for users.

Framing the digital curation curriculum
6-7 May 2013
The aim of the DigCurV (Digital Curator Vocational Education Europe) project is to address the availability of vocational training for digital curators in the library, archive, museum and cultural heritage sectors by developing a framework for the Curriculum needed to develop new skills that are essential for the long-term management of digital collections. The objective of the conference is to promote discussion and consensus building amongst stakeholders about the main criteria and requirements necessary to develop training courses for professionals in digital curation in the cultural heritage sector.

Screening the Future
7-8 May 2013
Screening the Future is an annual showcase delivered by PrestoCentre and focusing on the latest technological trends in audiovisual preservation. This international conference brings together leaders in the fields of technology and research, and those with strategic responsibility for digitisation and digital preservation in the creative and cultural industries including broadcast, post-production, motion picture, sound and music recording, visual and performing arts. The conference aims to navigate participants through current case studies and latest thinking on standards and planning for the digital preservation of AV assets.

The Now and Future of Data Publishing
22 May 2013
There are a growing number of initiatives around data publication and these respond in part to changing research practices but also to changing policies and advocacy of more open research. The symposium will provide an overview of the current landscape, interrogate the apparent benefits for researchers and research more generally and examine visions of the future of data publication. Above all, what sort of data publication will most engage researchers and most benefit research?

IASSIST 2013 - Data Innovation: Increasing Accessibility, Visibility and Sustainability
28 - 31 May 2013
The theme of this year's conference is Data Innovation: Increasing Accessibility, Visibility and Sustainability. This theme reflects recent efforts across the globe by the largest government agencies down to the smaller independent research units to make data (be it survey, administrative, geospatial, or scientific) more open, accessible and understandable for all.



Who's Hiring

Job vacancies from DPC members and associated institutions

Digital Preservation Officer, Warwick University

Location: Warwick, UK
Position Type: Full time, fixed term (18 months)
Salary: £27,854 – £36,298 pa
Closing Date: 2 April 2013


Project Manager (PERICLES project), KIng's College London

Location: London, UK (Strand campus)
Position Type: Full time, fixed term (to 31st January 2017)
Salary: Grade 6, currently £31,331 per annum, plus £2,323 per annum London Allowance
Closing Date: 16 April 2013

What's New

For more information on any of the items below, please visit the DCC website at

Major new EU initiative to understand the costs and benefits of digital curation
The EC has launched a major new initiative to help organizations invest confidently in digital curation and preservation. 4C - ‘the Collaboration to Clarify the Costs of Curation’ – brings together 13 agencies in 7 different countries so that organizations can approach their investment in data curation and preservation with greater certainty and with greater clarity about what they’ll get back in return. ‘It can be difficult to make a convincing case for investment in digital curation for two reasons’ explained Neil Grindley project co-ordinator from Jisc in the UK. ‘Firstly the costs of curation are currently hard to predict; and secondly the short term benefits of curation are hard to define because it implicitly addresses long-term challenges. So, even when public policy or regulation requires it, practitioners have the unenviable task of persuading executives to invest in new services whilst being uncertain about their potential impact and their actual cost. This is particularly hard when they have to compete with immediate priorities that bring instant and obvious returns.’ 4C will address both concerns and provide practical guidance that will help. For a comprehensive overview of 4C, see the Executive Briefing published online.

New list on data publication
The Jisc Managing Research Data Programme funded PREPARDE project invites anyone with an interest to sign up to the new Research DATA-PUBLICATION announce and discuss mailing list.This list will be used to make announcements and promote discussion to Higher Education and the international research community about research data publication. Topics include technical and scientific peer review, trusted repository accreditation and the challenges for researchers, institutions, funders and publishers.

LoC Digital Preservation Newsletter
The February 2013 issue of the Library of Congress Digital Preservation Newsletter is now available.

Knowing the Need: optimising preservation for library and archive collections
The second ‘Knowing the Need’ report on the state of preservation of library and archive collections in the UK and Republic of Ireland is now available. The report covers the period 2006-2011 and is based on the results of 86 Preservation Assessment Surveys and analyses evidence on the use, significance, accessibility, preservation and physical condition of traditional library and archive collections.

The March/April 2013 issue of D-Lib Magazine is now available
This issue contains six articles and reports on the 'First iPres Workshop on Practical Emulation Tools and Strategies', and 'Semantic Search: Magnet for the Needle in the Search Haystack; Report on the 2012 Joint NKOS/CENDI Workshop'. The 'In Brief' column presents three short pieces and excerpts from recent press releases. In addition you will find news of upcoming conferences and other items of interest in the 'Clips and Pointers' column. This month, D-Lib features the The David Livingstone Spectral Imaging Project, which has been published online by the UCLA Library and Livingstone Online.

iPRES-2013 - Call for Contributions
iPRES, the major international conference on digital preservation, will be held at the Instituto Superior Técnico, Lisbon, Portugal, from 2-6 September 2013. The conference invites original contributions addressing a wide range digital preservation challenges. The deadline for papers, posters and demonstrations is 21 April 2013.

Making citation work: practical issues for institutions
This DataCite workshop took a holistic view of citation in the context of the day-to-day work of the repository, focusing on the practical measures that needed to overcome the barriers - whether financial, technical or cultural - to the adoption of DOIs (or other identifiers) for data. The presentations from this workshop are now available.

SCONUL Focus 56 newsletter now available
Issue 56 of the Society of College, National and University Libraries (SCONUL) Focus newsletter is dedicated to innovation in research support. Many of the articles provide practical examples of what libraries are doing to improve research data management support and how the professional role of librarians are evolving to support research data management and curation.

Jisc-funded study Supporting the Changing Research Practices of Chemists
A new Jisc funded study on the scholarly practices of academic chemists has been released by Ithaka S+R . The study covers themes such as data management, research collaboration, library use, discovery, publication practices, and research funding.


William KilbrideWhat's What - Capital, Revenue and the Great Post-it Note Crisis of 2006

Dr William Kilbride, Executive Director, Digital Preservation Coalition

In 2006 Glasgow City Council's supply of post-it notes ran out two weeks before the end of the financial year. The stationery budget was frozen so the brave public servants persevered courageously through the crisis, recycling ever more aggressively scrap paper all over the city. You might call this a ‘first world problem’.

It sticks in my mind because that same month my own department had just secured a massive grant to erect a signature, new zinc-and-glass-clad building, complete with rippling, soaring roof, cavernous public spaces and exquisite possibilities for telling Glasgow the story of its industrial history. There was no shortage of money: just the wrong kind of money. In the perverse world of public funding it was briefly easier to acquire a 75million pound museum than a 75p pad of sticky paper.

In this case, the difference between stationery and architecture was the difference between revenue and capital. Capital is the one-off large injection of money that lets you build or extend a service: revenue is the predictable, repeating and modest sums that let you run the service. The latter was suddenly scarce, the former suddenly plentiful. I don't think the difference has been properly understood in digital preservation.

Perhaps more accurately, I don't think we're yet properly able to specify where capital stops and where revenue takes over. I tend agree with Chris Rusbridge’s long stated view that digital preservation needn't be expensive (Rusbridge 2006), especially when properly compared with the costs of managing the historic environment, books, papers and artefacts. I would probably go further and say that direct and indirect exploitation has potential to defray any costs albeit to an extent that is difficult to quantify.

There's an organisational problem here too. In one organization I knew well there were 16 different sections with some interest or need for preservation - and uncertainty as to which one was actually responsible. So as an organizational issue digital preservation bobbed around, addressed fitfully with neither coherence nor depth. No one had a budget - everyone wanted someone else to fix it while we struggled to deliver the core services we were mandated to deliver (on dwindling revenue budgets).

So digital preservation currently seems expensive for two (bad) reasons - because at present it's a mix of capital and revenue, and because it's an unfunded mandated which has imposed itself without seeking permission. There may be other reasons why it seems expensive (and we may well have got these badly wrong too, for which see my favourite blog post from Paul Wheatley (2012)) but we can surely clear away some of the confusion before we start worrying about the real costs and benefits.

One way to think about the issue is to consider it against digital preservation maturity models which have emerged in the last decade. I say this because I presume that maturity means that we're running a successful service not building a new one: and therefore mature services are based on dependable amounts of revenue rather than great heaps of capital. Ann Kenny and Nancy Mcgovern's five stage model of institutional readiness is 10 years old this year but it still seems as good a place as any to consider the relationship between revenue, capital and the sorts of services we want to offer. In case you've forgotten, the five stages of maturity which they outlined are:

  1. Acknowledge (understanding that digital preservation is an issue);
  2. Act (initiating digital preservation projects);
  3. Consolidate (seguing from projects to integrated programs of action);
  4. Institutionalize (incorporating digital preservation within the organizational environment);
  5. Externalize (embracing inter-institutional collaboration).

I am pretty sure that the first of these is the cheapest for all the wrong reasons. The most expensive are probably 2 and 3, which consume a lot of resource doing things and building things like policies, procedures, quality measures, plans, tools, repositories and assessments. They imply a lot of staff development and a lot of negotiation with management. This is where capital spend is vital. My guess is that stage 5 is the cheapest (useful) state - when systems are up and running and shared with trusted friends: it sounds like the kind of thing that revenue can be spent on. So if you squint at the 5 stage model from the perspective of budgets, it looks like a hump: lower at each end with a bulge in the middle.

Of course, it's relatively simple to talk about funds but it's a lot harder to acquire them. A few years ago, The Blue Ribbon Task Force phrased it grandly but accurately:

'sustainable economics for digital preservation is not just about finding more funds. It is about building an economic activity firmly rooted in a compelling value proposition, clear incentives to act, and well-defined preservation roles and responsibilities' (BRTF2010, 13)

In my world, the value proposition and the incentives to act are the keys to unlocking both capital and revenue: and that different propositions or incentives match different types of funding for different roles and responsibilities.

In the last month we've begun a new EU-funded project that will help us measure the hump: The Collaboration to Clarify the Costs of Curation. There's more about 4C in the project website, and for those interested we've published an executive briefing note that gives the details. Our role is to consult DPC members about their needs in terms of cost modelling so that they can contribute usefully to the project; and to disseminate outcomes (and drafts of outcomes) early and clearly to the DPC community. 4C will be an open and social project, publishing results in draft, welcoming comments and corrections as we go. Regular twitter traffic (@4c_project), regular blogging ( and regular events will all invite and encourage debate.

DPC exists to reduce the size of the hump and to get as many members over the hump as safely as possible and as quickly as we can. I look forward to the day that the greatest challenge facing digital preservation is the dearth of post-it notes.


Blue Ribbon Task Force (2010) Sustainable Economics for a Digital Planet: Ensuring Long-term Access to Digital Information, online at:

Kenny, AR and McGovern N (2003) ‘The Five Organizational Stages of Digital Preservation’ in P Hodges, M Sandler, M Bonn and J Price Wilkin (eds) Digital Libraries: A Vision for the 21st Century. A Festschrift in Honor of Wendy Lougee on the Occasion of Her Departure from the University of Michigan, online at:;idno=bbv9812.0001.001;rgn=div1;view=text;cc=spobooks;node=bbv9812.0001.001%3A11

Rusbridge, C (2006) ‘Excuse Me… Some Digital Preservation Fallacies’ in Ariadne 46 online at:

Wheatley, P (2012) ‘Digital Preservation Cost Modelling: where did it all go wrong’ online at:


Natalie HarrowerWho's Who - A 60 Second Interview with Natalie Harrower, Digital Repository of Ireland

Where do you work and what's your job title?
I’m the Manager of Education and Outreach at the Digital Repository of Ireland (DRI). The DRI is a consortium composed of six higher learning institutions across Ireland, and I am based at the Royal Irish Academy in Dublin, which is the lead institute in the consortium.

Tell us a bit about your organisation
We are building a national, trusted repository for social science and humanities data in Ireland. Our remit covers historical data as well as contemporary and born-digital data, and we have dozens of stakeholders from the library, museum, gallery, archives, media and government sectors advising us on their practices and requirements. We are also developing guidelines for best practices in digital preservation (and the DPC has our full attention here), and raising awareness with the government on the creation of national policy in the area.

What projects are you working on at the moment?
There are a huge variety of projects across the DRI, from helping to organise an international conference on big data (EDF2013, April 9-10) to running Hydra Camp for software engineers interested in using Hydra as a repository solution (Trinity College Dublin, April 8-12), to partnering with Decipher in the development of their Storyscope storytelling software, and working with the Irish place names database, Logainm, to make their database available as Linked Data. Personally, I am involved in several projects that focus on social media curation and preservation, as well as collaborating with the national public service broadcaster RTE, and I’m developing a skills training program in various aspects of digital preservation and archiving. There’s a lot of variety!

How did you end up in digital preservation?
I have a humanities background as a theatre and film studies lecturer, as well as experience teaching Celtic studies and political science. I originally moved to Ireland from Canada as a postdoctoral researcher on an Irish theatre history project at Trinity College Dublin, and had to build a web-searchable database of our findings. I watched a lot of online tutorials for that task, and took an excellent workshop with the Digital Humanities Observatory, which also operates from the Academy. As a university teacher, I gravitated towards creating assignments with a digital humanities bent – as in, “let’s create a website to house the research from our class project” instead of “let’s write a 2,500 word essay.” So I’ve had an interest in the nexus of academia, the arts, and digital technologies for a long time, but my foray into the preservation realm started with my current position at the Digital Repository of Ireland.

What are the challenges of digital preservation for an organisation such as yours?
Our challenge is to build a solution that will accommodate such a wide variety of institutional needs and formats. We will be releasing guidelines later in 2013 about what file formats and metadata standards can be ingested into DRI, but it’s been clear from early on that we will need to accommodate existing practices as much as possible. The key is to strike a balance between existing institutional approaches to digital data on the one hand, and international best practices on the other hand. We are here to learn from and serve the community, but also to encourage the community towards the best possible standards of digital preservation.

What sort of partnerships would you like to develop?
We have already established partnerships with many social and cultural institutions across Ireland, and are always looking to make contact with other ones, as well as repositories across Europe and internationally. If you are reading this and interested, please drop us a line! We are also delighted to be involved in the Research Data Alliance, which aims to accelerate and facilitate better sharing and exchange of research data – something commensurate with our aims at the national level.

If we could invent one tool or service that would help you, what would it be?
I would personally like a tool that intelligently answers all of my emails for me.... But to be serious, more metadata crosswalks would facilitate data exchange and interoperability.

And if you could give people one piece of advice about digital preservation ....?
Think about what you have to preserve, what you will need to preserve in the future, and plan ahead. Think about how the data will be accessed and used, and by whom. Anticipating these factors can influence your digital preservation strategy. A little more time and energy upfront will save you headaches later on.

If you could save for perpetuity just one digital file, what would it be?
Hmmm, can I make it a compressed file of all the pictures I’ve taken since I ditched my film camera in favour of a digital one? Working in this field has made me acutely aware of the need to properly preserve my own digital libraries....

Finally, where can we contact you or find out about your work?
Our website is full of information about the project, upcoming events, and news: If you want to contact me personally, you’ll find my profile here: For the most up-to-date news, it’s probably best to follow us on Twitter @dri_ireland:


Ruggero LanciaFeatured Project - DEDICATE: Digital Preservation for Architecture

Dr Ruggero Lancia, HATII, University of Glasgow

For at least two decades, Built Environment management, production and analysis have been heavily reliant on digital data. Reflecting the aims, scope and the policies of their producers, these assets span a wide variety of digital formats including 2D vector drawings, 3D meshes, raster images, audiovisuals, raw points clouds, GIS data-sets and Building Information Models. As a result, collections of these digital assets are spread over repositories with differences in scale, policies and functions, ranging from the documentation held by Architecture practices to the records deposited in the national legal repositories.

For the vast majority of these assets it is neither intended for ingestion in institutional repositories nor for long term retention in commercial archives, consequently the risk of data loss through lack of curation actions could affect a wide category of these records. Indeed, the smallest collections, which are also the most diffused, are unlikely to be consistently curated outside archives. Nevertheless, this data often bears information of public interest, especially for future generations, such as explicit or indirect documentation of Built Heritage.

The key curatorial issue for these collections is that their heterogeneity and complexity, as well as the prevailing role of major repositories in establishing preservation and curation policies, have resulted in the needs of smaller stakeholders being neglected by digital curation professionals. Further, the curation of CAD products, that concerns numerous data formats and typologies for which agreed curatorial procedures are still missing, are particularly problematic in this context.

So, who should be responsible for the curation of these assets?

In the DEDICATE (DEsign's DIgital Curation for ArchitecturE) project we are answering this question by supporting the shared responsibility of stakeholders for their digital assets and focusing especially upon the actors of Built Environment, which are the major and most vulnerable stakeholders of these digital products.

DEDICATE is a project funded by the AHRC and hosted at the Humanities Advanced Technology and Information Institute (HATII) of the University of Glasgow. This investigation is aimed at developing a collaboration between investigators from the field of Digital Curation and prominent representatives of Architectural Practices, Engineering Consultancies and Public Institutions to identify policies, requirements and procedures to foster a common and sustainable curatorial framework for the entire lifecycle of these assets; minimising their loss risks and maximising their reusability and interoperability within their stakeholders community. In particular, in this research the sustainability of post-hoc curatorial practices, popular among archives and akin institutional repositories, is being addressed against the need, within the context of practice of commercial and administrative activities in the Built Environment, for data curation procedures and policies to be integrated into workflows – an approach which has been first entitled “sheer curation” by Alistair Miles while researching in a SCARP project.

How this project works?

We are first carrying out an audit of the project partners repositories and their digital workflows, adopting a set of experimental activities, unobtrusive observations, unstructured interviews and automated scripted analysis to assess their inherent survival risks and other curatorial issues linked to the actual data management implemented. Then, a provisional version of the researched curatorial framework will be defined against, on the one hand, the already available recommendations, best practices and debates on specific data formats, data typologies and curatorial procedures delivered by Digital Curation initiatives, and on the other, both observations on the sustainability of curatorial procedures within the studied context and data management experiments including studies on formats’ resilience and migration accuracy. Eventually, the researched framework will be tested through both testbed simulations and temporary implementations operated by project partners before being published and promoted.

Therefore, the findings of this research are not expected to exclusively benefit the professional categories of the research partners, but also the wider community of stakeholders of Built Environment related data, including archives, museums and libraries. For example, the researched curatorial framework will enhance the harmonisation of procedures across all stakeholders groups allowing for an easier integration of the digital collections both in possible federation of repositories and in institutional archives.

In addition, the extensive data audits to be conducted on project partners repositories will offer an unprecedented accurate quantitative description of the digital collections produced and retained by the groups involved in the Build Environment management and design that will clarify the needs for their curation.

Although this project is not just about the curation of CAD data, nevertheless, this is a central topic for this investigation. The research is concerned as much with analysing and experimenting on data formats and actual files sampled from project partners as studying the digital workflows these data are involved in. Having linked the research on CAD curation to actual professional issues of designers, especially for architectural practices, DEDICATE is expected to also contribute towards the creation of a specific digital curation module within CAD education and training for students and professional designers.

DEDICATE started in December 2012 and is now advancing in the first investigation stage and is expected to be completed at the beginning of September 2013.

Would you like to contribute with your comments, follow or receive more information on this project?

DEDICATE has a research blog where progress, news, partial investigation results and experts contributions are regularly presented - . Moreover, at the end of the investigation, a research seminar will be held at the HATII to present the project findings and discuss the curation of Built Environment related data with stakeholders and expert information scientists; if you are interested in attending this event follow the links on the blog to send your note of interest and you will receive more information as soon as its organisation advances.




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