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How FAIR-Aware are your users?

Marjan Grootveld & Ingrid Dillo

Marjan Grootveld & Ingrid Dillo

Last updated on 17 June 2021

Marjan Grootveld is Research Data Expert Team Leader at DANS and Ingrid Dillo is Deputy Director at DANS and FAIRsFAIR project coordinator.


Ever since the origin of the FAIR data guiding principles in 2014, Data Archiving and Networked Services (DANS) staff have been involved in activities on thinking about their implications and implementing them. The conviction that research data sets in our long-term repository and in other repositories should be Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, and Reusable is deeply ingrained in the DANS organisation and in our services. We were involved as co-authors of the original publication on the FAIR principles, developed and tested FAIR metrics, worked on tools to rate the FAIRness of datasets, evaluated how our own data archives score on FAIRness, compared the principles to the requirements of the Data Seal of Approval and the CoreTrustSeal, and explored the applicability of the FAIR principles to Software Sustainability. At iPRES 2019 we presented an overview of our first five years of FAIR activities.

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5 tips to rock the RAM

Kim Harsley

Kim Harsley

Last updated on 25 November 2021

Kimberley Harsley is an Archivist at the Natwest Group.


The introduction of the DPC’s Rapid Assessment Model (RAM) in 2019 came at a perfect time for me. Still reasonably new to NatWest Group Archives, it was a great opportunity for me to learn more about our digital preservation work whilst contributing to it. This month, I revisited the RAM to assess how far we’ve come since then. I found it much easier the second time around as I was more familiar with the content and the archive itself. Having completed the RAM twice, here are my top tips.

1.     Talk it over

Although it’s certainly possible to do the assessment as a lone archivist, it’s useful to discuss your scores with someone else. Some parts of the assessment require careful consideration  about your particular situation. For example, working in a large organisation meant that assessing the commitment of senior stakeholders required close thought about who our senior stakeholders actually are. Rationally, the chief executive doesn’t need to be invested in our digital preservation programme for it to be successful (that’s not to say I wouldn’t be delighted if she were to give her support!). Being able to discuss this and challenge each other’s ideas made our eventual assessment more meaningful.

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Business as (un)usual

Emily Chen

Emily Chen

Last updated on 11 June 2021

Emily Chen is Digital Archivist at the Parliamentary Archives. 


I actually started in the middle of the pandemic so I can’t tell you what business as usual looks like at the Parliamentary Archives (I’ve been told that biscuits figure hugely in it though). I am part of the Digital Preservation Team here, and so whilst some of my colleagues have begun returning to the office, I have only managed to be on site a grand total of two times since I started. To me working from home IS the norm. The joy and curse of being a digital archivist!

Whilst many things had to be put on hold in the middle of the pandemic, much of our work continued and was indeed able to expand. Primarily, in the areas of ingesting born-digital records into our digital repository and our archiving of the Parliamentary web estate.

A major focus of our ingest was on the roughly quarter of a million records pulled from our decommissioned ERMS (SPIRE), which reached end of life in 2019. Since then we had established a mature workflow that streamlined and automated a great deal of the cataloguing of these records. This meant that even with no prior digital preservation experience, it only took a bit of training for our cross-office colleagues to get to ingesting on their own. They were able to give us their invaluable help and support in steaming ahead with the ingest and over the period of April 2020 to March 2021 we ingested nearly 2/3rds of all the folders exported to date. This was around 13,000 individual folders (each corresponding roughly to one child workflow).

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Doing digital - putting theory in to practice (part one)

Clair Waller

Clair Waller

Last updated on 9 June 2021

Beth Astridge (Project Archivist, UKPA) and Clair Waller (Digital Archivist), University of Kent Special Collections and Archives.


This is the first in a series of three blog posts from the University of Kent Special Collections & Archives team. In this series, we will be describing some of our ongoing work to implement robust workflow and processes for the acquisition and management of born digital records, driven by our work to establish the UK Philanthropy Archive at Kent. 

In this blog we introduce the UK Philanthropy Archive collection and our thinking relating to the processes involved with the acquisition and transfer of digital records.  

What is the UK Philanthropy Archive? 

The UK Philanthropy Archive is a growing archive collection within the University of Kent Special Collections & Archives department. The archive was established in 2019 with a vision to develop an eminent research resource reflecting the breadth of UK philanthropy.  

The UK Philanthropy Archive identifies, collects and preserves the archives and papers of UK philanthropists, philanthropic trusts and foundations, philanthropic networks, and other material related to philanthropy, grant making and fundraising. These archives and papers form a research collection that represents the history, experiences and perspectives of philanthropists, trusts and foundations and the impact of grant giving and philanthropy on UK society.  

The material in the UK Philanthropy Archive reflects the standard range of formats found across many modern archive collections – including paper records, photographic and audio-visual material, objects, and digital records. The collections that we are processing are usually hybrid collections containing a mix of paper and born digital records, and sometimes entirely born digital collections. Many of the archives reflect the operational aspects of grant giving organisations or projects – similar to a business archive collection. Some also include additional personal or contextual material relating to the individual founder, philanthropist or group that established the trust/foundation.   

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At the British Library Sound Archive: an overview of audio data preservation

Tom Ruane

Tom Ruane

Last updated on 7 June 2021

Tom Ruane is a Preservation Audio Engineer at The British Library. He recently completed the DSM6010 Digital Preservation course at Aberystwyth University with support from the DPC’s Career Development Fund, which is funded by DPC Supporters


The British Library is home to the UK’s Sound Archive, which holds over 6.5 million at-risk sound recordings, held on formats from the dawn of sound recording technology, all the way through to contemporary digital carriers.  In my role as a Preservation Audio Engineer, I’m part of a dedicated team working to preserve these recordings and ensure ongoing access for the nation.

During the first lockdown in 2020, I applied for the DPC Career Development Fund and was kindly awarded a scholarship to study DSM6010: Digital Preservation, a six-month, postgraduate course at Aberystwyth University.  I completed the course at the end of February 2021 and found its content to be hugely beneficial, giving me a solid grounding in the principles of digital preservation and a much broader, holistic view of data curation.

One point that struck me during my studies, was that the development of digital preservation as an organised discipline, parallels that of audio preservation in many ways, a field that I have spent the majority of my career in.  In retrospect, this isn’t really that surprising as digital preservation is principally format agnostic, and that any information preservation dependent on technology, faces the same risks - losing the ability to access the information and interpret it correctly.  

So in this post, I thought it might be of interest to DPC members to provide an overview of how we, in the Technical Department of The British Library Sound Archive, currently manage the data we create and prepare it for ingest into the Library’s centrally managed digital repository for long-term preservation; a process that has taken several years to develop and continues to be iterated upon.  

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Checking in from the University of Hull

Laura Giles

Laura Giles

Last updated on 1 June 2021

Laura Giles is Digital Archivist at the University of Hull.


It’s been a long time since we at the University of Hull have contributed to the DPC blog so we are just checking in to say “Hi” to the community and that we’re still here! We are still working on processing the digital archives that form the Hull UK 2017 City of Culture collection and developing a set of workflows to try and ensure that records are processed efficiently, preserved and eventually accessed in as straightforward a manner as possible for researchers.

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Tackling the digital preservation challenge at the University of Glasgow 

Clare Paterson

Clare Paterson

Last updated on 28 May 2021

Clare Paterson is Senior Archivist (Business & Digital) at the University of Glasgow. 


The digital preservation challenges we face at Glasgow will be familiar across the DPC community: increasing volumes of digital data which do not fit the well-honed record-keeping procedures of our long-familiar paper-based systems; expectations of quick, if not immediate, availability of digital information to support our work, research, and learning; and the ever-shifting landscape of technology to name just a few.  

Since 2015, teams across the University have been collaborating through our Digital Preservation Working Group (DPWG) and building the case for capacity, resource, and expertise.  This collaborative approach benefits us greatly.  Through our DPWG we bring together colleagues from the Digital Library Team, IT Services, Research Information Management (RIM), Data Protection and Freedom of Information Office (DP&FoI), Archives & Special Collections (ASC) and the Digital Curation Centre to share expertise, discuss challenges, and work together on our shared priorities.  Beyond the University, we are always eager to engage with the digital preservation, archival, and open research communities to learn from others experiences and expertise.  

Whilst aware of the scale of the digital preservation challenges we face; we are making progress, both as a working group and as individual teams working in our own areas.  These are some of our highlights:

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Digital Preservation Futures: Your questions answered

Sarah Middleton

Sarah Middleton

Last updated on 21 May 2021

Following on from our excellent Digital Preservation Futures Webinar Series with DPC Supporters Arkivum, Artefactual, AVP, LIBNOVA and Preservica… there were some questions we just didn’t have time to ask! In this blog post, our Supporters provide answers to those questions:

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IDCC21/RDAVP17: An out of this world data curation and digital preservation experience

Thandokazi Maceba

Thandokazi Maceba

Last updated on 19 May 2021

Thandokazi Maceba is the Data Curator at Digital Library Services, University of Cape Town. She attended IDCC 2021 and the RDA 17th Virtual Plenary with support from the DPC’s Career Development Fund, which is funded by DPC Supporters.


In August 2020 I joined the University of Cape Town (UCT) as a Data Curator at the Digital Library Services department in the Libraries. In this role, my responsibilities center around supporting and enhancing digital scholarship and digital preservation activities at UCT. I collaborate across departments in the Libraries, and with the eResearch Centre to develop and maintain workflows and tools that facilitate faculty and staff use of various digital data publishing and preservation platforms.

UCT Libraries joined the DPC in October 2020, and our affiliation has already afforded me the opportunity to participate in a number of online courses and events, including the IDCC 21, RDA VP17 and the IDCC/RDA Unconference (19-22 April 2021), enabled through the DPC Career Development Fund. Without this Fund, I would not have been able to attend these conference proceedings and I would like to express my gratitude to the DPC for providing me with this valuable learning opportunity. In this blog, I will share some of the things I have learned from the conferences.

The theme for IDCC21 was: ‘Data quality and data limitations: working towards equality through data curation.’ The theme for the RDA VP17 was ‘Opening Data for Global Changes.’ Attending these conferences was of paramount importance for me, as I have not yet had many opportunities for skills development in the data curation and digital preservation field. I wanted to develop my knowledge about data curation, open science and digital preservation.

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Teaming up to save the bits: digital sustainability in Wales

Sally McInnes

Sally McInnes

Last updated on 10 May 2021

Sally McInnes is Chair of the ARCW Digital Preservation Group and Head of Unique Collections and Collections Care at the National Library of Wales.


The ability to remotely connect and network with colleagues has been one of the positives that have arisen from these challenging times. From my home in Aberystwyth, which is not always the most accessible of places by non-digital highways, I am able to engage with experts, learn from their experiences and contribute to discussions on a global basis. Although we have been building digital preservation capacity in Wales for many years, these encounters have inspired us to extend the reach of the work being undertaken to promote digital sustainability. Working with the sector, developing the use of digital technologies and sharing skills are key elements of the National Library of Wales’s (NLW) new strategic plan ‘A Library for Wales and the World, 2021-26’, which will be launched shortly.

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