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Nothing About Us Without Us

William Kilbride

William Kilbride

Last updated on 22 January 2020

I was asked recently to sketch out some thoughts about archives and artificial intelligence. I am drawn to the topic as usual but with little real clue of where to start, so my point of departure is a comment on ethics. I have no real mandate to frame the ethical tone for what should be a very important debate, but if we don’t start here – if we put technology first – then there’s every possibility that we will end in the wrong place, either through sterile solutionizing, or worse by selling the whole farm to obscure, unaccountable and deeply unattractive corporate interests.

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Making a list, checking it twice…Migrating a digital national archive to a new storage infrastructure

Garth Stewart

Garth Stewart

Last updated on 10 January 2020

Garth Stewart is Head of Digital Records Unit at National Records of Scotland


Anyone who has ever moved home can probably agree that it is at once a very exciting, yet stressful experience. Fitting your personal belongings into cardboard boxes can be a real mission; delivery vans can sometimes turn up at the wrong address, or not at all; and once you do manage to transport everything across town and country to your new gaff and unpack everything, inevitably something goes missing in transit. In short, moving big collections of stuff significantly increases the risk of loss.

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How are we meant to do it?

Helen Shalders

Helen Shalders

Last updated on 19 December 2019

Helen Shalders is Digital Archives and Cataloguing Manager at Historic England


The Historic England digital archive, which forms part of the Historic England Archive (HEA), holds 60TB of data, predominately images in TIF format but also, PDFa, shape, wav and mp3 and some more obscure specialist formats.  We ingest around 100 thousand files per year which is around 5TB. What we hold represents a national data set, and the content has usage potential well beyond the heritage sector. We have recently moved our Archive to the cloud, with mixed results and we use Extensis Portfolio as our platform of choice as well as a plethora of spread sheets to manage our holdings. Digital material for which appropriate rights are held is available to view via our website (archive.historicengland.org.uk). We have just commissioned Golant Innovation to work with us on developing a DAM proposal and business model.

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Felis ADSus: herding CATS and improving workflows. The Archaeology Data Service’ CATS week

Ray Moore

Ray Moore

Last updated on 20 December 2019

Ray Moore is Digital Archivist at the Archaeology Data Service


Felis ADSus, a breed rarely seen beyond their natural habitat in the King’s Manor (York), were enticed from their lair into the wider world for their annual CATS (Curatorial And Technical Staff) week in September. With the continued support of the ADS director and management team, CATS week has become a feature in the ADS calendar in recent years allowing digital archivists to take time away from their daily activities to work on focused tasks and have those in-depth conversations about process, metadata and formats. The ‘catnip’ for any discerning digital archivist.

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WDPD: Reflections and Ripples

Sarah Middleton

Sarah Middleton

Last updated on 6 December 2019

Now that the dust has settled after World Digital Preservation Day (WDPD) on 7th November and I have finished travelling around the country for the year (I think), I have had a chance to pause and reflect on what was - quite frankly - another stupendous outpouring of digital preservation community goodness!

Unlike last year when we were in Amsterdam for the Memory Makers Conference and Digital Preservation Awards, I was on home turf in York primed and looking forward to remaining glued to my tweetdeck for a good 36 hours. I was relishing the fact that I could quite literally binge on whatever WDPD was going to throw my way, with no distractions!

And my word, did WDPD throw us digital preservation delights by the bucketload!

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Ready, steady, sprint….or how to write a policy toolkit in 3 days

Jenny Mitcham

Jenny Mitcham

Last updated on 2 December 2019

Many years ago I ran a half marathon in Bristol but running a book sprint there was an entirely different proposition.

It could be argued however that both were exhausting and rewarding in equal measure!

Last week, DPC staff joined with colleagues from the University of Bristol and a small group of invited experts to work on a new resource for DPC Members - a Digital Preservation Policy Toolkit.

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iPres 2019: Preserving the people in digital preservation

Elisabeth Thurlow

Elisabeth Thurlow

Last updated on 27 November 2019

Elisabeth Thurlow is Digital Archives and Collections Implementation Manager at the University of the Arts London. She attended iPres2019 with support from the DPC's Career Development Fund which is generously funded by DPC supporters.


A recurrent theme across many of the papers presented at this year’s iPres conference was the important role of people in digital preservation. Technology tends to dominate conversations around digital preservation, but for digital preservation to ultimately work, we need people too.

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Capturing Cultural Transformation: an update on the Hull 2017 City of Culture digital archive

Laura Giles

Laura Giles

Last updated on 22 November 2019

Laura Giles is City of Culture Digital Archivist at The University of Hull


Back in October 2017 we at the University of Hull blogged about the early stages of our plan to archive the Hull 2017 City of Culture. The project was in its infancy then so we’re keen now to share an update of where this journey has taken us since.

The idea for the Hull City of Culture Digital Archive was conceived shortly after the announcement in November 2013 that Hull was to be the holder of the 2017 title of UK City of Culture. Knowing that 2017 had the potential to be a complete game-changer for Hull, it was seen as crucial to capture a historical record of the year. There was a strong desire to document this time to guarantee that decisions made, works created, residents engaged, visitors attracted and money spent were chronicled and accessible to researchers in the future.

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Introducing the new NDSA Levels of Preservation

Jenny Mitcham

Jenny Mitcham

Last updated on 14 November 2019

Since August 2018 I have been involved in an ambitious international effort to revise the NDSA Levels of Preservation.

When I first joined the revision group I was working as a digital archivist at the Borthwick Institute for Archives.

I was a digital archivist who very much appreciated the NDSA Levels and had used them frequently to measure progress and to communicate with colleagues. The rumours that I had them printed out and pinned up above my desk are indeed true. I believe I was what you might call an NDSA Levels of Preservation ‘Super Fan’.

I joined the group because I had highlighted (for example in this blog post) some areas where I was unsure how to apply them or felt they could be subject to slightly different interpretation.

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Finding the Cutting Edge in Common Formats

Elizabeth Kata

Elizabeth Kata

Last updated on 11 November 2019

Elizabeth Kata is Digital Archives Assistant at the International Atomic Engergy Agency (IAEA). She attended iPres2019 with support from the DPC's Career Development Fund which is generously funded by DPC supporters.


Placing a session with the title “Common Formats” under the theme “Cutting Edge” seemed at first contradictory as I looked over the iPRES 2019 program, but the four papers presented in this session demonstrated cutting edge work being done with and to preserve common formats, from data tape recovery to PDF/A analysis. And read more to see what upcoming actions this session inspired! 

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