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The LONTAD project

Maria Jose Lloret Alcaniz

Maria Jose Lloret Alcaniz

Last updated on 4 November 2020

Maria José Lloret Alcañiz is the Digital Preservation and Access Managera at the United Nations Library & Archives in Geneva.


The United Nations Library & Archives in Geneva are responsible for the preservation of the archives of the League of Nations (LON) and have the mission to make them accessible for researches and historians around the world. The access is public, but the paper archives must be consulted on site; that’s probably the main reason why most users are coming from Europe and the US.

That was the situation before the 5-years ‘Total Digital Access to the LON Archives Project’, known as LONTAD, was born. The project will provide for the digitization, physical and digital preservation and online access of the LON Archives.

I remember the day, in mid-2017, when I first heard about the donation that our Director General had received from a Geneva foundation, to support the digitization of the entire LON Archives. I had been working in the Library & Archives for many years, managing a team in charge of the computing infrastructure and IT systems, including the Archives Management system. But, to be honest, I knew very little about the contents that my colleagues were cataloging into the system. The project sounded really interesting for the archivists, of course, but it was also challenging for an IT professional, so I didn’t hesitate to join the management team and take over the responsibility for technology, including digital preservation. From the beginning, it was clear that the latter was an essential component of the project which represents an enormous undertaking, requiring a substantial investment: we could not take the risk that one day the digitized material might be lost or become unusable.

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Amplifying Change: The Making of a Digital Archive

Anja Mahler

Anja Mahler

Last updated on 4 November 2020

Anja Mahler is a Digital Archivist, Atlantic Philanthropies Archive Project, Digital Repository of Ireland.


Before I took up the position of digital archivist for the Atlantic Philanthropies archive project in early 2018, I did not know much about Chuck Feeney and the extent of his philanthropic investment on the island of Ireland. Conor O’Clery’s book The Billionaire Who Wasn't: How Chuck Feeney Secretly Made and Gave Away a Fortune provided me with great insight into the work of the Atlantic Philanthropies.  Soon after I took up my position, I travelled to New York to visit Cornell University. I got to see the physical archive held at the Division for Rare and Manuscripts Collections and I also gained exclusive access to The Atlantic Philanthropies grant management system for Ireland and Northern Ireland.  It was then that I grasped the great extent of this archive. It was not, however, until I got to look closely at the grant files, which contain records that document the entire life cycle of grants-from proposals to final reports and rich ephemera, that I experienced a sense of awe because I realised the vast impact of the Atlantic Philanthropies. I recall cataloguing the document Action Plan on Bullying and how that acted as a catalyst for me to realise the sheer amount of combined energy needed to bring about societal change.  My dear colleague Phoebe Lynn Kowalewski, the Atlantic Philanthropies Archivist at Cornell University Library, put it this way to me very recently:

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WDPD 2020 - Royal College of Nursing

Fiona Bourne

Fiona Bourne

Last updated on 4 November 2020

Fiona Bourne is the Archives Manager at the Library and Archive Service for the Royal College of Nursing in Edinburgh.


It’s a strange feeling to be quietly working at home with a laptop and a cup of tea one day, to suddenly be addressing the world at large about digital preservation the next. Many archivists around the world have been doing just that this year, at home keeping pets off the keyboard and family off-screen or battling against appalling internet connections. They have been struggling to keep their archive open, the collections safe and to progress their projects. But the benefits to digital record-keeping and preservation have evidently been immense as I found out at the iPRES 2020 conference. As DPC award finalists we were asked to do a lightning talk about our nominated project, A new way of sharing nursing history – Royal College of Nursing member and public digital archives

My organisation is the Royal College of Nursing (RCN): a professional association and trade union for nurses and healthcare workers with over 470,000 members. We provide guidance on clinical and professional practice, legal representation in employment relations, pay negotiations and political lobbying. The organisation is over 100 years old and is known as the ‘voice of nursing’ for the UK. Sharing that history is a critical part of my role, but the ease of digital accessibility has blurred the lines I work within. Historical record series’ now run right up to the present bringing new audiences and new problems. A public digital archive website provides access to selected records, such as publications and annual reports, but many of our records cannot be shared publicly.

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Enabling research: digital access during lockdown

Lotte Wijsman

Lotte Wijsman

Last updated on 4 November 2020

Lotte Wijsman is a Student at the University of Amsterdam (MA Archival and Information Studies) & Intern at the National Archives of the Netherlands


After several months at home, it has become time to take stock regarding productivity. At the start of the lockdown, people spoke about all the things they could do now that they would be stuck at home. Whether this was to DIY or to learn another language, it was all ambitious. For me, none of these ambitions have come to fruition. However, several others did. I completed my paper on the significant properties of spreadsheets, which was part of my internship at the National Archives of the Netherlands. Moreover, I am now working on my Masters thesis on reference rot, while in lockdown and without physical access to the university library. This would all be impossible without digital preservation.

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Against All Odds

Patricia Sleeman

Patricia Sleeman

Last updated on 5 November 2020

Authors: Tom Wilson, Charlie Barbe and Patricia Sleeman for the UNHCR.


UNHCR is at the forefront of one of the most critical crises facing the world in the 21st century – that of displacement. 79.5 million people - 1 percent of the world’s population - have fled their homes due to conflict or persecution. Preserving ‘the history of now’, for present and future generations, has never been more complex or essential. UNHCR Records and Archives Section (RAS) preserves not just the legacy of UNHCR’s work but also of humanity. Though small in size, it supports a global staff of over 17,000 and has an ambitious vision.

Since 1996 UNHCR has preserved critical digital information about situations that have shaped our world and it continues to do so. Faced with the largest refugee crisis the world has ever seen, UNHCR has a mandate to protect some of the most vulnerable in our global society – refugees, the internally displaced and stateless. This includes the preservation of its records and archives. Preserving the digital legacy of UNHCR is the protection of the legacy of humanity. The digital content selected for preservation is testament to the work of UNHCR and a record of the victims of emergencies, for now and for generations to come.

Capture can be challenging due to the complexity and the speed at which UNHCR operates in some of the most dangerous places in the world.  UNHCR’s digital content is highly valued but often for its primary value due to the rapidity of response needed for emergencies and operations in the field and UNHCR is often an early adopter of new technologies, often challenging to preserve. Also, a continual staff rotation policy is challenging for information management.

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Please be upstanding for the Digital Preservation Awards Finalists

Sarah Middleton

Sarah Middleton

Last updated on 4 November 2020

This World Digital Preservation Day is a bit different to those we have experienced before, but certainly no less important and relevant. Coinciding, as it does every two years, with the Digital Preservation Awards, we had grand plans for a spectacular contribution to the days’ proceedings … an awards ceremony to be held at the newly opened Bibliothèque nationale du Luxembourg!

via GIPHY

However, as the events of the year unfolded, it was clear that those plans would not be possible, and we even (very briefly) considered whether we would run the Digital Preservation Awards at all… after all, surely everyone everywhere had bigger fish to fry?!

But then it struck us, that the Digital Preservation Awards was exactly what we needed in a year like this. In fact, even more so! Hard work, excellent, clever, innovative work was still going on in spite of – and because of – the global crisis… albeit generally from spare rooms and dining tables rather than offices and labs.

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Preserving websites for Sydarkivera’s member municipalities in changing times

Annie Stille

Annie Stille

Last updated on 5 November 2020

Annie Stille is a Metadata Specialist at Sydarkivera in Sweden

Illustrations from Magnus Heimonen, Web editor and media producer, Sydarkivera


The challenges of web archiving in a rapidly changing world at Kommunalförbundet Sydarkivera described with focus on the digits. Sydarkivera is a municipality organisation founded in the south of Sweden in 2015. Preserving information as an archival authority organisation in times of change is a great challenge. Some of these challenges will be presented in this blog post, written by Annie Stille, metadata specialist and responsible for web archiving at Kommunalförbundet Sydarkivera.

Sydarkivera is a provider of long-term digital preservation services. It acts as the archival authority for several municipalities in southern and central Sweden who are members of Sydarkivera. The purpose of the organisation is to preserve the member’s information flows for future generations.

In today’s society, information flows are rapidly changing and increasing in volume. This puts the onus on actors dealing with digital preservation to be prepared and outward-looking. This is, however, challenging because it is not always possible to predict how the information will be used in the long term. This places considerable technical demands on organisations working with digital preservation in terms of potential formats, technical solutions, metadata, storage and data management. Alongside these technical demands are changes to attitudes towards new situations that require quick action from a digital preservation perspective. Doing nothing or acting too slowly risks information loss.

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Digital Preservation Training for Good

Toni Sant

Toni Sant

Last updated on 4 November 2020

Toni Sant is the Digital Curation Lab Director for the University of Salford at MediaCityUK.


Training is an essential component of good digital preservation. There are several ways that people involved in digital preservation receive their training. In some cases, digital preservationists come from a library and information science background. Other times a computer science degree leads to a specialism in tool development for preservation or technical infrastructure management. However, it’s also true to say that a large number of people who engage with digital preservation projects, without prior experience, could benefit greatly from even the most basic digital preservation training.

Digital preservation training is a broad church. The Digital Preservation Coalition and other organisations with members from across a wide range of institutions, such as the Open Preservation Foundation, offer systematic training in the form of short courses or workshops. An ever-growing number of higher education institutions offer degree courses at all levels providing varying quantities of digital preservation training.

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Reflections on the year

Laura Peaurt

Laura Peaurt

Last updated on 4 November 2020

Laura Peaurt is a Digital Preservation Officer at the University of Nottingham


This year I’m reflecting on the progress that Manuscripts & Special Collections at the University of Nottingham Libraries have been able to make during this challenging and unprecedented year to preserve our digital collections for future generations of researchers.

We have spent this year putting our new digital preservation system into action. This represents a great leap forward for us in terms of our ability to actively manage and continue to develop our growing digital collections. We have also successfully integrated the system with our Collection Management software meaning that in the future our end users should be able to access our digital records directly from the catalogue.

Our first steps have been to transfer our existing digital collections into the system for safekeeping including both digitised images and born digital collections, but we have also been able to spend some time actively collecting new digital content to document the university’s role in responding to the pandemic.

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University of Bristol: World Digital Preservation Day blog post

Emma Hancox

Emma Hancox

Last updated on 4 November 2020

Emma Hancox is a Digital Archivist at University of Bristol Special Collections and Theatre Collection


At the University of Bristol we have recently been working on improving our capabilities for digital preservation. Some of the activities we have been carrying out include developing a digital preservation policy, assessing ourselves against the DPC’s rapid assessment model and implementing Preservica as our digital preservation system.

Before the Covid-19 pandemic our efforts had mainly been focussed on dealing with legacy digital material in our archive collections and digital images created through past digitisation efforts. As for organisations across the country, the pandemic brought major changes to the teaching, management, and operation of the University of Bristol. As a response to this, we decided that it was important to collect records documenting these changes in our Special Collections archive so that future researchers could understand the University’s response. We also wanted our Coronavirus records to act as a complement to those being collected by other repositories nationally and internationally. We see this and the work being done by these other archives to collect Covid-19 related material as encapsulating the World Digital Preservation Day 2020 theme of Digits: For Good.

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