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COVID-19: Advancing the Digital Participatory Microhistory

Bonface Odhiambo

Bonface Odhiambo

Last updated on 4 November 2020

Bonface Odhiambo is a University Archivist, United States International University- Africa. He is representing the Kenya Association of Records Managers and Archivists (KARMA) and International Council of Archives (ICA)


The year 2020, will be one of the memorable years that will never fade away from people’s minds. Everyone will tell you how COVID-19 disrupted their lives, how the pandemic led to several deaths, how lockdowns brought about travel restrictions, how they lost their jobs and many more. Despite the myriad of shortcomings, the pandemic has instead reinforced the participatory or post custodial perspective towards digital preservation. Building on the UNESCO communication on turning the threat of COVID-19 into an opportunity for greater support to documentary heritage and ICA’s declaration that the duty to document does not cease in a crisis, it has become more essential and necessary to advance the digital participatory micro history. As a digital preservation enthusiast, I believe that this year, the current situation, has set the pace for a new paradigm in preserving heritage and culture. Let’s embrace “Digits for Good” as a rallying call, and let’s use the pandemic as an opportunity to advance the digital preservation landscape.

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Does anyone know how the coronavirus changed the world?

Alicia Pastrana García and José Carlos Cerdán

Alicia Pastrana García and José Carlos Cerdán

Last updated on 4 November 2020

Alicia Pastrana García and José Carlos Cerdán are part of the Non-Print Legal Deposit department at the National Library of Spain


I know, you are living it, you know how your day-to-day life is changing but, what about your grandchildren? Will they understand how this is changing our lives? The best view of our society is on Internet, especially on social networks. How will a researcher of the future understand this change if he does not have access to all the information that is flowing on the Web? Is anyone preserving all that information?

Yes, someone does!

At the National Library of Spain, we are doing just that, like many other national libraries around the world. We began nominating websites about the emergence and spread of the coronavirus in mid-February, responding to a call from International Internet Preservation Consortium (IIPC). But when the situation got worse in Spain, we decided to create our own collection, making a much more exhaustive selection. Thus, the first Spanish crawl was launched on March 10th. Since that date, both we and our collaborators from the regional libraries, within the framework of the Library Cooperation Council, began an intense work of searching and nominating the information published on the Internet related to this topic.

We have already collected one of the most important web collections in our history. The number of pages that appeared and are still appearing to the situation caused by the expansion of the coronavirus is immense and most of them will disappear once this great crisis is over.  Web collections will become one of the largest sources of information about the situation caused by COVID-19.

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Digital preservation for research datasets

Antonio Guillermo Martínez Largo

Antonio Guillermo Martínez Largo

Last updated on 4 November 2020

Antonio Guillermo Martinez is the CEO and founder of LIBNOVA and is based in Madrid, Spain. 


The following blog is also available in Spanish below: 

Last year, in our guest blog post for the DPC we wrote about “Augmenting the community, lowering the risk internationally” and we commented that many times individual problems related to digital preservation have a solution by looking at the experience of the community. This year the theme for the World Digital Preservation Day is ‘Digits: For Good´, and we want to focus on digital preservation of research datasets.

Let's look back, LIBNOVA promise from the beginning is to provide the most advanced digital preservation platform to the community. And we are achieving it step by step.

A few years ago, we created LIBNOVA RESEARCH LABS, to coordinate the lines of research to be followed in technological innovation within the company. At the same time, we have been doing market research to understand the needs and the differences between sectors (e.g., cultural heritage vs research). And finally, last year, the confluence of these two paths has led us to the development and launch of a ground-breaking research data management and preservation tool.

But what have we learned along the way?

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Pushing through the pandemic...for good: a brief look at the digital preservation programme at the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals

Angeline Takawira-Magaya

Angeline Takawira-Magaya

Last updated on 5 November 2020

Angeline Takawira-Magaya is a Digital Archivist at the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals ("IRMCT" or "Mechanism")


During the pandemic, the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals ("IRMCT" or "Mechanism") has been hard at work preserving the records of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) and the Mechanism. If you're wondering what we've been up to, take a few minutes to read all about what we've been doing and why we are doing it!"

Q: What is digital preservation and why is it important?

A: Digital preservation is the active management and maintenance of digital objects to ensure that they continue to be accessible and useable for as long as required.

A key feature of effective digital preservation is that it is a process which is active and on-going and not a one-off event after which we fold our arms and sit back.

So, for example putting our digital data on robust and secure storage systems would allow us to keep the data but would provide no assurance that the data would continue to be accessible or useable over time, even if we took good care of the storage systems and upgraded them routinely.

With a mandate to preserve, we recognized that we needed to do more than just ‘keep the data’. We needed more than just secure and robust storage.

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Digits: For good – Preserving social sciences COVID-19 data for reuse

Marjan Grootveld & Ingrid Dillo

Marjan Grootveld & Ingrid Dillo

Last updated on 4 November 2020

Ingrid Dillo is Deputy Director at DANS and is co-chair of the RDA COVID-19 Working Group. Marjan Grootveld is Coordinator Projects and Policy at DANS and involved in FAIRsFAIR.


Under the umbrella of the Research Data Alliance (RDA) and on request of the European Commission more than six hundred data professionals and domain experts developed guidelines for sharing research data to address the COVID-19 pandemic. The guidelines for researchers, published in July 2020, help four domains to find a balance between timeliness and accuracy: clinical science, omics, epidemiology, and social sciences. Instruments and practices mentioned in the guidelines include data management plans, metadata, and ethical and privacy considerations, along with the technology needed for this. Furthermore, the RDA COVID-19 Working Group’s report contains recommendations for governments and research funders, for instance to promote open science through policy and investment, across international jurisdictions. Documentation is seen as crucial for all stakeholders. While researchers should document their methodology, data cleaning, and data provenance, decision makers should document their decisions. And of course, documentation should be preserved for the future.

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Celebrating 2020’s Digital Preservation accomplishments at the National Library of Luxembourg

Roxana Maurer

Roxana Maurer

Last updated on 5 November 2020

Roxana Maurer is the Digital Preservation Co-ordinator at the National Library of Luxembourg (BnL).


Yesterday evening the National Library (BnL) was supposed to host the ceremony for the Digital Preservation Awards 2020 here, in Luxembourg City. Like so many other in-person events however, the Awards were moved online because of the pandemic. As I had the pleasure and privilege to be one of this year’s judges, I can only recommend that you read more about the finalists on the DPC’s website, because extraordinary work is happening in the field of Digital Preservation. Moreover, definitely do not forget to check the winners at 12:00 GMT today!

Although it might be easier to focus on the negative aspects with everything that has been happening this year, I would like to use this blogpost to focus on this year’s theme for World Digital Preservation Day (WDPD20): “Digits: for Good”. There are still two months left in this year, but I’m going to take this opportunity to look at and celebrate all the things we did manage to do this year (or the things we learned from what didn’t work out), instead of looking at what we had planned or hoped to do.

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Supporting Digital for Good

Anthea Seles

Anthea Seles

Last updated on 4 November 2020

Anthea Seles is the Secretary General of the International Council on Archives (ICA). 


logoThe digital preservation discussion needs to be broadened to include colleagues from different parts of the world that face vastly different realities than those confronted by practitioners in developed countries. That is not to say there aren’t transversal issues around cost, access to trained personnel, but many of us working in the ‘West’ have not had to deal rolling blackouts or inability to find sufficient basic infrastructure to support our programmes.

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Digital Preservation is not a Tool, it is a Process

Özhan Saglik

Özhan Saglik

Last updated on 4 November 2020

Özhan Saglik is a Lecturer at Bursa Uludag University Library.


I graduated from a bachelor degree in 2012 and master degree in 2015 from Istanbul University Information Science Department. I have been working in the library and archives since 2013. Now, working at Bursa Uludag University and PhD student at Istanbul University Information Science Department with the topic of trustworthiness of e-signed records.

"The things we loved change with us, so they are part of our richness"

Turkish famous writer Ahmet Hamdi Tanpinar wrote this quote in his great book called Five Cities which was writing his memories in Ankara, Erzurum, Konya, Bursa and Istanbul. He lived in these cities and many things changed with him.

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How Does Digital Preservation Implementation Look Like in Areas of Unrest?

Rawia Awadallah

Rawia Awadallah

Last updated on 4 November 2020

Rawia Awadallah is Manager of the ROMOR Project in Palestine


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With the rapidly increasing reliance on digital material, digital preservation (DP) becomes critical to ensure long-term availability and understandability of information resources for further re-use and the development of new knowledge.  DP is a crucial activity of information management in various organizational settings. However, the priorities in many areas on this planet go far away from preserving digital content and focus only on preserving the basic survival requirements of people.

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Current State of Digital Preservation Services in Finland

Heikki Helin

Heikki Helin

Last updated on 4 November 2020

Heikki Helin is Senior Technology Coordinator for Digital Preservation Services at CSC - IT Center for Science Ltd in Espoo, Finland


Two years ago, on WDPD2018, we wrote a kind of a status report about national digital preservation service in Finland. A lot has happened since then. As today is the 5th anniversary of our digital preservation service in production (yes, exactly today), it’s perhaps a time to give a short overview of what has happened since.

Back in 2018, we provided the preservation service only for the national cultural heritage sector, but during 2019 this was extended to also include research data (national universities, research institutes, etc.). All this within the remit of the Ministry of Education and Culture of Finland. This, obviously, increased the number of our potential partner organisations significantly, and especially the potential amount of data to be preserved. At the end of 2018, we had preserved about 200 terabytes of data, but today the number is roughly one petabyte. The amount of data is growing on an average of 1.2 terabytes per day, with data flowing in constantly 24/7.

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