3 December 2015 | 10:00 - 16:30 Belfast | Public Records Office of Northern Ireland


Digital preservation, from almost every angle, resolves to a question of metadata and people. If the core challenge of digital preservation is that software and hardware and people change, then fundamental to any remedial action will be some documentation about the configuration of software and hardware and people at the point of creation. Metadata is such an obvious solution to so many of our questions, but it comes at some considerable price. It has long been realised that generating all this metadata is expensive and repetitive. Considerable effort has been expended on tools that can generate metadata directly from collections and on services (ie registries) to support consistency and reduce one-off costs. Standards like PREMIS and METS allow that metadata to be expressed consistently and tied to that which they describe. It’s expansive in the present and it ought to expand through time as new preservation actions are executed and new uses documented. So digital archives become freighted with documentation of the when and the why and the who and the how of their existence. One is tempted to ask how much metadata is it realistic to gather, and how do we know when we’ve got enough?

If the purpose of digital preservation is dependable long-term access, then ensuring that users have sufficient documentation to locate, access and interpret archival holdings is the only true measure of success. Any objects which don’t serve this purpose are probably superfluous; any omission that prevents confident use is probably a dereliction of duty. So it’s perhaps surprising that the digital preservation community doesn’t spend more time considering our user communities. Only if we can understand the changing needs of our user communities can we assess whether our metadata efforts are in vain. Only when we understand our users can we properly understand the value we offer.

This workshop will review and update DPC members on current themes in preservation metadata, paying special attention to the role of user communities can offer as a partner and benchmark for metadata creation. It will examine mechanisms for tracking users through time, using their requirements to frame practical preservation activities.

Participants at the workshop will:

  • Better understand the OAIS concept of the ‘designated community’ and how it can be used to shape preservation outcomes
  • Understand the potential of users in the assessment and generation of preservation metadata
  • Discuss the role of users and attendant metadata in the assessment of preservation services
  • Share practical examples of preservation metadata from a range of perspectives
  • Explore emerging themes in metadata standards and their relevance to digital preservation

Who should come?

This briefing day will interest:

  • Archivists, librarians, curators or data managers with digital collections
  • Digital preservation specialists and tool developers
  • Chief information officers or chief technology officers of agencies with needs for longterm data retention
  • Information professionals interested in new developments in digital preservation and community engagement
  • Managers in public sector agencies and universities interested in impact and assessment
  • Cultural planners interested in public engagement

Indicative Programme

10.00 Registration, Tea & Coffee
10.30 Briefing Day Open & Introductions
10.35 Key Note: Preservation and People: understanding designated communities (Christian Keitel)
11.05 What metadata does the Digital Repository of Ireland want, and how much do they actually get? (Kathryn Cassidy)
11.35 How much metadata can archivists really expect (Alex Green)
12.05 What metadata do users want and need, and how much can we get out of them (Katie Green)
12.35 Discussion
12.45 Lunch
13.30 Designated communities, OAIS and assessment (Herve L’hours)
14.00 Emerging Nuances of Digital Preservation Metadata (Angela Dappert)
14.30 Metadata and other stories online (Yunhyong Kim)
15.00 Semi-automated metadata extraction in the long term (Emma Tonkin)
15.30 Tea & Coffee
15.45 Panel discussion with speakers (Paul Wheatley discussant)
16.30 Thanks and Close


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