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New Resources page on Charles Beagrie Website

We have produced a new resources pages on our website describing all the outputs we have produced which are publicly available and accessible on open access to students and practitioners interested in our work. Areas described include Cost/Benefit, Impact, Technology Watch, Digital Preservation Policies and Strategies. Conference presentations, and other digital preservation resources. These are linked either to outputs on our website or on the websites of clients and partners. An extract of the page is shown below.

Breaking News: Digital Preservation Handbook Update October 2015

Originally published in 2001 as a paper edition, ‘Preservation and Management of Digital Materials: a Handbook’ was the first attempt in the UK to synthesise the diverse and burgeoning sources of advice on digital preservation. Demand was so great that in 2002, a free online edition of the Handbook was published by the newly established Digital Preservation Coalition.

After more than a decade, in which digital preservation has been transformed, the Handbook remains among the most heavily used area of the DPC website.

Funders and organisations are collaborating on re-designing, expanding and updating the Handbook so it can continue to grow as a major open-access resource for digital preservation. The DPC and Charles Beagrie Ltd have been engaged on a major re-working of the Digital Preservation Handbook for release as a new edition over 2015/2016. The National Archives (our Gold Sponsor) working together with other stakeholders including Jisc, the British Library, and The Archives and Records Association (our Bronze sponsors), is supporting the Digital Preservation Coalition in updating and revamping the Handbook. Many individuals and organisations are also contributing to this work through book sprints, peer review, project and advisory boards.

The revision, guided by the user feedback and consultation (see Report on the Preparatory User Consultation on the 2nd Edition of the Digital Preservation Handbook), is modular and being undertaken over a two year period to March 2016.

We have provided updates at regular intervals to inform the community on progress with the project and with this October update we are delighted to announce a number of key developments.

Publication Schedule

We are pleased to share the news that a critical mass of content has been prepared and peer reviewed and the project board has agreed we should release a majority of the Handbook.  DPC members have already seen the emerging revised 2nd Edition of the Handbook on the members’ private area and this has been switched to the public side of the DPC website. This partial release will be further enhanced by additional functionality when a new platform for the website focused on ‘responsive design’ is brought on stream by the DPC early in 2016. This will provide an updated design and improved user experience on mobile and tablet devices, compared to the current site templates that are optimised for viewing on a desktop screen. We will also add the facility to generate PDFs. We hope to complete remaining sections of the Handbook for a formal full publication release of the Handbook by March 2016. In the interim some functionality and content will remain “works in progress” but the community will gain early access to a significant new resource.

ARA joins funding group

The Digital Preservation Coalition was delighted to announce in September that The Archives and Records Association (ARA) had come on board as a ‘Bronze Sponsor’ for the eagerly anticipated second edition of the ‘Digital Preservation Handbook’. As of Oct 2015, with the addition of the ARA we have raised 87% of estimated funding required for the Handbook revision and continue working to complete it.

Section Illustrations and icons

We are using graphics available from ( for main sections of the Handbook. They have kindly worked in collaboration with us to develop new illustrations when we have identified topics in the Handbook requiring new graphics for illustrations or icons.

New resources icon designs were received over the summer from  and the interim versions have been replaced in the Handbook. These are the new set:            


They are embedded now in all the Resources and Case Studies sections of the Handbook. It means there is now a consistent style to the Handbook with the icons and section heading illustrations sharing the same design, something we all felt was desirable. We are very pleased with the results and overall look that is now in place, and with the collaboration with that has added a lot to the visual appeal of the Handbook.


Multi-media resources where relevant have been selected and embedded in the Handbook. Selection has focussed on short, high-quality videos that can add significant value to experience and content.

Handbook Workshop at DCDC15

A workshop on the Digital Preservation Handbook was run at the DCDC15 conference in early October. Powerpoint slides from the Handbook presentation are now available on Slideshare. They provide a detailed overview of the new edition Handbook and work in progress.


SlideShare: How institutional mandates and preservation strategies are changing with digital content

This slideshare, Maintaining a Vision: how mandates and strategies are changing with digital content, is one I like and is a keynote given to the 2013 Screening the Future conference in London.

It is the penultimate of 12 presentations I have selected to mark 20 years in Digital Preservation. The final one to come will be published in December 2015.

My brief  for this conference keynote was to focus on how  institutional responses to collection and preservation mandates are realized and stretched by the digital…do existing institutions just ‘go digital’ but otherwise claim ‘business as usual’ [or not]?

The Talk had an AV focus given the nature of the conference but I think the messages will be of broad interest. It was in three parts:

The Changes: covering how digital content (including AV content) has changed the nature of typical collections across sectors; how it has shifted the scale of available content; and how content has fragmented and the number of content creators proliferated.

The Responses: covering how we have seen in response the growth of cross-sectoral preservation exchange (different sectoral membership of the DPC; Technology Watch Reports; the national coalitions worldwide such as nestor, NCDD, NDSA, etc); the development of shared services and outsourcing (e.g. digital preservation services in the cloud); and in some cases a range of cross-sector mergers (particularly of national archives and national libraries).


What is changing? We are seeing multi-media permeating sectoral boundaries; greater shared interests and convergence of interests across different sectors; and a massive shift in the scale and management of digital media.

The responses?  We are seeing new alliances and partnerships; digital preservation exchange across sectors; some mergers and partnerships across established boundaries; and more shared services and outsourcing.

Finally, if you want to know the answer to the question “When was the beginning of the Digital Age” posed in previous posts, the answer is here in slide 8:


Keeping Research Data Safe (KRDS)

Keeping Research Data Safe (KRDS), a workshop presentation from 2010 available now on Slideshare, is the ninth of 12 presentations I have selected to mark 20 years in Digital Preservation. The remaining two to come will be published at monthly intervals over November and December 2015.

This presentation was given as part of the KB Experts Workshop on Digital Preservation Costs, held at The Hague in the Netherlands in 2010.

Although very small in terms of budget, the KRDS projects were terrific examples of collaboration to achieve influential results and the pleasure and value of working with colleagues from many disparate fields and organisations. I’ve selected it as an example of doing great things on small budgets if you have the right people, and for its influence on subsequent work both by me (e.g. impact studies) and on the field generally. For me, in terms of personal follow-up and later projects, the costs element of KRDS has been less important than the benefits side which has led to a series of project on impact with John Houghton (more on this in the final Slideshare in December).

The KB requested a briefing document on each cost model presented at the workshop in the form of responses to their set questions. I have reproduced mine for the KRDS presentation below – it captures lots of interesting context for the slides. I have added links to the KRDS Factsheet and KRDS costs data survey to it.



1. General presentation of the cost model

What is the purpose of the cost model?  The KRDS model aims to support the costing of digital preservation of research datasets and assessment of the benefits of preservation. A significant proportion of its work is also focussed on identification of preservation cost data sources and methods which could support any model. It is currently primarily a set of tools and methods to construct a localised model rather than a pre-developed generic costing tool. Further information on findings from the KRDS projects is available in the KRDS Factsheet.

Who are the users? – The primary audience is research organisations in the UK but organisations in other countries and sectors can adopt parts of the model and its methodologies.

What preservation strategies does it handle? – It can accommodate any preservation strategy or service strategy (e.g. outsourcing or shared services as well as preservation in-house).

What is the target data? – Research data from the sciences, social sciences, or arts and humanities.

What time perspective does it cover? – Any time period.

2. What method is the cost model based on?

What reference is the model based on?  – The model uses OAIS with extensions and adaptations by the project team.

What financial principles is it based on? – It is modelled to adopt the Transparent Approach to Costing (TRAC) a full economic costs (FEC) model approved by UK research funders and universities.

Which costing approach have you adopted?- We use an activity based costing approach supported by a Benefits Taxonomy for assessing benefits.

What implementation have you chosen? – N/A

3. Which challenges do you currently see in relation to cost modelling?

Special issues – General cost model challenges? –

Primarily a lack of good quality preservation cost data from a range of different types of archive and data types (see our KRDS costs data survey) which can be used to underpin and develop models.

Secondly an excessive focus on costs (rather than cost/benefits) and also sometimes a too limited focus on costs of preservation strategies rather than preservation service costs as a whole.

Occasional over-reliance on research project or start-up cost data which will not be representative of operational preservation costs.

The degree of confidence that can be placed in results from cost models. How reliable is any cost prediction for a model and how does that change over time or other variables?

4. What are the opportunities for standardisation of cost models and collaboration between projects?

Possible standardisation and alignment of cost models? – I think cost models always need to be tailored to some degree to different audiences/sectors and prospects for standardisation and alignment may be variable. Some areas e.g. digital storage costs may be more promising than others.

Collaboration? – I can see beneficial opportunities for both formal and informal partnerships between projects and organisations. There may be opportunities for European and international collaboration.

5. What are your initial comments and feedback on the draft decision tree appended below?

A decision tree could start much earlier and involve different decisions on the cost model itself e.g. scope of activities, level of detail, and sources of data.

6. Please provide a short one paragraph biography for yourself

Neil Beagrie is director of consultancy at Charles Beagrie and principal investigator for the JISC Keeping Research Data Safe project which has investigated the costs and benefits of digital preservation for research data. He is an experienced senior consultant and an internationally recognised expert with extensive experience in information management, digital preservation, and developing access to digital collections.

Digital Preservation: Setting the Course for a Decade of Change

“Digital Preservation: Setting the Course for a Decade of Change”, a conference keynote from 2007, available now on Slideshare is the ninth of 12 presentations I have selected to mark 20 years in Digital Preservation. The remainder will be published at monthly intervals over 2015.

This presentation was the opening keynote to a conference in 2007 held by the Belgian Association of Documentation (BDA) to celebrate its 60th anniversary. It dates from my time at the British Library.

The conference theme was “Europe facing the challenge of the long term conservation of digitalised archives”. My keynote synthesised many of the topics I was focussing on at the time (and have featured in some of my earlier slide shares in this series) including encouraging University libraries to engage more actively with research data management in the sciences, to begin developing digital special collections of individuals, and to support international efforts to ensure continuing access and preservation of e-Journals as part of the scholarly record.  In addition, given the European focus I briefly covered some of the major European initiatives in digital preservation at that time.

I have selected this presentation as one of the 12 in this series, not only as it is synthesising these key themes but also because it includes some thoughts on whether digital preservation needed to be evolution or revolution (or a bit of both) for libraries and archives. What did it say?


  • Print/Digital inter-dependencies – collective print storage and digitisation;
  • Ongoing care of existing collections – lifecycle approaches to collection care and digital preservation.


  • New digital preservation networks and services;
  • Professional networks e.g. Digital Preservation Coalition, cross professional boundaries linking archives/libraries/data centres (national developments + international?);
  • New types of service and organisations e.g. File Format Registries, LOCKSS, PORTICO;
  • New (or more significance for) Digital Objects – e-journals, e-research, e-special collections;
  • Acceleration of scale and automation for print and digital;
  • Reaching “tipping points” in print/digital mix over next decade.

Judging by the number of bullet points for each, I was mostly advocating revolution!

The “beginning of the digital age” or analogue/digital tipping point mentioned in the final bullet point however has proved to be much earlier – it was 2002, at least in the wider sphere (for more on that you will need to see/wait for November’s slide share in this series).

SMPTE announces 2015 Archival Technology Medal Award

The Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers (SMPTE) has announced that the 2015 Archival Technology Medal Award will be presented to James A. Lindner for his research into the JPEG-2000 format as a target preservation codec for moving image conservation. He also is cited for development of the SAMMA workflow and systems for digitizing videotape. For further information and details of other award recipients see the SMPTE press release.

Digital Curation and Preservation: Defining the Research Agenda for the Next Decade [2005-2015]. How did we do?

The Warwick3 Workshop: Digital Preservation and Curation Summing up + Next Steps available now on Slideshare is the eighth of 12 presentations I have selected to mark 20 years in Digital Preservation. The remainder will be published at monthly intervals over 2015.

I have chosen it as it briefly allows us to look back at aspirations and achievements in Digital Preservation over a 20 year period from the very first (and seminal) Warwick 1 workshop held in 1995 to today. The first Warwick workshop considered the Long Term Preservation of Electronic Materials and a UK response to the final report of the RLG/CPA Task Force on Digital Archiving. Two further Warwick workshops followed in 1999 and 2005 to review progress and set a forward agenda.

The two-day workshop that took place over 7 – 8 November 2005 at the University of Warwick aimed for the first time to address digital preservation issues for both scientific data and cultural heritage and to map out a future research agenda for them. Sponsored by JISC, the Digital Curation Centre (DCC), the British Library and the Council for the Central Laboratory of the Research Councils (CCLRC), the invitation-only event drew a wide range of national and international experts to explore the current state of play with a view to shaping future strategy. The slides are from my summing up and conclusions at the workshop close.

Part of my conclusions (slides 12-13), outlined the recommendations of the previous Warwick workshop held in 1999 and reviewed the progress that had been made in implementing them over the subsequent five years with a very subjective level of achievement (some) to √ √ √ (good) as follows:

Raise awareness

√ √ √ DPC advocacy, EU council, UNESCO, CODATA, ICSTI, NSF,RCUK

Encourage cross-sectoral communication

√ √ Established Digital Preservation Coalition 2001 – now 27 members

Develop guidelines

√ √ Preservation Management Handbook, Curation Manual, Cornell tutorial

Preservation Centre/Network of centres

√ √ Digital Curation Centre, British Library, The National Archives

Certification criteria

RLG/NARA checklist (TRAC)

Checklist to determine complexity and cost

JISC 04/04 funding programme (LIFE project, assessment tool project)

New research – emulation, dynamic data

Camileon project, JISC 04/04 programme, DCC research agenda

So how have we done 10 years further on?  Overall, OK I think with the caveat progress in digital preservation can take a long time. Perhaps I would raise the achievement levels if doing this exercise again in 2015 for “Encourage cross-sectoral communication”, “Checklist to determine complexity and cost”, and “New research”. However I would probably move Raise Awareness down one level. The others would probably be about the same. How about you?

20 years in DP: Personal Digital Libraries and Collections, Vienna 2005

Plenty of Room at the Bottom? Personal Digital Libraries and Collections, my keynote presentation to the European Conference on Research and Advanced Technology for Digital Libraries (ECDL), 2005, in Vienna Austria available now on Slideshare is the seventh of 12 presentations I’ve selected to mark 20 years in Digital Preservation. The remainder will be published at monthly intervals over 2015.

This presentation represents a thought piece and call to arms to focus more on the collection and preservation of personal digital archives. It was given as a keynote to ECDL but also formed the core of my Banks Lecture at the University of Texas in April 2006 on Preservation and Access for Personal Digital Archives and Literary Papers.

Many of the ideas in the presentation were developed in greater detail in an article in D-Lib June 2005 Plenty of Room at the Bottom? Personal Digital Libraries and Collections, in my contribution to the Memories for Life project (c.2004-2006) and our publication in the Royal Society Interface Journal in June 2006 Memories for Life: a review of the science and technology, and in my initial work as Principal Investigator on the Digital Lives research project involving the British Library and UCL. It is an area of interest I had to leave behind on departing the BL and focussing full-time on consultancy. However it has been great to be editor on behalf of the DPC for the forthcoming Technology Watch Report by Gabriela Redwine on Preserving Personal Digital Archives that should be released later this year on the DPC website.

Over recent years this area has blossomed with an annual conference since 2010 on Personal Digital Archiving and many special collections and research projects developed in libraries. We are beginning to see mass market shared services for lifelogging and personal collection emerging but the key focus of growth currently seems to be on health data. Broader issues though for the public are still surfacing: there has been growing publicity around digital legacy issues for social media and even guidance from the Law Society in the UK on digital legacy and executors. It remains a fascinating area for digital preservation.

20 years in DP: eScience and Digital Preservation 2004

eScience and Digital Preservation, presentation to Association for Information Science and Technology (ASIST) conference November 2004, Rhode Island USA, available now on Slideshare is the sixth of 12 presentations I’ve selected to mark 20 years in Digital Preservation. The remainder will be published at monthly intervals over 2015.

It is closely related to the previous slideshare for May on the Jisc continuing access and digital preservation strategy but focuses just on the science component.

This is one I wasn’t able to present in person but it was kindly delivered by Gail Hodge.

My brief for the presentation was “thoughts or citations you have for the impact of e-science, particularly the GRID, on information management, particularly archiving, preservation and long-term access.”

It is a short presentation of 15 slides covering collection-based science, the Grid, data publishing, and the background and rationale for the Digital Curation Centre (just launched two weeks before in the UK).

It is a snapshot in time and of key issues in 2004 – interesting to contrast with what one would write 10 years on and ponder on progress made.

20 years in DP: The JISC Continuing Access and Digital Preservation Strategy 2002-5

The JISC Continuing Access and Digital Preservation Strategy 2002-5, presentation to the 2004 JISC-CNI conference, Brighton UK available now on Slideshare is the fifth of 12 presentations I’ve selected to mark 20 years in Digital Preservation. The remainder will be published at monthly intervals over 2015 (however due to sheer volume of work over May this year including the EBI Impact Survey and the 2nd Handbook sprint, two monthly selections are appearing together this time!).

For those outside the UK, an important context is that Jisc’s role as a national body for digital infrastructure and content on behalf of UK universities and colleges, gave the Strategy considerable influence at the time not just within HE but in other sectors through partnership activities.

This presentation from 2004 is important largely for the legacy of the Strategy that helped establish bodies such as the Digital Preservation Coalition and the Digital Curation Centre, which still have a major influence today.

The presentation sets out the context and rationale for the Strategy including the predicted growth of electronic publications, scientific data, and data curation. The implications of that growth were seen as:

  • Core funding for institutions would not grow in line with information growth;
  • A need for more automation and tools;
  • A need for new shared services and information infrastructure;
  • A significant need for R&D and investment to prepare for this.

Therefore  the objectives of Strategy were:

  • As an advocacy document to secure additional funding of £6m over 3 years (2002-5) for new programmes in electronic records management and digital preservation;
  • Justify the accompanying implementation plan;
  • Provide a longer-term framework and rationale for activity extending beyond 2005.

Fortunately activity in these areas did continue beyond 2005 under a series of very able Jisc programme directors and managers.

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