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Reflections on the 2nd Digital Preservation Handbook Book Sprint 18-19 May 2015

Another rewarding but exhausting couple of days! We completed a two day book sprint in Kew earlier this week focussing on developing more new content for the release of the next edition of the Digital Preservation Handbook that is being funded by The National Archives, the British Library, and Jisc. Really pleased with the outputs and progress we made.

This is now the second book sprint we have held and we have been able to build on the sterling work at the first sprint held in October last year.

A group of 9 people Neil Beagrie (Charles Beagrie Ltd), Glenn Cumisky (British Museum), Matt Faber (Jisc), Stephen Grace (University of East London), Alex Green (The National Archives), William Kilbride (DPC), Gareth Knight (London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine), Sharon McMeekin (DPC), and Paul Wheatley (DPC), met up over two days to progress sections of the content for the new “ Getting Started” and “Organisational Activities” sections of the Handbook (as identified in the Draft Outline of the 2nd Edition of the Digital Preservation Handbook). We also progressed some sub-sections of “Technical Solutions and Tools” left over from Book Sprint 1. The venue for the sprint was kindly provided by The National Archives in their Kew building.

We completed draft sections for:

Getting Started

Creating digital materials

Acquisition and appraisal

Retention and review


Metadata and documentation


Information Security

Persistent Identifiers

We covered more topics than the first sprint so were occasionally thinly spread: as a cautionary note we may need to review our draft content carefully to ensure the final outputs have the breadth and depth of perspective we aim for:  what I have read so far has been terrific although inevitably it will need some more content adding and final polishing.

The revision has been guided by the user feedback and consultation (see Report on the Preparatory User Consultation on the 2nd Edition of the Digital Preservation Handbook) in short to keep the Handbook text practical, concise, and accessible with more detail available in the case studies and further reading.

We used a different tool from book sprint 1 and successfully adopted Google Docs for our collaborative writing.

A two-day book sprint was very intense but few could have spared more time away from the workplace, and a tight-deadline helped everyone focus on the tasks in hand.

We followed a process of scoping contents for a specific section, brainstorming key points for inclusion, writing, and then review.

Participants were also able to see the substantial emerging Handbook content that is already in the DPC content management system together with the excellent illustrations re-used with permission from In addition Google Docs was pre-populated with any relevant text from the previous Handbook, marked in red so it was easily identifiable for review, retention, deletion, amendment or addition/replacement  as needed. The Google Docs were also pre-populated with all case studies and external resources relevant to those sections identified during desk research for the new edition of the Handbook.

The after work drinks in the Tap on the Line and group dinner at Café Mamma were enjoyed by all and allowed everyone to relax and socialise outside the event itself. Next time I will try to remember to take photos for the report!

In June the draft text will be the focus for detailed editorial review, additions, arrangement, proof-reading and input to the DPC content management system. Based on the 1st book sprint that will be at least a two month process after which we will look for peer review to be completed by around the end of September.

It is great to see so much more of the new Handbook there in preliminary form after the sprint. With the contents of the first sprint, supplementary work, and its peer review, there is now substantial draft content emerging for the 2nd edition of the Handbook.

Digital Preservation Technology Watch Reports pass 100,000 Downloads

Last month the new series of Digital Preservation Coalition Technology Watch Reports passed 118,842 downloads: these are downloads by real users excluding robots etc.

The new series was launched publicly in February 2012 with Preserving Email by Chris Prom and there are now 10 titles published since that date. All have proved very popular: Preserving Email still heads the group with over 29,000 downloads (but has been available for longest), followed by Digital Forensics and Preservation with over 25,000, and Preserving Moving Picture and Sound with over 15,000.

The reports are published by the Digital Preservation Coalition (DPC) in association with Charles Beagrie Ltd as editors and Neil Beagrie as Principal Investigator and managing editor of the series. The series is intended as an advanced introduction to specific issues for those charged with establishing or running services for long term access.  They identify and track developments in IT, standards and tools which are critical to digital preservation activities. All are released as peer-reviewed open-access publications after a preview period of exclusive access to DPC members.

The DPC Technology Watch Report Series publications are freely available online from the DPC website at:

Digital Preservation of e-journals and e-prints, presentation at 1st iPRES conference, Beijing China 2004

Digital Preservation of e-journals and e-prints presentation 1st iPRES conference Beijing China2004 available now on Slideshare is the fourth of 12 presentations I’ve selected to mark 20 years in Digital Preservation. The remainder will be published at monthly intervals over 2015.

This is one of the four presentations I gave as part of the very first iPRES conference at the Chinese National Academy of Sciences in July 2004.

iPRES was conceived in 2004 by the Chinese Academy of Science and Electronic Information for Libraries, as a forum to exchange ideas and expertise in digital preservation between China and Europe. Since then, it has expanded to attract delegates from around the world. For me it was a great founding conference with wonderful hospitality: there can be few better places in the world to visit if you like archaeology, culture and food.

I have chosen the e-journals preservation presentation from the conference as it is a thread of work that I have returned to many times over the last decade (including a DPC Technology Watch report in 2013).

It was also the most intriguing, as I gave an additional invited private seminar on the topic of preservation and continuing access for international STM e-journals to Chinese colleagues during the conference. At the time tensions were rising over Taiwan: it was probably the only time I sensed digital preservation was felt to be (and probably could be funded as) a national security issue….


TNA Webinar on 27 March: Cloud Storage and Digital Preservation Case Studies

How can cloud storage help address growing digital preservation challenges? A webinar will take place from 13.00-14.00 GMT on Friday 27 March to discuss the five case studies that accompany The National Archives’ cloud storage and digital preservation guidance compiled by Charles Beagrie Ltd.

The webinar is an opportunity to learn more about  experience with digital preservation, the Cloud, and digital storage at the Archives and Records Council Wales Digital Preservation Working Group, Bodleian Library at the University of Oxford, Dorset History Centre, and Tate Gallery, that are the subjects of the case studies and to put your questions to the staff involved.

Please register for the event in advance, as numbers will be limited. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about how to join the webinar.

If you would like to submit questions for the webinar in advance, please email them to Neil Beagrie at

This is the 2nd webinar of two on the topic of Cloud Storage and Digital Preservation organised by the TNA. The first webinar from 27 May 2014 on The National Archives’ cloud storage and digital preservation guidance provides an introduction to the topic and key issues. This is available for re-play on the TNA website  and is the precursor to the 2nd webinar in the series.

20 Years in Digital Preservation: presentations on the Digital Preservation Coalition June 2004 (UK)

The Digital Preservation Coalition (DPC) Slide Set 2004 available now on Slideshare is the third of 12 conference presentations I have selected to mark 20 years in Digital Preservation. The remainder will be published at monthly intervals over 2015.

The DPC was founded during 2001-2002 commencing with a summit in January 2001, and culminating with its formal incorporation as a not-for-profit company with 7 members and a public launch at the House of Commons in February 2002. It has since grown to more than fifty members. Ably steered since by a succession of staff and board members, it has exceeded the hopes of its founding members and is very worthy of inclusion in this top 12. This slide set is a nice visual snapshot of the DPC at a key time in its development.

The slide set consists of four presentations dating from June 2004 (but with origins in earlier versions from January 2001) that have been combined here: the History of the DPC, Rationale for the DPC, Structure of the DPC, and Programme of Activities. They formed a set of DPC member resources (in the then DPC colours and Powerpoint template) dating from June 2004. However their origins are much earlier than that –elements date from the key first Digital Preservation Summit for the DPC in January 2001 with subsequent updates. There is a background briefing and a report of proceedings of that summit available on the DPC Website.

20 Years in Digital Preservation: 2001 presentation on the Preservation Management of Digital Materials [the Digital Preservation Handbook] at the Digital Continuity Forum and workshop, Melbourne Australia

Preservation Management of Digital Materials [the Digital Preservation Handbook] available now on Slideshare is the second of 12 conference presentations I’ve selected to mark 20 years in Digital Preservation. The remainder will be published at monthly intervals over 2015.

This one is selected because of the subsequent influence the Handbook has had (I believe 15 years later it is still the most heavily used resource on the DPC website). It also seemed apposite with the online Handbook currently being worked and updated to its first major “second edition”.

The presentation is in two parts a keynote to the Forum on the Handbook and a set of workshop slides – consisting of a digital preservation questionnaire and a set of [institutional] responses probably from a repeat performance and workshop at a separate event in Australia.

I have almost no information left on these events but fortunately the Pandora web archive at the National Library of Australia has this archived description of the Forum: it just shows how useful web archives are!

2014 Archival Technology Medal Acceptance Speech

I’ve uploaded to YouTube a 4 minute clip of the SPMTE Archival Technology Medal Award ceremony and my acceptance speech from back in October 2014 -see

This is a still from the “This is your life” section of the video!

20 Years in Digital Preservation: 1998 presentation to the Society of Archivists annual conference, Sheffield UK

Preserving Digital Collections: current methods and research available now on Slideshare is the first of 12 conference presentations I have selected to mark 20 years in Digital Preservation. The remainder will be published at monthly intervals over 2015.

This is the earliest surviving presentation in my personal archive but it made the cut for selection because as far as I am aware, it presented the first advocacy of a lifecycle approach to digital preservation (as published in A Strategic Framework for Creating and Preserving Digital Resources).  As such it was an important influence and framework for Tony Hendley’s 1998 publication Comparison of Methods & Costs of Digital Preservation (and subsequent approaches to digital preservation lifecycle costs by the LIFE and KRDS projects) as well as later life-cycle approaches such as the DCC Curation Lifecyle Model.

An important component of the strategic framework was pre-emptive action prior to ingest – as reflected in the work on the digital collections policy and the “Guides to Good Practice” for data creators of the then recently established (but now ceased at least as an umbrella organisation) Arts and Humanities Data Service.

The presentation largely reflects the main sections of A Strategic Framework for Creating and Preserving Digital Resources study authored by myself (then responsible for Collection and Standards Development at the AHDS) and Dan Greenstein (then Director at AHDS). The study was part of a programme of digital preservation studies funded by the Joint Information Systems Committee, following a workshop on the Long-term Preservation of Electronic Materials held at Warwick in November 1995.

Public release of the OAIS Introductory Guide (2nd Edition) DPC Technology Watch Report

We are pleased to announce the public release of the OAIS Introductory Guide (2nd Edition), the latest report in the Digital Preservation Coalition (DPC) Technology Watch Series. Written by Brian Lavoie of OCLC Research, and published by the DPC in association with Charles Beagrie Ltd, this free peer-reviewed report  looks back on the development, features, and impact of the Open Archival Information System (OAIS) Reference Model, one of the core standards of digital preservation.

Research Scientist at OCLC, Brian observes that perhaps “the most important achievement of the OAIS in this history is that it has become almost universally accepted as the lingua franca of digital preservation”

Emphasising its flexibility and conceptual nature, the report describes the OAIS, its core principles and functional elements, as well as the information model which support long-term preservation, access and understandability of data – highlighting the in-built level of abstraction which makes it such a widely applicable foundation resource for digital preservation.

Brian adds “it is possible to identify a few limitations associated with the OAIS’s impact,” generally associated with the very conceptual nature of the model, and goes on to recommend that the digital preservation community would certainly “benefit from a careful assessment of where more precise and authoritative definitions of OAIS concepts and relationships would accelerate progress in achieving robust, widely applicable, and interoperable digital preservation solutions.”

The Introduction to OAIS was the first of the DPC Technology Watch reports, and although it was first published a decade ago it has remained popular. The second edition updates and expands this first report, providing an excellent introduction to the OAIS for those new to digital preservation and resource for practitioners wishing to re-acquaint themselves with the basics of the model, supplemented by the wisdom of a decade of research, development and implementation.

Sarah Higgins of the Department of Information Studies at Aberystwyth University praises the report, calling it “a much needed and important update. It lays out both the content of the second edition of the OAIS Reference Model, and the results of over a decade of research and development that can trace its roots to OAIS. The tools and processes for practical implementation of digital preservation and measuring their success are expertly explained and evaluated. The report will be invaluable to both established and new entrants to the digital preservation profession who need to understand the basic concepts of an OAIS and the tools available to them. This clear and comprehensive report will be embedded as core reading for Aberystwyth University students studying Digital Curation or Digital Information Management at Master’s level”.

OAIS Introductory Guide (2nd Edition) is the latest in the state of the art Technology Watch Reports that give an advanced introduction to ensuring that high-value and vulnerable digital resources can be managed beyond the limits of technological obsolescence.

Read Brian Lavoie’s Technology Watch Report ‘OAIS Introductory Guide (2nd Edition)’ now.

20 years in Digital Preservation

It came as a bit of a shock to realise that sometime in the next 12 months, I will have been involved in digital preservation for 20 years.

The first thing I ever wrote in 1995 on the topic of digital preservation (fortunately anonymously) was this:


The inadequacies and compromises in this advice (not only for preservation but also for its implications for online access), sparked my interest in solving the problems and helping advance solutions for them (such as the Archaeology Data Service) in subsequent years.

How to mark the occasion? Well over the last two decades I have given over 150 keynotes and presentations at events internationally and in the UK on digital preservation topics, and a personal digital archive has gradually evolved. So I have decided to make a personal selection of 12 presentations that I think may have been the most significant and influential.

I will release a blog narrative for one of them each month over the next 12 months and will put it on Slideshare. For those interested in which presentations made the cut and will be appearing on 1st day of the month over 2015, this is my personal top 12 arranged in date order:

  • 1998 – Preserving Digital Collections: current methods and research, presentation to the Society of Archivists annual conference, Sheffield UK
  • 2001 – Preservation Management of Digital Materials (the Digital Preservation Handbook) presentation to Digital Preservation Workshop, Melbourne Australia
  • 2004  -  The Digital Preservation Coalition (DPC), Its History, Programme, Rationale ,and Structure, set of 4 linked presentations to DPC Forum, London UK
  • 2004 -Digital Preservation, e-journals and e-prints, presentation at private workshop 1st iPres conference, Beijing China
  • 2004 -  The JISC Continuing Access and Digital Preservation Strategy 2002-5, presentation to the JISC-CNI conference, Brighton UK
  • 2004 – eScience and Digital Preservation, presentation to Association for Information Science and Technology (ASIST) conference, Rhode Island USA
  • 2005 – Plenty of Room at the Bottom? Personal Digital Libraries and Collections, keynote presentation to European Conference on Research and Advanced Technology for Digital Libraries (ECDL), Vienna Austria
  • 2005 – Digital Preservation and Curation Summing up + Next Steps, conclusions to Warwick II Workshop, Warwick UK
  • 2007 – Digital Preservation: Setting the Course for a Decade of Change, keynote presentation to the Belgian Association for Documentation (ABD-BVD), Brussels Belgium
  • 2010 – Keeping Research Data Safe, presentation to KB Experts Workshop on Digital Preservation Costs, The Hague Netherlands
  • 2013 – Maintaining a Vision: how mandates and strategies are changing with digital content, keynote presentation to Screening the Future conference, London UK
  • 2014 – The Value and Impact of Research Data Infrastructure, presentation to the Preservation and Archiving Special Interest Group (PASIG), Karlsruhe Germany


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