June 2010

Survey of Digital Preservation Practices in Canada

Library and Archives Canada (LAC) have released the report Survey of Digital Preservation Practices in Canada, which presents the result of a survey the LAC commissioned in 2008 and completed in 2009.

The survey received 61 full responses from a variety of types of organisations: libraries, archives government departments/agencies, museums, research institutes, across a number of sectors: academic, governments and not-for profit. Although invitations were sent to several organizations in private industry, no responses were received from this sector.

The survey found that 72% of respondents are involved in some aspects related to digital preservation. Offsite storage was the most commonly cited practice in use, followed by activities that address the decay or obsolescence of storage media, including refreshing, bitstream copying and replication.

Digital preservation practices that address the understandability of the digital object (format/software obsolescence), such as migration or emulation are less widespread, even amongst those repositories that have a formal mandate to preserve. As well, only a few repositories are employing the types of  extensive metadata schemas needed for long-term preservation, such as PREMIS.

The majority of repositories in the survey are applying some basic integrity measurements (virus check, format verification, checksum verification, format validation) but other methods for establishing authenticity and trust in digital repositories, such as through the use of persistent identifiers and audit trails for digital objects are not well established.

There are also numerous other challenges for repositories beyond the most obvious technical ones, in particular around funding/staffing and expertise.

The report concludes digital preservation presents significant challenges; and given the growing volume and complexity of digital information it will continue to do so in the future. It suggests one way to assist Canadian organisations with these challenges would be to establish a central entity in Canada that can provide leadership in this area.

Digital Curation Grants in US Library/Information Academic Departments

The US Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) has recently awarded 38 Laura Bush 21st Century Librarian Program grants totalling $22,623,984.

Amongst the awards list I was struck by the following:

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign – Champaign, IL : Project Title: “Data Curation Education in Research Centers (DCERC)”

Award Amount: $988,543; Matching: $179,822

The University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign Graduate School of Library and Information Science, the University of Tennessee School of Information Sciences, and the National Center for Atmospheric Research have partnered to establish Data Curation Education in Research Centers (DCERC). DCERC will develop a model, including a field experience in a data intensive scientific environment, for educating LIS master’s and doctoral students in data curation. It will implement a graduate research and education program to address the need for professionals with scientific expertise who can manage and curate large digital data collections. Six doctoral students will benefit from this project.

Purdue University – West Lafayette, IN: Project Title: “Understanding Curation through the use of Data Curation Profiles”

Award Amount: $187,242; Matching: $104,868

Purdue University will create a series of workshops to expand the expertise of academic librarians about data curation issues. The needs of researchers and data producers are changing radically because of the disruptive effects of technology on research and its dissemination. This continuing education program will teach an estimated 370 librarians to be more effective data curators.

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill – Chapel Hill, NC: Project Title: “Workforce Issues in Library and Information Science 3 (WILIS 3): Sustaining the Career Tracking Model through Data sharing”

Award Amount: $298,385; Matching: $85,637

The School of Information and Library Science, the Institute on Aging, and the Howard Odum Institute for Research in Social Science at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill will collaborate to document the process of data archiving and sharing. The major aims of the WILIS 3 project are to create publicly accessible de-identified datasets; to develop an interactive program-specific data system to enable library and information science programs to explore their own data and benchmark with other programs; and to produce a data archiving toolkit for use by other researchers.

And in UK/European Library and Information schools we have…….???

Web Archiving Training Session in Paris 14th and 15th of October

The European Archive are organising a Web Archiving Training Session on 14th and 15th of October 2010 in Paris.

The training will cover all aspects of Web Archiving for librarians, archivists as well as technicians in charge of web archiving. Special attention will be given to providing the necessary background on Internet technologies in general and Web publishing in particular to understand the media and requirements for its preservation.

Registration fees for the 2 days (including lunches and coffee breaks)are 750€ standard rate or 580€ for non-profit and governmental organisations.

Government Data

The new UK coalition government has been making some interesting policy decisions around government data extending some of the work already underway under the previous Labour administration. For example see the prime minister’s Letter to Government departments on opening up data issued on Monday 31 May 2010.

The conservative party (majority partner in the coalition) technology manifesto is well worth looking over for anyone interested in data and IT policy in the UK and an indicator of what might still be coming out of the new government.

In addition, to plans to open up government data and spending information it refers to research by Rufus Pollock et al at Cambridge University on the economic value of open data, which estimated it will create an estimated £6 billion in additional value for the UK. This boost to British jobs will come from the synergies and positive spillover benefits that result from businesses and social entrepreneurs building new applications and services using previously locked-up government data.

It is fascinating to see how big an effect on UK government policy advocacy by the likes of the Open Knowledge Foundation and the Free Our Data campaign has had. Of course it helps if similar initiatives are underway in the USA – see the Wired interview with the US government’s first-ever chief information officer, Vivek Kundra.

Merger of New Zealand National Archives and National Library and New Digital Archive

The New Zealand Government has announced the merger of Archives New Zealand, the National Library and the Department of Internal Affairs and new funding of £5.9 million pounds (NZ$12.6 million) to create a digital archive for New Zealand.

Announcing the new funding and the merger, the Minister responsible for all three agencies, Guy Hands believes they share natural synergies, a common focus on using digital technology, and making public information widely accessible to citizens through the internet. This move will allow expertise and resources to be pooled, while at the same time sharing back office costs. All savings generated by this project will be redirected into better frontline services for the public.

The New Zealand Government is also allocating £5.9 million pounds (NZ$12.6 million) of new money to Archives New Zealand and the National Library over the next four years to develop and implement a full-scale industrial-strength digital archive. The new archive will utilise Archive’s New Zealand’s existing infrastructure and build on functions developed for the National Library’s National Digital Heritage Archive.

A public announcement about the Government Digital Archive and was made at the Government Recordkeeping Forum held in Wellington on Tuesday 1 June.

Knowledge Management Marketplace, University of Bath 17th June 2010

The University of Bath and the UK Council for Electronic Business (UKCeB) are hosting the second Knowledge Management Marketplace (KMM10), taking place at the University of Bath on 17th June 2010. It focuses on knowledge management lessons learned for SMEs. There will also be a number of larger companies there such as Airbus, BAE, BMT, Korteq, IBM, etc.

KMM10 will be of interest to:

  • Those who face issues related to knowledge management in their working day;
  • Vendors, consultants and developers who can assist in addressing such issues;
  • Researchers with interests in this area.

The marketplace is preceded by scene-setting keynotes, and followed by a panel session where issued raised throughout the day may be debated in a group setting.