Cultural Heritage

A UKOLN Blog for the Cultural Heritage sector (now archived)

Archive for the 'Preservation' Category

Launch of the JISC Beginner’s Guide to Digital Preservation

Posted by Marieke Guy on 15th December 2010

UKOLN have released a JISC Beginner’s Guide to Digital Preservation.

It has been written for those working on JISC Higher Education projects who would like help with preserving their outputs but is also relevant to those from the Cultural Heritage community. It is aimed at those who are new to digital preservation but can also serve as a resource for those who have specific requirements or wish to find further resources in certain areas.

The Guide is available at:

The site can be navigated in the following ways:

You can comment on any page on the site, so please do let us know what you think and if there are any resources we’ve missed.

We will promoting the guide over the forthcoming months.

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Archiving digital resources

Posted by Brian Kelly on 9th September 2010

My colleague Marieke Guy is currently working on the JISC Beginner’s Guide to Digital Preservation. Rather than set up a static web site, the project has chosen to use a blog as its online presence.

In the Case Studies section I’ve just contributed a brief case study on the Tap into Bath collection description database. This was a demonstrator database and a combination of factors (no resources to maintain accurate data and withdrawal of host server) now means the database has to be withdrawn. The case study outlines what resources were held, the issues and the decisions taken.

While new case studies are being sought, Marieke has identified a number of existing case studies on this topic, which are also worth a look.

As Marieke notes, knowing what someone else has done can be a useful starting point in your own process. And don’t forget, it can be worth thinking about these things when you start a project too.

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Lost Online Heritage

Posted by Brian Kelly on 8th March 2010

In the news recently is the warning from a group of leading libraries in the UK that we are heading for a “digital black hole”. This is because the current wording of the Legal Deposit Libraries Act means that archiving Web sites can only be done with the owners persmission, so major libraries such as the British Library face a big overhead on their archiving programme in terms of time taken to identify, locate and contact the owners. British Library chief executive Dame Lynn Brindley estimates that this restriction means that just 1% of free UK Web sites will be archived by 2011.

As the BBC news item notes, ephemera is a useful source of information to social historians on many levels. It’s not just the content (e.g. political party pamphlets, concert programmes, flyers about anything and everything) but also the look and feel of these items – each era has its own distinctive look in graphic design. The same goes for Web sites – if you are able to look at older Web sites that haven’t had a recent makeover you’ll see the difference. And that is the nub of the problem – the sites that have disappeared entirely or whose content has changed dramatically over time.

This got me wondering about how many library, museum and archive Web sites self-archive? What happens to all the old content when a project finishes or you have a major redesign or contract out the Web site provision to an external service?

So what do you do? A good first step is to read about the issues and some of the practical steps you can take. The UKOLN CUltural Heritage team have produced a series of briefing documents on digital preservation. These include Mothballing Your Web Site, Preserving Your Homepage, Top Ten Tips for Web Site Preservation and most importantly Developing Your Digital Preservation Policy.

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Digital Preservation Briefing Documents

Posted by Brian Kelly on 16th June 2009

We have recently published a number of new briefing documents on digital preservation.The new documents cover Introduction to Web Resource Preservation, Preserving Web 2.0 Resources, Preserving Your Home Page, Selection for Web Resource Preservation and Web Archiving.

These documents are based on UKOLN’s work in providing, in conjunction with ULCC, the JISC PoWR project which developed advice and guidelines on best practices for the preservation of Web resources.

One of UKOLN’s strengths in  its engagement with the cultural heritage sector is its involvement with a wide range of JISC-funded activities which can be re-purposed for the cultural heritage sector. In the case of digital preservation we identified the importance of preservation of Web resources at a workshop organised on behalf of MLA East of England in November 2008. At that workshop a talk was given on “Web 1.0, Web 2.0 and Digital Preservation” and the feedback we received demonstrated the need for further pragmatic advice in this area.

The quality of the advice described in our briefing documents and talks  has been validated by exposure of the approaches we have developed to the peer-reviewing processes provided at the international iPres 2008 conference held at the British Library in September 2008 at which we presented a paper on “Preservation of Web Resources: The JISC PoWR Project“.

And I’m pleased to say that, as described on the JISC PoWR blog, further work of the JISC PoWR team, covering Preservation Policies and Approaches for Use of Social Web Services aas well as a review of The JISC PoWR Project will be presented at the Digital Preservation Coalition’s “missing links: the enduring web” workshop which will be held at the British Library on 21st July 2009.

If you have a specific interest in this area we hope to see you at the “missing links: the enduring web” workshop. But if you can’t make it you may be interested in subscribing to our JISC PoWR blog which we continue to use to share and discuss best practices and pragmatic approaches for the preservation of Web resources.

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Preserving your Web Resources

Posted by Marieke Guy on 14th January 2009

Preservation is a topic that probably has been at the forefront of Library, Museums and Archives agenda for many years. However preservation of Web resources (pages and objects that are available from the Web – for some the Web is the only form of access) is a relatively new concern.

It seems that the strategic importance of Web sites is now recognised across most organisations. Many have established groups with a responsibility for managing these services and ensuring that they deliver their expected functionality. However it is probably true to say that Web teams tend to focus on immediate business requirements rather than the need to preserve what is produced. That said Web sites contain evidence of organisational activity that is not recorded elsewhere and preserving these resources can have many cultural and legal drivers, especially since the implementation of the Freedom of Information Act.

The preservation of Web resources presents many interesting technical challenges in terms of capture and access, and many organisational and resource-oriented problems, some of which are shared with other aspects of digital preservation and some of which are unique to Web resources. For example: How does one select material? When do we preserve the information and when is it the experience, behaviour or appearance that is paramount? Whose responsibility is it? The Web is transient, dynamic, technically complex and not conducive to traditional methods of preservation, so where do we start?

The JISC PoWR (Preservation of Web Resources) project which ran for six months in 2008 was an attempt by JISC to gain a better understanding of the challenges institutions face in preserving Web content. The main outcomes of the project were a series of workshops that brought together different communities who might have a role in Web preservation and a handbook which offers a wealth of tips and information for Web managers, data professionals and those making decisions concerning the long-term preservation of online resources.

Although the project has officially ended there are hopes to carry on the work in the future. One possibility might be to look at Web preservation in other sectors, for example the library sector. Libraries have historically been involved in Web Archiving Projects. For example the British Library, the Wellcome Library and the National Library of Wales are all members of the UK Web Archiving Consortium (UKWAC) which collects and preserves UK Web materials. However what is slightly less clear is what libraries are doing with regard to preservation of their own Web sites.

Do you have a Web preservation strategy at your cultural heritage institution? If so please let us know and what the issues are for you.

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