JISC Beginner's Guide to Digital Preservation

…creating a pragmatic guide to digital preservation for those working on JISC projects

Archive for March, 2011

Free AQuA Events – QA for Digital Preservation

Posted by Marieke Guy on 28th March 2011

The JISC Automating Quality Assurance Project (AQuA) is running a series of free events in April and June for coders, technical experts, collection curators and digital preservation practitioner.

The events will be helping attendees explore a number of questions including:

  • Do you have large amounts of digital content to look after?
  • How well do you know your digital content?*
  • Is your file what it says it is?
  • Do your users do your QA for you?
  • Are you Intimidated by digital preservation tools?

The AQuA events will be held 11-13 April 2011 and 13-15 June 2011 and will bring together digital preservation practitioners, collection curators and technical experts to automate quality assurance of our digital collections.

Preservation or quality issues can occur in our digital content from
many sources:

  • When we create the content via digitisation (eg. missing pages, duplicate pages, poor focus/contrast)
  • When the collection is stored (eg. bit rot)
  • When the collection is processed or moved from store to store (eg. when processes run out of memory or disk space)
  • When technology changes (eg. when our standards and file formats become obsolete)

Manually checking material for these kinds of problems is laborious, challenging and, most critically, expensive. Checking samples of material reduces the cost, but can let through problematic quality issues. Automated tools that can check every digital item in a precise way should allow us to reduce our costs and increase the overall quality of our digital collections.

The AQuA events will provide the opportunity to get hands on experience of developing and applying digital preservation techniques and technology to digital collections.

  • University of Leeds, 11th – 13th April 2011: Join the team for the first Mashup retreat at the beautiful Weetwood Hall Conference Centre and Hotel
  • British Library, London, 13th – 15th June 2011: Get involved in the
    second AQuA Mashup in the heart of London at the UK’s National Library

Inspiring locations, cross discipline collaboration, challenges and prizes, and evening social events. Plus it’s FREE! Accommodation and
refreshments are paid for.

More info at http://wiki.opf-labs.org/display/AQuA/Home

Register at http://aquamashup.eventbrite.com

AQuA is a JISC funded collaborative project between the University of Leeds, the University of York, the British Library and Open Planets Foundation.

Questions – by email to digital@leeds.ac.uk

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NDIIP Report: Preserving Our Digital Heritage

Posted by Marieke Guy on 23rd March 2011

The Library of Congress has recently released the Preserving Our Digital Heritage: The National Digital Information Infrastructure and Preservation Program 2010 Report (NDIIPP) – available in PDF.

have now spent over a decade working to develop a national strategy to collect, preserve and make available significant digital content, especially information that is created in digital form only, for current and future generations.

The report documents the achievements of the Library of Congress and its NDIIPP partners working together to create sustainable long-term access to digital materials.

Since NDIIPP was founded in 2000 by an act of Congress, a network of over 185 partners in 44 states and 25 countries have developed a distributed technical infrastructure, preserved over 1400 at-risk collections, and have made strides to support a legal environment conducive to digital preservation.

The report describes a decade of action in digital preservation and outlays the short- and long-term plans to ensure libraries, archives and other heritage institutions in the United States can collect and provide long-term access to the resources of the 21st Century, and beyond.

The full press release is available from the NDIIP site.

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Preserving your Emails

Posted by Marieke Guy on 2nd March 2011

Anyone who works at the University of Bath will be having a strange week this week…Last week the University email server ‘broke’ and since Thursday afternoon a limited service has been running. We currently have email but cannot see any messages that were sent and/or stored before Thursday afternoon.

A summary of the events leading up to the email downtime and the planned course of action over the next few days is given on the University of Bath Web site:

To briefly summarise the events prior to the downtime:

  • On Monday 21 February at 2pm it was noticed there were some errors being detected on the backup mail store – at which point we raised a call to Oracle the supplier of the components.
  • Thursday 24 February pm – errors spotted this time on Main mail server.
  • Shortly after corruptions became apparent and the service came to a halt.

The loss of email has left most us in a bit of a mess – there can’t be many of us who don’t rely heavily on email. Email is now such a core part of our business processes that not being able to refer to old messages or see those that arrived last week (many people were on holiday during the half-term break) is very disoreintating.

Brian Kelly has written a thought provoking blog post asking if the situation suggests that it is Time to Move to GMail?

He argues:

So yes there will be problems with externally-hosted systems, just as there will be problems with in-house systems (and ironically the day before the BUCS email system went down and two days before GMail suffered its problems my desktop PC died and I had to spend half a day setting up a new PC!). It may therefore be desirable to develop plans for coping with such problems – and note that a number of resources which provide advice on backing up GMail have been provided recently, including a Techspot article on “How to Backup your Gmail Account” and a Techland article on “How to backup GMail“.

But in addition to such technical problems there are also policy challenges which need to be considered. At the University of Bath email accounts are deleted when staff and students leave the institution (and for a colleague who retired recently the email account was deleted a day or so before she left). One’s GMail account, on the other hand, won’t be affected by changes in one’s place of study or employment. In light of likely redundancies due to Government cutbacks isn’t it sensible to consider migration from an institutional email service? And shouldn’t those who are working or studying for a short period avoid making use of an institutional email account which will have a limited life span?

Personally I continue to use Hotmail when out-of-work but I have no back up plan and the loss of my messages would be fairly devestating. Even losing my phone contacts left me in a pickle.

The JISC Beginner’s Guide to Digital Preservation has a section on preserving email which references the DCC’s Curating e-mails paper.

It’s times like these you really wish you had a plan…

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