Aug 04 2015

About the black hole…

This blog is reposted from one that originally appeared at http://drewvandecreek.blogspot.com/ on July 31, 2015.

This is funny.

In the course of preparing an article with my colleague Jaime Schumacher I came across Ross Harvey’s “So Where’s the Black Hole in our Collective Memory?: A Provocative Position Paper” (January, 2008), which suggests that the digital preservation community has been overly alarmist in contending that digital materials are succumbing to a variety of risk factors, rendering them unavailable for future use.

Harvey maintained that – at least in 2008 – researchers had not presented enough evidence to demonstrate that digital materials loss was taking place on a meaningful scale, and asked for further data. Our article provided such data, so I decided to include Harvey’s request in the text.

This meant that I needed to provide a citation for his paper, of course. I had previously found it available online via the Digital Preservation Europe web site at http://www.digitalpreservationeurope.eu/forum/phpBB2/, but on July 29, 2015 I could not find a copy of it online – at all. I tried again yesterday and today. No luck.

Just to be clear, I was unable to find a copy of a 2008 paper arguing that digital preservation advocates had overstated the threat of digital data loss, including that presented on the web. How ironic.

Remembering a certain pop singer’s misuse of the word “ironic” in a hit song some twenty years ago, I turned to the Oxford English Dictionary for a definition of “irony.”

I found, as the third meaning of the noun – “a state of affairs or an event that seems deliberately contrary to what was or might be expected; an outcome cruelly, humorously, or strangely at odds with assumptions or expectations.”

I would note that this occurrence certainly seems to contrary to Mr. Harvey’s expectations – at least from 2008, but it is not contrary to my own.

Our paper on digital data loss among university faculty will be published shortly by the International Journal of Digital Curation. It corroborates digital preservation advocates’ familiar contention that data loss is indeed taking place.

Feel free to mention our findings in presentations to campus stakeholders and conversations with individuals unaware of the threat of digital data loss.

You might also use the Ross Harvey story for an icebreaker or a laugh midway through a talk.

Ultimately I provided a citation for Harvey’s paper from the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine, which seeks to address situations like this by providing access to an archive of web pages, organized chronologically. In effect, it seeks to provide snapshots of the web at given dates.

Mr. Harvey would certainly contend that his paper’s existence on the Wayback Machine proves his point – that digital data disappearing from its original place of online presentation can very often be retrieved elsewhere. And so it was.

The Wayback Machine is far from comprehensive, however. It is also little-known among those outside the library and information science community.

Harvey also may have retreated from his intentionally provocative 2008 proclamation. Even if he has, this situation creates  a potentially useful anecdote in the ongoing effort to convince those outside the community of practitioners that the threat of digital data loss is real.

May 30 2015

POWRR + daily life

With the work of POWRR ended and workshops about our findings continuing, I find myself with no remaining excuses…time to get down to POWRRing on in my own world! May was a busy month for sharing my recommendations. I wrote out the complete thought processes behind my decisions in a recently published case study. And I enhanced my digital collection creation policy to articulate my philosophical foundation for selection and preservation actions. That document is incorporated in our library’s collection plan and so will be regularly reviewed by a library and a campus committee.

POWRR demonstrated that a free and simple tool can help us extract technical metadata and that it folds easily into our regular accessioning workflows. We feel confident that this small but positive step offers some assurances for preparing digital accessions for future preservation storage. I created a flowchart this month to illustrate these steps, and if you look closely you will see they were cropped from a larger picture:

IWU DP flowchart

IWU digital preservation workflow [click to enlarge]

Even at the smallest of institutions, none of us operates in a vacuum. We need to discuss these issues with other people in our workplace. These folks may not be aware of the need for digital preservation let alone how to protect collections without the benefit of full preservation storage and access systems. We addressed this in the POWRR findings, too, and we have handouts and exercises in our workshop to help plan for these conversations. Recently I discovered there might be other questions about what we do.

Last week I began engaging with others on digital collections workflows and I was surprised at the level of interest in and confusion about how I make decisions. The talks we are been having include how we might combine work done in different parts of the library. Our goal is to seek efficiencies where we can, so gaining a deep understanding of what everyone does is a critical first step.

I prepared a detailed document explaining the types of e-records decisions I make from an acquisitions standpoint, but I could tell the discussion wasn’t going well. Why I chose to make some things accessible in some ways over others seemed to the the primary question.

I decided to create a flowchart based on one I found at the University of Utah and that we’ve been mentioning in POWRR workshops. When I sat down to adapt it for a larger collections discussion, it became clear that many decisions I make every day went beyond the scope of the original tool. So to educate my community on how I go from selection to preservation to access, I came up with this:

IWU archives workflow

Complete IWU archives selection-storage workflow [click to enlarge]

The specific IR and digital library products we use may be different from yours, but maybe this workflow has similarities with yours? I’d love to hear how others are doing these things!

Writing about my plans and talking about my decisions with others helped me understand my own ideas better. It’s quite clear to me that when we get down to doing our work, there will always be something we didn’t think about before. My challenge is to remain open to others’ ideas and experiences as we go on through planning what will work in my institution. So with other departments in my library I will continue to test and explore options for our full collections’ lifecycle. The POWRR project gave me good ground to launch from and the journey continues!

May 26 2015

Digital POWRR Workshop in Portland!

On June 30 and July 1, we are conducting a FREE, day-long workshop at Portland State University entitled From Theory to Action: A Pragmatic Approach to Digital Preservation Tools and Strategies. This full-day workshop is made possible in part by a major grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities: Celebrating 50 Years of Excellence. The workshop was created as a result of an IMLS-funded study on identifying practical digital preservation solutions for small- and mid-sized libraries. We will not be addressing the “why” of digital preservation; rather, we are preparing for the “how.”…providing hands-on, practical experience. Attendees will practice the accession of a digital collection using a simple, open source tool; learn about several digital preservation tools and services; and create an institution-specific action plan for making progress towards digital preservation goals.

To learn more and register for the June 30 workshop, go to http://digitalpowrr06302015.eventzilla.net/

To learn more and register for the July 1 workshop, go to http://digitalpowrr07012015.eventzilla.net/

This workshop is co-sponsored by the Northwest Archivists, Inc., (NWA) and the Sustainable Heritage Network (SHN). The POWRR team appreciates their support and generosity. To learn more about NWA, click here. To learn more about SHN, click here.

Registration is limited to 30 participants each day. The same content will be covered each day, so please register for only one day. First priority will be given to members of the Northwest Archivists, Inc., and the Sustainable Heritage Network. If registration exceeds past the 30 participants, please add your name to the waiting list and we will contact you if there are any cancellations or openings. We encourage each institution to send only 1-2 representatives so that we may have a greater number of institutions able to participate.

 

This workshop is made possible in part by a major grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities: Celebrating 50 Years of Excellence and is generously co-sponsored by the Northwest Archivists, Inc., and the Sustainable Heritage Network.

May 19 2015

SAA Campus Case Study

Are you an archivist at a small private college? Are you a Lone Arranger at an academic institution with limited resources? Be sure to check out the “Digital Preservation Strategies at a Small Private College” published this month as part of the Society of American Archivists Campus Case Studies Series. The case study was written by POWRR Team Lead Meg Miner, the University Archivist & Special Collections Librarian at Illinois Wesleyan University. Meg discusses her experiences during the IMLS phase of the POWRR Project through the eyes of a Lone Arranger looking to ensure good stewardship for born digital and digitized institutional records before a complete preservation system is in place.

Way to go, Meg!

May 18 2015

The Digital POWRR Project Final Report to IMLS

From 2012-2014, the Digital POWRR Project, an Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS)-funded study investigated, evaluated, and recommended scalable, sustainable digital preservation solutions for libraries with smaller amounts of data and/or fewer resources. Among the many outcomes of the project include the POWRR tool grid, the POWRR white paper, and a day-long workshop that is still being offered in 2015 and 2016 thanks to a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

We are pleased to announce that the final report submitted to the IMLS is now available! Read about all the activities completed during the project by clicking here.

Mar 25 2015

Register for our workshop in Chicago!

We have about 10 spots left for our first workshop in Chicago! On April 24, 2015, the Digital POWRR team will be conducting a FREE, day-long workshop at Roosevelt University entitled From Theory to Action: A Pragmatic Approach to Digital Preservation Tools and Strategies. This full-day workshop is made possible in part by a major grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities: Celebrating 50 Years of Excellence. The workshop was created as a result of an IMLS-funded study on identifying practical digital preservation solutions for small- and mid-sized libraries. We will not be addressing the “why” of digital preservation; rather, we are preparing for the “how.”…providing hands-on, practical experience. Attendees will practice the accession of a digital collection using a simple, open source tool; learn about several digital preservation tools and services; and create an institution-specific action plan for making progress towards digital preservation goals.

To register for this workshop and learn more, go to http://digitalpowrr04242015.eventzilla.net

This workshop is cosponsored by the Black Metropolis Research Consortium (BMRC). The POWRR team appreciates this organization’s support and generosity. To learn more about the BMRC, click here.

The workshop is limited to 30 participants. First priority will be given to members of colleges in the Black Metropolis Research Consortium. If registration exceeds past the 30 participants, please add your name to the waiting list and we will contact you if there are any cancellations or openings. We encourage each institution to send only 1-2 representatives so that we may have a greater number of institutions able to participate.

This workshop is made possible in part by a major grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities: Celebrating 50 Years of Excellence and is generously sponsored by the Black Metropolis Research Consortium.

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Mar 03 2015

DA:MT Tutorial

Back in October, we announced the new reporting tool for DataAccessioner was ready for download. The DA Metadata Transformer (DA:MT) tool was developed by Seth Shaw to transform the raw XML output from DataAccessioner into .csv and HTML files so that they are much easier to read. Many people had asked for documentation to provide more detailed instructions on how to use the tool. We are pleased to announce that a document has been created that provides instructions and screenshots for using this reporting tool to aid in preservation processing.

DAMT Tutorial

Data Accessioner and Data Accessioner Metadata Transformer will be updated from time to time. You can keep up with the latest updates here. You can download DA:MT and learn more here.

Jan 27 2015

Phase Two of POWRR: Extending the Reach of Digital Preservation Workshops

The Digital POWRR Project (Preserving digital Objects with Restricted Resources) is pleased to announce the continuation of the POWRR workshops for the next two years. The project, From Theory to Action: Extending the Reach of Digital POWRR Preservation Workshops, has been made possible in part by a major grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities: Celebrating 50 years of Excellence. The grant will allow the POWRR Project to update, develop, and present a minimum of six workshops on digital preservation for archivists, librarians, and other cultural heritage professionals, aimed particularly at those from small and medium-sized institutions.

The Digital POWRR Project began as an Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS)- funded grant study to explore practical and pragmatic solutions to digital preservation at under-funded institutions. During the course of our study, Digital POWRR Project team members realized that many information professionals felt overwhelmed by the scope of the problem. This prevented them from moving forward with implementing digital preservation activities. We found that digital preservation is best thought of as an incremental, ongoing, and ever-shifting set of actions, reactions, workflows, and policies. We can start performing digital preservation activities by taking small steps to prioritize and triage digital collections, while working to build awareness and advocate for resources.

We prepared a workshop curriculum based off these findings and presented it to several groups of information professionals as part of the project’s dissemination phase. Much to our surprise, the registration for these workshops filled up quickly and created a long waiting list of eager professionals trying to get into the workshops. Towards the end of the project, organizations of information professionals were still reaching out to team members in hopes to bring the workshop to their area. With the funds of the newly awarded grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities Division of Preservation and Access, the workshop can continue providing practical, hands-on solutions to begin digital preservation practices that meet the demands of the information professionals from small and under-funded institutions.

Over the course of the next two years, the POWRR Preservation Workshops will conduct a minimum of six workshops across the country. We will collaborate with regional organizations of information professionals, which will allow us to emphasize outreach to medium-sized and smaller institutions. These organizations will also help us promote the workshops. Should demand permit, the workshops could be repeated back-to-back on subsequent days at each location. Institutions are encouraged to send a single representative in order to maximize the reach to various institutions. The POWRR Project will also have a limited number of travel bursaries available to individuals in need of assistance traveling to the workshops.

Check back here for updates and to see if a workshop is coming to your area!

 

Nov 17 2014

Webinar Highlighting the Digital POWRR White Paper

The POWRR White Paper was highlighted during a recent DuraSpace Hot Topic webinar.  One of the presenters was Liz Bishoff, the principal partner of the Bishoff Group LLC.  Liz is also a member of the POWRR Advisory Board.
DuraSpace offers several excellent webinars free of charge on topics ranging from Digital Preservation Planning to Research Data Management Support to Managing and Preserving Audio and Video in your Digital Repository. The POWRR team found the folks at DuraSpace to be very responsive and helpful as we conducted our research and piloted their cloud-based preservation service, DuraCloud.”

Nov 17 2014

Discussion on the Outcomes of the Digital POWRR Project

Take a look at this opportunity to hear members of the POWRR Team discuss the trials, tribulations, victories, and the future of the Digital POWRR Project.

“The NDSA Infrastructure working group invites you and your colleagues to a call on the outcomes of the Digital POWRR project. In keeping with our ongoing series of conversations, you can expect about half the call to be a presentation and the other half to be time for conversation and discussion.

Title: The Digital POWRR Project: What we discovered, what we did about it, and what still needs to be done.

Abstract: Lynne M Thomas and Jaime Schumacher will discuss the outcomes of this IMLS National Leadership Grant project, outline those deliverables that were particularly well-received by the community, identify gaps that have yet to be addressed, and, with the project end-date approaching, seek guidance on the transfer of project-created products that should be maintained and cultivated for the benefit of the wider community.

When: November 18, 2014 at 2pm ET

Call in #: 877-299-5123″

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