Wednesday, 11 December 2013

Getting an Inkling about Digital Preservation

I'm aware that there has been somewhat of radio silence here for the past few months and I apologise.  It has been a very busy season for the archive (I am aware that there is never really a quiet period) but a 50th anniversary with an incredibly visionary digital department and artistic director resulted in us being rushed off our feet.  But all in a wonderfully productive way.  It was almost impossible to escape the National in press coverage and I was very fortunate to get a ticket for the 50th Gala featuring the likes of Maggie Smith, Judi Dench, Benedict Cumberbatch, James Corden, Derek Jacobi and Michael Gambon.  It was a once in a lifetime event (and I didn't have to pay!).

But I have managed to escape to Malta

On the comedown for the big 5-0, we have been working on clearing out the basement and getting things in a bit more of an order.  It's a laborious task but I am finding out a lot more about what the archive is about.  Last week, I went to a Digital Preservation Coalition training day: 'Getting Started in Digital Preservation'.  It was by far the best conference day I have attended and I would highly recommend it to anyone thinking about making a digital preservation plan or looking at risk assessments.

And our hotel had a little free library!
The day was focussed at beginners in this sector and was well organised, starting with a rounded overview and then moving into case studies and exercises for your own institution. I found the case studies really helpful as they showed how people in similar situations had tackled problems similar to my own.  I could relate to their issues and it was cheering to hear that there are many people in the same boat and wanting to learn from each other.  Institutions can be so large and ungainly that trying to impose a records management structure on them can be like the proverbial square peg, round hole.  So it was good to hear how professionals have addressed this issue and brought colleagues over to their way of thinking.

The training day made us think about our own collection by using exercises built around our own digital series and this is an unusual aspect of conference days.  It made me realise that we have a lot of work to do but at least we pretty much already have the skills required and now I know that there are people out there with the same issues and a whole DPC to help us face them!

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