This is a series of posts summarizing my learnings from the Preservation and Archiving Special Interest Group (PASIG) Annual Conference. PASIG 2019 brings together practitioners, industry experts and researchers to share their experiences and develop best practices for digital preservation and archiving.
My key take-aways from Day 2:
- The next revision of the NDSA Levels of Preservation – the tiered set of recommendations for how organizations should structure their digital preservation activities – should add a component for risk assessment.
- Digital preservation efforts in many Latin American countries are in a race against time to ensure that important collections are not lost for future generations.
- Digital archiving is not just an IT function; stakeholders from the entire organization need to be involved.
The morning of Day 2 provided excellent insight into the state of digital preservation in Latin America. Since this was the first time PASIG has been held in this geographic region, it was fascinating to have an opportunity to hear how practitioners here are coping with the digital preservation challenge. It was also my first opportunity to take advantage of the excellent work the translation team performed all throughout the conference.
Carlos Martínez Suárez provided the morning keynote, and gave a wonderful presentation on efforts to digitize and preserve a collection of film footage captured by many different Mexican communities.
This was followed by an excellent panel of local attendees that discussed a multitude of digital preservation activities that are helping to preserve the cultural memory of this region, despite the challenges of funding and available expertise. We also heard from Perla Rodriguez from the National University of Mexico (UNAM) about the complex crossroads of preserving video and audio collections that are at real risk of loss through degradation. Digitization efforts in many Latin American countries are behind the curve and it’s a real race against time to ensure that these important collections are not lost for future generations.
Before lunch, there was a fascinating paper presented on adding a risk management facet to the NDSA levels of preservation. For me this was one of the highlights of the conference, as an important lesson from aviation safety (another of my passions) was used to present the argument that risk assessment and management should be considered alongside the other technical components in the Levels of Preservation.
PASIG has always been a forum where participants are not afraid to share when things go wrong. In this instance the Universitat de les Iles Baleras lost 3281 files in 2015 when they adopted an approach using multiple copies on tape. This loss forced them to rethink their approach, and through the adoption of the NDSA Levels of Preservation, they could clearly demonstrate progress. However it became clear that even storing three copies on different hardware in different geographic regions presented an element of risk. This discovery drove them to adding a risk assessment component. I hope that this important work will be incorporated into the upcoming reboot of the NDSA levels of Preservation.
The final session of the morning was devoted to web archiving. In this session we heard some interesting updates from both Rhizome, the organization that supports the Webrecorder tool, and from the Internet Archive which provides Archive-IT. History Associates has been using both Webrecorder and Archive-IT on a recent project with the National Library of medicine, so I was eager to hear what new features might be coming soon.
Webrecorder is getting a lot of use from communities beyond archives and other memory institutions, including journalists, researchers, educators and students. As a result of this increase in interest, they are going to be offering subscription services in the near future. This will allow users to create and store more extensive collections than the current 5GB limit provides.
Maria Praetzellis from the Internet Archive provided some cool examples of how they are extracting, aggregating, and augmenting images from the larger archive.
After an excellent lunch of tacos, we settled down to a session on building capacity. Joe Kraus, CIO of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, provided his perspective on the recent adoption of the Libsafe product from Libnova as their centralized digital archive platform. Joe gave a great explanation of the selection process and how various museum stakeholders were involved. It was interesting to hear from a CIO of a major institution who understands and champions the need for digital preservation. I was really encouraged to hear him emphasize that digital archiving is not just an IT function. Indeed, the Museum had to educate their IT staff on what digital preservation is really all about.
After a long day we raced to board busses to take us to the evening reception. As we started the day learning about preserving videos of Mexican culture, it was fitting that we celebrated the evening at Cineteca Nacional, Mexico City’s most popular and striking museum devoted to preserving, sharing, and celebrating the modern cinema.