The Preservation and Archiving Special Interest Group (PASIG) is dedicated to advancing the practice of digital preservation and archiving. Their annual conference, PASIG 2019, brings together practitioners, industry experts and researchers to share their experiences and develop best practices.
My key take-aways from Day 1:
- Digital preservation is a long-term investment and an institution cannot rely on grant funding alone.
- Storage hard drives are reaching their technological limits. The number of hard drives shipped last year confirms a clear downward trend.
- Competing vendors are coming together develop a shared registry for the exchange of preservation actions and policies.
It’s great to see such a well-attended PASIG this year with many attendees from Latin America who are bringing a fresh perspective to the conference. An overriding theme this year is showcasing tools and training to allow small institutions to get started in digital preservation.
The first topic after the introductory session focused on digital preservation assessment tools. This was of particular interest to me as we perform many assessments with our clients as part of a first engagement. Three tools were presented providing increasing levels of complexity:
- NDSA levels of Preservation,
- Core Trust Seal, and
Some great tips were provided at the end of the session for institutions to perform a self-assessment.
Before lunch a number of digital preservation training initiatives were presented, including initiatives from user communities around tools such as bitCurator and the Digtal POWRR Group that offer hands on practical training to smaller institutions.
One of the real values of PASIG is the willingness of participants to share ideas, approaches, successes, and – on occasion – failures. This is still an emerging discipline, after all. In a session on Community Building, Mary Molinaro, former executive director of the Digital Preservation Network (DPN), gave a very open and honest account on the recent closure of DPN, and what had contributed to its demise. It’s always sad when a digital preservation initiative ends, but the session provided some important lessons for us all to learn. The biggest take away for many people was that digital preservation is not cheap or free and an institution cannot rely on grant funding alone.
Neil Jeffries of Oxford University – a long time attendee at PASIG – gave a great overview of storage hardware trends. It has long been known that hard drives are reaching the edge technology limits in terms of storage capacity, but it was interesting to see that the number of hard drives shipped last year indicated a downward trend for the first time. Clearly there is a rise in popularity of non-volatile solid state storage. Certainly the capacity is increasing and the cost per TB is declining.
The day concluded with a presentation on PAR (Preservation Action Registry). This is a collaborative initiative by the major digital preservation vendors, including Preservica, Archivematica, and Arkivum, to develop a shared registry for the exchange of preservation actions and policies such as migration pathway from one format to another. The aim is to share information and stop duplication of effort, which has certainly existed in this discipline for many years. I think this is a really exciting initiative that has huge and lasting benefit to the community. It is certainly a great example competing vendors, coming together to solve a common problem in a consistent way.