This is the third post in a series which recaps 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.
Key take-aways from Day 3:
- To make a digital preservation program viable, think about how this will empower the community it will serve. This is especially important within grass roots and marginalized communities.
- Julia Morley from Stanford presented an interesting model that attempts to project the ongoing cost of maintaining local and cloud copies of digital content, based on a continuous hardware refresh approach. He very kindly made his model available online: http://bit.ly/PASIGStorageModel
- The industry is still trying to define best practices for preserving social media for posterity.
Day three began with more lightning talks, and I got the privilege of spending a few minutes describing two areas where History Associates is helping to support our clients’ digital preservation challenges. I was joined in this session by representatives from Archivematica, the Open Preservation Foundation (OPF) and AVP.
Following this fast paced start to the day, we heard two excellent presentations on working with community archives. Veronica Reyes-Escudero from the University of Arizona talked about the challenges of working with grass roots and marginalized communities. She emphasized the importance of demonstrating “Cultural Competency,” which is so important in how we frame digital preservation efforts. That thought resonated well with what we do at History Associates, as we always strive to gain trust with our clients in every aspect of our work.
Nancy Godoy of Arizona State University continued on this theme in her work to develop a toolkit for underrepresented communities. Nancy described a program of community training that involves instruction on appraisal, arrangement, description, and how to digitize materials. The target communities were unwilling to visit the archives, so the action was to take the archives to the community. Nancy’s key takeaway was to think about community empowerment before we consider digital preservation. Both these presentations gave a fresh perspective to this conference, where the previous focus has been mainly on building infrastructure and capability.
Next up was Thomas Ledoux from Bibliotheque National de France (BNF). Thomas has been a long standing member of the PASIG community, and is one of the few people who has attended all PASIG meetings since the original one in 2007. Thomas provided an update on the SPAR digital preservation system, which has been in production for over a decade and is managing several petabytes of content. He gave his presentation in Spanish (one of many languages he speaks) which resonated very well with the local audience.
Next, Isabel Bordes from the Biblioteca Nacional de Espana talked about their preservation policy approach. It is based on efforts developed through the EU funded SCAPE project from a number of years ago. They are also looking at software that would provide secure and future-proof storage solutions as part of a new project called Piql (https://www.piql.com/), funded by the EU 2020 Horizons initiative. This is the first time I have heard this mentioned and I am keen to learn more about this program.
Before we broke for lunch we heard from Frances Harrell of NEDCC, who described an IMLS funded initiative to develop a program for conducting preservation assessments at smaller institutions. This initiative has been running since 2016 and to date, they have developed a methodology for performing an assessment and have carried out a series of 18 assessments in the United States. The assessment focuses on the organization; staff and resources; policy and infrastructure; process and workflows; and technical resources. They will be publishing a set of resources that will allow others to perform these assessments by the end of March.
Lunchtime presented me an opportunity to try some of the local street food vendors, which was long overdue. The food in Mexico City was delicious!
In the afternoon we heard an update from the LOCKSS (Lots of Copies Keep Stuff Safe) program. LOCKSS was one of the first digital preservation systems to hit the mainstream and get broad adoption. Indeed this presentation was a reflection on 20 years of LOCKSS. Since its release, the wide availability of cloud storage and compute platforms has had a huge impact on the digital preservation landscape, and as a result LOCKSS is going through a major architectural refresh. Thib Guicherd-Callin gave some insights in how LOCKSS is moving to a modular approach which will enable individual services to be used not just by the LOCKSS community but by other initiatives.
The cost of digital preservation has always been an important sustainability question. Julia Morley from Stanford presented an interesting model that attempts to project the ongoing cost of maintaining local and cloud copies of digital content, based on a continuous hardware refresh approach. He very kindly made his model available at the following link: http://bit.ly/PASIGStorageModel.
The featured talk of the day was on preserving social media, presented by Amelia Acker of University of Texas at Austin. Amelia couched this as preserving “Activity Streams” and focused on the use of social media API as methods for harvesting this ephemeral content. Indeed she posed the interesting question, should we be preserving the API?
At the end of the conference, Jon Tilbury from Preservica ran a panel session to discuss what the digital preservation landscape might be like in 2030, which sparked a lively discussion.