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Collaboration in digital preservation

Collaboration in digital preservation

International Archives Week – reflecting on collaboration

To celebrate today’s theme of digital preservation for International Archives Week I have been reflecting on my own experiences. 


Between 2010-2012 I was seconded to the post of Digital Archivist on the AIMS Project (Born Digital Collections: An Inter-Institutional Model for Stewardship) funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. The project brought digital archivists from the Universities of Hull, Stanford, Virginia and Yale to share, discuss approaches to born-digital archives and to engage the wider archives community.  

With four project partners collaboration was integral to everything we were doing. It was so helpful to have colleagues to discuss our ideas, our successes and our failures. Our focus was on processes and not specific software and this ensured that the AIMS Project White Paper was applicable to other institutions.  

I recall the sense of feeling overwhelmed with everything – every other day there seemed to be a new tool or project to read about and the language was filled with acronyms like AIP, SIP, DIP, OAIS to name just a few.  Things really clicked when I stepped away from the computer and started to open boxes in the archive and discover the material and formats already held. This practical element boosted my confidence which helped when talking with depositors about digital archives.

NDSA Levels of Digital Preservation

In 2018 I was one of more than 100 individuals to volunteer to contribute to a review of the NDSA Levels of Digital Preservation. I did this out of personal interest but also a desire to be part of a different conversation and to see things differently. With multiple sub-groups I opted to join the Curatorial group and contributed to regular discussions with colleagues from a range of archive services. The opportunity to reflect on experiences, how to represent the issues and key decision points with appropriate cross references. Multiple editors on a single Google Doc worked really well – providing an opportunity to add comments, seek clarification and respond to comments. It was a hugely positive experience.

This week I joined more than 250 others from over 30 countries have joined the virtual conference run by OPF. This was my first virtual conference and I was unsure what to expect. I printed out the programme and then checked (and re-checked) the timings to get my head around the time difference between CEST and GMT so I wouldn’t turn-up late. 

There was a huge amount of information about projects – a few that were familiar to me but also many that were not. With a significant number of presentations and posters I don’t intend to summarise each but there were a number of common themes throughout the conference – the need and importance of collaboration and the commitment to make a difference.  I did enjoy the personal digital archiving website ( and its take on using a few personas to engage the public with digital preservation issues and offering practical steps and solutions.

This year I am challenging myself to identify at least 3 takeaways – things todo / look at from each webinar or event I attend. In reflecting on OPFCON my list looks like this:

I can certainly atest to the benefits of collaboration. Digital preservation is complicated; sharing your ideas, progress and failures with others also creates opportunities for you to be inspired by others.

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