Category: Digital Curation

A National Digital Stewardship Resident at the U.S. Senate

This is a guest post by John Caldwell. On Friday, January 29, 2016, I hosted my fellow National Digital Stewardship residents, their mentors, and the NDSR program staff to our cohort’s first enrichment session at the US Senate. The morning started with two presentations. First, Mark Evans, Director of Digital Archives and Information Resources Management […]

A Millennium of Persian Literary Tradition Digitized

This is guest post by Hirad Dinavari, reference specialist for the Iranian World Collections, African and Middle Eastern Division of the Library of Congress. The Library is currently in the process of producing a curator-guided online tour of the Persian book exhibit. A “curator guided tour” video of the Persian book exhibit is expected to […]

A Millennium of Persian Literary Tradition Digitized

This is guest post by Hirad Dinavari, reference specialist for the Iranian World Collections, African and Middle Eastern Division of the Library of Congress. The Library is currently in the process of producing a curator-guided online tour of the Persian book exhibit. A “curator guided tour” video of the Persian book exhibit is expected to […]

Digital Preservation for the Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities – benefits for everyone

I had the pleasure of delivering a paper at the first Digital Preservation for the Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities (DPASSH) conference in Dublin at the end of June. This was hosted by the team at DRI, Digital Repository of Ireland, at the same time as exciting changes for them – indeed, one of the notable events of the conference was the official opening of the DRI complete with a representative of the Irish government in attendance.

This focus on something new is of course in the context of a greater overall focus on things old – or at least historical. The theme of the conference was ‘Shaping our Legacy: Safeguarding the Social and Cultural Record’ – a useful way to draw together thoughts about the impact of our curation decisions today on the shape of tomorrow’s digital collections. Whether these are collections of art, museum holdings or research datasets, their form and extent will potentially influence thought and decision-making for generations to come. 

Whilst much DCC activity engages with research practice from across many disciplines, one area that I find particularly interesting is research practice where the term ‘research data’ is one that researchers are not necessarily comfortable with. It is important to remember that many scholars in the arts and humanities are indeed very confident and comfortable with the term ‘research data’ and apply it happily in their own practice. But not all scholars feel this way, and many of those in my experience happen to emerge from the arts and humanities areas. So how do we engage with these audiences?

Going even further away from what Norman Gray has called, “the broad sunlit uplands of well-managed research data”[1], I have been investigating the value of digital curation to professional communities beyond the academic research sector. My paper attempted to draw out what happens when such a community of practice – in this case performing arts professionals – has strong economic drivers to undertake digital object management, but they have not engaged with digital curation or preservation and in most cases have not even heard these terms before. This, of course, doesn’t mean that curation and preservation activity is not taking place – rather, what it does mean is that it is taking place without knowledge of good practice, and without access to the training, support and infrastructure that was formerly provided by the AHDS and is now expected to be available within institutions.

Outlining what curation, preservation and archiving practice looks like out in the wild is, I think, very helpful for both the professional community in question (in this case, the performing arts), and also for those in the digital curation and preservation professions. Exposure to digital curation terminology and guidance gives performing arts practitioners some idea of the tasks involved in sustainable management of their valued digital objects, and how resources from the DCC such as the DCC Curation Lifecycle Model can be meaningful and useful to them. For digital curation professionals, it is useful to remember that our institutional approaches are not a universal working context, and our language is not universally understood.

These were the main arguments of my paper, based on a series of case study interviews I’ve undertaken. Presentation of the findings at performing arts conferences and events has been a useful way to spread the work of digital curation and preservation professionals in general and the DCC in particular. The Curation Lifecycle Model has actually been pretty well-received at performing arts workshops and events, particularly when artists see that it specifically advocates for the transformation of existing material and knowledge into new work: this – to researchers across disciplines including scientists and artists – is widely received as inspiring stuff. 

To bring more professional practice into the digital curation conversation, then, we need to be prepared to advocate for digital curation in discipline- and profession-specific environments such as discipline-specific conferences and industry events, as well as taking a flexible and adaptive approach to translating our messages. The more we can do to convey the relevance and value of what we do to specific professions, the more likely they are to engage. The prize? A better chance of safeguarding the digital social and cultural record – and this potentially benefits everyone.

The slides to my paper, ‘Performances, preservation and policy implications’, are available here: http://www.slideshare.net/lm_hatii/dpassh2015-slidesmolloy (and please just contact me for the script); the DPASSH website is available here: http://dpassh.dri.ie, and the event hashtag on twitter is #DPASSH.

[1] Research seminar at HATII, University of Glasgow, 29 Nov 2011.

 

The Personal Digital Archiving 2015 Conference

The annual Personal Digital Archiving conference is about preserving any digital collection that falls outside the purview of large cultural institutions. Considering the expanding range of interests at each subsequent PDA conference, the meaning of the word “personal” has become thinly stretched to cover topics such as family history, community history, genealogy and digital humanities. New York […]

Digital Archiving Programming at Four Liberal Arts Colleges

The following guest post is a collaboration from Joanna DiPasquale (Vassar College), Amy Bocko (Wheaton College), Rachel Appel (Bryn Mawr College) and Sarah Walden (Amherst College) based on their panel presentation at the recent Personal Digital Archiving 2015 conference. I will write a detailed post about the conference — which the Library of Congress helped […]

Tracking Digital Collections at the Library of Congress, from Donor to Repository

When Kathleen O’Neill talks about digital collections, she slips effortlessly into the info-tech language that software engineers, librarians, archivists and other information technology professionals use to communicate with each other.  O’Neill, a senior archives specialist in the Library of Congress’s Manuscript Division, speaks with authority about topics such as file signatures, hex editors and checksums even […]

“Elementary!” A Sleuth Activity for Personal Digital Archiving

As large institutions and organizations continue to implement preservation processes for their digital collections, a smattering of self-motivated information professionals are trying to reach out to the rest of the world’s digital preservation stakeholders —  individuals and small organizations — to help them manage their digital collections. Part of that challenge is just making people aware that: […]