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DigiCULT
.
Info
34
R
ECOGNISING
A
DVANCES
IN
D
IGITAL
P
RESERVATION
A
s more and more digital resources are
being produced and used, the work of
digital preservation becomes progressively
more important in order to prevent a wid-
ening gap in our cultural heritage for future
generations. The shortlist for a new Digital
Preservation Award has been announced by
the Digital Preservation Coalition (http://
www.dpconline.org) and the Pilgrim Trust
(http://www.thepilgrimtrust.org.uk/). The
award recognises innovation and achieve-
ment in digital preservation and aims to
encourage and highlight creative approach-
es to furthering the digital preservation
agenda. It focuses on `born-digital' resources
rather than those using technology for pres-
ervation or conservation purposes and was
awarded on 22 June to a project that dem-
onstrates leadership and advancement in the
digital preservation area.
Adam Rusbridge, the Digital
Preservation Technical Analyst for
ERPANET, considered the shortlist:
This is the first set of the Pilgrim Trust
Conservation Awards (http://www.con-
sawards.ukic.org.uk/) to include an awar
d
for digital preservation. Out of nine appli-
cations, five have been short-listed.33 They
vary in both scale and direction and this
article presents a comparative critique of
the shortlist.34
T
he application form35 states that the
award is aimed at projects that:
Recognise leadership and achievement.
Highlight the issues posed by preserving
electronic information in the long term.
Focus on born-digital resources.
Advance the theory, practice and under-
standing of the surrounding issues.
Test the theory of a particular digital
preservation strategy.
Assist the long-term storage of electronic
objects.
Illustrate an innovative piece of thinking.
Demonstrate benefit for the UK.
THE DIGITAL ARCHIVE
36
I
n 1999, the British government released
a mandate requiring all records to be
stored and retrieved electronically by
2004.37 The National Archives (http://
www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/) have dev
el-
oped an archive currently capable of stor-
ing 100 terabytes of data for this purpose.
The successful implementation of the
archive is a significant achievement; how-
ever, continued management, maintenance
and development is crucial to its success.
The system is compliant with current gov-
ernment standards and is based upon solid
software engineering and project manage-
ment methodologies. A variety of file for-
mats can be accepted into the archive;
in particular, the National Archives have
collaborated with the Internet Archive's
Wayback Machine (http://web.archive.
org/) to appropriately archive dynam-
ic Web sites and their associated databases.
The National Archives have taken first steps
towards implementing a preservation strat-
egy, although remaining flexible enough
to allow either migration or emulation
where required. It is expected that access
and delivery will become Web enabled (it is
currently limited to public search rooms).
T
he Digital Archive directly benefits
the UK. It is a British legal require-
ment for this information to be stored
and the cost benefit of storing electronic
records digitally will benefit the UK pub-
lic. This project is likely to have a positive
impact among other British institutions.
The success of a large-scale, high-pro-
file archive such as this is likely to encour-
age others to begin their own archiving
projects and it may be that such organi-
sations will base their ideas upon those
implemented here. This is not without
merit: as this essential work needed to be
performed for legal reasons the techniques
implemented quite rightly prioritise securi-
ty over innovation.
JISC CONTINUING ACCESS AND
DIGITAL PRESERVATION STRATEGY
38
T
he Joint Information Systems
Committee (JISC) has supported
many digital preservation projects in recent
years. This strategy, in force between 2002
and 2005, ensures that JISC will continue
to play an active role in digital preservation.
JISC outlines how it intends to promote
the management and preservation of digit-
al materials, encourage the use of standards
and good practice, and discuss many of the
areas in which research and development
is required, focusing on all forms of digital
information that must be stored.
33 Listed at http://www.dpconline.org/graphics/awards/
shortlist.html.
34 The views presented in this article are those of the
author and are in no way affiliated to the awards.
35 The Digital Preservation Award application form can be
viewed at http://consawards.ukic.org.uk/appform_dpa.pdf.
36 http://www.pro.gov.uk/about/preservation/digital/
archive/default.htm
37 See http://www.archive.official-documents.co.uk/docu-
ment/cm43/4310/4310-05.htm for more detail.
38 http://www.jisc.ac.uk/index.cfm?name=pres_continuing