I’ve been a huge admirer of some of the digital preservation community networks which have emerged in recent years – I’m thinking here particularly of Aye Preserves and further afield Australasia Preserves and have thought how nice it would be to have something similar to go to. Circumstances conspired that I found myself at iPres in Amsterdam last year chatting to fellow UK Midlands preservationist Laura Peaurt (University of Nottingham) and we reflected on how ironic it was that we went all the way to Amsterdam to have the time and space to exchange ideas when we could be doing it nearer home. Fast forward a few months and Laura and I were preparing to launch an informal networking event maybe in Birmingham for Midlands colleagues to meet to share experiences and offer support, perhaps over a coffee or glass of beer… Fast forward a few more months and Laura and realised we would not be meeting anyone any time soon in real life so we set up the very first online meeting aimed at anyone in the region interested in or working on digital preservation challenges (we’re still hoping it can be a physical meeting at some point!).
We chose to use Microsoft Teams because both of our institutions already support it and several members mentioned that their institutions blocked the use of Zoom. Teams allows us to share screens, chat and record which ticked the boxes and no one had a problem joining it.
To keep it simple the two speakers were Laura and myself. Laura and her colleague Sarah Colbourne spoke about the work that the University of Nottingham are doing on Covid-19 collecting which builds on the work which was already underway at the University collecting contemporary stories relating to the student experience which can read more about here. Laura also did a live demo of Conifer (the tool formerly known as Webrecorder) and it was really interesting to see the tool in use and hear the discussion about the benefits and drawbacks of using Conifer and of web capture in general. I think we all agreed it was useful to have the ability to capture something and in a quite responsive way but it was no substitute for the very complex task of full scale web preservation.
I lead the second presentation which comprised a simple run through of using DROID, the National Archives’ tool for file format identification. As with Laura’s demo we weren’t claiming to show the “only” way of using the tool but just how we did in the context of the work we did. My main use cases are around capturing initial metadata, creating file lists to help with cataloguing, identifying duplicates for appraisal purposes and using the reporting functionality for planning with ongoing management of file formats. To me DROID is a great basis for “understand what you have” – surely the bedrock of collections management.
The meeting lasted two hours which went very quickly but I think a lot of people feel a bit screened out after longer than this. We asked for brief feedback on format and content and had some lovely comments:
Many thanks Rachel and Laura this DP group is just what we need to share experiences as well as theory.Participant
I found it a very useful session, and feel that “Show and Tell” is a good way forward, complementing the more formal training available in other forums.Participant
This is a very encouraging start to what we hope will be a community led resource. If you are in the UK Midlands Region and are interested in future events please do get in touch rachel dot macgregor at warwick dot ac dot uk or via @AnOldHand on Twitter.