I can’t believe that time has moved round so quickly – what happened to the summer (don’t answer that)? and already we’ve had the second meeting of the Midlands Digital Preservation Network. After the last meeting we sent out a feedback form to try and get a sense of what people might want to discuss. It was important for us from the outset to get as much feedback and input as possible. There seemed to be an interest in “transfer” and by that we interpreted this as “getting the stuff into your archive” which I have always maintained is one of the hardest parts of digital preservation – it doesn’t matter how fancy your preservation system is if you can’t capture the “stuff” you want in the first place then you are not doing any kind of preservation.
I had been doing some work on using Sharepoint for depositing/collecting archives and I thought I would share my experiences with the group to get feedback, prompt others to have a go or just get people thinking a bit more about their record keeping and managing environment. A quick show of virtual hands suggested the majority of people at the meeting worked for organisations which used Sharepoint (even if they didn’t use it much themselves). On my part I have found myself using Sharepoint much more than I did during the last six months as a way of working collaboratively and remotely and our Records Manager reports that the number of Sharepoint Libraries and Teams Sites in the organisation has mushroomed in the last six months. This presents huge record keeping and compliance challenges as well as digital preservation issues but here is not the place to go into it (another blog perhaps…). However because of its ubiquity Sharepoint does seem to be a way of sharing and gathering collections. My experiments were purely in the context of internal transfers and I soon found it was beyond my skills to be able to set up the permissions to satisfy my data security requirements. Although my IT colleagues were able to help with this I still haven’t really been able to achieve what I want. I’d love to hear from anyone who has managed to set up something which they are happy with! We had some discussions about the kind of metadata you might or might not be able to capture plus that old chestnut last modified date.
Laura then bravely offered to some live tool demo-ing and she kicked off with showing the tools that they are using at the University of Nottingham to work with their audio visual collections. The thing about digital preservation work and trying to move forward with it is that it will depend on your specific situation and what your goals and priorities are. For Nottingham it was working with various A/V collections and in particular the collections of a local musician which itself has thrown up a number of digital preservation challenges. Laura first explained that she had found this guidance produced by New York University which I’m going to have a good look at myself. She then went on to walk us through two tools she had been using: Exact Audiocopy and IsoBuster for audio CDs and DVDs respectively. It gave us a chance not just to see the tools in action but also to discuss how some the tools are used and we spent a bit of time discussing the pros and cons of disk imaging.
And to round off by popular demand Laura also live demoed Teracopy and those of us who have had a go with it (and I include myself in this) discussed the fact that it was a very useful tool but not an easy one to use (I for one find it quite complicated). Its checksumming ability is clearly of great benefit but just getting the checksums is one thing – working out how and when to use and check them is quite another!
Finally we agreed we would – where we could – share some of our procedures (must go and do that now!) and I think that would be a really useful discussion point for future meetings.
All the tools we have talked about are free to download in some version of another and we are all keen to keep the network system agnostic.
I came away full of ideas and thoughts of things I need to be getting on with – it’s really valuable to connect with others and get inspiration at times like these. Here’s to the next meeting – and as ever do get in touch with me if you want to know more (or join in!) rachel dot macgregor at warwick dot ac dot uk or DM me via Twitter @An_Old_Hand