It seems like a million years since we last met as a user group but astonishingly it was earlier this year when we gathered in person (can anyone remember that?) at the University of Westminster However we still want to meet and we are relying on one another even more now so it was fantastic to have the University of Glasgow host the event for us via Zoom so we could continue to meet and share ideas and experiences.
There was an appropriately Scottish feel to the meeting as we heard first of all from the George Macgregor from the University of Strathclyde about the work they have been doing on integrating Archivematica with their ePrints repository. You can read the detail of the work here but it’s the result of a fantastic international collaboration with Concordia University in Canada and has taken a lot of time and hard work to come to fruition. Strathclyde (in common with many other Universities) use ePrints as their repository where they keep (note not preserve) academic research outputs. George was very candid about the fact that preservation was not part of the data management process but they are now making great strides towards integrating preservation practices into their management workflow.
Our second speaker was Sean Rippington from the University of St Andrews (continuing the Scottish theme) talking about their recent work. For the first part of his talk Sean spoke on a parallel theme to George – integrating their repository (Pure – not a repository system but used as one by many) with a preservation system. Thanks to ongoing development work by Jisc as part of their Open Research Hub there are now Adapters to enable integration which helped St Andrews to connect Pure with Archivematica. It’s a really encouraging piece of work which is available on Github and hopefully will lead to future interoperability work. Sean also updated us on a separate but fascinating piece of work on preserving HyperCard (early Mac) files. When attempting an ingest into Archivematica normalization didn’t achieve much either for preservation (complex METs files) or for access. As a consequence they turned to emulation to support the file but would look to developing a preservation pathway going forward.
We had some time for discussion and talked about normalisation pathways for spreadsheets (answers on a postcard please). Convenient as online is for actually attending events (we had attendees from a really wide geographic spread which almost certainly would not have happened in real life) but the chance to have informal catch ups with people facing similar issues is less easy to replicate online although I am very interested in exploring ways of doing this…
Finally we were pleased to welcome Sarah Mason from Artefactual systems to give us all the latest Archivematica news.
Reflecting on the event we can see how every institution has their own individual setup and needs which means a lot of different approaches are required but by sharing work and ideas hopefully we can all tackle our won challenges. I’m really looking forward to more of events like this and will be looking for enhancing the networking opportunities online so that we can get the best out of our events.