13 Jul 2015

Shaping our Legacy: Safeguarding the Social and Cultural Record. (DRI Digital Preservation Conference Report)

This report on the Digital Repository Ireland (DRI) 1st Digital Preservation Conference, June 25th & 26th 2015 - Theme: Shaping our Legacy: Safeguarding the Social and Cultural Record is by Siobhan McGuiness library intern with the Heritage Council 

Day 1:
To kick-start this wonderful two event, Catriona Crowe for the National Archives was our Keynote speaker. Catriona for anyone that does not know her is a fabulous speaker, her knowledge and wisdom is inspiring. I would not even try to write or repeat her speech as it covers a multitude. The one remark I will say is, check out the amazing speeches she has given over the years, this woman is for me an inspirational leader.

Moving on with this jam packed day, I decide to stay and listen to Paper Session 1A:
Sustaining Infrastructures.

Rob Kitchin, from Maynooth University is first up to illustrate “Funding models for open access digital repositories”
This is an important aspect for anyone moving into digitisation. As my current internship is with the heritage council we are hoping to work on a digitisation project. The heritage council is linked very closely to the research data within the humanities and social science so it is imperative that we understand what these models can offer us.

Most of us are aware of Open Access (OA) however the growing range of different OA models are forever changing and adapting. The need to look deeper into your organisation to see which one of these models matches your present needs and influences future decisions is of high importance.
To reflect on your organisation is never a bad discussion, it gives time to look deeper at the mission and value of the organisation and how this new digitisation fits with your core ideas and future endeavours.

The last two speakers, illustrated the many ways organisations can preserve their research or digital collection on a larger scale. Tibor Kálmán from GWDG which is “research centre to advance scientific research infrastructures” and Marcel Ras from the Netherlands explained infrastructure on a larger scale, which if you are within a larger institution can be helpful. The scale of a digital preservation project can start off small and the requirements that you think you need may be easy and accessible. However after hearing the above speakers it was imperative to me to keep the scale of the project as small as possible. There is a high possibility it could become gigantic in the ways these infrastructures are, however in my case this does not reflect the mission of the heritage council in anyway.

After lunch, it is paper session 2A: Cultural Heritage: Legal, Ethical and Practical Considerations
Here five (yes five) different speakers are to talk about all things heritage however in a very serious manner. Legal and ethics side of digitising heritage is a minefield, especially sensitive material. Sensitive material discussed here was very interesting. Documents that contained folklore stories which contained actual names and places that could be traced back needed to be followed up. Here some of the stories didn’t highlight the people very well and so present relatives needed to be asked if names could be kept or redacted, in some cases whole stories are not available.
Depending on what is in your digital collection there are many legalities to consider. Copyright is of course top of the list and again needs adding to the list of questions in terms of staff, who took the picture? Was it an archaeological dig funded by the organisation or a separate project? When, where, was the picture taken? When, where & what is in the picture? I am not an archaeologist and I am not a qualified heritage officer, so this is a challenging digitisation project. The bottom line is we all need to work together!

However because this is an awesome conference I get learn a small bit about archaeology, and more important Digital Archaeology. The discovery programme worked on a 3D project called 3D-ICONS. This amazing project showcased how the team went about taking pictures of the objects and the surrounding landscape. They outlined how they needed to take in height and depth surrounding each object, the sheer scale of this was enormous. The best bit was getting to meet and talk with the metadata team, two of the team members were present and it was so inspiring to see the amount of work that went into this project.

Day 2: Heritage, Heritage!

I really am starting to like all things heritage, the stories these people tell are mesmerising. The main discussion over the last two days is “how can we all work together”? The scariest part of getting down and dirty with heritage is the sheer volume that we as a nation have. We have it in our attics, we have it in our minds, and we have it now on our computers and phones as we document our heritage through holidays and visits around this wonderful country.

How do we preserve and document this in a way that will sustain over time? WHO will maintain this preservation? There are amazing projects being done as we speak, however resources are tight and not everyone is up to speed with digitisation. From my point of view this needs the collaboration of everyone that is someway connected. The heritage council is part of that connection and we will reach out to others to share our learning and to keep active the many ways we can document and preserve our precious heritage.

If digitisation is something you have an interest in as a librarian, archivist, knowledge manager, or information professional, whatever your title may be I would strongly urge you to attend this conference next year. It gets you out of your comfort zone, you meet people from so many other disciplines and you learn something new.

Be sure to check out DRI’s website it really is a great resource and check out #dpassh for tweets from and about the day.


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