Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 14, No. 610.
Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London
Date: Wed, 24 Jan 2001 07:01:07 +0000
From: NINCH-ANNOUNCE <email@example.com>
Subject: Towards a Digital Preservation Coalition in the UK
News on Networking Cultural Heritage Resources
from across the Community
January 23, 2001
TOWARDS A DIGITAL PRESERVATION COALITION IN THE U.K.
Following a March 1999 Digital Preservation Workshop at Warwick University
and a recent Digital Preservation Summit in London January 16, 2001, steps
seem to be well underway in the creation of a Digital Preservation
Coalition in the UK.
This seems to be very promising in raising awareness, implementing some
immediate practical projects and in conducting vital preservation research.
I urge all to read the following piece.
>Date: Mon, 22 Jan 2001 09:01:43 EST
>From: "Neil Beagrie," <Nbeagrie@aol.com>
a very successful and productive summit was held in London on 16th January
to discuss the formation of the digital preservation coalition. The
following text for an article/report will appear in various publications
shortly and is also posted to this list
This article reports on proposals to establish a Digital Preservation
Coalition in the UK. The Coalition aims to develop a UK digital
preservation agenda within an international context. The article provides
background on the issues and proposals and reports on a digital
preservation summit held in London on 16th January 2001 to discuss
establishment of the Coalition.
Electronic resources form an increasingly large part of our cultural and
intellectual heritage. In addition to electronic publications, the Web, and
e-commerce, there is an array of new UK initiatives and legislation, from
Modernising Government to the Freedom of Information Act, which is putting
an onus on public organisations to provide access to, manage and archive
their information in electronic form. In the research arena, there are also
significant developments particularly in the sciences towards very large
primary research data sets in electronic form e.g. in genomics or earth
There are significant challenges associated with ensuring access and
preservation of these materials into the future. Electronic resources
regardless of whether they are created initially through digitisation or
are "born" digital are threatened by technological obsolescence and
physical deterioration. With content from international publishers,
increasing globalisation and sharing of resources, and the involvement of a
range of libraries, archives, services, and cultural heritage
organisations, our ability to preserve access to these electronic resources
into the future depends on the collaboration and engagement of a wide range
National institutions and services, and individual local institutions
increasingly need to raise awareness of digital preservation, and develop
capacity, skills and expertise to administer or manage for the long-term
intellectual and cultural assets they have developed in digital
form. These institutions have recognised the value of collaboration in
addressing digital preservation. Establishment of a Digital Preservation
Coalition was the principal recommendation of the Warwick II digital
preservation workshop held in March 1999, which had representation from a
wide range of sectors, institutions, and practitioners in digital
There are a number of reasons why institutions at Warwick wished to
establish a Coalition. First, attendees recognised they needed a
collaborative effort to get digital preservation on the agenda of key
decision-makers and funders in terms that they will find persuasive and
understand. Secondly, projects and initiatives are proliferating and the
institutions themselves felt there would be significant value in developing
the umbrella organisation to help coordinate and keep a watching brief and
monitoring role on their behalf. Thirdly, despite sectoral differences it
was felt that most of the technical and some organisational issues remain
the same for all organisations. There are therefore significant synergies
and mutual self-interest in collaboration. At the same time the efforts of
individual institutions and sectors can be leveraged and co-ordinated
through collaboration to achieve wider national benefits. Finally, it was
felt that the Digital Preservation Coalition could tap additional skills
and funding and help address and contribute to development of national
strategies, infrastructure and skills in digital preservation.
Concrete action towards the establishment of the Coalition is now in
progress. In June 2000 JISC established a post within the DNER and
appointed Neil Beagrie to provide a focal point for digital preservation
activities within JISC and the higher and further education communities,
and to help establish and support the Coalition proposed at Warwick.
Although the exact remit, shape and programme for the Coalition will be
resolved in consultation with proposed members, a draft outline of the
Coalition and its remit and work was discussed at a digital preservation
summit held in London on 16th January 2001.
2. Outcomes from the Summit
Participants representing national, university and public libraries,
archives, data archiving services, publishers, research councils and
government bodies unanimously endorsed the need for co-ordinated work on
digital preservation and for the establishment of a coalition. Participants
recognised that the subject is bigger than any one institution or sector.
It was agreed that the aim of the Coalition will be to develop a UK digital
preservation agenda within an international context.
The Coalition was seen as operating on four levels:
* activities undertaken individually by member institutions and sectors but
accomplished and co-ordinated in line with their commitment to the
principles of openness and dissemination in the draft manifesto;
* core coalition activities of common interest and benefit to all its
members supported by resources from its membership;
* collaborative projects and programmes which would be taken forward with
project funding drawn from a variety of sources.
* the creation and further development of a national digital archiving
infrastructure in the UK.
Suggestions for core activities and first programmes included:
* awareness raising amongst key funders and stakeholders;
* development of a digital preservation portal incorporating the
Preservation Management of Digital Materials Workbook, in collaboration
with international partners;
* establishing a dialogue with software and hardware manufacturers;
* developing standards to support digital preservation;
* training and addressing the skills and competencies needed for digital
* applied practical research and development in member institutions and
* archiving of commercial e journals;
* web archiving.
Funding and the most effective organisational model for the Coalition were
discussed, and JISC and the BL agreed to continue discussions with
potential partners in the Coalition and to co-ordinate its establishment.
Further general information and news on the Coalition will be disseminated
via the digital-preservation email list on JISCmail). Enquiries about the
coalition can be addressed in the first instance to Neil Beagrie email
firstname.lastname@example.org, JISC office, King's College London, Strand Bridge
House, 138 -142 Strand, London WC2 1HH.
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