dealing with digital records maureen pennock digital curation centre n.
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Dealing with Digital Records Maureen Pennock Digital Curation Centre. Digital Archiving or Digital Archaeology?. Today’s talk. The DCC Background & Context What We Do Digital Preservation & Archiving Preservation & Curation: Issues & challenges

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Digital Archiving or Digital Archaeology?

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today s talk
Today’s talk


Background & Context

What We Do

Digital Preservation & Archiving

Preservation & Curation: Issues & challenges

Specific challenges for repositories receiving digital deposits


Proactive solutions

uk digital curation centre
UK Digital Curation Centre

JISC Circular 6/03 called for bids in digital curation

JISC and the e-Science Core Programme funding

for development, services and outreach in digital curation

for a research programme

Impetus to action

Growth in e-Science activity and data creation

Recognition that continuing access to digital information


University of Edinburgh (lead site)

Chris Rusbridge, Prof Peter Buneman

University of Glasgow - HATII

Prof Seamus Ross, Director of HATII and Erpanet

University of Bath - UKOLN

Dr Liz Lyon, Director of UKOLN

Councils for the Central Laboratory of the Research Councils (CCLRC)

Dr David Giaretta


Lead a vibrantinternationalresearch programme to improve quality in data curation and digital preservation

Deliver effective, efficient and high demand services

undertake evaluation of tools, methods, standards and policies

work with the community to establish registries of tools and technical information

Create an active, innovative and collaborative Associates Network

Connect communities

Universities and Research institutions

Scientific data and documents

International & cross-sector


communities of

  • practice: users
  • community
  • support &
  • outreach
  • service
  • management
  • research
  • definition
  • & admin
  • research
  • collaborators
  • & delivery
  • support
  • development
  • co-ordination
  • testbeds
  • & tools
  • Industry
  • standards bodies
  • curation organisations
  • eg DPC
  • Collaborative
  • Associates
  • Network of
  • Data
  • Organisations
we carry out research
We carry out Research...

Annotation in Databases

Data archiving

Socio-economic and legal issues

Metadata extraction and curation

Provenance and databases

Data transformation, integration and publishing


Supporting technologies

Organisational and cultural challenges to digital curation

we undertake development
We undertake Development...

DCC Approach to Digital Curation (white paper) – sets out the path for development activities:

Monitoring international standards

Development of a Representation Information Registry/Repository (DCC RIR)

Development of recommendations for tools and methods for generating Representation Information

Creating testbeds for digital curation tools

Creating auditing and certification processes for trusted repositories

we provide services
We provide Services...

Information Services

Community-developed Digital Curation Manual

Briefing Papers & FAQ’s

Technology Watch

Case Studies

Best Practice Checklists

Advisory Services

Events: information days, workshops, training, conferences


Audit and Certification Services

but we don t
But we don’t…

Accept digital archival materials for curation, storage, or preservation

Maintain a computer hardware museum

Offer file migration or conversion

Repair damaged data resources

Carry out digital archaeology

in summary we
In Summary, we…

Support and promote continuing improvement in the quality of data curation and preservation activity

Nurture strong community relationships between practitioners, researchers, and curators

Address digital curation from all aspects of the records life-cycle

Develop and promote curation knowledge, tools and techniques

Identify and research new organisational, technical, and supporting curation challenges

digital curation
Digital Curation

Digital curation is all about maintaining and adding value to a trusted body of digital information for current and future use; specifically, we mean the active management and appraisal of data over the life-cycle of scholarly and scientific materials.

Digital Curation brings a whole host of challenges

The range of stakeholders that affect the survival of digital material cuts across the whole life-cycle

Everyone plays an important role

preserving digital archives i
Preserving Digital Archives I

The main problems:

Technology obsolescence

Hardware and software dependencies

Leading to authenticity and integrity issues

Fragility of digital media

Bit deterioration

Media breakage

Lack of good practice examples for

Data creation

Data documentation

preserving digital archives ii
Preserving Digital Archives II

Some other problems:


Creators don’t (want to) understand the technical issues


Metadata identifying resources is often insufficient


Difficult to anticipate costs of different activities


Need for collaboration between parties is often overlooked

Infrastructure and existing procedures often inadequate


Largely an unknown quantity!

receiving digital archives i
Receiving Digital Archives I

Specific challenges for organisations receiving externally originating digital deposits

Possible lack of control/influence over

resource creation

resource & collection documentation

transfer metadata

technical metadata

file storage format

media storage format

receiving digital archives ii
Receiving Digital Archives II

Further challenges:

Lack of required hardware to read discs

Lack of required software to read file formats

Lack of in-house knowledge about digital deposits

May be a hybrid collection – paper & digital

This causes further challenges

Final archive may only accept limited formats

You *might* have to convert the material for archiving

Solving all of these issues may cause you money!

digital archaeology for digital archiving
Digital archaeology for digital archiving

Digital archaeology

A form of data recovery

Exploring what is buried below the surface

Rescuing neglected and damaged data resources

May reveal a lot of unwanted material, but…

… may also reveals some valuable treasures

May be necessary for repositories receiving digital deposits to ascertain

What material has been deposited

Whether the material is valuable

How to access and store the material for the longer-term



Received Old BBC Discs – obsolete storage format

National Archives/CAMiLEON project

Domesday Project – rescuing data from obsolete media and data formats


Hurricane Marilyn resulted in weather damaged diskettes and 12 inch WORM discs

German Unification

West German Archivists recovering obsolete East German data

what can you do i
What can you do? I

Find a reliable way to explore deposits and ascertain the value of the records

Some records may be damaged or fragmented

Rescue records where possible

Store those that are not

You never know what we will be capable of in the future

Most data can be rescued – given enough time and money

what can you do ii
What can you do? II

Learn from experience

What you have done in the past

What others have done in the past

Collaborate and share knowledge

Be prepared

To change processes

To embark on a learning curve

To communicate issues to potential depositors

Develop in-house knowledge

Cuts costs

But be prepared to combine it with specialised external knowledge when necessary

what can you do iii
What can you do? III

Identify and use tools developed by others

DCC tools such as the RIR

Erpanet tools on Ingest, Costing, Selecting Technologies, Developing a Policy tools

Tools from the NAA

Tools from the NLA

Tools from the Digital Preservation Testbed

Identify and use valuable case studies

Ross & Gow: Digital Archaeology: Rescuing Neglected and Damaged Data Resources

Jeremy John, British Library: Digital Manuscripts Project

Studies presented at this workshop

thank you questions
Thank you. Questions?

Maureen Pennock

Join the DCC Associates Network at