2010 was a challenging year for ULCC’s Digital Archives team: you’ll have noticed posts to this blog have been few and far between, compared with previous years, and that’s because we’ve been extremely busy!
As usual we had a wide range of projects and activities, but without doubt our biggest challenge for the year was negotiating the complex task of transferring the NDAD Dataset Archive back to The National Archives, in its entirety. The National Digital Archive of Datasets is a hugely important collection of government datasets and databases, meticulously catalogued, researched and preserved by the DA team at ULCC under contract to TNA since 1998. The NDAD team worked long and hard to ensure a successful transfer in time for the end of the contract in October.
Our other activities have been in the now familiar fields of Web Archiving, Digital Preservation training and Repository development.
Ed led our Web Archiving effort, continuing to manage the harvesting of websites for the JISC, as part of the UK Web Archive, and contributed to the deliberations of the DPC’s Web Archiving Task Force. Kevin and I also put in an appearance at one of the Open University’s Innovations in Reference Management events, with an appeal to ensure that web preservation issues are adequately addressed when training undergraduates and researchers in information management skills (I also turned this into an article for Ariadne). We were also pleased to see the creation of the Guide To Web Preservation, based on the outputs of the JISC-PoWR project: you can order print copies from Lulu, download the PDF, or comment on the interactive web version at JISCPress.
Ed also continued working with the DCC for the Integrated Data Management Planning toolkit project (IDMP), building on earlier initiatives including the Assessing Institutional Digital Assets (AIDA) toolkit we developed for JISC; and Ed and AIDA also made a cameo appearance as part of Southampton University’s KeepIt! project, providing digital preservation training for repository managers.
In another interesting Web Archiving project, we prepared a set of recommendations for the Railway Heritage Committee, keen to preserve the many web sites and information sources related to railway services. Unfortunately the RHC looks set to be disbanded in the current round of government cuts, but we sincerely hope its successors in this role will take forward the important work of preserving this information.
Patricia led the Digital Preservation Training Programme, which ran successful courses in March and October, and also a specialist one-day Web Archiving workshop in June. We were very pleased that The National Archives chose to recommend DPTP when it published its Digital Preservation FAQ in the autumn. Patricia even took the Digital Preservation message to one of her local schools, and found the school-children encouragingly clued-up.
In repositories, Rory continued his work developing the SOAS Digital Archive, which will soon accommodate further collections, and ploughed on with the MERLIN repository text-mining project, producing ever more impressive results. We took a poster about the Furer-Haimendorf work to the annual Open Repositories conference in Madrid. We didn’t win best poster, but we did win the annual JISC-sponsored Developer’s Challenge, with a neat idea for enhancing semantic metadata in repository abstract pages, which we hope to develop this further. We also completed the migration of the School of Advanced Study’s SAS-Space repository from DSpace to EPrints, and the upgrade of all our hosted repositories to a stable EPrints 3.1 platform.
We were also pleased to contribute to the success of UCL’s Transcribe Bentham project, providing a customised wiki to support collaborative transcription; to deliver another digital preservation study for the DPC’s Case Notes series; and continue to support the work of the SHERPA-LEAP London repository consortium.
Unfortunately the end of the NDAD contract has meant that we have had to say farewell to many esteemed and longstanding colleagues – archivists Jim Jamieson and Joanne Anthony, data specialists Sally Hughes, Mina Creathorn and Annemarie McCaughey, and systems administrator Ben Wheeler. And of course we also said farewell this year to Kevin Ashley, who left for the Digital Curation Centre in February, after 25 years managing digital archives and other special projects at ULCC.
But the rest of the team – Ed, Patricia, Rory, Silvia and myself – expect to continue the good and diverse work long associated with ULCC’s Digital Archives team, and we already expect to have our hands full in 2011 with many new and ongoing digital archive and repository projects, including
- work with the Parliamentary Archives to define a preservation metadata profile for the records of the House of Lords
- work on a new digital preservation strategy for the The Women’s Library
- developing new repositories (alongside integrated VLE and e-Portfolio systems) for the GuildHE CREST project
- further work on the theory and practice of blog archiving, as part of an imminent EU FP7 project, which will see us collaborating with many UK and international partners
And DPTP, will be running several scheduled and custom courses in 2011, and of course we’ll continue to support and assist our repository service customers, old and new. So keep watching this space…
…and a Happy New Year!