Tuesday, 29 June 2010

There's a New Course in Town

Hello Fellow Digital Practitioners,

Given the multiple postings on the Digipres lately in regard to education for digital preservation and curation professionals, I thought it was good timing to plug a new course offering from the University of Virginia's Rare Book School. Fresh off the press (so to speak) is "Born Digital Materials: Theory & Practice", taught by Matthew Kirschenbaum, Associate Director of the Maryland Institute of Technology in the Humanities (MITH), and Naomi Nelson, former Interim Director for the Manuscript, Archives and Rare Book Library (MARBL) at Emory University and incoming Director for the Rare Book, Manuscript, and Special Collections Library at Duke University. I was lucky enough to be a member of the beta class although Matt & Naomi are such pros that one wouldn't have known that this was their first time around with this course.

As articulated in the course description, this class is aimed at an audience of archivists, librarians, curators and other individuals tasked with managing collections of born-digital content. Over a five-day period, topics such as materiality of digital objects, preservation metadata, emulation, migration, authentication of electronic records, and access strategies for these types of collections was discussed. Lectures and discussions were interspersed with hands on labs involving conducting donor surveys, using hex viewers, installing emulators and getting to use VINTAGE PCS AND MACS FROM DAYS GONE BY to enable file sleuthing! Needless to say, great fun was had by all. And we learned stuff too.

I would urge any and all who are engaged in digital preservation and stewardship to enroll in this course when it is next offered (likely Summer 2011). A great strength of the course are the complimentary interests and professional experiences that both Matt and Naomi bring to the course. It was a great asset that we also had a small class of colleagues anxious to share their real-world experiences as well. Don't let the reading list or computer forensics scare you - Enroll!

Thursday, 3 June 2010

DigCCurr Professional Institute 2010

During the week of May 16th – 21st, I attended the DigCCurr Professional Institute: Curation Practices for the Digital Object Lifecycle, at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The week-long course was entirely focused on best practices for digital preservation and curation with a balance of theory and hands-on labs using some of the common tools for the assessment of files and for the creation of curation workflows. The participants were a wide-array of librarians and archivists from all parts of the United States. The faculty (listed below) are, for the most part, well known in digital curation circles. I found this week of study to be entirely relevant to my work for the AIMS project and I would make the recommendation that this course would be highly useful to those engaged in archival processing, preservation and/or data curation.

The DigCCurr faculty are as follows:

UNC Chapel-Hill: Dr. Helen Tibbo, Dr. Cal Lee, Dr. Richard Marciano, & Carolyn Hank University of Michigan: Dr. Nancy McGovern University of Toronto: Dr. Seamus Ross University of Cologne: Dr. Manfred Thaller

Highlights of the Institute, aside from meeting a bunch of energetic and forward thinking librarians and archivists, was the focus on the importance of creating policies for one's institution for digital preservation & curation and the opportunity to get an overview of some of the tools that have been developed to help stewards of digital content manage their collections responsibly.

For those of you keen on drafting policies in regard to digital preservation and digital curation, both ICPSR and OpenDOAR provide examples of policies that can be used as guidelines for your institution. Curious about the readiness of your institution's repository to manage digital curation activities? DRAMBORA (Digital Repository Audit Method Based on Risk Assessment) is a tool meant for assessing risk associated with an institutional repository in terms of its readiness to manage curation activities. TRAC (Trusted Repositories Audit & Certification) provides a suite of tools for the audit, assessment, and potential certification of digital repositories. It establishes documentation requirements for an audit, outlines a process for certification, and establishes a framework for determining the sustainability of digital repositories. Auditors come from the outside of your organization.

I could go on (but I won't) since the week was packed with great hand-on labs and lectures. If you're interested in getting more information you can certainly contact me. One last thing I'll add is this; although this wasn't part of the formal program, I did have the opportunity to learn about a new project underway in Vancouver called Archivematica. It's an open source set of tools knit together for the management and preservation of born digital collections and archives. The 0.6 alpha version was just make available for download a couple of weeks ago - Check it out! And if you want an assessment from January 2010, check out Chris Prom's blog.