Wednesday, 28 July 2010

CALM Digital Records meeting

The last week has been a busy one with two deposits of born digital material (16GB representing more than 27,000 digital files) and a meeting with users of the CALM software to discuss digital records.

Adrian Brown (Parliamentary Archives) convenor of the meeting, hosted by The National Archives, reported on the main findings from a survey of CALM users conducted at the end of 2009. It was clear from the meeting that many archivists were actively investigating the options and issues surrounding a digital repository but that the lack of a digital repository with-in their organisation and the need for training were huge obstacles that needed to be overcome.

I gave a brief outline of the AIMS project and presented a diagram to highlight our current thinking about how Fedora and born-digital material can be integrated into our workflows. [This model is currently still conceptual but we will be working with Axiell to progress this – comments welcomed]. Natalie Walters (Wellcome Library) highlighted their work and how she had found that many of the professional archive skills used to handle and manage paper archives still applied in the born digital arena. Malcolm Todd (The National Archives) talked about four key aspects to digital repository technology modularity, interoperability, sustainability and cost effectiveness all of which are being actively embraced by the AIMS project.

Malcolm Howitt and Nigel Pegg (Axiell) spoke about their plans to extend CALM to link to digital repositories and it is hoped that we can work closely with them on this.

The rest of the meeting was spent discussing and identifying issues surrounding cataloguing and metadata; accession and ingest; user access and best practice. A number of common themes emerged:
• That the differences between paper and digital archives are often exaggerated with issues like provenance and integrity key to both
• That depositor’s perception of digital archives is very different to paper and that by acting promptly archivists is the only way we can avoid technological obsolesce and a digital dark hole in the historical record
• The need for archives staff to be actively involved in the digital repository and not leave it for ICT staff to develop/manage exclusively
• That born digital archives may open-up the archives to new audiences
• A desire to share experiences, documentation etc for the wider benefit of the profession
• A need for more opportunities for “hands-on” experiences with born-digital archives and repository to increase familiarity with-in the archives profession

1 comment:

  1. Sue Donnelly, Archivist at London School of Economics has posted her account of the meeting on the LSE blog