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Using the papers of contemporary British politicians as a test bed for the preservation of digital personal archives

By Susan Thomas and Janette Martin

Abstract

Paradigm (Personal ARchives Accessible in DIGital Media) is an exemplar project to explore how archivists might select, acquire, process, store, preserve and provide access to the digital archives of individuals for the use of future researchers. Using the papers of contemporary British politicians as a testbed, the project team will evaluate existing and emerging theoretical and practical work in the fields of archival science and digital curation. We intend to learn from both disciplines and apply this knowledge to our exemplar scenario with the goal of striking a balance between theoretical principles and practical procedures. This article places the Paradigm project in the broader framework of digital preservation initiatives in the UK and abroad, introduces the key aims of Paradigm and outlines some of our initial findings. We also confront the implications of exponential growth in the creation of personal digital collections—from digital images, and music files to personal websites and blogs—and conclude with a discussion of what this means for the wider archival professio

Topics: Z665
Publisher: Society of Archivists
Year: 2006
OAI identifier: oai:eprints.hud.ac.uk:7893

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Citations

  1. A useful report which considers the two standards together is Lavoie and Gartner, Preservation Metadata Technology Watch Report.
  2. (1993). At a workshop held by historians over 12 years ago (at the British Academy,
  3. (2006). Comparison Between Migration and Emulation in Terms of Cost.' The results of the Life project, which aims to cost different elements of the digital curation lifecycle, may also be worth consulting; see http://www.ucl.ac.uklls/lifeproject/ (accessed 9
  4. (2006). EThOS is a consortium project funded by USC, CURL and its partner institutions: the University of Glasgow, the British Library, Cranfield University, the National Library of Wales, the Robert Gordon University, SHERPA (a consortium led by the
  5. For a collection-level description of the Heffer Papers,
  6. (2006). For a good introduction to the main issues when preserving digital material, see Jones and Beagrie, 'Digital Preservation.' A regularly updated version of this handbook is also available online from http://www.dpconline.org/graphics/handbookl (accessed 1
  7. For an excellent overview of open source software, especially as it relates to digital curation, see McHugh, 'Open Source for Digital Curation.'
  8. (2006). For more information on Emulation see the CAMiLEON project,
  9. (2006). For more information, see http://www.gla.ac.uklespida/ (accessed 1
  10. For the full catalogue of the Morley Papers,
  11. Institutional Repositories.' doi
  12. Let us take a website as an example: the user's experience will depend on the software they are using (e.g. web browser and operating system) as well as the hardware they are using (e.g. size of screen, speed of processor).
  13. (2002). Modernising Government. TNA issued an invitation to tender to build a digital storage repository in 2002; Tessella was awarded the contract and designing, programming and testing took place
  14. (2006). Numerous technology companies are now involved in open source software developments. For example, Sun http://www.sunsource.net/; IBM http://www-128.ibm.com/developerworks/ opensource; Google http://code.google.com/;HewlettPackard http://opensource.hp.com;
  15. (2006). of Australia's PANDORA (Preserving and Accessing Networked Documentary Resources of Australia) http://pandora.nla.gov.au/;
  16. of the National Archives of Australia, has advocated that archivists artificial? See McKemmish, 'Evidence of Me.'
  17. One good example of a relatively mature digital archiving infrastructure is the Californian Digital Library, which began life as a single post with some money for travel expenses. See Caplan, 'Building a Digital Preservation Archive.'
  18. One idea might be a distributed digital repository prototype for personal papers, be they those of politicians, authors, scientists or musicians.
  19. Preserving the Digital Heritage'. In the concluding paragraph of this article Adrian Brown discusses how in future TNA will look at providing guidelines on preserving digital records at a local level.
  20. radio interview in 1979 marking the 23rd anniversary of the Suez Canal Crisis (Bodleian Library,
  21. The Appraisal of Personal Records of Members of Parliament in Theory and Practice,' 88. Other articles from this themed issue of Archives & Manuscripts on 'Personal Recordkeeping: Issues and Perspectives' are also worth consulting.
  22. (2006). The establishment of JISC's Open Source Software Advisory Service (OSSWatch) is evidence of this, see http://www.oss-watch.ac.uk (accessed 9
  23. The Fading Memory of the State.'
  24. (2005). The first part ofthe international standard about PDF/A format was officially published by ISO on 28
  25. The OAIS model provides guidance on preservation planning, see CCSDS 650.0-B-1, Reference Model for an Open Archival Information System (OAlS), 4-13, figure 4-6, 'Functions of Preservation Planning'.
  26. (2006). There are currently five service providers: AHDS Archaeology; AHDS History; AHDS Visual Arts; AHDS Literature, Language and Linguistics; and AHDS Performing Arts. See http:// www.ahds.ac.uk (accessed 6 doi
  27. These tools can only identify, validate and extract technical metadata from recognised and
  28. (2005). which states that the new Electronic Records Archive system for NARA 'will capture electronic information-regardless of its format-save it permanently, and make it accessible on whatever future hardware or software is currently in use'.

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