iPRES Conference

I said in my last entry that I planned to blog the Digital Preservation Management Workshop after the fact. Well, it’s going to take me a little while to process the wealth of information I learned (as represented by a 4″, completely full binder), so in this entry I’m skipping ahead to brief comments on the iPRES conference hosted by Cornell University on Monday and Tuesday. iPRES stands for “International Conference on the Preservation of Digital Objects.”

Ian Wilson, Librarian and Archivist of Canada, started his keynote presentation with an apt description of preservation as communication across time, “in the 4th dimension,” and, touching on the conference theme of collaboration, noted the necessity of collaboration across libraries, archives, museums, and other cultural memory institutions and advised us to take advantage of popular interest in digital preservation (how do I save my e-mail or the digital video of my wedding?) as we try to build awareness and support.

Other presentations covered the latest news on archiving audio and video; electronic journal archiving initiatives; national initiatives in the US, Switzerland, China, and the UK; and some very specific tools and projects in development.

Conference presentations will be made available, presumably through the conference website.

Between the workshop and the conference, I came back to work feeling both energized and, frankly, a little overwhelmed. The experiences made me aware of a whole branch of librarianship that I had heard of, but knew very little about. Now I’ve been exposed to both the foundations and the practice of digital preservation. On the one hand, it’s essential to preserve our digital assets, our institutional records, our history; on the other hand, there is no clear cut way to do it, no one organization can do it all, and the technologies, policies, legal issues, and funding issues, are all still in flux or perhaps not even fully confronted. Yes, it’s an exciting time to be a librarian!

Next week, I’ll tackle the 4″ binder and have more to say about the workshop.

Digital Preservation Workshop and Tutorial

I didn’t blog very much this month; the start of the school year is always a hectic time and we had what must have been a record number of technical problems with our e-resources. Besides that, I’ve been preparing for Cornell’s Digital Preservation Workshop, which requires completion of a pre-workshop tutorial and the reading of a couple hefty articles beforehand. The tutorial is very worthwhile on its own, and even if you’re not into the whole digital preservation thing you might be interested in the Chamber of Horrors, which illustrates media obsolescence, and the Timeline of Digital Technology and Preservation, which reveals, among other things, the original name of IBM and the identity of the first computer bug (it was a moth).

I hope to blog about the workshop, but will probably do so after the whole thing is over since I’ll have a long commute to and from Ithaca all week.