Did you know about DSPACE and PANDORA?

A recent comment from one of my students reminded me that I wanted to share information about DSPACE, in particular for the educators amongst us who haven’t come across this digital repository tool yet. People are so busy writing about ‘curation’ – as if it is something new. Actually what’s new is the interpretation of what is possible in the world of curation -  and that’s a topic for another post!

But back to DSPACE.

DSpace is the software of choice for academic, non-profit, and commercial organizations building open digital repositories.  It is free and easy to install “out of the box” and completely customizable to fit the needs of any organization. DSpace preserves and enables easy and open access to all types of digital content including text, images, moving images, mpegs and data sets.  And with an ever-growing community of developers, committed  to continuously expanding and improving the software, each DSpace installation benefits from the next.

DSpace open source software is a turnkey institutional repository application.  For example, as explained by one of the participants in INF443:

The University of Technology, Sydney uses Dspace repository to archive different academic information including, journal articles, other scholarly works, conferences papers, books and theses. This allows for interoperability between different universities to share and exchange information. This also allows for ‘gray literature‘, eg unpublished conference papers and posters, datasets, pod and vodcasts, presentation slides and other forms of scholarship that don’t usually see formal publication which are usually peer reviewed. This repository allows different file formats to be ingested which provides flexibility for the uniqueness of the intitution’s needs.

Isn’t it interesting to learn more about  what is actually going on in the world of preservation and curation?  Preservation is key to cultural memory organisation. Curation is key to making sense of what is both transient and long-term expressions of our human activities.

Whether it is analog or digital materials that we think about, we certainly want some sort of security in how we want to  preserve and share resources and information. Our digital era is so expansive, and so much more vibrant than any of us could have imagined.

Visit the MetaArchive and learn about another initiaitive. In 2002, six libraries in the southeastern United States banded together to develop a digital preservation solution for their special collections materials. The outcome of that collaboration was MetaArchive, a community-owned, community-led initiative comprised of libraries, archives, and other digital memory organizations. Working cooperatively with the Library of Congress through the NDIIPP Program, they created a secure and cost-effective repository that provides for the long-term care of digital materials – not by outsourcing to other organizations, but by actively participating in the preservation of their own content.

cc licensed ( BY NC SD ) flickr photo shared by verbeeldingskr8

Of course we have  PANDORA  Australia’s Web Archive, which is a growing collection of Australian online publications, established initially by the National Library of Australia in 1996, and now built in collaboration with nine other Australian libraries and cultural collecting organisations. The name, PANDORA, is an acronym that encapsulates our mission: Preserving and Accessing Networked Documentary Resources of Australia.

There are many more examples. What I love about this is that it shows the quintessential role of libraries in our global society. Whether it’s Library of Congress archiving Tweets, or your own organisation preserving, curating and making relevant materials accessible, the need for expansive funding and support for libraries is core to our human endeavours in the 21st century.

Personal digital preservation is important

This last week has been an interesting one, particularly as my students in Creating and Preserving Digital Content began to share their personal experiences with digital content both in the workplace and in their own lives.  I relate to their experiences in so many ways, and I am learning from them – as I always do when I work with students (kids or adults).

At the end of the day, there are so many issues to consider – and yet in school education circles they are not usually mentioned let alone planned for. The reality is, there are different stakeholders in digital preservation – librarians, archivists, museum curators, IT professionals, scientists – all of whom have different reasons for needing to keep things.

Are we throwing away the right things?  Are we preserving the right things?  Are we actually preserving successfully? I still have a small collection of floppy disks, with some material on them that I think I should retrieve – but I no longer have a device that can retrieve the information. My personal bits and pieces are possibly not too important, but your bits and pieces might be vital to your family.   This is such a simple example of obscalesence that is the premsie for Avoiding a Digital Dark Age – which we just might inadvertantly get sucked into if we do not take some firm steps now.

Rob Blackhurst asked Will history end up in the trash ?

It’s a sobering thought that the Domesday book, written in 1086 on pages of stretched sheepskin, has lasted more than 900 years. That latter-day Domesday project is a metaphor for the carelessness with which we’re treating the digital information created during the past 20 years. The first telegram ever sent has been preserved in a frame; the first e-mail, sent in the 1960s using a mainframe computer the size of a room, has been lost. Will future generations look back at this period as a “digital dark age” – a modern equivalent of the early Middle Ages, which left barely a trace on the written historical record?

So perhaps you are like me – and have to reconsider how you manage your digital memories? The Confessions of an Imperfect Digital Archivist got me thinking, though I have to say I haven’t begun any action yet!

Preserving your digital memories is possibily one of the most important things to do.

This Library of Congress site about Personal Archiving provides a good starting point in your personal re-organisation, or you can Download the Personal Archiving Brochure.  The content covers photographs, mail, audio, video, personal records and website.

To be honest, I am now quite glad that most of my personal history is not digital! Our photo albums, letters, home movies and paper documents are a vital link to the past.  Personal information we create today has the same value.  The only difference is that much of it is now digital. As new technology emerges and current technology becomes obsolete, we need to actively manage our digital possessions to help protect them and keep them available for years to come.

This video offers simple and practical strategies for personal digital preservation.

cc licensed ( BY SD ) flickr photo shared by Ian Muttoo