Tuesday, May 24, 2011

ANADP in Tallinn - day 3

Educational Alignment Panel

At the EU level, there is an effort to get more involved with professional bodies. Internships play no significant role in UK digital preservation education, since the masters there tends to be a one-year degree. Knolwledge Exchange is interested in these developments. The Library of Congress has collaborated with a number of US schools to establish internships, which benefit both the Library and the interns, as well as the professions that they later enter.

One the biggest challenges is how to identify the essential skills needed for digital preservation. What correlates to bookbinding in the digital world? It may be programming. The students need much more technical competence. While adding courses step by step may be insufficient, finding the time for curriculum reform is challenging. Addressing the funding dilemma is a key aspect and George Coulbourne (LC) suggests corporate partnerships to share costs and responsibilities. In the question and answer period, the question of a "new" profession vs mainstreaming the new skills in the old profession arose. We need to remain aware of the difference between education and mere training that focuses only on particular skills and belongs to ongoing professional development.

Economic Alignment Panel

Costs are a vital issue for any digital archive. Sharing tools and collaboration are ways to manage costs. Examples include LOCKSS and NDIIPP. In Italy MiBAC offers a legal deposit service for its small institution partners. We can also learn from failed initiatives. PADI was, for example, discontinued after 10 years (see ACRL), largely for economic reasons because the national library ended up having to do most of the funding. Neil Grindley used an analogy with the computer game Asteroids -- in his version funders like JISC fire money a big problems like digital preservation in the hope of breaking the problem (asteroid) up. But what angle should the funder take, when it funds. Looking back at the JISC funding efforts, Neil wonders whether someone should write a "really good" history of digital funding. JISC has been doing some cost-modeling. Archival storage is consistently a small portion (15%) of overall project costs. Repairing problems costs significantly more than initial preservation. The UK is building a higher education cloud infrastructure. PEPRS (Piloting an e-journals preservation registry service) is trying to build similar infrastructure for preservation.

In the Czech republic a funding problem is that digital preservation is invisible and often ignored in favor of digitizing more documents. Electronic deposit began only in 2011 as a pilot project, but digitization began in the 1990s with historical manuscripts, and with endangered newspapers and monographs. The aim is to digitize 26 million pages by 2014. The budget is 12 million Euros.

Digital preservation is the flipside of collection development. At Auburn University in Alabama they are using distributed digital preservation in a Private LOCKSS Network. 7 institutions have joined the Alabama PLN and it has been self-supporting since 2008. The fee-base varies from $300 to $4800 per year. Governance took longer to establish. The guiding principles: keep it simple, keep it cheap, don't build something new if you don't have to. Recommendation: stop chasing soft money and start making tough choices about local commitment.

Breakout session: Education

A former student from the Royal School in Copenhagen suggested that we consider the Erasmus Mundus program and put together a focused program for that funding source. The students would like more specific job expectations, but the expectations are very various. Employers look for the right mindset, not the right skill-set. Squeezing in internships is hard. From the employer perspective, an internship is like a year-long interview. Many of the schools have active hands-on programs that emphasize teamwork and practical problem-solving.

Summary Presentations

Benchmarking takes data from content providers and some are ready to make data available. We also need to communicate about benchmarking and other tests.

Cliff Lynch offered an "opinionated synthesis." What does this term "alignment" mean? Making our limited economic and intellectual resources go further through collaboration is obviously beneficial. Another aspect of alignment is that a common case should speak more effectively to governments.

In the tech discussion there were valuable conversations about benchmarking and testing. We need to be clear what we mean by interoperability, what we want to accomplish and what we want to get out of it. Two topics were missing: monoculture and hubris. We will have more confidence that we know what we need to do in 100 years and diversity in the system in a valuable antidote to the mistakes we make. We need to focus on the bit-storage layer and there will be a lot of money flowing in this area. Security and integrity are topics that were mentioned but need more focus. Imagine a wiki-leaks type leak of embargoed content. It would undermine the trust in cultural preservation institutions.

Strategies inside the national level were not discussed as much as they should have been. The question of the replication of material along organizations also needs more discussion. It is interesting that we see standards in so many roles in digital preservation. The legal issues are becoming more and more dominant and we need to look more opportunities to collaborate here. The one thing he would note on education is that the discussion needs to feed back into the national discussions. We did not talk much about scale in the discussion about economics. The risk management tradeoff for digitizing needs assessment.

The elephant in the room is e-science and e-scholarship. There is a lot of money involved here and big investments. This is not a place where many national libraries have been involved, though universities often are. This is driving both technology and some educational efforts. Other smaller elephants are audiovisual material and the newborn digital contents.

There are two additional axes that matter. One is making the case outside out community. The second is collecting policy. News has been a fundamental part of the public record and we know that it is fundamentally changing its character. Also software, personal records, social media. Cliff hopes that this is helpful in providing a frame for the conversation we have had in the last two days.


Another blog about the ANADP conference is Inge Angevaare' Long-term Access blog (this portion of the blog is in English -- sometimes it is also in Dutch).

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