On 29 and 30 September 2008, the British Library hosted iPRES 2008, a two-day international conference on the Preservation of Digital Objects. This year’s theme was ‘Joined Up and Working – Tools and Methods for Digital Preservation’. The Jisc-sponsored event, now into its fifth year, attracted speakers and delegates from 33 countries, all intent on working out how to preserve a plethora of digital objects today to enable continued and sustainable access for the future. The findings to date of several Jisc-funded projects were also presented, including the PoWR project (the Preservation of Web Resources).
CEO of the British Library Dame Lynne Brindley emphasized the urgency of the need for digital preservation, with much data perilously close to being lost forever, ‘languishing in endangered formats’. iPRES 2008 brought together the people and projects intent on preventing such data loss.
much data is ‘languishing in endangered formats’
In addition to tackling the digitisation, storage and risk challenges faced by archivists and librarians - the traditional guardians of memory institutions – iPRES speakers are introducing ideas and models relevant to many less obvious spheres. These include the engineering industry (preserving the usability of CAD drawings as software develops over the lifespan of a building) and the cultural heritage industry (continuing access to older console video games).
On 29 September, we spoke to several delegates from the United States to Japan. All were impressed with the smooth operation and unusual format of proceedings, with each speaker taking centre stage for just 15 minutes before a wider panel discussion after each thematic session. This allowed a huge breadth of subjects to be presented, with further depth provided in the form of a full conference paper for each speaker.
Day two of iPRES 2008 continued the prevalent themes of digitisation, authenticity and collaborative working, with an emphasis on the ultimate end goal of preserving access rather than preservation for its own sake.
Read the Jisc Briefing Paper outlining the aims and methods of digital preservation