On 3 December 2012 at the prestigious annual awards ceremony, the Digital Preservation Coalition (DPC) recognised initiatives from researchers around the world that have made an outstanding contribution to safeguarding digital resources for the future.
The DPC is dedicated to developing the skills, knowledge and solutions to preserve and ensure access to digital information. 2012 marks the 10th anniversary of the DPC and I had the pleasure of being a judge at this year’s awards.
I enjoyed working with colleagues from across the UK to assess the entries. I saw some of the strides that have been made in digital preservation, and coming from one of the organisations that founded the DPC, I was certainly pleased to see such positive progress and the DPC’s ability to highlight this.
The DPC’s most prestigious prize – the Decennial Prize – was awarded to mark their 10th anniversary and recognizes the most outstanding work over the past decade. There was intense international competition with finalists from New York, Washington and London. Dame Lynne Brindley, chief executive of The British Library, July 2000-July 2012, presented the award to the winning entry - the Archaeology Data Service at the University of York.
It was heartening to see this award go to an initiative which we at Jisc supported at their inception and which continues to be successful. The team at York are a creative group who have developed and thrived within an innovative business model that allows them to preserve an extraordinary range of data while providing free access to all researchers and other users. This approach ensures the longevity of data that would otherwise rapidly be lost or become obsolete and provides advice to researchers.
The Award for Teaching and Communications, presented by Oliver Morley, chief executive of the National Archives team, was awarded to the University of London Computer Centre team who run the Digital Preservation Training Programme (DPTP); an entry-level, introductory course that develops critical thinking about digital preservation. It is designed to help all those working in information management to understand effective approaches to the challenges of digital preservation. It enables students on the course to assess the models and examples in the context of their own organisation.
The Award for Research and Innovation was presented by Martyn Harrow, chief executive of Jisc to the PLANETS project. PLANETS brings together memory institutions, small businesses, major technology providers, and research institutions from across Europe to build practical services and tools to help ensure long-term access to digital, cultural and scientific assets. It established the not-for-profit Open Planets Foundation to provide the digital preservation community with services, ongoing support, and a sustainable future for its Open Source results. It has permanently changed the digital preservation landscape by shifting the focus to practical, sustainable solutions that are soundly supported by practice-driven research.
Digital preservation ensures future access to resources and I believe this is essential for research, learning and future knowledge creation. Just think of all of the digital information that is created on the web and how that represents points in time that can be lost without action, or all of the data produced through scientific instruments that informs science and understanding – digital preservation helps to secure continued access to these resources.
I am looking forward to what the coming years will bring in terms of digital preservation and I am sure the DPC will be central to showcasing international best practice. The awards were a great way of recognising important work and I have to say it was really enjoyable working with William Kilbride, executive director of the DPC on this, and being one of the judges.