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jsa1.jpgArticle by Steve Bailey of JISC, in JSA vol 28 no 2, October 2007.

Bailey says that much of the debate about digi pres has been led by technical issues, such as media degradation, bitstream preservation, and emulation vs migration arguments. “Far less attention has been paid to developing technologies for deciding what of the vast volume of information we create must be kept, for what purpose, and for how long” (p119). This means that selection and appraisal becomes crucial. You would think that, in a world where massive volumes of information are created, the ability to sort the wheat from the chaff woud be valued, but this does not seem to be the case. Indeed the trend seems to be to keep everything, and Google for what you want, rather than classify and file. Bailey suggests that this sounds the death-knell for EDRM systems.

He also points out that archivists have long had a problem with physical preservation anyway. Paper and parchment preservation problems are dealt with by conservators, not by archivists, few of whom understand the hard science of the subject. And even before e-records were invented archivists had decided to deal with non-direct media, such as video or sound recordings, by treating them as “special collections” cases. “Digital records are perhaps the latest and most extreme example of our reluctance to get our professional hands dirty (p119).” The difference now is that digital records are simply too ubiquitous for archivists to fob off onto someone else.

Review in JSA vol 28 no 2, October 2007, by Caroline Shenton.

Brown’s purpose is to provide a broad overview of the subject, aimed at policy makers and webmasters, although Shenton points out that this book would be useful to ICT professionals too. Brown avoids discussing the details of technical methodologies, in order to prevent his book from becoming quickly outdated. Brown covers aspects such as the models and processes for selection, the main methods of web archiving, QA and cataloguing issues, legal issues, and some speculations about the future. Shenton thinks the only real aspect which Brown has missed is the issue of cost. Overall she rates it highly, so I’ll need to add this one to my reading list.

A brief report on this appeared in ARC 205, Sept 2006.

The working party was set up following a conference in Nov 2005 and first met in April 2006. Some worrying trends and issues became apparent, including:

  • all councils represented on the WP were implementing EDRMS, or were planning to, but not all archives services were properly involved
  • no archives service had set up guidelines for managing e-accessions or for advising creators or depositors about digi pres
  • it is difficult to engage archives colleagues in discussions about e-records, which is due to a number of factors, including lack of IT knowledge and the current cultural/political focus on outreach and education
  • archives services have such limited resources that development of a selection policy is de-prioritised
  • authenticity of records (outside an EDRMS) is a challenge
  • some services even doubt their capacity to collect digital records due to patchy ICT provision, under resourcing, skill shortages.

The same would be true of other regions,  I imagine?

Info from bits in ARC No. 186 Feb 2005.

A SIG has been set up for at CALM-EAD users, contact Caroline Shenton at Parliamentary Archives.

A number of CALM customers already use the system to import and export EAD records. A SIG sub-group is looking at mapping CALM fields to EAD. Elsewhere in ARC it’s said that “the means of conversion from CALM to EAD format exists… CALM has proved to be a useful tool in the creation of EAD data.”

Info from ARC No. 186 February 2005.

EAC is used to structure name authority file information. It was developed in recognition of the fact that there is no one-to-one correlation between archives and their creators. It holds info about creators, their relationships with the archives, other people and organisations, bibliographic and museum materials. There has been some talk (2005) of embedding EAC within a future XML Schema for EAD.

EAC uses a DTD.

Info from various bits in ARC No. 186 Feb 2005.

EAD was originally developed in the 1990s. Currently (2005) EAD is only expressed as a 2002 DTD rather than a Schema. A proper, approved XML Schema would allow EAD finding aids to be harvested according to the Open Archives Initiative protocol.

“EAD is flexible enough to be used for a wide range of different finding-aids, from detailed inventories of the registers of the Kings of Poland 1447-1795, to catalogues of modern French planning permission files, which had originally been described in databases owned by the planning department.” (Amanda Hill)

Article by Jane Stevenson in ARC no. 186, February 2005.

Roughly half of the respondents did not work with either EAD or XML, and given that respondents would probably be those people actually knowledgeable about this field the true situation is probably even worse. 40% used EAD and 19% used non-EAD XML.

Vast majority would like training in policies, file formats, curation, metadata, physical preservation and access.

By Stuart D. Lee, 2002. Reviewed by Richard M. Davis in JSA vol 23 no 2, 2002.

Aimed at librarians and information science students, so it deals mainly with electronic format published material within a library context. Recommends using published, open standards for data storage and exchange, to best preserve data beyond the life of the host system. ‘But of course publishers have much the same reservations about giving us those sorts of freedoms as record companies do about us ripping and burning our own CDs!’