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Digital Preservation and Cultural Heritage

March 23, 2009




Recently the following email passed through my inbox.


Victoria University of Wellington has announced the establishment of a targeted PhD scholarship in the broad area of digital preservation:


Future Memory at Risk: Digital Preservation and Cultural Heritage


The creation of a national digital memory poses fundamental challenges for cultural heritage institutions. Our libraries, archives and museums are searching for new ways to demonstrate their relevance in the digital world, but they are uncertain of the boundaries of their responsibilities which were established in a pre-digital age. Our future access to a trustworthy and meaningful national memory requires these institutions to identify, preserve and make accessible significant digital artefacts of society and also to capture the relationships of these artefacts to the contexts within which they were created and curated. People, institutions, places, events, cultural artefacts and resources are all important constituents.


This project’s purpose is to investigate the varying responsibilities, as well as the potential contextual frameworks that govern this community’s diverse constituents. Outcomes will include relevant strategies for a collaborative digital preservation programme to provide the foundation for our digital national memory.


The deadline for applications is 15 May, 2009. Further information is available.


It sparked my interest for a number of reasons, mainly because this whole area of Digital Preservation and the digital community is one that I find particularly interesting, and as I have pondered doing further study in this area the whole idea of the possibility of a scholarship for a PhD had me thinking.


So I ended up chatting with my other half about the topic, and we ended up hadving a great discussion about potential research topics, and areas within the broad concept that would interest us both. It also got us talking about what we/I could do now, rather than or in conjunction with a multi-year research project.


So what is happening out there in the digital preservation area?


In the transformation of physical media to digital media, the APN, as part of it’s third wave has introduced mechanism’s for local communities to establish Kete’s or localised digital repositories. This is great, and we at Tararua Library are looking to establish one here. Watch this space.


The other area is the preservation of digital media. The National Library recently did a project where they took a snapshot of what is on the Web from New Zealand. Which is good, but they haven’t finalised access, or even a mechanism for a continuing process. They also only grabbed websites with the .nz suffix in the url, and a few selected sites…


This begs the question as to who will archive and store shots of blogs like this. In theory I, or whoever looks after this blog later, can simply delete the lot and it will be lost. So who is responsible for this bit of social history in the making? Who is going to record or archive, say important National blogs like Public Address or Kiwiblog? Or who is going to archive local blogs like mine? Who is storing our emails, the bottom draw papers that used to end up in the local archives? Also how do we find them? What sites are out there who engage our local community? Or describe that local digital community?


Well one answer is here… So look out for new pages to be developed with links to our local digital community and other initiatives as we develop them.

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