Australasia Preserves at IDCC 2019

The Australasia Preserves digital preservation community of practice had a strong presence at the 2019 International Digital Curation Conference (IDCC 2019), which was held at the University of Melbourne, Australia (February 4-7 2019). This was the first time this conference has been held in the southern hemisphere.

The Australasia Preserves community of practice was founded in February 2018. During IDCC 2019, we celebrated the first year with an innovative ‘digital’ cake (made by our resident baker extraordinaire Kirsten Wright) and with dedicated sessions at the IDCC Unconference. The aim of these sessions was to brainstorm topics and ideas for the community to engage with during 2019. We discussed the challenges of providing sustainability for communities of practice and issues in digital preservation. We also reflected on how important it is to have people from multiple different sectors getting involved in Australasia Preserves. This diversity of people and organisations allows us to be open to new ideas and different opinions, something we feel is a real strength, and pivotal to the ongoing success of the community.

During the IDCC Unconference sessions, we decided to continue the successful monthly virtual online meetups that we held throughout 2018, featuring diverse speakers who shared their experience and challenges with digital preservation. Potential topics for 2019 included: tools and technology, training, policy and process.

The idea of initiating an Australasia Preserves digital preservation conference was proposed, particularly due to our geographical distance from many key digital curation and digital preservation conferences that take place internationally. We also reflected on the value in sharing works-in-progress, and the importance of finding ways to share failure – what happens when things don’t work, and how we can learn from this.

Many people at the Unconference sessions mentioned the safe space that Australasia Preserves provides for inquiry and interaction. We developed a code of conduct during 2018 with community input. We strive to make the online forum and the face-to-face events inclusive, supportive and enriching environments, where everyone can feel free to contribute and ask questions. We are a community of people at all levels of digital preservation knowledge and expertise, with emphasis on respect and collegiality through all our communications.

In other busy IDCC 2019 conference happenings, a small group of Australasia Preservers put together a digital preservation carpentry workshop. We are in the process of determining next steps for this work. I also shared more about the community in a lightning talk.

Within this emergent community of practice, we are discovering that the collective issues involved in digital preservation are bringing together people from a broad range of public and private sector organisations and institutions in Australasia. There are many differences between how these institutions are governed, how they run, and what their needs are for digital preservation, but there are also similarities. It is by fostering conversations about these differences and similarities that we are slowly but surely building connections to help drive digital preservation practice in our region for everyone.

Although most of our events have an Australasian focus, we welcome international members who are interested in contributing to our online forum and conversations, and learning more about happenings in this region. Local connections are important, but equally important is our connection to global efforts in digital preservation.



Digital preservation carpentry workshop at IDCC2019

At the very first meeting of the Australasia Preserves digital preservation community of practice in February 2018, there was discussion around the idea of developing “digital preservation carpentry” lessons. These lessons would be taught in the Library Carpentries style, focussing on hands-on activities and experimentation with tools to manage digital content for long-term preservation.

Throughout 2018 more discussion and activities revealed the importance of making sure we tightly coupled digital preservation concepts with tool experimentation, so that essential digital preservation elements such as authenticity and integrity could be clearly demonstrated. We also created a survey to find out what people were interested in learning most.

As a next step, a small group of us have put together some potential content for a digital preservation carpentry lesson. We are trialling this at a workshop as part of the 14th International Digital Curation Conference (IDCC2019).

Registration for the workshop is open until 21 January 2019 (you don’t have to be attending the whole IDCC conference to participate in the workshop). We encourage anyone with an interest to come along and contribute to the development of digital preservation carpentry.

Engaging with our future: the role of educators, practitioners, professional associations and employing organisations in the co-creation of information professionals

In this article for the last issue of the Australian Library Journal LIS educators Sue Reynolds, Bernadette Welch, and Mary Carroll investigate a passion-based approach to student learning. Their vision of enabling new information professionals by cultivating in them ‘passion, engagement, and citizenship’ is a bold and welcome one. They consider the shared role of library and information studies (LIS) educators, practitioners, employing organisations and the professional associations in the development of LIS graduates and new professionals.

Exploring alternative models for professional LIS

In this article for the last issue of the Australian Library Journal, Brenda Chawner and Gillian Oliver aim to stimulate discussion about whether the current structure of postgraduate library education, largely unchanged for over sixty years, is still the best option, given the ways in which professional library positions increasingly require specialised knowledge and skills.

Brenda and Gillian touch briefly on the history of training for librarians in education before discussing the changing nature of library work today, offering alternative models for LIS education to meet this changing landscape.

New Professionals’ Perspectives (3 of 3)

In her paper for the last issue of the Australian Library Journal, Celia Drummond writes about diversity in the library profession (Embracing diversity: when is a librarian not a librarian?) and about using traditional library skills in non-traditional roles.

Celia argues that LIS educators should better showcase the wide range of roles in different sectors that are available to librarian-trained graduates.

Slack and dispersed community building #digitalhumanities

Today I came across an article in the LSE Impact Blog titled How the Digital Humanities are using Slack to support and build a geographically dispersed intellectual community.

We’re still figuring out how Slack can be useful: Can it allow different kinds of conversations than Twitter? Can we use it to teach and support people interested in DH who don’t have mentors geographically near them, or who aren’t inside academia? Like Twitter, Slack allows coexisting formal use (posting job opportunities, discussing theories) with informal socializing (which is really part of professional work, since it lays good foundations for future collaboration and problem-solving).

Dr. Amanda Visconti

It got me thinking about the digital preservation world and global communication channels. I’ve had great Twitter conversations that result in sometimes weird but fun things. I actively follow worldwide developments, events, and conferences online from afar here in Australia. I’m lucky this year to be attending iPres 2016 to present the University of Melbourne’s digital preservation strategy which means I’ll get to meet and talk with the international digital preservation community in person.

But what if there was a dedicated global online channel for digital preservation discussion, debate, and mentoring? A two-way discovery and sharing flow?

Dr. Visconti reports on interesting uses of the digital humanities Slack channel:

A user creating a channel around their specific research interests, and chatting in that channel as a sort of live-blog of the different approaches they’re trying and how they address issues as they arise (other Slack members can read or ask questions in the channel, too)
If an interesting discussion on Twitter starts to feel stifled or miscommunicated because of Twitter’s size constraints, moving the conversation to the DH Slack allows more freedom while also keeping the conversation semi-public (it’s more public than moving to an email conversation, but anyone wanting to follow the conversation does need to join the DH Slack first)
Mentoring and socializing: I’ve seen Slack members walk each other through fixing a coding bug or suggest lesson plans, and we use the #weeklies channel for weekly sharing around a fun theme (e.g. what’s a book that changed your way of thinking?)
A user sharing a digital humanities method tutorial, then offering to be available on the DH Slack for a certain evening to answer any questions about the tutorial (with the idea that people are encouraged to try working through the tutorial, knowing they will have help if they get stuck or have a question)

I’m wondering, does anything like this exist for the digital preservation community currently? And if it doesn’t, would it work? Would it flourish?