Webwise – Day 1 – The Afternoon Sessions

Posted by on Thursday March 1 2007

The Challenge of Preservation Today moderated by Tom Clareson, Program Director for New Initiatives, Palinet, Inc. began the afternoon.

Ann Russell, the Executive Director, Northeast Document Conservation Center (NEDCC), started off the afternoon introducing a project they have been working on for the past couple of years in a presentation called “Surveying the Digital Readiness of Institutions” 

NEDCC and others were very concerned with discovering a methodology for assessing digital preservation needs.  Quantitative data showed that museums were digitizing but making few if any plans for digitization or preservation of digital assets.  The team created a survey tool, institutions were identified through a screening process, and then of those screen, several were chosen as test bed sites for the process. These institutions filled out a questionnaire about what they were doing, prior to a site visit.  The ultimate goal for these efforts is what Ann describes as an “over-arching natural strategy for digital preservation.”

Ann quoted a participants in the study who lamented, “We can’t tell people what best practice is, because we can’t even tell them what good practice is.” 

The team working on the project eventually distilled a set of recommendations for the field. The cultural heritage community needs:

1) State-wide solutions for long-term storage, open to multiple partners, backed up by regional centers

 2) More opportunities to gather and discuss best practices

3) A standards-driven approach to trusted repositories

4) An heroic institution or group of institutions to write a derivative version of the checklist that could serve as a guide for small-scale cultural institutions

5) To describe a vision for a national technical assistance organization

6) Continued advocacy efforts to encourage 21 century institutions a part of their missions.

Robin Dale, a Program Officer for OCLC/RLG had the task of communicating best practices for Auditing and Certification of Digital Repositories. 

She bravely brought to our attention what best practices and next steps might be and (drum roll pleased) announced the formation of TRAC! (Trusted Repositories Audit & Certification – version 1.O). Which is the soon to be released remodel of the  RLG/Nara Audit Checklist for Certifying Digital Repositories (

Sue Medina, Director, Network of Alabama Academic Libraries brought the presentation full circle with a description of the “Alabama Digital Preservation Network: A Statewide Solution to Preserving Locally-Created Digital Collections.” 

For more on this very interesting project check out this pdf I found online (
Washington Update: Update on Federal Research & Development Digital Preservation Programs

Moderated by Clifford Lynch, Executive Director, Coalition for Networked information (

Cliff’s framing comments: The focus of this panel is on Federal R & D.  First off, it needs to be said, that these are not the only four organizations active in this field—but they are four of the most serious players.  We have made incredible progress in getting away from stove-pipe thinking about digital preservation.  We are all trying to coordinate our work and this is a significant development.  There is no a technological silver bullet, it is something that organizations and societies do.  There is lots of research to be done in technologies and best practices, but there is also a very real dimension of work to be done on how you design organizations, incentives, and how you share responsibilities in order to carry out the jobs of preservation, curation, stewardship on behalf of society.

Laura Campbell, Associate Librarian for Strategic Initiatives/CIO Library of Congress (

Spoke about a National Strategy for long term preservation of born-digital information—a distributed network of collaborating partners.  Plan approved by Congressional Committees.   The goals were to model and test this collaboration and to form a content stewardship network.  Briefly, where they are with the program, there are two components to the program.

One is the preservation network (a group of partners with collecting and preservation responsibilities), second component is the preservation architecture.  40 preserving and collection institutions that are saving all sorts of stuff and mounted repositories and going about dealing with copyright, interoperability, migration, and long-term preservation considerations.  They also have research partners (14 different partners doing long term digital preservation research; partners who are looking at new business models; international partners, communities of practice) they all share the same tools.  67 agreements, people actively engaged at different levels, playing different roles in this network. 

This is an organization of organizations of four layers:  Foundation layer (collecting institutions), Communities of practice (copyright, standards communities), Services (meta data, global format registry, storage), and a capacity building layer (eg NSF and others that provide funds for research for solutions, training, education).

Ken Thibodeau, Director, ERA Program, National Archives and Records Administration (NARA)  (

A Dynamic Solution for Electronic Records. 

Talk about a tough job.  NARA’s charge is as follows.  They need to be able to preserve any type of electronic record—created using any type of application, on any computing platform, from any entity in the federal government, provide discovery and deliver to anyone with an interest and legal right of access, ensure adherence to laws and regulations restricting access, now and for the life of the Republic. 
Another part of the job is to guide all other agencies in lifecycle management of their e-government records. Where are they in the process? They had a design competition in 2005.   Lockheed Martin was chosen as the vendor for the system.

They have built a Preservation Framework —a design construct that allows the introduction, use, and removal of a variety of tools to address different preservation needs. 

Chris Greer, Senior Advisor for Digital Data, Office of Cyberinfrastructure, NSF (

Arrival of the “dataverse” – one of the best investments NSF made was in NFSNet in the late 1980s.  Basic capability of internet is in simple packet transfers—it’s connectivity if you will.  Built on this were a variety of things that made a difference—the mosaic browser.  Connective + Ease of Use = a space for transformation.  The next transformational force is just over the horizon, the ability to access transparently diverse data sets.  The next Google will be the company that provides information integration services that are easy to use.

We have a strategic vision for cyberinfrastructure which will be available on the NSF website in the next few weeks.

Joyce Ray, Associate Deputy Director for Library Services (

IMLS has been funding digital preservation since 1998.  We thought since we were funding creation of digital assets that we need to be funding preservation efforts as well.  Still lots of problems to be solve, but lots of potential solutions as well.  Needs very so we still need to take a multi-tiered approached.
Dark Archive in the Sunshine State (2002)…Joyce was going through projects so quickly I could get them all down but there’s a whole flop of them.

Questions and Answers

Ken Hamma again at the microphone – As the conceptual and technical issues become solved, I.P. issues will appear as one of the blockages in the system, can the panelists discuss their interest in I.P. issues?  He gave examples.  Go Ken!

Copyright and intellectual property.  Many heavy sighs from the audience. Laura brought up the existence of the section 108 Working Group. For those of you who want more on the working group see ( Laura’s simple answer was the working group folks are struggling to make changes but this is a tough issue.  More heavy sighs. 

Ken Thibodeau – NARA is concerned about documents that might self destruct, however on the upside, they have also been interested in research on Multivalent Documents.  If you need more information on that topic, which I assume you do, I know I did here’s a useful link  ( 

Joyce – IMLS would welcome a project on these IP issues (Get writing, only 11 months to go before the due date for next grant applications)

And then a calm and measured Cliff Lynch chimed in:  “We can look at the legal roadblocks or we can look at discussions of curation and stewardship and how valuable they have been in moving us towards a culture that values stewardship. There are reasons why we might want to save and reuse a record and that’s an important and philosophical conversation that needs to be pursued.”

Why can’t we leverage and inform the commercial work that is being done in this area?

(Answers from various panel members) If we don’t show the commercial world that there is something in it for them, they aren’t going to be interested.  Most institutions don’t have the finances to make this look like an attractive area for investment.   We can’t ignore industries outside information technology.  Individuals in the pharmaceutical community really consider digital preservation to be a matter of competitive advantage. We have to engage major corporate customers as well as the IT industry.

Break for coffee and conversation and then we are off the last session of the afternoon.

Documenting Cultural Heritage: Case Studies in Cultural Heritage Preservation, with our trusty moderator, Liz Bischoff, started with a great presentation by Jane Sledge, the Associate Director for Museum Assets and Operations, for the National Museum of the American Indian. (

Jane’s topic was “Stewarding Potential.”  If you’ve ever heard Jane speak you know she’s got great stories, this presentation was no different and the audience learned a valuable lesson about Potawatami blouses and why it is valuable to ask for help in gathering information about our objects because, as much as we don’t want to believe it, we just don’t know everything.

Anne Graham, Senior Computer Specialist, Librairies Digital Initiatives Programa, University of Washington Library gave a lively analysis  of their project “The Olympic Peninsula Community Museum Project: A Window into a Community. (  She gave a brilliant dos and don’ts of a complicated project to engage communities and even the spotted owl put in a brief appearance.

Mark Louden, Professor, Department of German/Max Kade Institute, University of Wisconsin Madison discussed the University’s project “American Languages: Documenting Cultural Heritage through Language Preservation.” (  Mark brought up the issue of cultural stewardship. He noted that it wasn’t a term that they used in the grant application, but they found they were developing this notion of cultural stewardship on the ground.  Their biggest challenge was making connections with the local tribes.

2 Responses to “Webwise – Day 1 – The Afternoon Sessions”

  1. What you missed at WebWise « Public Historian
    March 6th, 2007 02:54

    [...] Holly Witchey has all the details over at Musematic.   [...]

  2. Musematic » U.S. China Dialogue - Day 2 (Afternoon Sessions)
    October 24th, 2007 04:26

    [...] IMLS Webwise conference on libraries and museums in the digital world has been ongoing since 200.  Last year our co-hosts were OCLC and the J. Paul Getty Trust and the theme was Stewardship in the Digital age (hey I blogged about that one….you can read about that conference on the IMLS website or here [...]

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