Project Update
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D-Lib Magazine
April 2002

Volume 8 Number 4

ISSN 1082-9873

An Update on The Digital Preservation Coalition

 

Neil Beagrie
Joint Information Systems Committee, UK
Company Secretary, Digital Preservation Coalition
Nbeagrie@aol.com

Red Line

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Summary

Proposals to establish a Digital Preservation Coalition in the UK were reported in the February 2001 issue of D-Lib Magazine (Beagrie 2001). The Digital Preservation Coalition (DPC) was subsequently launched in July 2001 and has now been in operation for six months. This article reports on its progress and how the DPC aims to develop a UK digital preservation agenda within an international context.

Key achievements to date include:

  • Developing a membership of 19 institutions and consortia with representation from the principal archive, library, research, publishing and government organisations.
  • Implementing a national advocacy and public relations campaign on digital preservation to raise awareness of the issues amongst key stakeholders including government, other funders and industry. This has achieved extensive press coverage in the UK. It included a launch reception at the House of Commons with speeches from government minister Rosie Winterton MP, broadcaster and author Loyd Grossman, and DPC Chair Lynne Brindley, CEO British Library.

A collaboration agreement has been reached with the National Library of Australia to support sharing and dissemination of information on digital preservation (see the news item in the February 2002 issue of D-Lib Magazine for full details of our MOU).

Photograph from DPC reception at House Commons

Photograph from DPC reception at House Commons - master of ceremonies and speakers. From left to right Reg Carr (JISC and Oxford University, vice-chair DPC), Rosie Winterton MP, Lynne Brindley (CEO British Library and chair DPC), Loyd Grossman (author and broadcaster).

1. Introduction

The Coalition was established in July 2001 by a range of leading UK and international organisations with a UK presence to foster joint action to address the urgent challenges of improving long-term management of and preserving access to, digital resources.

Digital Preservation is seen as one of the greatest challenges facing curators of cultural materials: one which will be difficult if not impossible for individual institutions to resolve on their own due to the complexity and scale of the challenges involved. At the same time institutions operate in a competitive environment where collaboration or cross-sectoral working can be difficult to achieve. In the UK widening collaboration across sectors and between institutions has been seen as a key requirement to address digital preservation challenges at a national level. This task is now being undertaken by the Coalition.

2. The Coalition

Membership

The Coalition is being established as a company with charitable status by a core strategic group of partners.

Executive and administrative support to establish the Coalition is being provided by the JISC through the JISC Digital Preservation Focus and represents a significant additional sponsorship of the Coalition.

There are three classes of participation in the Coalition: Full Members, Associate Members, and Allied Organisations or Individuals. Organisations can also sponsor Coalition activities, or projects and events to be undertaken by the Coalition.

Full members are eligible to have a representative on the board of the Coalition, and their staff and officers participate in all Coalition activities.
Associate Members have a representative on the Advisory Council of the Coalition and their staff and officers participate in all Coalition activities.
Allied Organisations are organisations who collaborate with the Coalition on specific activities and goals and participate by invitation in selected activities. They can include commercial organisations who work with the Coalition to promote a dialogue with industry on digital preservation issues, and developing solutions and standards.
Allied Individuals are individuals with specific expertise and experience invited by the Coalition to contribute to the Advisory Council and/or other selected activities.
Organisations can also sponsor the Coalition, or projects and events to be undertaken by the Coalition.

A cross-sectoral alliance of core members is now in place. These include:

Full Members
British Library (BL)
Consortium of University Research Libraries (CURL)
Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC)
Online Computer Library Center (OCLC)
National Archives of Scotland (NAS)
Public Record Office (PRO)
Public Record Office Northern Ireland (PRONI)
Resource
University of London Computer Centre (ULCC)

Associate Members
Association of Learned Professional and Society Publishers (ALPSP)
Central Information Technology Unit for Northern Ireland (CITUNI)
Central Laboratory of the Research Councils (CLRC)
National Electronic Library for Health (NELH)
National Library of Scotland (NLS)
National Library of Wales (NLW)
Publishers Association (PA)
Research Libraries Group (RLG)
Trinity College Library Dublin (TCD)
Wellcome Trust Library (WT)

Programmes and Activities

The Coalition is seen as operating on four levels:

  • activities undertaken individually by member institutions and sectors but accomplished and co-ordinated in line with their commitment to the principles and goals of the Coalition (and enabled by their participation in its activities);
  • a core set of Coalition activities of common interest and benefit to all its members supported by resources from its membership and sponsoring bodies;
  • a series of collaborative projects which would be taken forward with project funding drawn from a variety of sources;
  • Through the Coalition, its members, and strategic alliances, promoting, developing, and implementing a national infrastructure of services and training for sustaining access to and preservation of, digital resources.

As a newly established organisation the programme and longer term business plan for the Coalition is being developed in consultation with its membership and other potential external funders over its first year. It is recognised that the first year must focus on selected activities and building up the long-term potential for the Coalition. Goals and proposed activities for the Coalition include:

1. Establishment of the Coalition and development of the Coalition's programme and plans to address its long-term goals by:

  1. establishing a legal entity and its constitution;
  2. instituting a membership agreement incorporating agreement to a concordat of the principles and goals of the Coalition as a condition of membership;
  3. actively seeking to broaden membership, sponsorship, and participation from other relevant organisations and individuals.

2. Constructing and disseminating information on current research and practice and building expertise amongst its members to accelerate their learning and increase the pool of professionals skilled in digital preservation by:

  1. developing and maintaining webpages and a digital preservation portal built around an electronic version of the Preservation Management of Digital Materials handbook to be launched in May 2002 and international collaboration with the Preserving Access to Digital Information (PADI) site (see our collaboration agreement);
  2. utilising and expanding the digital preservation list (currently around 700 members) on JISCmail to disseminate information on the work of the Coalition and digital preservation activities of its members;
  3. holding two Coalition forums over the course of the first year to share and develop practical expertise (see details and presentations of our first forum in October 2001 online "digital curation: digital archives, libraries and e-science http://www.jisc.ac.uk/dner/preservation/digitalarchives.html");
  4. promoting and supporting the development of appropriate training courses:;
  5. co-sponsoring and securing broad participation in the UK ISO digital archiving working group, which contributes to international efforts to develop and implement the Open Archival Information Systems (OAIS) standard.

3. Instituting a concerted and co-ordinated effort to get digital preservation on the agenda of key stakeholders in terms that they will understand and find persuasive by:

  1. developing a concerted and sustained information campaign with members for the first year and beyond, which identifies and prioritises action with key stakeholders (e.g., government, funding bodies, sponsors, data creators, professional peer groups, educators, and hardware, software and service vendors);
  2. launching the Coalition by October 2001 and seeking participation from other institutions and individuals;
  3. undertaking a major press event for the Coalition targeting the press and key decision-makers;
  4. holding a joint forum with major hardware, software, and service vendors;
  5. developing Coalition information materials and their dissemination.

4. Acting in concert to make arguments for appropriate and adequate funding to secure the nationís investment in digital resources and ensure an enduring global digital memory by:

  1. including arguments for appropriate and adequate funding in a concerted and sustained information campaign;
  2. development of costed proposals by individual institutions and sectors;
  3. developing a grant proposal to undertake a survey/report establishing current and future needs and capacity in the UK and making recommendations for actions;
  4. seeking to optimise use of existing resources through co-operative action where appropriate;
  5. additional targeted actions as part of future business plans.

5. Providing a focus for the co-ordination and development of digital preservation strategies in the UK and placing them within an international context by:

  1. establishing a framework which encourages and supports the emergence of national, regional, sectoral, and institutional commitments to digital preservation in the UK;
  2. publicising the preservation strategies and commitments to digital preservation of members and related agencies;
  3. identifying gaps and fostering action to address them;
  4. co-ordinating shared elements;
  5. positioning UK activities in an international context through international representation in its activities and alliances.

6. Developing appropriate services, technology, and standards for digital preservation by:

  1. establishing special interest groups supported by the active participation of the membership (eg web archiving, or e-publications);
  2. action to support and develop collaborative work on standards;
  3. additional targeted actions as part of future business plan (e.g., long-term technology watch from a preservation perspective, training initiatives, etc.).

7. Forging strategic alliances with relevant agencies nationally and internationally, and working collaboratively with industry and research organisations, to address shared challenges in digital preservation by:

  1. selecting allied organisations and individuals and seeking their active participation in the Coalition;
  2. mutual support and coordination with key international initiatives such as PADI and OAIS, and national initiatives such as the Research Grid, e-government, and legal deposit of electronic publications;
  3. establishing memoranda of understanding and partnership agreements, e.g., with the National Preservation Office for the UK and Ireland;
  4. fostering collaborative projects and sponsored activities.

8. Attracting funding to the Coalition to support achievement of its goals and programmes by:

  1. seeking wider sponsorship of its core activities and programmes;
  2. broadening the membership and contributions to the Coalition;
  3. building a robust organisational structure and a track record of successful initiatives;
  4. bidding for collaborative project funding;
  5. enabling fund raising by individual member institutions in the Coalition

Further Information

Further information and news on the Coalition will be disseminated via the digital-preservation email list on JISCmail. (To subscribe to the list or view its message archive see the Web pages at <http://www.jiscmail.ac.uk/lists/digital-preservation.html>.) Enquiries about the Coalition can be sent to Neil Beagrie via email to: <preservation@jisc.ac.uk>.

Copyright 2002 Neil Beagrie
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DOI: 10.1045/april2002-beagrie