Last week I attended the Preservation and Archiving Special Interest Group (PASIG) Winter 2019 meeting, held at El Colegio de México in Mexico City.
One of the themes that really stood out to me was that of building–and sustaining–digital preservation communities. In the panels “Digital Preservation Community Building” and “Distributed Digital Preservation Discussion,” folks from the Open Preservation Foundation, Educopia, the Texas Digital Library, the Digital Preservation Network (DPN), Scholars Portal, and DuraSpace discussed sustaining the digital preservation communities they are part of and host. (The RAC is a member of the BitCurator Consortium as well as the MetaArchive Cooperative, both of which are hosted by Educopia.) While many of the organizations host (generally open-source) tools, a major focus (and a major amount of work) is on sustaining and supporting communities (i.e., people).
In these conversations, Mary Molinaro from DPN provided a very valuable perspective, as DPN is sunsetting this month. She mentioned reasons for DPN ultimately not being sustainable included a disconnect between top-level stakeholders and those working at the practitioner level at member institutions; the specific way membership fees were structured (which caused unintentional incentives); aspirational financial modeling; changing member needs; lack of community governance; lack of participation the board from practitioners; and the common, general lack of enthusiasm over maintenance as opposed to shiny new initiatives. Additionally, she mentioned that there had needed to be more involvement by DPN with member workflows (as practitioners at member institutions often didn’t have the workflows developed in order to participate); others who participated in the two panels mentioned member workflow development and training as key parts of their work (and I’ve seen the BitCurator Consortium move in that direction). As the RAC is involved in several open source and digital preservation communities (and will be part of new communities in the future), I think these lessons are really valuable.
In addition to community updates, there were also plenty of technical updates. Many of these were around digital preservation storage, including trends in physical media, updates on digital preservation storage criteria and software, and discussions of storage cost modeling. Unsurprisingly, a major trend has been moving toward cloud storage (and relatedly, a changing role for IT). Julian Morley from Stanford provided a great, detailed walkthrough for cost modeling of digital preservation cloud storage, and made an example preservation cost modeling spreadsheet available.
Finally, I really appreciated PASIG’s inclusion of Latin American perspectives (and very impressive live translation), which have often been missing from other digital preservation conferences I’ve attended.