October monthly meetup: conference reflections

Poster presentation at iPRES2019 on Australasia Preserves
The Australasia Preserves October monthly meetup for 2019 took place on Wednesday 30th October, 12-1pm AEST. The theme this month was "conference reflections".

The primary focus was on hearing from attendees at the 16th international conference on digital preservation (iPRES2019) in Amsterdam.

Firstly Matthew Burgess shared his reflections with us (you can read more by visiting his 2-part blog series, Reflections on iPRES2019: Part 1 - Tutorials and Workshops and Reflections on iPRES2019: Part 2 - Selected Highlights.)

Jessica Moran shared with us also:
I was struck with the growing depth of international practitioner expertise in digital preservation. This made good conversations; there are enough people who have been doing the work for a serious amount of time that if felt like we were having deep and interesting conversations about our practice. As someone who’s training and background is in archives, it was especially lovely to hear Michelle Caswell as one of the keynotes speaking about her recent work in feminist standpoint appraisal. I appreciated the way she first situated herself and her talk, then took us through, essentially a historiography of archival theory around appraisal, and then connected that to digital preservation. I thought her talk was an important reminder that we need to think about the social and human, not just technical impacts in our work, and not simply think our work is “good” by default. Rather we should continue to interrogate what exactly, how, and for whom, our digital preservations decisions are serving. One theme that I was certainly struck with throughout the conference was the focus on continued professional training and education. Two that stood out for me were Sharon McMeekin’s paper, “People Get Ready: Building Sustainability into Digital Preservation Workforce Development” which showed that growth in our community because her research showed that practitioners continue to want training and educational opportunities, especially more advanced training, which is still hard to find (I think that probably resonated with many of us in the Australasia Preserves community). The other was Angela Beking’s “Reformat Required: Addressing "Paper Minds" in Archives through a New Collaborative Model for Digital Knowledge Transfer”. This talk focused again on training and education. Angela persuasively argued that we should be paying attention to adult learning pedagogical theory when developing digital preservation and digital archives training for staff. Key takeaways for me were that small hands-on training works best, that learning is most successful when it is motivated by self-diagnoses and the desire to learn a specific thing, and that frustration and boredom are great motivators for moving from slow manual processes to developing digital skills.

Katherine Jarvie shared with us the following thoughts:
Attending my first digital preservation conference it struck me how profession-specific my previous conference attendance has been to date – either with the society of archivists, librarian-specific conferences or in information management/governance fields. In contrast, iPres focuses on the act of preserving digital heritage – whether archives, records, publications or research data (all of which can include complex forms of digital artwork, apps, websites or social media). The objective of my visit was to input into an internal review of the recordkeeping capabilities in Library systems – and to learn from and bring back examples of where university business records, archives and library records lie in the one digital repository. Other questions raised at the conference include: are we prepared to preserve digital literature apps as part of our Library collecting policy? Are we ready for complex research data curation? Many of you will know lots about this, but I am keen to find out more in my role at RMIT. For example, I was particularly interested in the maturity assessment tools promoted at iPres to see where we can improve quality of our services and plan for our digital future. The Information Management team is fortunate to have the Public Record Office Victoria digesting and summarising technical content from iPres and other digital curation conferences (whether multiple metadata standards, systems and repository compliance assessments and innumerable acronyms) into Victorian Standards that we are legislated to follow. We use the compliant TRIM system for managing our information long term. One known gap with our traditional “save it to TRIM” ethos is accessibility of our archives to the broader public. We workaround this by using library tools for wider access, but TRIM and the library systems are not inter-operable. Knowing this, I've researched the challenges of leveraging Rosetta for our permanently valued content. iPres presented an opportunity to learn about other institutions that have succeeded to merge their permanent digital University records (ones not sent to the state archives) and library materials. From talking to my global colleagues there, they do exist: in Canadian and NZ libraries – and Princeton University was the closest use case to RMIT. Some even merged research data into the same repositories. Something to watch and learn from. I loved the visit to the National Archives in the Hague – on the day we had presentations from the Data Archiving and Networked Services (DANS), and the National Library “KB”. And you can also check out my tweets from the conference. There were over 400 delegates attending the conference. It was also a great opportunity to catch up with colleagues from the #auspreserves group from Australia & New Zealand.
Lyle Winton provided an overview of key takeaway sessions, with input from Sean Turner, both from the University of Melbourne, and both iPRES first-timers. Lyle and Sean were impressed by the level of engagement they sensed from the digital preservation community at the conference and have shared references to various presentations they saw at the conference in their workplace contexts with colleagues since returning.

Andrew Martin and Somaya Langley also shared their experiences and reflections on the International Association of Sound and Audiovisual Archives (IASA) and Joint Technical Symposium (JTS), with Somaya also reflecting briefly on the Designing the Archive conference. You can check out Andrew's slides (with notes) here and take a look at Somaya's slides with thoughts and takeaways here.

For more reflections on the iPRES conference from all around the world, here follows a (non-exhaustive) list:

Please note: all of the above links have been archived using the Internet Archive: Wayback Machine