Annual wrap up: Highlights of 2019

2019 – the second year of existence for Australasia Preserves – has been a year of both strengthening our existing connections and building new ones (for a fun trip down memory lane, check out the highlights of our first year in 2018 again as well). 

In 2019 we have grown significantly: this time last year our online forum had around 200 members; now we are just over 300 strong.

A massive thank you goes out to everyone who contributed their time and energy to sharing their work at our monthly meetups, and to those who attended and brought to these a spirit of friendly and respectful camaraderie. These monthly meetups provide such an excellent opportunity for us to invest time in growing our professional and personal connections, and to share our work and our experience with others. Speaking personally, I can say that our meetups have been so valuable for me throughout the year, in terms of both the knowledge transfer that is enabled, and for growing relationships with others doing digital preservation work in our region.

2020 is looking like a great year for doing digital preservation in the southern hemisphere with some exciting developments and events already being planned – more on all these in the new year.

But for now - presenting the Australasia Preserves 2019 Highlights!

Birthday goodness

The first birthday of Australasia Preserves was celebrated during the International Digital Curation Conference in early February. And of course it wouldn’t be an Australasia Preserves event without an incredible cake creation by the amazing Kirsten Wright

The Digital Preservation Working Group

2019 saw the establishment of our first Australasia Preserves working group: the Digital Preservation Education Working Group. Its aims included further development of a digital preservation carpentry workshop (trialled at the 2019 International Digital Curation Conference, and since renamed to "Digital Preservation Essentials") undertaken by group members Matthew Burgess, Carey Garvie, Lachlan Glanville, Valerie Love, Gene Melzack, Peter Neish, Rachel Tropea, and Jaye Weatherburn; and development of guidelines for developing and offering digital preservation education and training material (including online delivery) by group members Ross Harvey, Leisa Gibbons, Gene Melzack, Jessica Moran, Gillian Oliver, Sophie Shilling, and Elizabeth Tait.

In the first instance the Digital Preservation Essentials group has been concentrating on further developing workshop materials for pre-ingest and ingest, covering hands-on digital preservation work tightly coupled with digital preservation principles – emphasising the why behind our tool and workflow decisions. In addition, the education guidelines group has produced a number of key guidelines, including:

1. "Guidelines for Developing and Offering Digital Preservation Training and Education" indicates what needs to be present in digital preservation training and education developed under the auspices of Australasia Preserves
2. "Developing Online Education and Training Material" indicates minimum requirements for online offerings so that equitable access is offered
3. The "Workshop Evaluation Form" consists of a series of questions that that can be used to evaluate a workshop

Jarrod Harvey has also developed a separate workshop: “Introduction to Automation for Digital Preservation Practitioners”. Jarrod ran this workshop in face-to-face mode in June, and an online version has been road-tested and will be available in February 2020.

Australasia Preserves’ education activities are being recognised internationally. The Digital Preservation Coalition has been actively collaborating with us on developing workshop material, and will be hosting all of these materials we have developed on their knowledgebase so that the international community can access and use them to deliver their own workshops and training for hands-on digital preservation skill development. The expectation is that material will be finalised in the first quarter of 2020, and then will be shared openly.

Dr Elizabeth Tait presenting the Education Working Group outputs at RAILS 2019

Major events

In collaboration with the National and State Libraries Australia digital preservation community of practice we organised a face-to-face monthly meetup in June in Melbourne, with live streaming and recording for everyone further afield. 

For this event we were joined by Micky (Michelle) Lindlar, who leads the Digital Preservation Team at the German National Library of Science and Technology, and Melanie Swalwell, Professor of Digital Media Heritage in the Centre for Transformative Media Technologies at Swinburne University. 

Micky’s talk focused on “A decade in digital preservation – a personal, institutional, national and community view”, including thoughts on current and future challenges in digital preservation. 

As a scholar of digital media arts, cultures, and histories, and an advocate for born digital heritage, Melanie then talked about two recently-funded ARC Linkage projects: “Play It Again: Preserving Australian videogame history of the 1990s”, and “Archiving Australian Media Arts: Towards a best practice method and national collection”.  

Also in June, the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies (AIATSIS) and The National Library of Australia (NLA) organised "Digital Curation in the Indigenous Data Network", featuring Professor Marcia Langton, Dr James Rose and Dr Len Smith. Based at the University of Melbourne, the Indigenous Data Network was created in 2017 and aims to archive orphan data sources and increase visibility of existing data; work with government agencies and non-government organisations to ensure Indigenous communities’ access and ownership of data; ensure that official data collection reflect Indigenous priorities; and coordinate educational programs to ensure Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have expertise in data science.

Monthly meetups

Monthly meetups have always been a key element on the Australasia Preserves calendar, and 2019 saw some wonderful knowledge exchange.


The idea of "digital preservation carpentry" was first raised at the inaugural meeting of the Australasia Preserves community back in February 2018, and work to develop this idea has continued ever since. For our first monthly online meetup of the year, in February, the team involved in putting together the digital preservation carpentry workshop for the IDCC conference (Peter Neish, Lachlan Glanville, Fiona Tweedie, Matthew Burgess and Carey Garvie) shared reflections on delivering the workshop, before delving into open discussion on what the next steps for further developing this work could be.


Michaela Hart (Senior Archivist, Department of Health and Human Services) and David Bloomfield (Archivist, Government Archives and Preservation, Libraries Tasmania) joined us to talk about their work. Michaela spoke about a proof of concept project to analyse what government records are currently stored on floppy disks. David shared a hands-on process for gathering information from government agencies prior to accepting transfers of records.


The student special! Kassi Hays (library technician at the State Library of Victoria with a background working with physical collections) told us about her professional placement at the National Library of Australia’s digital preservation team, including her learnings about software, file formats and systems, virtual machines, and the preservation system Preservica. Kassi shared her experience of the enormous benefits of specialised placements, and bridging the gap between physical and digital collections in digital preservation. Eva Samaras (archivist and researcher, Public Record Office Victoria & PhD Candidate at the University of Technology Sydney) shared details about her PhD Research Placement with the digital preservation team at the British Library investigating the role of virus checking in long-term collection management and digital preservation. Louise Curham (experimental filmmaker and archivist) talked us through a few key points from her PhD research in the Centre for Creative and Cultural Research at the University of Canberra titled ‘Tending the Archive’.


Andrew Martin talked with us about a recently completed audiovisual LTO (linear tape-open) data migration project. You can read more about this and take a look at Andrew’s slides.


The Research Data Stewardship team at the University of Melbourne shared their work as part of the uni’s ongoing digital preservation program. They spoke on the pressing need for affecting cultural change around good practice for stewardship of digital assets.


The topic this month was digital preservation education in Australian and New Zealand Universities, and we were joined by Leisa Gibbons (Curtin), Elizabeth Tait (RMIT), and Maja Krtalic (Victoria University Wellington), with Ross Harvey as the moderator for this panel session. Leisa, Elizabeth, and Maja spoke about how digital preservation (or digital curation) is incorporated into their courses, whether they offer a stand-alone unit (or subject or paper) in the field, use of sessional teachers, and what they would like to do in the future. 


This month we had a conference reflections session. In hindsight, given the great reflections and ensuing discussion, we could have easily extended this 1-hour meetup! We covered iPRES2019 thanks to Matthew Burgess, Jessica Moran, Candice Cranmer, Katherine Jarvie, Lyle Winton, and Sean Turner. Andrew Martin and Somaya Langley spoke about the IASA/JTS joint conference (International Association of Sound and Audiovisual Archives / Joint Technical Symposium), with Somaya also adding thoughts on the ASA/ICA Designing the Archive conference.
Poster presentation at iPRES2019 on Australasia Preserves 


To close out the year, the month of November brought us World Digital Preservation Day, with much involvement from our region in this international advocacy day. Many people from this part of the world contributed to the Digital Preservation Coalition blogroll and I think it’s safe to say the Australasian region rocked it with the song and video contributions once again thanks to the State Library of Queensland and The University of Melbourne this year. Champions of the world!

Looking forward to 2020...

One of our first events will be in February 2020, with a digitisation theme, aiming to bring together people working in digitisation across the GLAM sector. Being February, it will also be Australasia Preserves' second birthday. Stay tuned in the new year for more exciting announcements - very much looking forward to more creative and collaborative digital preservation goodness in 2020. 

Post by Jaye Weatherburn
Edited by Ross Harvey
Opening image by monicore from Pixabay