May Monthly Meeting 2.0

Our second May monthly meetup was all about digitisation and preservation! This was a follow up to our very successful digitisation meetup that happened in February 2020, which you can read about in this blog post.

First up we had Kimberley Williams, Digital Curation Specialist from the University of Sydney, speak to us about the importance of documentation with her (wonderfully titled) presentation: “Will the people that follow in your footsteps know why you were wearing those shoes: Documenting your digitisation and digital collections processes”.

Image Credit: Williams, K. (2020, May).

Beginning by referencing the fact that “change” isn’t something that is new in our profession, Kimberley spoke about the importance of leaving documentation for our future colleagues (and our future selves in most cases!!) so that there is a clear explanation of why and how we ended up "wearing those shoes".

Kim encouraged us to write like we’re explaining it to a stranger and remember: context, context, context! The language of a place changes over time. What her library was calling a DAM last year, they now call a digital collections repository. When you include a name in documentation, include their full names and titles too. Keep future readers in mind, remember even company names change.

Image Credit: Williams, K. (2020, May).

Taking us through the University of Sydney's processes for assessing what should (and should not) be digitised and showing us a very small screenshot of their Digital Collections Audit, Kim also spoke about the importance of asking for help and building on other people’s work - offering to chat with anyone interested in learning more about what she had been discussing. We are all in this community together and that is what it’s all for!

Next we had Anna Clatworthy, Manager of the University of Melbourne Digitisation Centre (UDC) and Digitsed Collections, talking about the challenges that COVID-19 and the lockdown have caused for her digitisation team with her presentation: “The UDC: WFH – a digitisation service in lockdown adapts”.

Image Credit: Clatworthy, A. (2020, May).

The UDC is tasked with digitising the University of Melbourne Library and Archives materials while also providing self-service digitisation options, training and a whole heap more. Anna pointed out that normally the team would be working hands on with the physical materials using a variety of different tools. However, due to WFH orders… they’ve had to change their regular operations.

Rather than focusing on what they couldn’t do, Anna and the team were able to refocus on all the other task that are involved in digitisation – aside from the digitising the object itself! These tasks include mapping out digitisation workflows and identifying any issues within them, adding checksums to their digitised image archive, creating an up-to-date equipment list, creating a “digitisation 101” for relevant stakeholders, and so much more. Working from home gave them the time to work on things that they had been thinking about before but didn’t have time to do.

Anna also had some tools and tips for folks working from home:

Image Credit: Clatworthy, A. (2020, May).

It was especially helpful to them to be able to access their work computers from home so that they could process large scans.

To reinforce the importance of pet help, Anna showed us her gorgeous cat and photos of the rest of the animal family, much to the delight of all (well, definitely me anyway)!

Finally, we heard from Peter Neish, Project Manager, Stewardship and Open Research at the University of Melbourne, chatting about the digitisation session that was held by AusPreserves in February 2020 (video here) and its outcomes. In particular, Peter spoke about the breakout sessions and the five big questions asked:
  1. What are the gaps in digitisation workflows?
  2. What are the pain points?
  3. What digitisation mistakes have been made?
  4. Do we need an AusPreserves digitisation community?
  5. What would that look like?

Unsurprisingly there were a lot of common gaps and common pain points among the attendees and, though they did talk about digitisation mistakes, Peter was VERY clear that Chatham House Rules applied so…

Image Credit: Neish, P. (2020, May).

The response to whether or not there should be an AusPreserves digitisation community was a resounding YES with attendees suggesting a variety of different things that this community could do - develop standards, share resources, help with communicating with management, act as a sounding board… the list goes on. As such, Peter has asked people to submit expressions of interest for a digitisation subgroup, the link is on the forum in the “May Monthly Meetups – Digitisation” post.

With pet cameos, hilarious dad-jokes, excellent use of Medieval Art, memes, and some really insightful and inspiring comments, our May Monthly Meetup 2.0 was a great way to spend an hour. To see a video recording of this meetup, please visit our Australasia Preserves YouTube Channel.

Written by Ali Hayes-Brady