Introduction to automation for digital preservation professionals (Online version)

Jarrod Harvey

Date Developed:
February 2020


Jarrod Harvey (

Delivery mode:
Fully online. Participants study at their own pace.

This course aims to equip digital preservation professionals with skills for automating repetitive inputs when appraising, accessioning and ingesting large collections of digital objects. Participants will learn a file management automation tool called Organize. Software called Boostnote will be used for storing file management automation rules for later reference. Software called Sublime Text will be used for text editing. By the end of the course, participants will have the skills to make edits to a configuration file and enter a simple command at the command line that will let them automatically:
  • Clean up ‘garbage’ files
  • Move all images (and other file types) into their own folders
  • Bulk rename files
  • See what is “inside” all files that are older/newer than a certain date
  • Copy files to different folders based on words in filenames.

Skills required: 
Participants are not expected to be familiar with the command line or editing configuration files, but they should be prepared to learn how to use them. They are expected to be proficient in the following computer skills:
  • Searching for files using Spotlight (Mac) or Windows Search (Windows)
  • Renaming files
  • Extracting ZIP files
  • Setting the default software to open a file with
  • Downloading files from the Internet
  • Installing software
  • Moving files from one folder to another
  • Navigating through different folders
  • Reading and following documentation
  • Looking up what an error message means and trying to fix it

Technical requirements: 
Participants require access to a computer running either Windows or MacOS, with administrator rights to install software.

Time required: estimated 6 to 8 hours to complete.

Course materials

Students: you will find all the material you need to get started here
- 01 - Introduction
- 02 - The command line
- 03 - Exercises
- 04 - Challenge and conclusion

Step 1: Read the introduction to the course
Introduction to Automation for Digital Preservation Practitioners

Step 2: Complete the self-knowledge questionnaire and return it
Self-knowledge questionnaire

Step 3: Install the required software 
Required software
Software installation - notes

Step 4: Make sure you have the Command line cheat sheet handy – you will need it during the course Command line cheat sheet

Step 5: Start learning

Instructor: material you may find useful is here
- Checklist of things to have ready prior to the session
- Course feedback form
- Course outline
- Required software
- Slides
- Scripts for non-exercise tasks
- Exercises - script

Extra Material: GitHub Repo
An Australasia Preserves course licenced under a CC BY-SA 4.0 International License