As part of its tenth anniversary celebrations, the Digital Preservation Coalition (DPC) awarded its Decennial Award, for an outstanding contribution to digital preservation, to the Archaeology Data Service.
We beat off intense competition from Library of Congress, the National Archives, and the International Internet Preservation Consortium, to take the award at a ceremony at the Wellcome Collection in London on December the 3rd.
The Decennial Prize – the DPC’s most prestigious – is awarded specially to mark the tenth anniversary of the founding of the DPC. It recognises the most outstanding work over the decade that the DPC has existed. After a painstaking assessment, an expert panel selected finalists from New York, Washington and London as well as York.
Our Director, Professor Julian Richards who accepted the award from Dame Lynne Brindley, said: “Winning this award is an outstanding achievement for the ADS and it is extremely gratifying to have the last decade’s effort and hard work recognised by our peers. The ADS was up against some stiff competition to win this first decennial award, so we are particularly thrilled to have received this tremendous accolade.”
William Kilbride, Executive Director of the DPC said: “These awards are important in showcasing the creative solutions that have been developed towards digital preservation. Digital preservation is critical. We know that significant parts of the economy, industry, research, government and the public life depend on the opportunities information technology creates, but the rapid churn in technology means data is also surprisingly fragile. We are the first generation that’s had to think about handing on a digital legacy, so we need to act quickly to develop the skills and techniques that will ensure our legacy is protected.”
In July, ADS also received the British Archaeological Award for Best Archaeological Innovation of 2012 in recognition of technical innovations it developed which allowed thousands of hitherto unpublished fieldwork reports to be made freely available online to any user.
The Impact of the Archaeology Data Service: a study and methods for enhancing sustainability
We are now just over half-way through the project that commenced in February 2012 and will conclude in July 2013. We have successfully completed desk research and two surveys of ADS Users and Depositors respectively.
In November we held our community focus group and presentation of interim results at a workshop in York. The aims of the workshop were to seek stakeholder feedback on the emerging results, establish any change of perception of the ADS amongst participants as a result of the study, and seek their views on how the study results might be presented to the archaeological community and its funders.
Invitations were sent to a range of sector representatives and eleven delegates attended the workshop, of which four were from the Local Authority sector, three from National Authorities, one from Universities, one from the Commercial sector, one shared university/commercial sectors, and one from Publishing. It was an extremely valuable day and the feedback will help shape our final phase of dissemination of the study results and contribute to our final report.
We are now working on the final weighting of the economic analysis with the aim of incorporating the latest results in presentations, posters and leaflets that can be presented and distributed at forthcoming events during 2013 including the International Digital Curation Conference, The World Archaeological Congress, and Computer Applications in Archaeology.
In April this year our former colleague, Jen Mitcham, attended the inaugural SPRUCE digital preservation mash-up in Glasgow (16th-18 April 2012), an event organised by Leeds University Library as part of the JISC funded Sustainable PReservation Using Community Engagement Project (SPRUCE) which intends to foster wider communication within the digital archiving sector. During discussions at the event it was identified that one of the practical problems effecting the management of digital files within archives was the ability to compare and monitor the migration of files during various stages of the archive process (Millard 2012). At the outset it was identified that any solution to this problem needed to easy for to use and could be deployed directly from the desktop in order to a wider appeal to users of varying computing ability. During the event Andrew Amato (London School of Economics and Political Science) developed a series of tools, based around Microsoft Excel and VBA macros, which assisted in the audit of collections (Amato 2012). Having developed a proof of concept it was found that the uniqueness of repository infrastructures made the application of the tools problematic outside the specific organisations for which it was initially developed, as a result it was considered that a more generic version of the tool would have a broader appeal and potential use value within the wider digital preservation community. With this in mind a successful application was made to the SPRUCE award scheme allowing Andrew Amato and Ray Moore time to develop what was christened ReACT (Resource Audit and Comparison Tool) further, with a period of testing of the resultant tool on archives from ADS’ collections.