The theme for this year’s World Digital Preservation Day is ‘Digital Preservation: A Concerted Effort’, and so I’m using this opportunity to highlight a couple of pieces of work from the last few months involving sharing resources and expertise between archivists.

The first of these was a project in conjunction with Cambridge University Library. Here at the Archives Centre we have 30 5.25″ floppy disks in our holdings, across 4 different collections, and are not set up to read from these in-house. We had been looking into external contractors to copy these for us, but then when visiting the UL’s display for WDPD last year, I learned that they had a 5.25″ floppy drive as part of their FRED digital workstation, but were yet to develop procedures for working with such material. I discussed this with Leontien Talboom, the UL’s Technical Analyst, and we decided that we could both benefit from a joint project, where we used the Archives Centre’s assortment of 5.25″ disks as an example case from which to establish a workflow for the UL, while (hopefully!) getting copies of the data from the disks for us. Leontien and I discuss this collaboration, the issues we ran in to, and the workflow we came to in this blog post.

The second of these is the launch of a site where we have published documentation for a number of our procedures around working with digital archives. This will be of relatively niche interest, mostly for other digital archives professionals, but by being open about what tools we use, and the way in which we use them, we hope that our examples can be of use to other institutions who are setting up or looking to update their procedures. We have certainly benefitted from other institutions who have done this previously, and with the Digital Preservation Coalition having recently published their guide on documentation, we hope that this becomes a common practice, helping prevent each institution trying to reinvent the wheel on their own when there is a wealth of knowledge and expertise out there.

Chris Knowles, Digital Archivist