Putting Theory into Practice: My Experience Volunteering with Digital Archives at the University of Edinburgh by Joshua Blackstock

Introduction from the Digital Archivist

Preservation of digital collections relies on generous help and support from Heritage Collections volunteers. The scale and complexity of the digital resources generated by the University and its wide-ranging communities poses a mammoth challenge. Without the contributions of students and others who give their time freely, these works – many critical for future research – would not be preserved or made available as quickly, or at all.

This blog post by a Digital Archives volunteer and postgraduate student at the University of Glasgow describes two important projects to support the preservation of born-digital research collections. Firstly, a large oral history project spanning multiple regions of Scotland and secondly, born-digital papers of a world-famous Climate Change Engineer. These projects represent small steps towards ensuring future generations will be able to access important primary source archives. However, without increased resource and capacity for digital preservation, many of these collections will remain only partially processed or even lost.

Sara Day Thomson, Digital Archivist


Putting Theory into Practice: My Experience Volunteering with Digital Archives at the University of Edinburgh

Photo of the author Joshua Blackstock on the Waverley paddle steamer

Joshua Blackstock, Volunteer

Hi everyone! My name is Josh Blackstock and I’ve been volunteering with Sara Day Thomson, the university’s Digital Archivist, since August 2023, whilst studying for an MSc in Information Management and Preservation at the University of Glasgow. I was recently asked whether I could write a short blog post about my volunteering experience. So here it goes…

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Graveyards and ghosts in web archiving

October 1969 was a busy month. Monty Python’s Flying Circus aired for the first time; Steve McQueen, Trey Parker and PJ Harvey were born; and on a dark, dark night (or about 10.30pm on the 29th), a 21-year-old UCLA student called Charley Kline started to transmit a message to the Stanford Research Institute using the Advanced Research Projects Agency Network. He meant to send the word ‘LOGIN’ – but the receiving system crashed at ‘LO’. And thus, the internet was born.

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Things I’ve learnt from working with the BITS Magazine by Digi Pres Intern Jasmine Patel

Re-blogged from Information Services Group: Student Employee Blog

Programme of Study and Year: 1st Year German

Intern Position: Digital Preservation Intern

Hobbies: Piano, a sprinkling of violin (and soon flute!), running and tea

Student intern holding printed BITS magazines

“Don’t assume you’ll be able to read your email if you go to the States” and other things I’ve learnt from working with the BITS Magazine this summer.

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The University of Edinburgh Becomes the First UK University to Appoint a Web Archivist to Preserve 21st Century History

Heritage Collections welcomes a new member of the digital archive team, Alice Austin, the first dedicated Web Archivist at the University of Edinburgh and the first dedicated Web Archivist at a non-legal deposit UK University!

Read more -> https://blogs.ed.ac.uk/website-communications/the-university-of-edinburgh-becomes-the-first-uk-university-to-appoint-a-web-archivist-to-preserve-21st-century-history/ 

Minimum Preservation for Maximum Results? It’s a good idea if it works!

iPres2022 logoIn less than a week, iPres22 will kick off in Glasgow, right on our doorstep! If you’re not already acquainted with iPres, welcome! There’s something for everyone! iPres is the world’s largest digital preservation conference where practitioners from all sorts of backgrounds and industries gather to share challenges and strategies.  

At this year’s iPres, among other things, I’m running a workshop with Caylin Smith (Head of Digital Preservation at Cambridge University Library) and Patricia Falcao (Time-based Media Conservator at Tate) on Preserving Complex Digital Objects – Revisited. We ran a similar workshop at iPres 2019 in Amsterdam, breaking into groups to undertake different aspects of the preservation process with one complex digital object (‘Breathe’ by Kate Pullinger). 

This year, each of the speakers will bring a digital object from their own collections that they consider to be complex. We will break participants into small groups to try an experiment: 

Can a Minimum Viable Preservation (MVP) approach be applied to complex digital objects? Read more to learn about what MVP digital preservation looks like and what to expect from the workshop! If you’re planning to attend iPres, come join us! 

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iPres Delegate Visit to the University of Edinburgh

DX7 Synthesizer Keyboard

As part of iPres 2022 hosted in Glasgow on 12-16 September, the University of Edinburgh will welcome a cohort of conference delegates to tour the Main Library and St. Cecilia’s Hall.

As part of the tour, specialist curators will provide an overview of materials from across collections that reflect many examples of Technology Heritage in the care of the University. Items will include manuscripts like Makhrūṭāṭ Iblawniyūs (Apollonius’ Cones), an early 18th century copy of a Codex Arabic Script and Godfrey Thomson’s mechanical calculator from the 1930s. Continue reading

Under Construction

Image: Digital Preservation Business Case Toolkit http://wiki.dpconline.org/

Nothing to see here! Check back soon for updates about digital preservation at the University of Edinburgh!