One community, one vision for digital preservation: The Preservica Global User Group 2018
Merton College was this year’s venue for the Preservica Global User Group, hosted in Oxford UK last week. The college, founded in 1246 and home to the oldest continuously functioning library for university academics and students in the world, was a fitting venue for over 100 delegates from 12 countries, who gathered for two days of presentations, workshops and discussion. Although this is traditionally identified as the Preservica Global User Group, the representatives are largely from Europe and UK, with a few intrepid travellers from as far as the US and Australia. We’re also hosting our US User Group meeting at SAA in August.
On the first day we heard presentations from new Preservica users at The University of Arts London (UAL) and Network Rail (UK). Experienced practitioners from the Preservica community shared their success stories: Sarit Hand showcased how the corporate archive of Associated Press (USA) has transformed from simply collecting digital files to active preservation & a “dynamic & living archive”. Kim Christensen gave a fascinating talk on The Royal Danish Library (Denmark) and their journey to actively preserving their large scale Radio/TV collections. And finally, Remke Verdegem described the automation and scale at the heart of Nationaal Archief (The Netherlands) e‑Depot.
We were honoured this year to also welcome to Oxford two notable guest speakers. John Sheridan, Digital Director at The UK National Archives closed the first day with an inspiring talk on “Future Directions of Digital Preservation”. John highlighted new opportunities and challenges of the digital age, and the paradigm shifts we’ll all need to make to embrace the new order. If ever you were in doubt of the importance of being a Digital Archivist, John’s talk was simply uplifting! David Giaretta of PTAB (and former Chairman of the OAIS Standards Committee) gave a fascinating talk on the Trusted Digital Repository standard ISO 16363 explaining the relationship between standards and accreditation. David highlighted the importance that an independent, impartial accreditation can provide in instilling confidence that a Digital Archive can fulfil its intended requirement.
Throughout the event, the Preservica team was on hand to facilitate specific workshops and demonstrations focussing on exciting new capabilities: file format registries, connected Digital Preservation (APIs), flexibility at scale (Bulk Metadata Editing), catalog integration, content harvesting (SharePoint, Twitter, and others) and a range of other forthcoming innovations. And with the new data-privacy regulations coming into force in Europe next month, an important session on GDPR focussed on how Preservica can simplify classification, search and reporting for long-term personal data.
The real highlight of this year’s gathering were the User Focus Groups. Teams representing Corporate Archives, Libraries & Education, National & Pan-National Archives, and Public Sector & Local Archives convened to discuss their specific Digital Preservation wish-list now, and into the future, and presented their feedback to the assembled delegates. It was great to share ideas from both experienced and new users, and the forum provided a platform for all to contribute, and be heard. The feedback from the User Focus Groups was extremely valuable in helping us to validate the direction and focus of Preservica’s strategic product roadmap, and we look forward to sharing progress with our entire User community moving forward.
Of course, as well as the serious business of Digital Preservation, there was plenty of time to socialise, meet old friends and make new ones. We celebrated in style with visits to local Oxford pubs, and a three-course dinner in the Merton College Dining Room, a scene reminiscent of the Harry Potter films!
My overwhelming takeaway from the two days together is the passion, energy and excitement of the Preservica community, which continues to grow and develop. Thanks to all of our customers and partners who made the journey to Oxford, it’s a privilege to be part of such a vibrant group: One community, with one vision for Digital Preservation. We look forward to convening with our US users in Washington DC in August. Until then!