By Helena Byrne, Nicola Bingham, Dr Andrew Jackson, British Library, Eilidh MacGlone, National Library of Scotland and Caylin Smith, Cambridge University Libraries
iPres is the largest international conference on digital preservation. The conference has been held every year since 2004. The 2022 edition was hosted by the DPC in Glasgow. This meant that the official conference website ipres2022.scot was within scope for the UK Web Archive to preserve. You can view the archived version of the website here:
iPres 2022 was held from Monday 12 to Friday 16 September. There were a mix of presentations over the week with workshops, long papers, short papers, poster presentations and lightning talks as well as show and tell sessions in the form of a ‘Bake Off’. On the final day of the conference, there were a number of site visits to organisations that are running a digital preservation programme.
This year’s conference also coincided with the 20th anniversary celebrations of the DPC, as well as the DPC Preservation Awards that are held every two years. In 2020, the UK Web Archive won The National Archives (UK) Award for Safeguarding the Digital Legacy at the virtual Digital Preservation Awards 2020 ceremony.
There are also a number of awards given at iPres in various categories. This year’s winner of the Angela Dappert Memorial Award established in 2021, was Dr Andrew Jackson, Technical Lead for the UK Web Archive for his presentation ‘Design Patterns in Digital Preservation: Understanding Information Flows’.
Many UK Web Archive colleagues from the British Library, National Library of Scotland and Cambridge University Library attended the conference both as delegates and presenters. In this blog post they have reported back on their conference experience.
Dr Andrew Jackson
As well as presenting my Design Patterns paper, I was also involved in a workshop on format registries in digital preservation. Both sessions were well-attended and seemed to go well, and I’m planning to post about both in more detail in the future.
I particularly enjoyed the session on DNA storage, especially because of Euan Cochrane’s approach: working with a DNA lab at Yale University to independently verify the work being done by Twist Bioscience. It’s still a long way from being a storage option we can depend on, but it’s starting to look like it might actually happen!
There were a lot of good quality papers but I particularly enjoyed “Monitoring Bodleian Libraries' Repositories with Micro Services” presented by James Mooney. The overall approach was very similar to how I like to work, from the design of the overall architecture (federated monitoring of resources in situ rather than centralised and ingest-driven) to the style of implementation (microservices combined with best-in-class open source service components).
This was the first iPres conference I have attended. I wish I could have been there in person but due to practicalities, I attended online. Some of my highlights were the presentation from William Kilbride in which he stated that one of the aims of the DPC was to build “the social infrastructure of digital preservation” (as opposed to focussing on technical aspects), which I think has always been true but is now more so than ever especially when it comes to diversifying our archives and enabling communities to have agency in telling their own stories, as articulated by Tamar Evangelista-Dougherty in her keynote.
Other highlights were hearing from Garth Stewart, Head of Digital Records at National Records Scotland. Garth presented on NRS’s two year project to ingest and make available Scottish Government Cabinet Records and had practical advice for negotiating the transfer of good quality metadata from the depositors - it’s all about gaining trust and explaining to depositors that the quality of metadata provided impacts the experience of the end users. I was also intrigued that they had the challenge of building and maintaining two access solutions, one for journalist access and one for the public.
A final highlight for me was the long paper, “A Digital Preservation Wikibase” by Kenneth Seals-Nutt of Yale University. Kenneth’s presentation set down the practical steps taken by Yale University Library’s department of digital preservation to implement a Wikibase instance and how this was used to transform a data set related to software into a knowledge base using technologies of the Semantic Web. This is particularly useful to us at the UK Web Archive as we consider the next steps in our web archiving roadmap.
This was my first time attending iPres but I wasn’t able to make it in person so I was delighted that they had an option to join the conference remotely. I was also involved in a collaborative poster presentation with Katharina Schmid (Bayerische Staatsbibliothek) and Sharon Healy (Maynooth University). Our poster ‘Exploring Software, Tools and Methods used in Web Archive Research’ was part of a bigger study that will be published through WARCnet in the coming weeks.
There were so many great talks, especially around inclusion and diversity in the wider digital preservation field. This along with activism was also a common theme in the three keynotes. These were all very different in scope so it is hard to pick one over the other but I will definitely be watching back over these in the coming weeks and I will share them with colleagues when they are published online.
National Library of Scotland
I was grateful to have the opportunity to attend iPres this year. This was my first experience of the conference, and it was a happy one. There were lots of opportunities to meet up with new people and catch up with those I knew from the preservation world. And it was useful! The continuous improvement models are a very handy way to set achievable targets to professionals who are often the only preservationists in their organisation. I know this will be useful to me, even though I am not on my own. I was fascinated to hear about DNA data storage, which although not yet operating at scale, has interesting properties of robustness at room temperature.
You can read more about one of Eilidh’s takeaways from iPres in her blog post - iPres report: a simple workshop exercise using Robust Links.
Cambridge University Library
Glasgow 2022 was the second in-person iPres I’ve attended; I previously attended in 2019 when the conference was held in Amsterdam. I was grateful to attend again this year to present about ongoing research as well as catch up with friends and colleagues in the field and meet some new faces.
Along with Sara Day-Thomson (Edinburgh University Library) and Patricia Falcao (TATE), I led a workshop on the first day of the conference. Titled “Preserving Complex Digital Objects: Revisited”, this workshop picked up on the workshop we gave at iPres in 2019 and focused on supporting the collection management of digital materials for which few or no solutions currently exist.
There were many great submissions to iPres this year. One paper on the topic of web archiving that stood out to me was “These Crawls Can Talk. Context Information for Web Collections” by Susanne van den Eijkel and Daniel Steinmeier from the KB (National Library of the Netherlands). I’m looking forward to thinking further about their research in the context of web archiving activities at Cambridge University Libraries.
The next iPres conference will be held in Champaign-Urbana, Illinois in the U.S.A. from September 19 - 22, 2023.