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Preserving an Emerging Digital Arts Landscape: Digital Preservation at University of the Arts London

April 2020

Published onApr 30, 2020
Preserving an Emerging Digital Arts Landscape: Digital Preservation at University of the Arts London

Thurlow, Elizabeth. "Preserving an Emerging Digital Arts Landscape: Digital Preservation at University of the Arts London"  Art Libraries Journal  (April 2020)(https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/art-libraries-journal/article/preserving-an-emerging-digital-arts-landscape-digital-preservation-at-university-of-the-arts-london/37645F3059FC153199C8A6FFC95D3957). - Technology evolves so quickly that both the creation and the preservation of digital objects have to be actively managed to avoid their loss through “obsolescence, corruption or accidental deletion.” (p. 79) The University of the Arts London (UAL) is planning for the preservation of both digital surrogates, which document objects not originally created digitally, and “born digital” materials, which were created digitally “and for which there has never been an analogue counterpart.” (p. 79). First, they had to get funding, which was awarded for five years, to put together a team with the varied skills that would be needed, such as “special collections librarians, archivists, museum curators and IT specialists.” (p. 79). To preserve both types of digital materials, the working group created a plan that looks to the past, the present and the future. Materials that were cataloged or indexed in the past must be reviewed and have their metadata aligned to eliminate inconsistencies in file structures and naming conventions, an act of “digital housekeeping.” (p. 80). Of course, the six colleges that make up UAL continue to acquire and create digital materials while this retrospective work is done. To manage both existing and ongoing collections, UAL chose a software from the company Preservica. Even as their working group enters materials into that system, they are planning for the future by selecting priority materials to be preserved first from their “… more than 20 terabytes of digital materials….” (p. 81) and developing a single, consistent user interface. Looking even farther forward, they hope to eventually train their students in “basic digital preservation best … practice, equipping students with vital skills they can carry into their future careers.” (p. 82) - NN

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