Over the last few weeks I’ve tried out both the Plato 4 tool (http://www.ifs.tuwien.ac.at/dp/plato/intro/) and the DPC 12-question template provided me by William Kilbride. Plato is a free comprehensive web-based tool for which you have to register to use and which you can then use for any number of collections. It takes you through a workflow which includes inputting sample documents and defining experiments to test preservation options. However, it doesn’t provide any guidance on what those options could be. It is clearly aimed at institutions with large complex collections, however, as an owner of relatively small collections, I found it useful to experience the preservation steps that it takes you through. The 12 step questionnaire is a much more flexible tool, which while also being designed for large institutional collections (as indicated by the inclusion of a variety of Risk Management information) is much more flexible and is easily adapted for use for small personal collections.
I tried out both tools on a small uncomplicated collection of some 800 files of Mementos and Personal Electronic documents (Test of 12-step Template) and came up with the following initial observations (which I have relayed back to William Kilbride and Neil Beagrie):
A. Neither tool provides specific technical guidance on what to do.
B. Plato is designed for large institutional collections and, of the two, the DPC 12 step tool is most adaptable for use with Personal Information collections.
C. The 12 step template seems to be more of a Scoping document which would be a precursor to a Plan.
D. Neither tool mentions a Maintenance Schedule but seem to assume that the Preservation Plan will incorporate both immediate and long term actions. I believe it will be more effective to separate the two so that an initial project (which includes a task to produce a Maintenance Schedule) can be defined, completed and closed.
I now have a way forward – I shall create the following three sets of documentation to perform Digital Preservation work on a particular collection:
- Scoping document (adapted from the Kilbride 12 step template)
- Preservation Plan (which will define specific actions to be taken immediately:
- Maintenance Schedule (which will define actions to be taken during the lifetime of the collection)
The Collections I shall perform this work on are:
- PAW-PERS – approx 800 Personal Files of various uncomplicated file types with an Excel index
- Photos – approx 14,000 – mainly JPGs with an Excel index
- e-Books – approx 180 books from my bookshelves that I have scanned to PDF, with an Excel Index
- PAW/DOC – approx 180,000 personal work files currently in a Document Management System with a linked Filemaker Pro index.
The key information I am still missing is specific guidance on preservation actions that can be taken such as what are the best long term file formats. I’ve asked William Kilbride if any such guidance is documented in one place, but suspect I am going to have to rely on individuals to help me find it. Hence, I am trying to find someone who I can collaborate with and have started by emailing Jenny Bunn at UCL and shall also contact the three names that William Kilbride suggested.