The UCL Digital Curation course finished at the end of the March. It was an excellent introduction to the field in general and provided links to a great deal of relevant material elsewhere on the net. Two aspects were particularly important for me – first, the tutor prompted us to use the National Archive’s DROID software on our personal collections, and I discovered what an easy and effective tool it is for identifying the formats and numbers of a set of files. I used it to undertake the pre-planning work on the 17,000+ files of the Photo collection to great effect. Furthermore, I emailed the DROID support team to help understand parts of the DROID report, and found them to be very helpful. With DROID’s assistance, and by comparing its results with Windows Explorer searches, I was able to find and cull spurious files and to decide what format changes would be needed in the course of carrying out the Preservation work on the SUPAUL-PHOTO collection.
The second aspect of the UCL course which I found particularly useful was the interaction with the other students (I believe there were more than 200 from all over the world). It was fascinating to read about where they were from and what jobs they were doing. It was also very interesting to read the discussions that went on in the course’s forums – though, sadly, after a lively beginning discussion did fall away as the course progressed. Nevertheless, I was able to ask some questions about file formats and got clear guidance on whether it was worth converting JPGs to JPG2000 (it’s not). I also met Dave Thompson, Digital Curator at the Wellcome Foundation, on the course, and, I was able to get some invaluable advice from him outside the course about how to word a flyer seeking a repository for my collection of work documents (details of my attempts to find such a repository are recorded in the Personal Document Management section of this site).
Regarding my Preservation Planning work on the SUPAUL-PHOTO collection, I have now completed the pre-planning work and the writing of the Project Plan Description and the associated Project Plan Chart, so am now all set to conduct the work itself. Having undertaken two trials of the planning process, I’m satisfied that I understand what’s required and that the documentation will support the work. Of course, the PAW-DOC collection (which is what I developed the planning process for) is a far larger and more complex collection than either of the collections on which I have been testing the process. However, I’m confident that I will at least able to start the PAW-DOC preservation work in a coherent and comprehensive way, and that the knowledge and experience I have gained so far will help me to figure out how to make any adjustments that may be needed in the course of the project. Beyond that, I hope I’ll be able to draw on the advice of the contacts I’ve made in the course of exploring the digital preservation field. Anyway, that’s all for the future. First I need to actually carry out the preservation work on the SUPAUL-PHOTO collection as specified in the project plan.