Templates v3.0: DONE (after a 7 year journey)

Life has become a little more relaxed in the last few days as I completed the 2021 digital preservation maintenance exercise on my PAWDOC document collection. I cracked on through the most onerous parts of the of the project – converting 1000+ old Word documents to XLSX format, and 300+ old Excel documents to XLSX format – such that I finished some two weeks earlier than planned. I guess I just really wanted to get it out of the way and was able to spend the time getting it done. However, those reasons are probably irrelevant. The key in these exercises is to be able to avoid running over the timescales you have planned – which, of course, is dependent on making realistic plans in the first place. Chicken and egg I know – but I do think its preferable to make a plan that’s doable and beat it, than to make a plan that’s iffy and fail to get there. Of course, that’s why I set great store in doing a lot of pre-work in digital preservation exercises, so that, when it comes to creating a project plan, you have a clear idea of what is to be done and how long it will take.

Anyway, I’ve now been through two cycles of preservation exercises with my large PAWDOC collection of 105,00 files; and also two cycles through much smaller collections of photos (18,000 files) and mementos (800 files); so I’m now pretty familiar with what has to be done and am simply following the maintenance plan documents that I have in place. That, of course, was the purpose of starting this Preservation Planning work in 2014 – to  gain clarity on how to do it. That clarity is now encapsulated in the four template documents that I have developed and refined; and which are now issued as final fit-for-purpose versions:

The documents steer the user through the process steps that need to be taken, as well as providing the clarity of written reference text describing what a particular collection consists of, what has been planned and what has taken place. The documents are also available on the DPC web site with a summary of the background to their development, the challenges they have helped me overcome, their key features, and their applicability.

Having completed the refinement of these templates, my own journey into Digital Preservation has come to an end; I am now settling into the regular maintenance cycles for my various collections. However, before I do, here’s a couple of suggestions for anyone reading this who wants to find out more about the topic: a) take a look at the Digital Preservation Coalition’s (DPC) website which has a wealth of useful information; and b) consider subscribing to the JISC Digital Preservation Mailing List which provides a window onto the numerous digital preservation activities going on around the world. I have found both extremely useful over the last 7 years, and thank both organisations.

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