I have attended quite a few iPres conferences, and also served on the programme committees for a few. I remember the early ones in Vienna (2010) and China (2007) and the more recent ones in Kyoto (2017) and Amsterdam (2019). I think iPres is the best place to talk about checksums, or any other key topics related to digital preservation.
If you work in digital preservation, it is unlikely that you would not have heard about checksums - I believe this to be an accurate statement, as they feature prominently in digital preservation.
Checksums can be used to determine fixity of digital objects, the property of an object being unchanged. Libraries and archives commonly operate checksum-based fixity checking workflows to detect change of an object, as routine inspections of data at rest, or to determine the sameness between two copies of an object before and after a certain event, e.g. one that involves moving the object from one location to another.
I have had various roles since I have left the British Library and the Internet Archive and joined the University of Notre Dame in 2016. I have worked exclusively in the University’s central IT department in the last three years, leading strategy development and implementation of enterprise storage and digital asset management services. Checksums are occasionally used, e.g. to verify software packages before distributing to many endpoints, or where required to verify the correctness of data migration efforts. It is not that data integrity isn't important to IT, it is just that object integrity validation is directly impacted by the size of the file or the volume of data. Routine checksum calculation and verification at TB/PB scale is resource-extensive, and hence impractical, requiring compute power as well as the underlying storage to have low latency and high performance I/O. For data migration, we often use simple methods such as comparing expected file size and file count to provide basic fixity information. We also rely on built-in fault-tolerance features of storage systems or data management systems for data storage and transfer integrity.
Checksums remain a valid way of verifying data integrity. Just as our thoughts have evolved on format migration, another prominently featured digital preservation task, I sometimes wonder if there is a degree of over-focus on checksums within the digital preservation community. It is certainly necessary to take a closer look. We hear a lot about checksums but very little about its limitations such as scalability or associated costs. We do not hear about checksum mismatches or follow-up actions - or would repeated (good) matches lead to less need for fixity checks? There should be more information available about some (important) details, such as the various use cases, the frequency and the factors impacting the choice of frequency. I have witnessed lengthy discussions about the choice of specific hashing algorithms, but if our purpose is to ascertain sameness or detect changes, we may not necessarily need the most cryptographically secure checksum. It is perhaps more important to consider performance, or alignment with the storage systems, to take advantage of the built-in fixity feature and make sure what you PUT there is exactly what you GET back. An example of this is S3’s new checksum support, that persistently stores and allows you to retrieve checksums, making it easier to build fixity workflows incorporating pre-calculated and/or S3 generated checksums.
Digital preservation is about managing risks, and we have established that bit flip is not a top reason for data loss. After having explored and built some understanding of how to use fixity to help us manage the risk of data loss (which will always exist), perhaps it is time to turn our attention and resources to understand and address some other (bigger) challenges? I would also cautiously advise that as long as we understand the durability claims by storage vendors and put in place the necessary mitigations (e.g. multi-region, multi-cloud, risk acceptance), we probably do not need routine fixity checks while data is at rest under the care of a vendor.
If we want to obsess about something new that is crucial to the longevity of our digital heritage, may I point to another category of technical dependency: storage intermediaries. These are software, and sometimes hardware appliances that act as a link between applications and storage media, performing a range of tasks, such as protocol translation, caching, compression or even encryption. While they perform useful functions and reduce the size of data transferred and stored, they also introduce deep dependencies and must be present for rendering and interacting with bits sequences stored on physical media. This topic warrants a separate blog post but I would like to reference our iPres 2020 paper that discusses it in some depth. I hope we become aware of the impact and find ways to address it collectively.
Office of Information Technologies, University of Notre Dame
I will preface this blog with a statement: the 2022 iPres Conference will be the first one I have been able to attend. Now I know what you’re thinking - how can I talk about “Why iPres” if I’ve never officially… iPres-ed. Well, read on and I shall tell you all about my iPres journey and how excited I am to be attending this year.
I first became aware of iPres in 2016. I, a newly qualified information professional, was working for the BBC in the UK. I was interested in digital records and trying to get to grips with the wide, weird, and wonderful world of digital preservation. Through my Twitter fumbling I found a hashtag that caught my eye… #ipres2016. I followed along, lurking behind my personal Twitter account, devouring any and all content I could find that was coming out of Bern. After the conference I would periodically check the hashtag and read the blogs and view the posters and (some) presentations that were posted afterwards. Seeing the stickers that folks had collected was the last straw - I knew then and there that I wanted to do this. I wanted to be involved in digital preservation and *someday* go to iPres for myself.
iPres 2017 came and I was still living in Reading, UK - a far cry from Kyoto. Again I spent the week checking up on the hashtag and living vicariously through the people live-tweeting their experiences. I don’t think I was brave enough yet to interact but I was bookmarking and reading and following and again I felt like this was an event for me - the camaraderie, the jokes, the collaborative nature of the whole thing, it all just seemed like such a good time.
2018 came and I had only recently moved to Australia and so I knew I’d be iPres-ing the way I had the years before - from behind a screen, this time in my PJs because time differences are great and Boston is far away. I had begun, at this stage, to recognise some familiar names and looked forward to following the collaborative notes and trying to remember the specific papers and posters I wanted to find out more about.
When iPres 2019 rolled around, I was finally working in the field, having been appointed Monash University’s Digital Archivist earlier that year. I was new to the role and bubbling with excitement and, unfortunately, still in Melbourne and nowhere near Amsterdam. But this year I was interacting with, commenting on, and liking posts from the folks I’d been quietly following for years. I was able to find even more people to follow and then, after the event, Australasia Preserves (a digipres community of practice for our neck of the woods) held a conference reflections session and some of our members who had been talked about their experiences. I felt like I was getting closer and closer. Surely 2020 would be the year I finally made it.
Well, we all know how that panned out. BUT the WeMissiPres festival happened in 2020 and it was wonderful. I spent three days in my home office laughing and chatting to my colleagues all over the world, hearing about some fascinating projects and dreaming of going to Beijing in 2021.
2021 had other plans however and I was unable to attend Beijing as I had a small baby to look after who, while delightful, was not super keen on letting me spend a few days online.
But now, finally, I am going to iPres. It has taken me 6 years to get here and I am thrilled to be attending. And while I am still going to be sitting at my computer in my home office in Melbourne - this year the hybrid nature means there is a dedicated online program with events and discussions and all the fun of the conference at my fingertips.
So, why iPres? For me the answer is very simple - I’ve wanted to go for so long and am finally getting the opportunity. I want to say to anyone who is like me, anyone who has skirted around the edges and maybe feels like they could maybe go in a year or two - don’t wait. Whether you’re new to the field or live so far that attending conferences like this has never been an option, now is our chance - Early Bird registration is open and I really hope I’ll “see” you there too.
University Archives, Monash University
As iPres 2021 drew near, at the DPC we began to throw around ideas of what gift we could offer delegates to accompany the official announcement at the end of the conference of iPres 2022 in Glasgow. Due to Covid restrictions and the hybrid nature of the conference it wouldn’t be possible to offer a physical gift as many previous hosts have offered (who wouldn’t love the iPres 2019’s tulip bulbs!) We wanted it to be something fun, that the digital preservation community could enjoy, but how to achieve that with something intangible?
In the end the idea we landed on was inspired by Glasgow itself: a Spotify playlist of songs about and/or by artists from the city. Glasgow has an eclectic and vibrant music scene that has long been a key part of the city’s history. I read in an article when fact checking this blog that “music runs through the blood of Glasgow, through its streets and architecture, where tenement flats vibrate with the music conceived in and around them.” It is truly an essential part of the soul of the city. I imagine most of us will have been to a gig where the band has waxed lyrical about how they are currently playing to the best crowd in the world, but many have confirmed that Glasgow is the city where that is most often the truth!
In fact, music plays such an important role here that the city was named a UNESCO City of Music in 2008, the first city in the UK to gain the honour. And with nearly 200 music venues and an average of 330 ticketed gigs a week, it is easy to see (or hear?) how this status was achieved. You can also add in that the OVO Hydro, used primarily for concerts, was the 2nd busiest venue in the world in 2019, after only Madison Square Gardens in New York. Glasgow is also home to Scottish Opera and the Royal Scottish National Orchestra alongside other national organisations including the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, the National Youth Orchestra of Scotland, the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland (one of the top 5 performing arts schools in the world) and the Scottish Ensemble. The city has also produced plenty of artists you’ll have heard of, including Simple Minds, Primal Scream, Franz Ferdinand, Texas, Belle and Sebastian, Deacon Blue, Chvrches, Frightened Rabbit and more….
The Oran Mor venue
Now, I know we all keep pretty busy during iPres week, but if you find yourself with some spare time in the city, it won’t be hard to locate some live music. The events listing on Data Thistle is a good place to see what’s on. This could be anything from the Traditional Scottish music sessions at venues like the Machair and Ben Nevis, through smaller venues like the Glad Cafe, the Hug and Pint, Stereo, Oran Mor, SWG3, the Old Fruitmarket, and St Luke’s, through to bigger hitters like the Hydro, the Clyde Auditorium, The Royal Concert Hall, and the O2 Academy.
The Royal Concert Hall
The O2 Academy
And there can be no forgetting two of Glasgow’s most iconic venues: King Tut’s Wah Wah Hut and the Barrowland Ballroom. For such a small venue, King Tut’s is packed with atmosphere, and also seems to attract the most urban mythology! If all the people who claim they “were there” on the night Oasis were signed at King Tut’s in 1993, the venue would have had to be magically 10 times larger than night…
The Barrowland Ballroom
Finally, for me there is no more quintessential Glasgow music experience than a concert at the Barrowland Ballroom. Sporting a giant neon sign outside (claimed to be the biggest in the UK), a sprung dance floor that gives the crowd extra bounce, and some of the best acoustics you could ask for, the affectionately known “Barras” has long been part of the Glasgow music scene. Acts from David Bowie to The Clash to U2 to The Foo Fighters have graced the stage. I’ve been there more times than I can count, and still clearly remember my first trip to the Barras to see Portishead in 1997.
If you’re interested in hearing about the history of the music scene in Glasgow and you have the time while you’re here, I can personally recommend the Glasgow Music City walking tours. They are run by a group of local music journalists whose knowledge is encyclopaedic and who have plenty of entertaining stories to tell!
This blog was written for you by Sharon McMeekin, Head of Workforce Development at the Digital Preservation Coalition and member of the iPres 2022 Local Organizing Committee
My first iPres experience was in 2013 when I came for the last day of the conference in beautiful Lisbon, to attend a workshop as part of the 4C Project (for which I was the DPC’s Project Officer at the time). Arriving late meant I’d missed all the fun it seemed, there were lots of stories about great papers, the conference dinner and unforgettable moments – but I was fairly new to the community, my background was in a completely unrelated field, so I was quite happy to sneak in and out again without the conference leaving much of an impression on me, or of me on it.
A brief stop in Lisbon to attend the 4C Project Workshop
The next iPres I attended was in 2019 in Amsterdam however, and this was different!
I spent the full week at the EYE Film Museum with digital preservationists from all over the world and came away elated with the feeling that I’d contributed materially to the conference. I knew people already by then certainly, but at the conference I met MORE people, made new connections, had a plethora of through-provoking conversations and experiences, people were interested in what I had to say, I felt energised and enthused! I felt part of the community.
Making a material contribution to iPres 2019
(photo courtesy of iPres 2019: https://www.flickr.com/photos/ipres2019/48756130556/)
And that was largely because, in between those two conferences, I’d had an epiphany.
To explain, all of my jobs to date have been what you would describe as a 'support service.' In previous roles I have marketed a core service, written proposals for contracts providing a core service and - now I was working in digital preservation - I was communicating and raising awareness about digital preservation but not actually doing it myself. So, I’d never considered myself part of the communities, rather more peripheral to them.
However, in 2018 there began a series of conversations about iPres, community, welcome and inclusion and it dawned on me, that for digital preservation to work well it needs all sorts of people. And the contribution of every individual as part of the digital preservation community is valuable and should be valued equally.
Digital preservation needs new people to come and share different perspectives and innovations, it needs people who have been working in the field for a long time to provide their experiences, it needs people from all corners of the globe; it needs researchers, developers, IT scientists, training providers, archivists, librarians, records keepers and service providers; it needs people from large institutions and small ones, and it needs communicators (like me) to help raise awareness!
This was quite the revelation, but it provided me with the confidence to submit a Poster for iPres 2019 on advocating for digital preservation (incidentally, this went on to win the Best Poster Award helped by my inclusion of cats in the accompanying video!) and my sense of place within the community grew from there. And with that sense of place came a real appreciation for the community itself, what I could learn from everyone within it, and what I could contribute back.
Collecting the Best Poster Award was a HUGE boost!
(Photo courtesy of Ben Saxton)
I would love as many people attending iPres 2022 as possible to come away from Glasgow in September with that same sense of community, and that feeling of belonging to it. Within the Programme Committee we have lots of ideas about helping make newcomers or those attending independently feel more at home at the conference, about providing outlets for creativity and discussion for speakers of different languages, and about making the physical and online spaces accessible to all delegates. But we’re always open to more ideas! Please do get in touch and let us know what would help optimise your experience of iPres 2022, you can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Earlybird Registration is now open, so whether you are new to iPres or an old hand, wherever you practice digital preservation and in whatever capacity, you are part of the iPres community and you are welcome. We look forward to seeing you there 😊
Sarah Middleton, Head of Advocacy & Community Engagement for the Digital Preservation Coalition
It is an often shared fact that Glasgow’s name comes from the Gaelic “glas chu” which can be translated as “Dear Green Place”. While there is actually some debate amongst etymologists as to whether that translation is accurate, it is an apt description for the city. It meets (or is at least trying hard to meet) two meanings of the word green.
On the environmental side of things, many people will be aware that Glasgow was the host of the COP26 climate change conference in late 2021 and there are lots of reasons why it was chosen. In 2020 the city council published its Climate Emergency Implementation Plan which details 52 actions the city will take to become Carbon Neutral by 2030. These actions cover a broad spectrum of issues including communications, planning and housing, green jobs, community awareness and education, transportation, alternative energy sources, and more.
The same month Glasgow was named a “Global Green City” by the Global Forum for Human Settlements. The award, sponsored by the United Nations’ Environment Programme, seeks to highlight 'prominent progress and valuable experience' in search of greener and more sustainable cities. Glasgow scooped the award after recording high scores across wide ranging criteria including planning, transport, low carbon and energy efficiency, transportation, buildings, open spaces and the economy.
Glasgow is also a city held in high regard for the quality and diversity of vegan and sustainable food offerings. It is regularly voted one of the best cities in Europe for vegan dining, with lots of purely vegan, or vegan-friendly restaurants and cafés (more on these at a later date). For eating at home, there is a vibrant and growing community of businesses offering local and sustainable produce. The Locavore shops across Glasgow being an excellent example.
We’re hoping that iPres 2022 will live up to this green legacy, ensuring there are sustainability policies in place at our venues, aiming for carbon neutrality, and more.
Glasgow's landscape is 32% green spaces
Now onto another meaning of the word green. Despite its industrial heritage, beyond the city centre Glasgow is a remarkably green city. In fact, Glasgow’s landscape is 32% green spaces, the second most in the UK (only surpassed by Edinburgh). And there are a rich variety of experiences within those green spaces.
To the east of the city centre, only 15 minutes from the iPres 2022 conference venue, there is appropriately named Glasgow Green. It is Glasgow’s oldest park, established in the 15th century when King James II granted the land to Bishop William Turnbull and the people of Glasgow. The 136 acres park has been used for many purposes over the years, but is often now used for large scale festivals and entertainment. It is also home to the Templeton Carpet Factory building mentioned in the previous blog post, as well as Glasgow’s most idiosyncratic museum, The People’s Palace.
Over in the West End, we can find parks born of the wealth of the industrial revolution during the Victorian era. There is the Botanic Gardens, offering exotic flora and river walks, Victoria Park with its large swan and duck pond and fossilised trees, and Kelvingrove Park, one of the most iconic spaces in Glasgow. Overlooked by the University of Glasgow and the Kelvingrove Museum, the park is home to bowling greens, a bandstand that offers open air concerts in the summer, and is connected by a river walkway to the Botanic Gardens.
But it is over the Clyde on the city’s South Side where some of the biggest and best parks can be found. Queen’s Park and Bellahouston Park are also both products of the Victorian period, Queen’s Park offering lovely walks and regular farmer’s markets reflecting the increasingly trendy neighbourhoods nearby, and Bellahouston has expansive open areas and is home to the “House of an Art Lover”. However, if you’re looking for a park that has it all, then you need to head to Pollok Country Park.
Pollock House in Glasgow
At 361 acres, Pollock Country Park is Glasgow’s largest park and has a wide array of activities within its boundaries. For art lovers there is the Burrell Collection, reopening before iPres after major refurbishments that have taken several years. It houses the eclectic art collection of shipping magnate William Burrell, gifted to the city in 1944. There is also the grand Pollok House, a National Trust for Scotland property with a fantastic collection of Spanish art. For those who like more athletic activities, there are orienteering courses and mountain bike trails, and at a slightly slower pace there are river walks, and walled and wildlife gardens to explore. If your time in Glasgow is limited, it also offers the opportunity to catch sight of some Highland cows!
Check the Highland cows!
At conferences, we often spend too much time in auditoriums and meeting rooms, so if you have a chance I encourage you to go out and enjoy Glasgow’s green spaces!
This blog was written for you by Sharon McMeekin, Head of Workforce Development at the Digital Preservation Coalition and member of the iPres 2022 Local Organizing Committee
My first time attending iPres was in the Fall of 2018 in Boston, Massachusetts, when I was just a few years out of graduate school. International conferences hold a certain awe for an early career professional who is teetering on the precipice of being “important” enough to qualify for registration and travel funding, but I had the advantage of being on home turf. And because MIT and Harvard co-hosted the conference that year, I was privileged to be invited onto the Organizing Team.
I was beyond anxious. Still relatively new to the field, I overcommitted myself for fear of missing professional opportunities (#FOMPO?), and I was stretched thin between the Organizing Team, co-teaching a workshop, and co-presenting a paper. Yet I felt superficially embedded into the fabric of the conference: deeply insecure amongst this tight-knit group of digital preservation experts that all seemed to be friends. I attempted to project a facade of confidence, but I was too afraid of the sound of my own voice in a room where some practitioners’ years in the field outranked my age.
One of many things iPres does well is offering a variety of core and ad hoc contribution genres. There are the usual papers, panels, posters, and receptions, but organizers over the years have expanded the portfolio to include “bake-offs,” game rooms, hackathons, and more. These options provide attendees with a variety of ways to engage with scholarship and projects - and perhaps more importantly, with each other.
iPres 2018 GameRoom, photo credit: Kari Smith
On the second day of the conference, I settled down to play a digital preservation board game with strangers, worried that I would miss an easy trivia question and be exposed as a digipres charlatan. But as the rounds progressed, I realized: I knew this stuff. And honestly, everyone was enjoying the game too much to judge me if I didn’t. Later at a reception, shyly clinging to the few people I knew, I was emboldened to say hello to fellow game players from earlier that day.
In the span of that week, a subtle but significant transformation occurred. Getting to know colleagues from across the globe was like palliative care for my imposter syndrome. I had arrived, a debutante at the digital preservation ball! And beyond that, hearing people from different countries brainstorm about collective challenges and obstacles anchored my appreciation that we shared a common goal of communicating with the future.
In the years since, I haven't attended iPres in person - it was too far, or a global pandemic happened. But the sense of fellowship seeded there has grown deeper. iPres itself has continued to evolve to cultivate that for others as well. After 2018, the iPres Working Group formed to review aspects of the conference like engagement and transparency (and they’ve done wonderful work towards this). Sometimes when I'm talking about “professional norms” with friends that are in different fields, I realize how fortunate I am to have chosen a professional community that prioritizes improving itself so it can foster belonging for everyone. And I can’t wait to reunite with that community in Glasgow.
Senior Digital Preservation Specialist
Harvard Library, Harvard University
In this month’s “Introducing Glasgow” blog post we’ll be taking a quick look at the city’s architectural heritage.
Glasgow was founded in the late 6th century and from then, through the Medieval period, the heart of the settlement was around the area that is now the High Street. Little remains of the city from that era beyond the 12th century Cathedral, dedicated to Glasgow’s patron saint, Saint Mungo, and the 15th century Provand’s Lordship. The cathedral is only 10 minutes walk from the iPres 2022 conference venue, perfect for a lunchtime visit. The Glasgow Necropolis also sits atop the nearby hill and is home to numerous grand monuments to Glaswegians-past and offers wonderful views of the city.
The aesthetic of Glasgow was truly established during the Victorian period, as the industrial revolution brought great wealth and prosperity to the city. The architecture was significantly influenced by two architects: the Neo-Classicism of Alexander “Greek” Thomson and the Art Noveau “Glasgow-Style” of Charles Rennie Mackintosh. Although there are some wonderfully idiosyncratic buildings from this period too (more on these later). The grand red and blond sandstone buildings of the city center, and their grid layout, has made Glasgow a prime filming location in recent years, as studios look for cheaper alternatives for cities like New York. Beyond the city center, much of Glasgow is dominated by post-war housing, built as the city continued to expand at pace.
One of my favorite things to do in any city I visit is to wander around, taking in the architecture, always remembering to “look up”. I’d definitely encourage you to do this in Glasgow, as the grandeur of the buildings isn’t always obvious at eye-level. But if you’d like some tips on architecture not to be missed, I’ve put together a list of some of my favorite buildings by area.
Starting out at the east end of the city center, we find one of my favorites amongst the idiosyncratic buildings I mentioned earlier, Templeton's Carpet Factory. Built to demonstrate architectural opulence and resemble the Doge’s Palace in Venice, I find it wonderfully ludicrous that such an ornate facade was included on a building that housed a carpet factory. It is now home to offices and a small brewhouse and is about a 15 minute walk from the iPres 2022 conference venue. Nearby you’ll also find the People’s Palace and the Winter Gardens, but I’ll return to those in a future blog post.
Moving west through the city center we come to the City Chambers, home to the grand marble staircase I mentioned in last month’s blog post. Next is The Lighthouse, one of Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s first commissions and now Scotland’s Centre for Architecture and Design. This building houses a viewing tower with a unique aspect over the roofs of the city.
A short walk from the Lighthouse is Central Station, the busiest train station in Scotland. Normally a place to hurry through, it is well worth spending time taking in the building. There are tours available where you can see the vast storage arches that were once used to house goods, and the eerily preserved abandoned village of Grahamston that still exists below the station. One thing to look out for at Central Station is the 2 phases of construction of the glass roof, one designed by an architect and one by an engineer. Your challenge is to work out which is which!
Heading north from Central Station, you can find one of Alexander “Greek” Thomson’s classically-styled buildings on Sauchiehall Street which now houses the Centre for Contemporary Arts. Sadly, the nearby Glasgow School of Art building, perhaps Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s most famous design, has twice been ravaged by fire in recent years.
Thankfully, two excellent examples of Mackintosh’s designs can be found in the Southside of the city. The first is the Scotland Street School which now houses a museum covering education in Scotland through the decades (currently closed for renovations). The second is the House for an Art Lover, designed by Mackintosh in 1901 for an architectural contest, but not built until nearly 90 years later. It now houses exhibitions, event spaces, and offers scholarships and education to further interest in architecture and design.
Thomson’s most famous residential project can also be found in Glasgow’s Southside at Holmwood House, now a National Trust for Scotland property. The Grecian stylings used throughout the house provide, perhaps, the best example of his signature style that earned him the nickname “Greek”.
Heading out towards the west of the city along the side of the river Clyde you will find the Scottish Event Campus, home to the iconic Clyde Auditorium. Lovingly referred to locally as “The Armadillo”, its shape was inspired by the Sydney Opera House. The relatively new Hydro concert venue is also included in the campus and is striking when lit at night (I like the rainbow option the best!) Both were designed by internationally renowned architects Foster + Partners.
Further along the waterfront you will also find the Zaha Hadid designed Riverside Museum, completed just over a decade ago, which houses the city’s Transport collections. The shape of the building was designed so that it is not possible to appreciate its complete form from a single vantage point, and waves of the roof represent the city’s connection to the waterfront.
Finally, in the west end proper, you’ll find 3 of the most iconic structures in Glasgow: the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, the University of Glasgow, and Kibble Palace at the Botanic Gardens. Kelvingrove and the University sit on either side of the Kelvin river and a view of both is one most often used images on postcards from the city. Both were built in the late-19th century, and are quintessential representations of the wealth of that period. A grand red stone building designed in the Spanish Baroque style by Sir John W. Simpson, Kelvingrove was originally built as the Palace of Fine Arts for the Glasgow International Exhibition of 1901.
The main university building which stands atop the hill behind Kelvingrove, is formally named the Gilbert Scott building after its architect, Sir George Gilbert Scott (who also designed St Pancras station in London). A Gothic revival design, it is the 2nd largest of this style in the UK, after the Palaces of Westminster. The ancient pretense of its facade hides the, what was at the time, cutting-edge building method of an iron frame construction. Nowadays the building is warmly referred to by students of the University as “The Harry Potter Building”.
The last structure to mention is Kibble Palace in the Botanic Gardens. A huge wrought-iron framed greenhouse that is home to collections of orchids, tree ferns, and carnivorous plants, it is also put to a wide range of other uses. In recent years I’ve attended a wedding there, a production of Marlowe’s Richard II, and a light show called GlasGLOW. You’ve really not experienced the building until you’ve seen it with a huge disco ball and matching tunes!
We’ve reached the end of my whistle stop tour through some of Glasgow’s architectural history, but there’s plenty more to see in person. So make sure to come to iPres 2022 in September!
This blog was written for you by Sharon McMeekin, Head of Workforce Development at the Digital Preservation Coalition and member of the iPres 2022 Local Organizing Committee
I’ll admit from the start that as I prepare this post about “Why I iPRES”, I have a goal. And that is to persuade anyone who is on the fence - asking yourself “Should I come?” “Should I submit a proposal?” You should. Particularly if your concern is that you’re coming from a smaller organization, or from an organization that is only beginning or even hoping to begin working in digital preservation. Yes, iPRES is the place for cutting-edge research and development in digital preservation. But it is also very much a place where you can find your bearings in this field, find others who are in your same situation, and find guidance and inspiration for the work ahead. William Kilbride conveyed this message beautifully in the first “Why I iPRES” post, but it bears repeating.
I first attended iPRES in 2005 and have participated a number of times since. In those years, I’ve worked for two quite different organizations, the California Digital Library (CDL) and the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC). At the California Digital Library I worked in web archiving, and iPRES not only directly addressed my work, but also provided grounding in broader issues of digital preservation. I joined UIC to come home to my beloved city of Chicago and to support digital access to UIC’s remarkable Chicago history collections. At the time I arrived, UIC had amassed terabytes of digital material (~60 TB today) but had nothing beyond simple file servers to manage and store the master copies. An early analysis of our digital assets using the NDSA Levels of Digital Preservation rubric showed us at a solid “level zero” in many respects. Establishing the first comprehensive preservation and access repository at UIC has been the focus of our work for the last few years.
CDL and UIC are two very different organizations. They’re in very different positions vis-a-vis digital preservation. But iPRES has remained a valuable resource for me in both places. For example, Shigeo Sugimoto of the University Tsukuba has been a frequent contributor and active member of the iPRES community. At CDL, the work of Professor Sugimoto and others at the University of Tsukuba was an inspiration for the Bag-It specification, developed by the Library of Congress and CDL to transfer web archive data between institutions. Years later, we used that same specification at UIC to participate in the Digital Preservation Network (DPN) initiative.
In 2014 iPRES featured the work of Stacey Erdman, Jaime Schumacher and others in the Digital POWRR Project. Founded in 2012 and based out of Northern Illinois University, Digital POWRR “investigated, evaluated, and recommended scalable, sustainable digital preservation solutions for libraries with smaller amounts of data and/or fewer resources”. At iPRES 2018 and again in 2021, Erdman worked with Paul Wheatley and others to support a “COPTR-edit-a-thon”. COPTR, or the Community Owned digital Preservation Tool Registry, is exactly the sort of project that serves organizations that don’t already have access to a robust digital preservation infrastructure.
So whether it will be the conference themes of Innovation or Community that inspire you, iPRES 2022 will have something to offer. And I’m very much looking forward to meeting the city of Glasgow!
Head, Digital Programs & Services
University of Illinois, Chicago Library
There were lots of reasons to be excited when the DPC was chosen to host iPres 2022 in Glasgow. Perhaps the most important is that it coincides with the 20th Anniversary of the Coalition, giving us the perfect opportunity to include the whole digital preservation community in our celebrations.
But on a personal level, I was excited that I’d get to share my beloved hometown with all the wonderful digital preservation friends and colleagues I’ve met in my fifteen years of working in the field. It’s a city that keeps drawing me back: I was born nearby, and while I’ve moved away to other parts of Scotland three times, I’ve always found myself returning to Glasgow after not too long. It’s the city where I completed all three of my degrees, where I bought my first home, where I adopted my wee rescue doggo, Pretzel, and where I’ve worked with the DPC for the past 10 years.
It’s by no means perfect (what city is?) but it’s a place with real heart and soul, well known for the warm welcome extended to visitors. There’s a reason why the city’s brand is “People Make Glasgow”. Mentions of that warm welcome appeared again and again in the tweets from the recent COP26 climate conference. In fact, one CNN reporter loved her time in the city so much she’s been adopted as a new Scot! Check out Ika’s tweets here. Her story is a perfect example of a well-known meme about the flowchart for being Scottish….
Back to the purpose of this blog post, when we started thinking about comms for iPres 2022, I was keen to be involved in sharing my love of Glasgow and encouraging the digital preservation community to come and join us in the city. I had lots of ideas about what I could do, and you’ll be seeing a couple more of those ideas become reality throughout the year, but one proposal was a monthly series of blog posts showcasing some of my favourite things about Glasgow.
So here we are, this post serves as the introduction to that series. Over the months between now and September I’ll share with you some of my favourite things to see and do, insider tips on where to find the best food and drink, and bits and pieces of the rich history of the city. I actually thought about starting off with an abridged history of Glasgow but couldn’t decide what to leave out to make sure the blog post didn’t end up as a novel! So instead, I’m going to leave you with 10 fun facts about Glasgow, and I’ll be back in February with more….
1. There are trees in Glasgow older than dinosaurs – Fossil Grove in Victoria Park has 11 fossilised tree stumps that are over 330 million years old.
2. The City Chambers has more marble than the Vatican – It cost £578,232 to build the Chambers in 1889, the equivalent of more than £40 million today. The Carrera marble was imported from Italy, and the opulent main staircase has been a stand-in for the Vatican on film and TV. A mini-version of the Statue of Liberty is also among the adornments of the City Chambers.
3. Glasgow’s Subway is the third-oldest underground train system in the world – Nicknamed the “Clockwork Orange”, the subway system opened in 1896. It is a simple loop with 15 stations, with trains running clockwise and anti-clockwise. There is a local tradition of pub crawls round the stops, but (experience tells me) it’s not for the faint hearted!
4. It’s claimed that Glasgow is home to the remains of St Valentine - The supposed remains, housed in a small wooden box at the Church of Blessed St John Duns Scotus, are part of a set of relics donated to the Franciscan church in 1868.
5. The first international football (soccer) game was played in Glasgow - In 1872 the first international football match took place between England and Scotland at the West of Scotland Cricket Ground in Partick.
6. Stan Laurel (of Laurel and Hardy fame) began his career at one of the city’s theatres – He made his stage debut at the Panopticon Theatre, in Trongate, just before his 16th birthday in 1906. It was there he developed many of his comedy trademarks, including adopting his iconic bowler hat. The Panopticon remains open and is now the world’s oldest surviving music hall.
7. The Hunterian Museum at the University of Glasgow is the oldest museum in Scotland – The university itself is the 4th oldest in the UK but is also home to the oldest museum in Scotland. Opening in 1807, the museum was built to house the collections of anatomist and physician, William Hunter.
8. One of the city’s pubs is home to the longest bar in Europe - The Victorian-era Horseshoe Bar in Drury Street boasts the longest pub bar in Europe at an impressive 104 feet and 3 inches.
9. The city also boasts Europe’s largest public reference library – Built thanks to bequests from local industrialists and philanthropists, The Mitchell Library is the central hub of the city council’s library services.
10. One of Glasgow’s most iconic landmarks is an equestrian statue with a traffic cone on the rider’s head – Despite the best efforts of the local council, the statue of the Duke of Wellington in Royal Exchange Square is rarely to be found without (at least one) traffic cone on his head. It was listed in a 2011 Lonely Planet Guide as “one of the top 10 most bizarre monuments on earth”. Sometimes his horse even gets to join in too …
This blog was written for you by Sharon McMeekin, Head of Workforce Development at the Digital Preservation Coalition and member of the iPres 2022 Local Organizing Committee.
DPC is hosting iPres 2022. I have mentioned this very many times and no one should be surprised by the news. But I have a new variation for you. I have just stepped back into work after a winter break and pinned a new calendar to the wall. It tells me that DPC is hosting iPres this year. There is more of a tremble in my voice when I phrase it like that.
Preparations are going well (at the time of writing at least). Over the next few months - from now until the proceedings are published - we’ll maintain this blog to keep you posted on plans and highlights as they emerge. We will also use the blog to build momentum and create a space for reflection and debate. We’ve invited contributions from the programme committee to help explore the main conference themes; and we’ve invited some regulars to share highlights (and perhaps some low points) of iPres over the years. We want to know what keeps them coming. We’ve also lined up a group of first-time participants and some not-yet attendees to share their experiences and expectations too. Our hope is to lay a solid foundation for discussion around the conference themes. Perhaps more importantly, we hope to articulate the enthusiasm of the community and the welcome that comes with it. Ceud mìle fàilte – a hundred thousand welcomes – as we said at the handover in Beijng in October. It’s a big target but we’re nothing if not ambitious.
I cannot ask others to reflect on iPres and its themes without attempting an answer of my own. For me this comes in two parts.
I should start with the twentieth anniversary of the DPC. The anniversary is the simple logic for investing our time and energy in iPres this year: inviting the whole world to our home city to join us as we celebrate twenty years together. The DPC’s practical origins can in fact be traced to a conference hall. A small group of specialists met at ‘Preservation 2000’ conference in December of that year to discuss and debate their emerging needs. Lynne Brindley opened the conference with a keynote outlining the shared challenges that existed, the research that was already in hand, and the need for more collaboration between researchers and more involvement with the wider community of ‘authors, publishers and other digital content creators, funding agencies, senior administrators, hardware and software manufacturers, and so on.’ That call led directly to the DPC taking legal form a year later. Since the DPC was called into existence at a conference there’s a pleasing logic to mark twenty years with a conference of our own.
Memories of that event help me frame a more rounded answer to the ‘Why I iPres?’ There couldn’t have been many more than 100 people, but it seemed like the whole of digital preservation was there, with representatives from around the world, each on their way to developing what would become digital preservation strategies and infrastructures.
I wouldn’t want you to think I belonged in this esteemed company. At the time I was working at the Archaeology Data Service, just up the road from the conference venue in York. Although ADS had a reasonable claim to digital preservation expertise, having ingested its first full digital archives a year earlier, my attendance was a happy geographical coincidence. Our budget wouldn’t have stretched to travel or accommodation.
It was a real eye opener for me to discover other people from so many places with interest in the topic but, as an archaeologist at a library conference, I could not have been more of an impostor. Even so I remember chatting cheerfully with Paul Wheatley about the CAMiLEON project and his thoughts about emulation over migration. I think I met Kevin Ashley, Helen Shenton, Oya Rieger and Cal Lee there for the first time (though it’s worth checking with them). I remember sharing a coffee with Maggie Jones and Neil Beagrie: I knew them already so was bold enough to chat with them. I also remember chatting with Michael Day who was then with UKOLN and whom I knew through a network of mutual colleagues and projects. I recall meeting Marcel Ras, also an archaeologist by training, who like me had also achieved the significant career goal of a warm dry job indoors.
This experience goes some way to explaining ‘why I iPres?’ I have benefitted hugely from the relationships that are kicked off and renewed at conferences like this. I came to Preservation 2000 almost by accident, but I honestly don’t think I would be doing the job I do today without the advice and friendship of many of the people I met there. That’s not to say these have been the only or even the most important influences: but if you’re doing digital preservation alone you’re not doing it right.
I’ve been immensely privileged to participate in 8 iPres conferences – 9 if you include #WeMissIpres in 2020. I am sure others will have better examples of papers that have inspired or surprised them but I want to emphasize the welcome and approachability of iPres. It’s not all po-faced. I remember the time I inadvertently dropped the USB stick with my presentation directly into an air-conditioning duct in a lecture hall in Lisbon and had to rewrite the presentation more or less from notes (Do as I say, not as I do). I remember getting so helplessly lost in Bern that, if house prices had been affordable, I might have been forced to live there forever. I was rescued by a genial family of traditional swiss toy makers who, strangely enough, were heading to the same conference venue to exhibit their wares. I recall in chairing session 404 in Boston (a number to conjure with at a conference about broken links). It was a large space split in two with a moveable partition. I can’t remember the detail of the session, but I do remember apologizing to the session on the other side of the partition who couldn’t concentrate on format validation because of the raucous laughter from our side.
I don’t want you to think iPres is some kind of oddly themed screwball comedy. We have put a lot of work into the conference themes and the call for contributions. Proposals will be carefully scrutinised and the best quality ones will be selected. As I write this, the Programme Committee is debating an immensely impressive list of keynotes. We have a serious purpose and will ensure that we give the best possible account of emerging theory and practice in digital preservation in 2022. But more than anything it is the community who make iPres for me. Fundamentally, digital preservation is done for people and done by people and that’s why I am looking forward to reading what others will say in this blogpost series.
To adapt a local slogan: people make digital preservation; and people will be the making of iPres 2022.
Executive Director of the Digital Preservation Coalition
and Chair of the iPres 2022 Organizing Committee
Professor Zhang, distinguished guests, colleagues and friends, it is a privilege and a pleasure to join you this evening at the closing ceremony for iPres 2021.
In a few moments I will have the honour of inviting you to the 18th iPres Conference in September 2022.
But first I wish to take a moment to thank you and your many colleagues, sponsors and friends.
Organizing a conference is a significant undertaking, and organizing an international event adds to the complexity. But the planning of iPres 2021 has been more demanding than any iPres before, and hopefully ever. It has been significantly more work than you could have imagined when you first offered to host us.
Here’s the paradox of the last two years: at a time of isolation and distancing, we have never had so much in common; at a time when digital infrastructures have become central to our lives, our opportunities to plan and reflect on digital continuity have been subdued; at a time when we have learned so much, all that new-found, hard-won knowledge has gone unshared.
We have missed iPres. And you have brought us together again.
So I cannot progress until I say how immensely grateful I am – we all are - for the patience, resolution, creativity, cheerfulness and compassion which have encouraged and enabled our meetings this week. I also want to recognise and thank the National Science and Technology Library and the Chinese Academy of Sciences for their leadership and support in delivering iPres 2021.
And so now to my task. To invite you and colleagues to meet in Glasgow next year.
Let me first put Glasgow on the map for you. The easiest way to find Glasgow on a map, is to find the top left-hand corner of the Roman Empire. For around 20 years the Romans added southern Scotland to their Empire. I speak today only a few hundred metres from the wall that the Emperor Antonine built to protect the province of Caledonia.
Imagine us therefore, silk road travellers, packing for an arduous journey on the ancient routes west of Beijing, to the farthest extreme of the farthest empire. Literally the end of the world.
And here’s a thing. We need an ancient historian to help us, but it’s just possible that the same Antonine who built the wall north of Glasgow, is the same Antonine who sent the first diplomatic mission from Rome to China and was welcomed by Emperor Huan of Han in 166 AD. Huan was the grandson of emperor Zhang by the way clearly a name to conjure with.
So, as those weary travellers would have done, I bring greetings from the edge of the world. There are a few practical details I would like to share.
Firstly, we want to consult the community about the conference themes as well as the different conference activities. That’s an immediate invitation to you all: follow the link to the website and you’ll find the consultation there. We’ll keep this open for three weeks, and the programme committee will then discuss the comments received.
I’d like to introduce the Programme Committee. I am grateful to these many colleagues who have generously offered to help us form the program.
You will notice that the committee is larger than in previous years. That’s for two reasons. Firstly the digital preservation community is growing and we wanted to reflect that. Also, the DPC is strongly committed to the next generation of leaders. So we have deliberately made the committee about 50% larger, explicitly including a group who have not previously organized a global conference. They will be our hosts and leaders in the years ahead But that’s not all. We’re aware of our own limitations and, with a firm commitment to welcome and inclusion, we have an open invitation to anyone who might be interested in joining the programme committee to put your name forward.
There is a small local organizing committee and a professional conference organizer of course. They are accountable to the DPC’s wider membership through Tim Keefe and Kate Murray who sit on the DPC’s Executive Board as well as the Programme Committee.
Legacy is an important theme for us. We want iPres 2022 to make a difference locally, and so we are in the process of adding a third group to help our work. iPres 2022 will experiment with the establishment of a ‘Legacy Committee’ to ensure that digital preservation practice locally, in Scotland and across Europe can show some lasting benefit from our efforts.
Here are our key dates:
Here is our provisional programme:
We know there will be delegates who will want to join us online, so we are also thinking about adding:
Our social programme will include a welcome reception in Glasgow’s City Chambers. Also, because this is our 20th anniversary year, the conference dinner will double as the DPC’s 20th Birthday party, and treble as the presentation of the 2022 Digital Preservation Awards.
Our conference venue is a modern, purpose-built facility in the centre of the city. I won’t say much about it other than there are plug sockets at every seat in the main auditorium. Imagine.
So all that it remains for me to do is to promise you a hundred thousand welcomes to iPres 2022.
Robert Burns would have said it better: There’s a hand my trusty friend and give me a hand o’ thine. We’ll take a cup of kindness yet for Auld lang syne’
Mention of Burns reminds me that I have a gift for you.
Glasgow is designated by UNESCO as a city of music. So, while we are unable to travel or meet in person, we can share this gift with you virtually.
We’ve assembled a playlist of songs and music associated with Scotland on Spotify. You’ll find the link to this on the conference website too. We hope it will keep you company and bring good cheer as you work on your proposals and set off on your journey.
This is a gift we can share with you easily in an online environment. It’s a gift you can share with us in return. We’ve opened the play list for your own suggestions and additions. We’ll share a bit of Scotland with you and in return we invite you to share a bit of your home with us.
Professor Zhang, distinguished guests, ladies gentlemen, colleagues and friends, reflecting on all that has gone before, considering all that lies ahead, my thanks and my hope, my duty my mission and my invitation, my message from one edge of the world to the rest: all of these can be summarized:
Let’s come together again in Glasgow in 2022
Let digits flourish
And let iPres flourish
Executive Director of the Digital Preservation Coalition
and Chair of the iPres 2022 Organizing Committee
张教授、各位尊敬的来宾、同事和朋友们，很荣幸今晚能和大家一起出席 iPres 2021 的闭幕式。
同时，我还要认可和感谢国家科技图书文献中心和中国科学院在举办 iPres 2021 方面的领导和支持。
当然，我们还有小型的地方组织委员会和专业的会议组织者参与相关工作。他们向DPC执行理事会和议程委员会的成员Tim Keefe和Kate Murray汇报工作，受DPC全体会员的监督。
遗产对我们来说是一个重要的主题。我们希望 iPres 2022 在当地能有所作为，因此正在组建第三个小组来协助我们的工作。iPres 2022 将成立一个“遗产委员会”，该尝试旨在确保当地——苏格兰和整个欧洲的数字信息保存实践可以通过我们的努力获得一些持久的益处。