Wednesday, July 27, 2005

"State of the nation" survey (UK's digital heritage)

For immediate release

25th July 2005

State of the nation survey to reveal threat to the UK’s digital heritage

The Digital Preservation Coalition (DPC) is today launching its biggest project to date, a ‘state of the nation’ survey designed to reveal the extent of the risk of loss or degradation to digital material held in the UK’s public and private sectors.

The UK Digital Preservation Needs Assessment survey will analyse and synthesise existing sources of data on digital preservation activity in the UK and gather additional information to present a detailed analysis of the status quo regarding digital preservation in the UK. The need for a comprehensive survey was revealed by smaller scale studies carried out by the DPC and its members (see background notes, below).

The survey will be carried out by the software services company Tessella, which won a competitive tender process. Tessella will look at archive practice in government bodies, archives, museums, libraries, education, scientific research organisations, pharmaceutical, environmental, nuclear, engineering, publishing and financial institutions. A draft report and findings will be presented in October 2005, identifying priorities for action to accelerate, influence and inform the development of a UK digital preservation agenda.

“We have cared for our physical collections for generations but we need to ensure that our digital material remains as relevant and as accessible for the researcher of the future,” said Lynne Brindley, Chair of the Digital Preservation Coalition and Chief Executive of the British Library. “This survey is vitally important to help us identify not only what is being created in digital format, and how it is being preserved, but also what items are potentially vulnerable or at risk. It will ultimately allow us to develop a national strategy.”

Kevin Gell, Managing Director of Tessella added: “The challenges of digital preservation are considerable, since the aim is to ensure that in the future we can read any electronic record – ‘born digital’ or scanned – regardless of how it was created. It is important to establish a sound basis for the storage and preservation of electronic information, with the flexibility to deal with an unknown future and new long-term solutions as they become available. The survey will help do this and, just as important, raise awareness of the key issues, and influence organisations to make this a high priority.”

Dr Peter Townsend, Commercial Director of Tessella said: “It is critical that organisations at both a national and a regional level respond positively to the challenge of migrating from paper records and enable electronic documents to be stored and accessed in perpetuity. The cultural and historical memory of countries and organisations is at stake, as is business-critical information in the commercial sector.”

Background notes:

About the DPC: The DPC is a cross-sectoral membership organisation dedicated to securing the preservation of digital resources in the UK. It currently has 27 members and associate members: The British Library, the Council for Museums, Archives and Libraries (MLA), the Consortium of University Research Libraries (CURL), the Digital Curation Centre, the Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC), the National Archives, the National Archives of Scotland; the National Library of Scotland, Public Record Office of Northern Ireland (PRONI); the University of Oxford, University of London Computer Centre (ULCC), Arts and Humanities Data Service (AHDS), Association of Learned and Professional Society Publishers (ALPSP), the BBC Information & Archives, the Corporation of London, Council for the Central Laboratory of the Research Councils (CCLRC) , the Ministry of Defence, National Electronic Library for Health, National Library of Wales, Natural History Museum, Online Computer and Library Center (OCLC), Open University, Publishers’ Association, Research Libraries Group, Research Libraries Group, UK Data Archive, and the Wellcome Trust Library.

Previous DPC research: A DPC Members survey, which was undertaken in 2003, revealed details of volumes and formats of digital materials held by DPC members and the issue they faced in their preservation. Additional work was undertaken to provide real-life scenarios of circumstances in which digital materials become vulnerable to loss. Earlier this year, the Council for Museums, Archives and Libraries, funded a sample survey of local and regional organisations in two regions. These investigations revealed the need for a comprehensive, nation-wide survey.

About Tessella: Tessella Support Services plc specialises in the application of innovative software solutions to scientific, technical and engineering problems. Tessella has over 20 years of proven expertise in the area of reliable and authentic long-term preservation of electronic records, both for government and scientific organizations. In recent years a number of mainly academic and government organisations have been at the cutting-edge of facing up to the digital preservation challenge, and Tessella has played a key role in a number of the most practical of these initiatives.

Further information:

For DPC press enquiries and interviews please contact Anna Arthur, 0207 637 2994, --

For Tessella press enquiries and interviews please contact Alison Smith, Marketing Manager, + 44 (0) 01235 546609, --

No comments: