The Workshop on Retention and Preservation on March 12th was a great success, bringing together 20 people from around the country to consider that subject in depth. The presentations and other related materials are now available on the Project website to support further discussion and a report with recommendations will be produced shortly.
At the start of the day, Michael Emly’s presentation set the issue of preservation and retention within the broader context of the Project and its objectives. He highlighted the hope of moving towards a more strategic approach to decision-making through the Copac Tools. If a framework can be provided which allows libraries to signal what material they intend to retain long-term, whether with respect to individual items or to whole collections, then other institutions will be able to use this data to inform their own decisions, and so best use can be made of scarce resources by avoiding unnecessary duplication of effort. Michael set out the practical agenda for the day’s discussions, but also spoke of the larger agenda which is to develop an agreed national strategy and framework which safeguards long-term access to materials for the scholarly community.
Mike Mertens picked up on this strategic perspective by looking at some similar efforts in the past, particularly through the RSLP and RIN initiatives. The need is broadly understood, the strategic requirements clear, and Mike challenged those present to make sure that the opportunity presented by the development of the Copac Tools translates into an effective national framework for preserving the National Research Collection. The funding environment is less favourable than in the previous decade, so this can only come about by coordinated action “from the bottom up”.
The workshop then took a very practical bent, looking at the information needed to sustain such a system, how it might be recorded locally and how it could be shared within the context of the Copac Tools. The desirability of including data not only about retention and conservation but also about digitisation and the availability of commercially available electronic copies came out very strongly. Perhaps unsurprisingly, there was unanimity regarding the importance of a mechanism for identifying an institution’s intention to retain an item for the long term. But the willingness of those present to accept Mike’s challenge and engage with the wider strategic agenda also came across very strongly.
In preparation for the workshop delegates were provided with two documents:
- Terminology for preservation and digitization actions. (PDF) Michael Emly, University of Leeds.
- In safe hands? The challenges for RLUK to make preservation a collaborative work (PDF) Michael Emly, University of Leeds & Mike Mertens, RLUK.
A summary of the plenary session is available: CCM Retention & Preservation Workshop: Plenary notes
The Workshop presentations are also available, including feedback from the group discussions.