EU Principles for Scholarly publishing

Recently the following report was published by the European Commission: Future of Scholarly Publishing and Scholarly communication: Report of the Expert Group to the European Commission. 2019 DOI 10.2777/836532

The Expert Group was invited to assess the current situation of scholarly publishing in the era of Open Science and got the task to develop a set of principles to support the EU drafting a vision on Open Science  for the next 15 years. Based on these principles the current shortcomings should also be identified.

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Digital preservationists and IT colleagues

Title page Cinderella's Stick

A recurring theme in the discussions of preservationists is their delicate relationship with IT people and it was no surprise that recently Scott Prater published his article “How to Talk to IT about Digital Preservation” (or here) in which some tips and trics are described to improve the conversation between preservationists and IT people.

But if you really want to help your IT people, train them in digital preservation with a fairy tale book! A few months ago, Yannis Tzitzikas (University of Crete, Greece) asked me to have a look at the manuscript he and his colleague Yannis Marketakis (FORCE-ICS, Greece) wrote. Recently the book was published as Cinderella’s Stick. A Fairy tale for digital preservation. Springer Nature, 2018 ISBN 978-3-319-98488-9 (eBook)

The authors have chosen a very original perspective to explain digital preservation: they took the Cinderella fairy tale and turned it into a modern version whereby the main character is Daphne, an undergraduate student of Computer Science. The marriage with the prince is replaced by the challenge to be nominated as female CEO of a computer company MicroConnect. The nomination will take place via a competition.  Daphne – although not possessing the right credentials to participate – is able to join the competition under a fake name with the help of a friend. The slipper of the original fairy tale is Daphnes USB stick which she left in the computer on which she participated in the contest. And this is the only trace that will lead to winner of the competition. If only the content of the USB stick was readable and understandable… Hence all preservation problems in a fairy tale. With a happy end.

As the intended audience of the book are not only digital preservationists but also engineers, computer scientists and software designers, the fairy tale is accompanied by an explanation of the digital preservation problems that are faced in the story. All ingredients of digital preservation are described: migration, emulation, metadata, characterization etc. etc.  The authors give a technical background of each preservation challenge in the episode as well as links and references for each topic. While the story develops, the technical challenges are getting more complicated and the explanations more detailed.

Chapter 18 is the most technical part and explains the view of the authors on a general approach for digital preservation. This approach is based on the idea of a digital preservation pattern. A pattern “corresponds to a commonly occurring problem in digital preservation”.  Like the pattern 1 “Storage Media: Durability and access” has the desired task to read the bits of a storage medium. Tasks will have dependencies in order to do their job. This model was published before and the examples of the fairy tale helps to make it familiar.

Overview of the pattern model

Both authors participated in European projects like CASPAR and APARSEN (where I met Yannis)  and it is nice to see that even if it might take some years, European preservation projects still show their impact.

Do FAIR data ever become heritage?

Since 2014 when they were first launched, the FAIR data principles are getting more and more attention in the research and open science community. Developed in reaction to the incidents with fraudulent research data, by making the data Findable, Accesible, Interoperable and Reusable these incidents should be avoided.

For preservationists it was long unclear whether the “R” included preservation. Reusable data at least require some form of preservation, even if you will preserve the data for 10 years – as required by many funding bodies. The latest EU publication “ Turning FAIR into reality” is clear about this. Lees verder

The Great iPRES Digital Preservation Bake-Off

 As the Organizing and Program Vice-Chair of iPRES 2019 I would like to draw your attention to the following:

The Great iPRES 2019 Digital Preservation Bake-Off is looking for YOUR favourite ingredients and recipes!

Ever wonder how workflows are implemented in other repositories? Do you have a suspicion that there might be a perfect tool for your specific type of content and problem out there, but you haven’t found it yet? iPRES 2019 has the right session for you and needs your input!

The Great Digital Preservation Bake-Off

This year, iPRES 2019 will bring you the Great Digital Preservation Bake-Off. The Bake-Off is THE chance for vendors & developers to present – and curious digital preservation minds to inquire – how tools fare in comparable situations. We are really looking forward to hear the community’s input – your challenges, questions and suggestions will be the ingredients and recipes to a great event! Read all about the Bake-Off – and how we need your input – in Michelle Lindlar’s blog on the iPRES 2019 web site.

Want to tell us what you need right now? Then go straight to the survey on

Thank you!
The iPRES 2019 Team

Welcome 2019 – digital preservation promises

Today, when people are starting to phrase good intentions for the New Year, it is a nice moment to draw the attention to a report that was published in October last year. Oya Y. Rieger from ITHAKA S+R wrote an “issue report” about the “The State of Digital Preservation in 2018. A Snapshot of Challenges and Gaps”. The purpose of the report was “ to survey the preservation landscape within the context of evolving research workflows and the scholarly and cultural record”. So looking back and looking forward. She interviewed 21 digital preservationists from all over the world and discussed with them 5 questions related to what is working well so far and which challenges we need to solve in the future. As was also the conclusion in the panel at iPRES 2018 we have achieved a lot since the last 20 years: more community building, better collaboration, shared standards, availability of preservation systems and a willingness to share experiences, to name just a few.

But there are still issues that need to be solved. Based on the interviews the report describes an overview of various issues, varying from the increasingly unclear role of research libraries in an university environment (I wonder, is that also the case in Europe where they have a role related to implementing the FAIR principles? ), the ambiguity of roles and preservation responsibilities in libraries, the impact of cloud storage both from a financial perspective as well as the facilities they offer, the interaction between preservation systems and digital asset management systems. But also the (limited) use of web archives by researchers and the concerns about the usability of research data are issues that are a risk for digital preservation in general. Reading these issues I was wondering, could one say that we think digital preservation is now mature, but that we still need to find the right role in the world in which we operate?

These and other similar interesting issues led to three potential research areas. These areas are not new and in various discussions people have talked about them. Although we have reached a lot and “awareness raising” is less necessary, we still need to find a general acknowledgement of the role of digital preservation. The increasingly complexity to preserve digital material in context requires us to collaborate more and in a structured way. “what seems to be missing is a cohesive and compelling roadmap to guide the international community in knitting together the advances made and addressing the gaps based on the characteristics of the new digital realm”. Two years ago Richard Whitt suggested a similar approach . But we also need to have a better insight in the roles and responsibilities related to preserving digital material of all the stakeholders involved in digitial preservation, both from the creators perspective as well as of the preserving organisations. And last but not least we need the “story”, or to cite the report a “strong set of value propositions (both from the public good and economic viability perspectives) and articulate the risks involved in potential loss”. Related to this last point I welcome your stories on the Atlas of Digital Damages.

We have another 365 days ahead of us to work on this! Happy New Year!

Winning the DPC Fellowship Award 2018!

Richard Ovenden awarding Barbara Sierman the DPC Fellowship

Richard Ovenden awarding Barbara Sierman the DPC Fellowship (photo by DPC)

On the 2018 World Digital Preservation Day in Amsterdam, I was honoured to be awarded the Digital Preservation Coalition Fellowship. After summarising my curriculum vitae, Richard Ovenden (President of the DPC and Librarian at the Bodleian Libraries, University of Oxford) made the following remarks:

Our fellowship falls this year into that category of the vital human infrastructure for digital preservation. Her contribution to our community has been sustained, deep, broadly based, and marked by her great enthusiasm, deep knowledge, and powerful commitment to digital preservation. It is hard to think of our community existing in its current vibrant form without her. Ladies and gentlemen, it by now must come as no surprise for me to ask you to join me in applauding our DPC Fellowship to Barbara Sierman!

And these were my words of thanks:

Dear preservationists, friends and colleagues

Bits don’t smell. You cannot fold them. Bits have no colour and you cannot stroke them lovingly. It is hard to get emotional about them. And lots of people don’t. But preservationists do. They know that bits can make beautiful things. Valuable things, art, science, history, poetry. Worth to preserve and to keep alive for the long term. I have the privilege to be part of that community of preservationists.

I would like to thank the DPC members and the jury for giving me this DPC Fellowship Award and for the confidence in me  it expresses. The coincidence that this ceremony happens in my home town and birthplace Amsterdam is very nice too.

I would like to thank the management of the KB who gave me the opportunity to be an active member of the Digital Preservation community. I would like to thank all my friends and colleagues with whom I collaborate, both nationally and internationally, including the ones that retired or passed away. Colleagues at the KB, in the European projects, in the Dutch Digital Heritage Network, the Open Preservation Foundation, the International Internet Preservation Consortium,  PTAB and the Persist project and in many more ad hoc initiatives. All these meetings inspire me tremendously. And yes I love to collaborate with you all (most of the time). And last but not least I will thank my trustworthy and long term resources: my husband Bob and our daughter Lisa.

I’m very proud to become a female Fellow of the DPC and it will be an incentive to enthusiastically pursue the work in digital preservation. The digital preservation community is a rare group of people that is able to collaborate without becoming a commercialized environment. Many membership organisations, like OPF and DPC share their results with members and after a while also with non-members. Conference papers are freely accessible. This makes knowledge sharing possible and we should all value this.

But there are challenges and they are growing. Can we preserve what we think is valuable, when we cannot harvest it? How about the preservation and legitimate use of old software? Will we be able to connect to industry and make our case? Are our systems and standards robust enough to cope with these challenges? Will we be able to adapt our collection strategies to the new and ever evolving digital world? And can we make our colleagues to love the bits, although they don’t smell like old books or don’t leave a trace of sand like after consultation of a 18th century file?

I will give it a try, with this award as a glowing trophy. With the eye on the horizon (motto of iPRES 2019), let’s save the bits. Together.

Thank you

To watch the full ceremony, go to 

Winners and Finalists

Winners and Finalists (photo by DPC)

A Dutch edition of the Keepers registry … but for web archiving!

Last week the Dutch Digital Heritage Network launched a new product: the national registry of web archives in the Netherlands. This collaborative work gives an overview of the websites that are harvested ánd preserved in the Netherlands by a variety of organizations. Not only the KB as national library is collecting web sites, based on the mandate we have (we see websites as “publications”) but many other Dutch organisations are harvesting websites: from the Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision, to the National Archive and many more. Together we want to save the Dutch web and we want to inform each other about what each of us is doing.

The new registry is a kind of “Keepers Registry ” for the Dutch web archiving. Everyone can see which web sites an institution is harvesting and since when, how often the web site is crawled, with which software and for what reason (for example because of legal mandate or from a collection point of view). Most of the websites can only be viewed on site for legal reasons, but there are exceptions and the access regime is part of the information given. If possible there is also a link to the current live website.

One of the reasons to start this initiative was to avoid duplication of effort. It still might be the case that two organizations are harvesting the same website, but from now on this is intentionally. For example because they have a different perspective (legal mandate versus collection building) or are harvesting it in a different way. We already know of smaller organisations that will not invest in harvesting websites that could be a potential enrichment to their collection, because they are happy to know from the register that another Dutch organisation takes the long term responsibility for it.

Currently we are contacting Internet Archive to discuss whether we could incorporate the Dutch websites in their collection in this registry as well.

Open Preservation Foundations new Strategy

There are several member organizations active in digital preservation. Knowing their position in the preservation landscape will help preservationist to decide which of them fits best to their needs and which to join. The Open Preservation Foundation (OPF) launched recently their new Strategy (2018-2021) and shows the plans for the next coming years. The vision of OPF  “Open sustainable digital preservation” is accompanied by a new mission, thanks to the influence of the new director Martin Wrigley, and states


Enabling shared solutions for effective and efficient digital preservation; the Open Preservation Foundation leads a collaborative effort to create, maintain and develop the reference set of sustainable, open source digital preservation tools and supporting resources.

This set of tools (including software and standards) enables organisations to evaluate, validate, document, mitigate risk, and process digital content to be preserved in line with desired policies and community best practice.

One of the core values of OPF is the focus on serving the [currently 26] members with tools they need and to foster their effective and efficient preservation activities. The  OPF members were involved in shaping this strategy during their annual meeting in Tallinn in spring 2018. But as two other values are “openness”  and “collaboration” a larger group of preservationists will benefit from the OPF activities.

At the heart of the planned activities is the OPF Reference Toolset. In general there is a wide range of tools available for various preservation tasks (see Coptr) and of different maturity and robustness. OPF want to improve this situation so that members can be supported in choosing the right tool for their purpose. This will be done by creating a OPF Reference toolset, the development of which will be influenced by the OPF members.  The OPF Reference Toolset will not just being a set of useful tools, but is more. “The reference toolset includes software, standard test data sets (or “test corpus”), other standards and best practice (including policies), and may rely on external components that have a robust support mechanism.” 

As Knowledge exchange and Collaboration are still part of the action plan for the next coming years, the larger preservation community can be part of these development, but as nothing is free, an increase in members will certainly contribute to achieving the goals sooner. More details about the planned activities and a more extensive explanation of the OPF Reference Toolset can be found in the Strategy.

Is it useful to know who is using which preservation system?

My organization is, as are many others,  looking for a replacement of the current digital preservation system. So I’m curious what is on the market and what other national libraries are using. Websites of commercial vendors like Preservica, Ex Libris and Libnova offer sometimes information about their customers. The websites of the library organizations themselves inform us about their infrastructure. Last year a group of Portugese researchers (Rosa, Carlos André (2018): OPEN SOURCE SOFTWARE FOR DIGITAL PRESERVATION REPOSITORIES: A SURVEY) investigated the currently available open source software for digital preservation repositories.  Some of these open source communities have a list of implementations. Combined with suppliers websites we could have a nice overview of what is available and who has implemented which preservation system. Create a list on google docs, use Gephi to make a graph and you have a nice overview. I started with this exercise but was a bit reluctant to continue.

Firstly,  I thought, there is a risk with such a list: terrorists and hackers might plan to use this information to destroy important cultural heritage resources so perhaps it is best not to centralize this information (likewise: nobody should mention anymore the place of their preservation copies in public, like we did in the past when we were proud of what we had achieved).

But, secondly, even if we had information about who is using which system, we still have an incomplete picture because we do not know whether we share the same concepts, despite our shared OAIS language. I realized this when I saw a Dutch survey report.

The Digital Heritage Network in the Netherland started a survey (sorry folks, only in Dutch) to get an overview of the digital preservation systems in use in the Netherlands. Not only out of curiosity, but also to investigate the need for developing generic services and to promote more collaboration between organizations. The researchers Joost van der Nat and Marcel Ras plan to create a map of digital preservation services in the Netherlands and this survey will give the first ingredients. 50 organizations were selected for this survey, 44 of them responded. 27 of them said to have a digital preservation solution in place , although the impression is that not every respondent meant the same with having a “digital archive” so it is more safe to say that 50% has a digital preservation solution (this was based on the answers they gave on other questions). A third of these 27 organizations did the development of the digital archive themselves (9), but amongst the respondents were early adopters that started years ago when there was hardly any system on the market. The other respondents implemented Preservica (2) and Archivematica (1) or a solution created by a 3rd party provider like Data Matters (1) or Picturae (3). In the Category “others”, systems that were mentioned were Islandora, arQive, DSpace, De Ree and Adlib Filemaker (which are not all long term preservation systems in the OAIS sense). A new iteration of this survey will show a different overview, as there are for example more implementations of Preservica and Archivematica in the Netherlands.

Most of the respondents were familiair with the OAIS functional entities. 10 Organisations had all 6 entities implemented (Preservation Planning is absent in most organizations), but 6 respondents out of 27 did not know which functionalities of OAIS were present in their system, although they said to have a preservation system implemented! And despite the explanation given in the survey.

And here I realized that although people were familiar with OAIS concepts, the answers in the survey showed that they did not have the same definition of a digital archive. Although every question was accompanied by an explanation of the survey creators, respondents still gave answers that were for me beside the point.  And that it might not help me either to have an overview of who is using what digital preservation system. It is the way it is implemented and the organization around the digital archive, that matters. But these things cannot be shared in lists.

So perhaps the old fashioned way of picking up the phone and meeting people is still the best way to get your knowledge. However… for that you need a “phonebook” to know who to contact. So a list might be handy after all.