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.
To watch the full ceremony, go to https://dpconline.org/events/digital-preservation-awards