Short report of the PERSIST Session at the World Library and Information Conference (WLIC), Columbus (Ohio), 15 August 2016
IFLA’s Annual World Library and Information Conference took place in Columbus (Ohio) from 13–19 August 2016. PERSIST was on the agenda in the traditional UNESCO Open Session. In this session several experts from the project talked the librarians through the progress made in the various PERSIST activities in the past year.
The first important change that Vincent Wintermans of the Unesco Netherlands Bureau pointed out relates to a development outside the PERSIST programme: UNESCO adopted the Recommendation concerning the Preservation of, and Access to, Documentary Heritage including in Digital Form in November 2015. The instrument puts the work of the Memory of the World Programme, under which PERSIST operates, on a stronger footing amongst UNESCO member States. The Recommendation contains texts that were clearly inspired by the work and ambitions of PERSIST, and urge for cooperation with the private sector (2.2) and the problem of proprietary software for long term access to heritage (4.7).
Next, Ingrid Parent (University Library of British Columbia) presented the Guidelines for the selection of digital heritage for long-term preservation that were adopted in March 2016. The key message was that selection should be based on significance, availability and sustainability. She invited participants to study the guidelines, implement them and send feedback, as PERSIST is planning to adapt the Guidelines in 2017 in the light of experiences gained. UNESCO is working on further translations (currently the guidelines are available in English, French and Arabic).
The evolving plans on the creation of the PERSIST Software Organisation were explained by Meg Phillips from the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) of the United States. This entity will host legacy software and provide services for heritage institutions to interact with the digital materials in their collections in obsolete or inaccessible formats. PERSIST is currently discussing the business model for this Organisation, taking into account the lifecycle management of digital technologies, legacy software deposit, legal frameworks and licensing issues. The International Council on Archives (ICA) has expressed an interest to take the PERSIST Software Organisation under its wing.
Marco de Niet (DEN Foundation) presented the preliminary results of the global survey that the PERSIST Policy Working group is currently carrying out on national policies and strategies for digital preservation at the governmental level. The following pie chart seems to speak for itself:
20 out of 21 institutions that already hade contributed to the survey are of the opinion that digital preservation strategies and policies are an intrinsic task of governments. Where no national strategy or policy is in place, this is mostly contributed to having ‘other policy priorities’. There is, in other words, still a lot of awareness raising to do, to make that it is understood that “Digital amnesia is everyone’s concern!” . This is one of the area’s where PERSIST and the new UNESCO Recommendation can go hand in hand.
Categories: PERSIST Programme