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National Archives wins funds for digital memory project

31/01/20

Mark Say Managing Editor

The National Archives has received a £93,500 grant from the National Lottery Heritage Fund for its Safeguarding the Nation’s Digital Memory project.

Digital tape library

It involves the building of a digital preservation risk model as part of understanding issues that could threaten to make digital records inaccessible or unusable in the future.

The National Archives is working on the project with the Applied Statistics and Risk Unit at the University of Warwick, Archives, University of Brighton Design Archives, Brotherton Library at the University of Leeds, Gloucestershire Archives, and Dorset History Centre.

It involves bringing established risk management methods into the field of digital heritage.

The project partners will create an evidence base by sharing their collective experience in order to map and explain the network of risk events, actions and impact on heritage. This knowledge will then allow archivists to prioritise threats and choose the most effective actions to combat them.

Survival of heritage

John Sheridan, digital director at the National Archives said: “The survival of the UK’s digital cultural heritage depends on archives.

“Applying the University of Warwick’s risk management techniques to archives is truly transformational. We can bring measurement together with expert judgment for the first time. This is ground-breaking for the National Archives and the whole archives sector.”

The project is based on the understand that changes in technology are creating new risks to the preservation of digital archives, and there is a widening gap between the resources needed to cope with this and those that are available.

Techniques such as good risk management and the use of sound evidence and statistics are currently beyond the reach of the archives sector, but the project partners are aiming to develop an integrated decision support system – the Digital Archives Graphical Risk Assessment Model (DiAGRAM) – to enable archives to investigate and risks to the preservation of their collections.

An initial workshop has taken place this week and the first release of DiAGRAM is scheduled in advance of events in June and July.

Image from National Archives, Open Government Licence v3.0

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