Archive Pace Setter Success
‘We now have a working digital archive, with public access’ – andArchive Pace Setter recognition!.
This was the first attempt by East Riding Archives and Local Studies Service to manage its digital records effectively. Sam Bartle, Collections Officer says: ‘Our aims were to convert our analog audiovisual material into digital files and to develop processes to ensure the material was catalogued and safe for the future. And we wanted to bring this previously ‘locked away’ material to a new audience.’
Technically, the job was to make multiple copies – for access, preservation, backup and security - in the right format. Processes were put in place both for the conversion of analog records into digital format, and to ‘refresh’ or further migrate the material to make sure technology obsolescence could not happen.
Making the newly-formatted material available to the public proved interesting. Originally it was thought that the material would be used for research – possibly by older users of the Local Studies Service. But there was a low uptake here. ‘Our next venture was to put on ‘archive cinema’ events, where video footage of the region was shared. More than 400 people came to showings over three months – spotting friends and relatives on film and seeing the development of their region’.
The project had no specific funding and relied on staff time and energy. Two volunteers contributed 160 hours of work and developed new skills in preservation, cataloguing, interpretation and evaluation. ‘And we all learned new skills like digital curation – even metadata creation’ says Sam, ‘and the need to promote the new resource also called on our advocacy and promotional skills’.
The work strengthened the partnership between the Service and the Yorkshire Film Archive and East Riding has also identified its digital content as a resource for social priority outcomes.
Sam concludes: ‘It was all a venture into the unknown but we now have a working digital archive, with public access. It is certainly not perfect, but it’s been widely recognised as a step in the right direction on which we can further build. I think our good and bad experiences may help others who are entering a new world of digital curation – I hope so’.
Read the formal case study paper about the East Riding Digital History for a Digital Future project.