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All aboard! Winter School 2018

Over three cold days in February 2018, the Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision gave a warm welcome to participants of the 3rd Annual Winter School for Audio Visual Archiving. Delivered via lectures, workshops and guest talks, one of the key aims of the Winter School is to provide archive professionals with the practical knowledge that they need to begin implementing digital preservation within their work.

Photo: Sebastiaan ter Burg, CC BY 2.0

I was fortunate enough to be able to attend the Winter School with the support of the Digital Preservation Coalition (DPC). The other fourteen participants came from all over the world; including the Netherlands, Brazil, Serbia, Singapore, Spain and the UK. Networking within this diverse cohort of professionals provided a wealth of insight and opportunities for sharing perspectives and approaches. A collaborative ‘collegiate’ style of learning was well supported by the course structure, with plenty of opportunity for discussion within sessions or over coffee breaks.

Utilising their teaching skills to create a positive learning environment, this year’s Winter School was expertly delivered by instructors Erwin Verbruggen (Sound and Vision), Kara Van Malssen (AVP) and Peter Bubestinger (AV-RD).


Sebastiaan ter Burg, 2018

Sebastiaan ter Burg, CC BY 2.0

The instructors designed a detailed but manageable curriculum, which was structured around the OAIS reference model. After a brief introduction and overview of OAIS (Open Archival Information System), we started to focus in on specific elements, such as Ingest, Storage, Data Management, Preservation Planning and Administration, breaking down each function with practical exercises. In the past I had struggled to grasp the model but this approach enabled me to engage with the concepts with more confidence.

Further sessions enhanced our understanding in order to enable us to feel more confident when assessing specific tools in the future. I feel that one of the main outcomes of the Winter School was to understand user requirements for digital preservation from a high level, in order to begin approaching implementation with a flexible focus on context and need, rather than a rigid ‘one size fits all’ template. This ethos is illustrated by a running Winter School joke that the answer to most participant questions about practical application was ‘it depends…’.

Sebastiaan ter Burg, 2018

Sebastiaan ter Burg, CC BY 2.0

Some of those ‘it depends…’ factors were explored by the practical examples and case studies that were provided by the guest speakers and which were yet again very varied. Bojan Kosi, from RTV Slovenija’s Mediateka provided detail about implementation within the context of public broadcast. Eva Verdoodt from VIAA gave a very interesting case study on the process of collaboration and provision of digital preservation as a service. Anne Gant from EYE Filmmuseum gave insight from implementation strategies within the context and approach of ‘film as art’ and art museum practice.

Sebastiaan ter Burg, CC BY 2.0

During this last guest session, Anne Gant emphasised an idea that brought the Winter School full circle; reminding us that preservation is a continuum that shifts and changes with new technologies and social landscapes. Every day is different and we must maintain our professional curiosity in order to keep up with the tide. Although OAIS specifically models digital preservation, it can also be argued that it describes many fundamental aspects of what we have always done as archivists. With this in mind, the Winter School has given me the means to explore this new language of digital preservation in more depth and in a way that allows me to translate innovation as a continuation of tradition.

As part of their content, the school also introduced me to useful resources and publications made publically available by Sound and Vision via their Publications Portal. Check it out.

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