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Friday, April 1 • 15:30 - 15:55
S04-05 Digital archives: More than just a digital skeuomorph?

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Digital archives: More than just a digital skeuomorph?

Emily Nimmo, Peter McKeague

Historic Environment Scotland (HES) continues the important functions of the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland as the custodian of the national collection for archaeology and architecture of Scotland. Our Collections and inventory have built up over several decades and we have been collecting digital archive since the early 1990s. We have an established and mature approach to the long term care and dissemination of documentary archive in Scotland.. In this paper we will share our experience and expertise in providing for the long term preservation of digital archaeological archives and how this has to be a collaboration between the data creators and the archives if it is to succeed, not simply an activity at the end of a project or something ‘the archive does’. 

However established approaches to digital archiving are essentially developing a skeuomorph of traditional analogue archives. This is the inevitable outcome of project-based deposition and established archival procedures from accessioning and cataloguing to publishing and reporting coupled with often chronic under-resourcing for the long-term preservation of the archive in all its guises. Issues over file formats and preservation only compound the approach.

Digital formats offer new opportunities and insights however we argue that current approaches to cataloguing and making project archives accessible prevent this material from reaching its full potential. Using examples from databases and GIS we question alternative approach to the way we catalogue and present aspects of the digital archive to our users.

Digital archiving is not and should not be the continuation of existing archival practices but requires collaboration at an early stage to ensure consistency of approach, to deliver efficiencies and benefits beyond individual projects.


Friday April 1, 2016 15:30 - 15:55 CEST
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