Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Workshop on Digital Preservation of Complex Engineering Data

On 20-21 April 2009, West Virginia University, the Department of Energy’s National Energy Technology Laboratory, and the Electronic Records Archives program of the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) hosted a special Workshop on Digital Preservation of Complex Engineering Data in Morgantown, West Virginia.

The amount of electronic engineering data that is either archival or must be retained for decades is rapidly increasing, and anyone seeking to preserve electronic engineering records must contend with software and hardware obsolescence and figure out how best to store vast quantities of information. This workshop, which brought together experts from a wide array of government and academic research centers, addressed these challenges.

Abstracts and most of the slideshow presentations from the workshop are now online. Presentation topics included natural language processing of electronic records, the Integrated Rule Oriented Data System (iRODS) infrastructure for storage and preservation of electronic data, and the uses, limitations, and potential extensions of the STEP standard for exchange of product model data.

These presentations ought to interest not only archivists and others who are currently seeking to preserve electronic engineering records but also those who work with much smaller quantities of digital records: state and local governments and academic special collections departments will soon confront many of the same challenges that the engineering and scientific communities and NARA face today.

I learned about the availability of these slides and abstracts via a message that Mark Conrad of NARA posted to the Management & Preservation of Electronic Records listserv. Thanks, Mark!

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