The Parliamentary Archives consists of much more than the physical Act Room. For some years now the Archives has been engaged in crucial work to support Parliament’s transition to 21st century digital ways of working.
We are responsible for preserving and providing access to collections of national importance in all formats, physical and digital, and in an ever evolving environment. To meet this changing need, since 2008 we have worked with colleagues on a staged project which has led to the successful implementation of a digital repository; the digital equivalent of the Victoria Tower if you like.
By actively preserving born digital material, along with digital surrogates that we may create of traditional holdings, the Parliamentary Archives fulfils an essential function of Parliament, securing access to exclusive digital resources for future generations. This process is termed digital preservation.
What is digital preservation I hear you ask? Put simply, digital preservation refers to the series of managed activities necessary to ensure continued access to digital materials for as long as necessary. Over the coming months I hope that further blog posts will go into more detail about the different aspects of the work and the challenges that it throws our way.
One of the most satisfying aspects of my role is providing access to the resources that such a lot of effort goes into preserving. A great example of how the Parliamentary Archives is achieving this is through the web archive. The web archive represents a comprehensive overview of Parliament’s web estate since 2009. From the entire parliament.uk domain to a multitude of official social media streams, the web archive represents an as yet untapped resource for digital heritage scholars and the wider public. There is also a bespoke online delivery system which provides public access to repository content, and integrates with the archive catalogue, Portcullis.
However, the work has only just begun! It’s an exciting time to be involved in digital preservation at Parliament. Significant progress has already been made but there are still many fascinating challenges to tackle.
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