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Subject: National Archives, London receives Digital Preservation Award

National Archives, London receives Digital Preservation Award

From: Carol Jackson <carol>
Date: Friday, September 28, 2007
An innovative tool to analyse and identify computer file formats has
won the 2007 Digital Preservation Award. DROID, developed by The
National Archives in London, can examine any mystery file and
identify its format. The tool works by gathering clues from the
internal 'signatures' hidden inside every computer file, as well as
more familiar elements such as the filename extension (.jpg, for
example), to generate a highly accurate 'guess' about the software
that will be needed to read the file.

Identifying file formats is a thorny issue for archivists.
Organisations such as the National Archives have an ever-increasing
volume of electronic records in their custody, many of which will be
crucial for future historians to understand 21st-century Britain.
But with rapidly changing technology and an unpredictable hardware
base, preserving files is only half of the challenge. There is no
guarantee that today's files will be readable or even recognisable
using the software of the future.

Now, by using DROID and its big brother, the unique file format
database known as PRONOM, experts at the National Archives are well
on their way to cracking the problem. Once DROID has labelled a
mystery file, PRONOM's extensive catalogue of software tools can
advise curators on how best to preserve the file in a readable
format. The database includes crucial information on software and
hardware lifecycles, helping to avoid the obsolescence problem. And
it will alert users if the program needed to read a file is no
longer supported by manufacturers.

PRONOM's system of identifiers has been adopted by the UK government
and is the only nationally-recognised standard in its field.

The judges chose The National Archives from a strong shortlist of
five contenders, whittled down from the original list of thirteen.
The prestigious award was presented in a special ceremony at The
British Museum on 27 September 2007 as part of the 2007 Conservation
Awards, sponsored by Sir Paul McCartney.

Ronald Milne, Chair of the Board of Directors of the Digital
Preservation Coalition, which sponsors the award, said: "The
National Archives fully deserves the recognition that accompanies
this award."

The UKP5000 Digital Preservation Award is sponsored by the Digital
Preservation Coalition. This prestigious award recognises
achievement and encourages innovation in the new and challenging
field of digital preservation--simply put; preserving things whose
very existence depends on computers.

The National Archives is at the heart of information policy--setting
standards and supporting innovation in information and records
management across the UK, and providing a practical framework of
best practice for opening up and encouraging the re-use of public
sector information. This work helps inform today's decisions and
ensure that they become tomorrow's permanent record. The National
Archives is also the official archive for England, Wales and the
central UK government, containing 900 years of history from Domesday
Book to the present, with records ranging from parchment and paper
scrolls through to recently created digital files and archived
websites. Increasingly, these records are being put online, making
them universally accessible. For more information, see

The 2007 Judging Panel were;

    Kevin Ashley (Chair of the Judging Panel), Head of Digital
    Archives Department, University of London Computer Centre.

    Michael Day, Research Officer at UKOLN, University of Bath.

    Helen Hockx-Yu, Programme Manager, Joint Information Systems
    Committee (JISC).

    William Kilbride, Research Manager, Glasgow Museums.

    Andreas Rauber, Associate Professor, Department of Software
    Technology and Interactive Systems (IFS), The Vienna University
    of Technology.

    Chris Rusbridge, Director, Digital Curation Centre (DCC).

    Helen Shenton, Head of Collection Care, the British Library.

    Dave Thompson, Digital Curator, Wellcome Library.

For further information about the DPC and the Digital Preservation
Award contact Carol Jackson on +44 1904 435 362.

The Digital Preservation Coalition was established in 2001 to foster
joint action to address the urgent challenges of securing the
preservation of digital resources in the UK and to work with others
internationally to secure our global digital memory and knowledge
base. For further information, see <URL:>

The Conservation Awards are the UK's leading awards for the
preservation of cultural heritage. They are sponsored by Sir Paul
McCartney and supported by key organisations in conservation and
collections care: the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council (MLA),
English Heritage, the Institute of Conservation (Icon), the Digital
Preservation Coalition (DPC) and the National Preservation Office

For more information on the other short listed partnerships, see


Details of the 2007 judges are available online at


Carol Jackson
Administration Manager
Digital Preservation Coalition
Innovation Centre
York Science Park
Heslington YO10 5DG
+44 1904 435 362

                  Conservation DistList Instance 21:24
               Distributed: Saturday, September 29, 2007
                       Message Id: cdl-21-24-002
Received on Friday, 28 September, 2007

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