Today is my last day working as Digital Archivist at Lancaster University so I thought I would take a little time to reflect on my three years here; the highlights and what I have learnt in my time here.
Pizza has featured quite a bit in my time here at Lancaster. And that’s not just team lunches! Pizza is a core component of our Data Conversations – the networking event designed to bring together researchers to share experiences of creating, using and sharing data. Having a peer-led discussion forum has been a fantastic success story for us – it’s even gone global! The pizza is a key part of this as it helps create an informal, friendly environment where sharing is central. I’ve learnt a huge amount from being part of the Data Conversations and I will definitely be taking forward what I’ve learnt about successful engagement activities.
The focus for the Research Services team from early on (ie when there were only two of us!) was about how to push forward culture change. We were fortunate in having a management team who supported and promoted team-led agenda setting. We identified our priorities for development which focused on bringing about culture change and promoting an Open Research agenda. Looking at our goals and keeping them at the centre of what we do was important and meant we could tailor and prioritise activities around encouraging and promoting good data management practices. From my perspective of being engaged in digital preservation the best chance of preserving data that we have is by ensuring that the data is created in the right way in the first place. Sending the message about good data practices “upstream” so that well formed data is captured early and with the right metadata means it has the best chance of being accessible into the future.
I’ve learnt a huge amount in the time I’ve been at Lancaster; when I started I had a lot of enthusiasm but not much practical experience. I hope I’ve retained the enthusiasm but added experience and practical application to it. Things change at a very fast pace in the digital preservation world so it’s brilliant to be able to go to training events and conferences and hear from the leaders in the field. I was lucky enough to attend iPres 2016 in the beautiful city of Bern. I learnt a lot there and have very much built on that knowledge and experience especially around peronal digital archiving and community engagement activities.
The last three years have also brought me more fully into the Digital Preservation Community and it is a community where sharing best practice and collaborating is greatly encouraged for the benefit of all. I have had help and support from countless people but I would single out Jen Mitcham at the University of York and Sean Rippington at the University of St Andrews as being particularly supportive and inspirational. The Archivematica UK user group has also been a fantastic group and I am looking forward to continuing these relationships into the future.
So now I’m off to take up new challenges at the University of Warwick in their Modern Records Centre. I am looking forward to future collaborations with the team of colleagues and friends at Lancaster and see us all face the challenges that digital data presents together.
Rachel MacGregor, Digital Archivist