As I completed my interviews with various staff members throughout IU Libraries, several people directed to one man in particular who not only had a history working with IULMIA to help them store their digital materials, but was also intimately familiar with the Scholarly Digital Archive (SDA) and inner-workings of the IU Libraries’ technical systems. My final expert I interviewed for my report was Brian Wheeler. I was very excited to meet with him, not only to hear about his experiences working with IULMIA in the past to informally aid them with digital preservation actions, but to learn more about the inner-workings of the SDA, a long-term digital storage platform which has become a key factor in my digitization preservation report.
Brian Wheeler is the IU Libraries’ Senior System Engineer, a title which belies the full range of responsibilities and tasks he has taken on. In the past Brian has worked with IULMIA Director Rachel Stoeltje to store data from external hard drives into the SDA and appears to have been the main point of contact between IULMIA and the SDA team. He also created a system which works directly with the MDPI project mentioned in an earlier post, in which his system ingests data from MDPI, writes a copy of the data to the SDA, purges the data from the servers’ memory, reads back the data from the SDA, and stores the copy from the SDA to the servers’ memory. Put simply, Brian has the technical knowledge and experience to help make digital preservation a reality for the more culturally-minded staff working at IULMIA. I found his definition of digital preservation to be quite interesting as he incorporated his technical training into his answer. Brian told me that he defines digital preservation as not just looking at how the bits are stored, but making sure that it is possible to see how they have changed over time either because of a technical error, such as a failure of the hardware, or due any manipulations by other people. In essence his answer is very similar to my other experts who have focused on how change is an integral component of digital preservation, Brian simply more technical terms and phrases.
Again, I have to say how thankful I am to Brian and all of my experts for sharing their time and expertise with me. Their knowledge and experience working with IULMIA, IU Libraries, and digital preservation in general have all become an integral component to my report as I start to narrow my focus and determine the best recommendations and actions for IULMIA as they begin formalizing a digital preservation plan. For now my formal interviews are completed, but there is still much work to be done as my internship flies by and my final report looms on the horizon. Before I can complete my report, there are still a few more people I need to hear from to gain a better understanding of IULMIA’s digital preservation needs. Rather than complete another series of five, ten, or even fifteen more interviews, I decided I would engage the entire staff at IULMIA through a survey I designed and sent to my supervisor for approval. More on this to come in my next post!