KB Research

Research at the National Library of the Netherlands

Month: September 2014

The Research Data Alliance in Amsterdam and the KB

Prof. C. Borgman Image: Inge Angevaare KB-NL

Our colleagues from DANS organized the 4th Plenary Meeting of the Research Data Alliance ( RDA: research data sharing without barriers) in Amsterdam, held this past three days. I was there, representing the KB, one of the few national libraries present. The concept that national libraries have “research data” is a concept that needs some explanation. There are repositories that collect data sets that are a result of research, often underpinning an article. DANS and 3TU are good examples of this. But there are also repositories that have “collections” to facilitate research, like sensor data, astronomical data, climate data. This is similar to what the KB offers the researchers: a vast amount of digitized historical texts and a (restricted accessible) web archive. Researchers use these sets, see for example the Webart project. With the growing attention for digital scholarship or e-Humanities, we can expect more use. And to make the process complete, the results of research done on KB collections might end up as a publication in the KB and a data set at DANS. An NCDD working group on Enhanced Publications is looking into ways to present both outputs smoothly as an integral entity to the user. In short, there are good reasons for libraries to be at RDA! The opening of the conference had several speakers from the European Commission. Both Robert Jan Smits (Director General DG Research) and Neelie Kroes, Vice president of the European Commision via video, stressed that the European Commission expects RDA to contribute to the growing importance of sharing and preserving research data, as open access to research data is a key message in the Horizon 2020 Programme. With a new cohort of EU politicians, some canvassing work to convince them of the ins and outs of this and the role of RDA will be necessary. Prof. dr. Barend Mons from Leiden University and founder of the “fair data” initiative was asked to give his views on the matter. FAIR data being: Findable, Accessible Interoperable and Re-usable, for both humans and computers. With the motto “Bringing data to Broadway” he pleaded for professionalism in data publishing by a good infrastructure for data and a rewarding system for researchers (data should have the same “status” as a publication) and for real data stewardship. Difficulties in hiring and keeping competent data scientists, for example are a barrier. Are publishers ready for data publishing or will the data end up in a black hole? Despite the trend of putting data central, he believes that there will always be “a narrative” explaining the findings (read: articles, books). To improve professional data stewardship, he pleaded to reserve 5% of research budgets to achieve the goals of FAIR data. Prof. Christine Borgman of UCLA gave an interesting talk in which she criticized some assumptions related to research data. For example data sharing: this is not common practice in every discipline and (again) as long as researchers are not rewarded for it, it will not happen. The emphasis on data might not be fair, publications are not simply “containers for data” but are arguments, supported by the data. The carefully designed process in publications (for example the order of appearance of the authors) is not even designed yet for data sets. More of this will be described in her new book, to be published by the end of the year. The rest of the work these days was done in a variety of Interest Groups (IGs) and Working Groups (WGs). The KB participates in the activities on Certification of Digital Repositories and Data Publishing (about workflows in data publishing, of interest for our (inter-) national e-Depot, about costs for data centers). All information is available from the RDA website. At the final meeting an interesting announcement was made: in December a follow up of the Riding the Wave report will be published, with the working title Harvesting the Data. Knowing the immense impact the Riding the Wave report had, this is something to look forward to. The Research Data Alliance started as a small group and has now over 2500 members, with a large range of Interest Groups and Working Groups. Time has come to streamline the activities more in order to integrate the results and to think about the sustainability of the RDA itself. The results of this process will be discussed in the next Plenary Meeting in San Diego 9-11 March 2015.

“Materials contain the seeds of their own destruction”. A preservation handbook.

Author: Barbara Sierman
Originally posted on: http://digitalpreservation.nl/seeds/materials-contain-the-seeds-of-their-own-destruction-a-preservation-handbook/

harvey-204x300Regularly I have discussions whether digital material and analogue material can be treated the same way or whether the digital aspect requires special treatments, sometimes even resulting in different working processes, staffing and policies. Quite too often this discussion takes place with participants that are either representatives of the digital or of the analogue view. The polite way of trying to understand each other by finding analogies often lead to simplified views and unsatisfying outcomes and nobody gets the wiser. Therefore I was triggered when a new digital preservation handbook exactly raised this issue by stating “This book is based on the philosophy that there are preservation principles that apply to all kinds of materials, whether digital or not.” For a preservation handbook this is a realistic perspective, as organisations have both kinds of materials. The authors present this book as the first example of ” the essential tools and principles of a preservation management programme in the 21st century – one that addresses the realities of diverse collections and materials and embraces the challenges of working with both analogue and digital collections.”

This being stated, the authors start addressing the different issues related to digital versus analogue and refer to the fact that digitization in the past led to destruction of the related physical objects by assuming that “the information” was saved in the new digital object, a debatable point of view nowadays (see Nicholson Baker’s Double Fold. Libraries and the assault on paper. 2001) . They come with a set of shared preservation principles, for both analogue and digital material.


Four principles describe the context and aims of preservation, amongst which the needs of the user is mentioned (a point of view we also see in the OAIS model) as well as “Preservation is the responsibility of all, from the creators of objects to the users of objects“. A set of 8 general principles focus on “collaboration”, “advocacy, “active, managed care” and the preference for actions “that address large quantities of material over actions that focus on individual objects” [ although this is highly dependent on the value of these objects I would say] . The following principle describes the key of preservation: “Understanding the structure of material is the key to understanding what preservation actions to take, as materials contain the seeds of their own destruction (inherent vice)”.

This set of Preservation principles and practices is the red line for the rest of the book, which contains a wealth of information. I can recommend this book to both the digital and the analogue preservationists, as it will contribute to mutual understanding so desperately needed! And don’t complain about the price (90 dollars) : this book might be expensive, but a one day course is more expensive and almost all the rest you want to know about digital preservation is freely available on the internet!

The preservation management handbook: a 21st-century guide for libraries, archives and museums. [Edited by] Ross Harvey and Martha R. Mahard. Rowman and Littlefield, 2014. ISBN 978-0-7591-2315-1 (also available as e-book)

Meetup “Digitaal Geheugenverlies” van de VPRO

Als vervolg op de Tegenlicht uitzending van de VPRO over “Digitaal geheugenverlies” was er afgelopen dinsdag een “meetup” in Pakhuis De Zwijger in Amsterdam, waar ruim 100 mensen op afkwamen. De teloorgang van de bibliotheek van het KIT was voor regisseur Bregtje van der Haak aanleiding om deze documentaire te maken. Hans van Harteveld, voormalig directeur van deze bibliotheek, zei aanvankelijk verbijsterd te zijn geweest over de plannen met de bibliotheek. Zijn roman “De verkwanseling van een kroonjuweel”  (Uitgeverij In de Knipscheer ISBN 978-90-6265-862-6) werd ter plekke gepresenteerd en beschrijft de hele gang van zaken.

Bart Krul (Instituut Maatschappelijke Innovatie) interviewde Bas Savenije (namens KB)  en Marcel Ras (namens de NCDD). Leidraad van hun gezamenlijk betoog was dat niet alles bewaard kan worden, dat degene die het verzamelt niet noodzakelijkerwijze ook degene is die het moet bewaren, en dat de uiteindelijke gebruiker de reden is dat we het doen. Maar weten we wat die toekomstige gebruiker wil en maken de ontwikkelingen niet een herdefinitie van kernbegrippen noodzakelijk? Is de definitie van “publicatie” niet te strikt, als daardoor beleidsnotities van Jan Pronk buiten de boot zouden vallen? Door een intensieve nationale samenwerking, zoals nagestreefd door de NCDD (de Nationale Coalitie Digitale Duurzaamheid) kunnen we in Nederland tot een evenwichtig bewaarbeleid komen, om zo het gevreesde verlies te voorkomen.

Hoe helder en bekend dit ook in de oren klinkt van de mensen in de zaal die “in het vak zitten”, mij werd vooral duidelijk dat er een enorme kloof ligt tussen wat men denkt dat we doen als erfgoedsector en wat we feitelijk doen. Begripsverwarring over digitaal geheugenverlies bleek al in de uitzending, die voor een groot deel over de verdwijning van een papieren collectie ging. Onbekendheid bij de VPRO met erfgoedsector in Nederland zorgde er voor dat voornamelijk initiatieven uit de Verenigde Staten (Brewster Khale van Internet Archive, Jason Scott van The Archive Team en ingenieurs die NASA tapes redden) in de uitzending getoond werden. En steeds weer werd de vraag gesteld: waarom moeten we alles bewaren? Het is aan ons daar een antwoord op te hebben, net als Brewster Khale, Jason Scott en Ismail Serageldin, directeur van de bibliotheek van Alexandrië.

Als erfgoedsector doen we veel, maar het is goed te weten van particuliere initiatieven om digitaal erfgoed te behouden en te gebruiken. In de zaal zaten mensen die meededen met The Archive Team, wakker geschud toen Hyves werd opgeheven. Richard Vijgen vertelde hoe hij als grafisch ontwerper gebruik maakt van de geredde website Geocities en  een nieuwe “installatie” maakte van dit materiaal door het opnieuw tot leven te brengen.

De VPRO heeft ons een goede dienst bewezen met deze documentaire en “meetup” (het is vast geen toeval dat de NRC onlangs ook over Internet Archive schreef), hoog tijd om ons eigen verhaal eraan toe te voegen!

Meetup VPRO Amsterdam

Jpylyzer software finalist voor digitale duurzaamheidsprijs

Vandaag maakte de Britse Digital Preservation Coalition de finalisten bekend die in de race zijn voor de Digital Preservation Awards 2014. Deze prijs is in 2004 in het leven geroepen om aandacht te vestigen op initiatieven die een belangrijke bijdrage leveren aan het toegankelijk houden van digitaal erfgoed.

In de categorie Research and Innovation is een op de KB door de afdeling Onderzoek ontwikkelde softwaretool genomineerd: jpylyzer. Met jpylyzer kun je op een eenvoudige manier controleren of JP2 (JPEG 2000) beeldbestanden technisch in orde zijn. Binnen de KB wordt de tool onder meer ingezet bij de kwaliteitscontrole van gedigitaliseerde boeken, kranten en tijdschriften. Jpylyzer wordt ook gebruikt door diverse internationale collega-instellingen.

Jpylyzer is deels ontwikkeld binnen het Europese project SCAPE, waarin de KB projectpartner is. De uiteindelijke winnaars worden op 17 november bekendgemaakt.

Meer informatie over de nominatie van jpylyzer is te vinden op de website van de Digital Preservation Coalition:


Het volgende artikel is interessant voor wie meer wil weten over jpylyzer, en waarom we zo’n tool eigenlijk nodig hebben:


Ten slotte is hier de jpylyzer homepage:


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