Digital Preservation Carpentry

On Thursday and Friday of last week, a group of us at University of Melbourne took part in Global Sprint 2018 armed with our notebooks, a whiteboard, a few ideas and platters of cakes, biscuits, lollies and fruit (brain food?!)

A sprint or sprint planning session is a set period of time during which specific tasks must be completed. Educator Belinda Weaver introduced us to the idea and invited us to participate in the global forum, connecting us to an international community of experts and enthusiasts. Individuals could call in via zoom and listen or chip in to our session, and vice versa. The idea was to share knowledge and learnings and ask questions within this broader group.

By the end of Friday, we wanted to have designed a Digital Preservation Carpentry half-day workshop, similar to Library Carpentry workshops (software skills training aimed at the needs and requirements of library professionals). Our core team consisted of 5-7 people with skills in archives, digital preservation, research data management, IT systems – all of whom had an interest in or would be affected by the outcome – and we spoke with other experts in software development and training at various points. Participants documented ideas and notes in the open source collaborative notes application etherpad, see Digital Preservation Carpentry- Sprint Session Notes. All ideas were documented and voted on – you can use sticky notes, we used etherpad.

Tweet via 'just another history grabber' @maudeygirl May 10. Its getting crowded in here! #MozSprint #lc2018 #digipres Pictured 6 people around a table smiling.

In thinking about our long term goal to create a Digital Preservation Carpentry workshop we asked ourselves: Why are we doing this project? Where do we want to be in six months, a year, or even five years from now? How could we fail? We turned any problems into questions we could answer during the sprint.

We started each day by recording a check list of tasks on the white board which we ticked off throughout the day. Our tasks included:

  1. Map out a schedule for the day, including breaks
  2. Define our audience
  3. Create a twitter poll to find a name for the workshop
  4. Create a short survey to gauge interest and help develop the workshop
  5. List topics/content for a series of half day workshops (based on a borrowed Lesson Development Proposal Template)
  6. Work on a lesson plan: File Formats for Beginners

While pondering our various suggestions for the target audience ie…

  • Practitioners tasked with preserving digital materials
  • Solo/lone practitioners in an organisation who feel stretched or pressured to know everything
  • Beginners in a digital preservation team or work area
  • Interested learners/professional development aspirants
  • Practitioners working with digital materials who have theoretical knowledge of digital preservation, and who need more technical skills

we developed our first Digital Preservation Carpentry survey question: Can you self-identify with any of these profiles? Or are you something else? Tell us why.

By the end of the two half days we had knocked off tasks 1-4, made substantial inroads into tasks 5 & 6 (they are somewhat dependent on our survey results, and we will continue to work on them), and set up a Github repository for our course modules and lesson plans.


We are keen to develop the first workshop for entry level practitioners, and hope to hear from a wide variety of repondents in the GLAMR sector. Whatever your interest or skill level, we encourage you to fill out the Digital Preservation Carpentry survey and if there are any words that are unfamiliar to you, or you have other questions or feedback, please get in touch via email: (Rachel), (Peter), or, (Jaye).

Rachel Tropea is a Senior Research Archivist at the University of Melbourne
Twitter: @racheltropea