July 18 – 23 , 2010, Dagstuhl Seminar 10291

Automation in Digital Preservation


Jean-Pierre Chanod (Xerox Research Centre Europe – Grenoble, FR)
Milena Dobreva (The University of Strathclyde – Glasgow, GB)
Andreas Rauber (TU Wien, AT)
Seamus Ross (University of Toronto, CA)

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Digital Preservation has evolved into a specialized, interdisciplinary research discipline of its own, seeing significant increases in terms of research capacity, results, but also challenges. However, with this specialization and subsequent formation of a dedicated subgroup of researchers active in this field, limitations of the challenges addressed can be observed. Digital preservation research may seem to react to problems arising, fixing problems that exist now, rather than proactively researching new solutions that may be applicable only after a few years of maturing.

Recognising the benefits of bringing together researchers and practitioners with various professional backgrounds related to digital preservation, a seminar was organized in Schloss Dagstuhl, at the Leibniz Center for Informatics (18‐23 July 2010), with the aim of addressing the current digital preservation challenges, with a specific focus on the automation aspects in this field. The main goal of the seminar was to outline some research challenges in digital preservation, providing a number of “research questions” that could be immediately tackled, e.g. in Doctoral Thesis. The seminar intended also to highlight the need for the digital preservation community to reach out to IT research and other research communities outside the immediate digital preservation domain, in order to jointly develop solutions.

Despite its rapidly increasing role, digital preservation has not yet reached a level of maturity similar to the constituent research domains. It is a multidisciplinary area involving researchers and practitioners from several fields ranging from Information Retrieval to Library and Archival Science, Content Management, Modelling, Simulation, Human- Computer Interaction, Scholarly Communication and Natural Language Processing. A consistent theory of preservation is not yet in place, and as a result the automation efforts in digital preservation most often address specific tasks, and are far from being contextualized.

This preliminary exercise has produced a number of proposal and ideas ranging from short to medium term research questions to long term and highly speculative research challenges. These ideas need to be organized in a coherent road map, with priorities and a judgement of relevance. In many cases these ideas have highlighted the need for the digital preservation community to reach to other research communities for cross‐fertilization and joint development of solutions.

In conclusion, we can say that while the field of digital preservation is still young, it has matured to a level of considerable complexity and specialization. In order to solve the challenges ahead of us, however, the preservation community needs to ensure it remains open and manages to attract professionals from different backgrounds, including but definitely not limited to, computer science experts, to jointly address the challenges that our information society is facing.


  • Data Bases/information Retrieval
  • Data Structures/algorithms/complexity
  • Modelling/simulation
  • Interdisciplinary
  • Industry


  • Long-term preservation
  • Automation
  • Workflows
  • Applications
  • Quality assurance


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