The University of Sussex extends its use of Arkivum Perpetua to deliver digital preservation - Arkivum

Archiving & Preservation / 21 Jan, 2019

The University of Sussex extends its use of Arkivum Perpetua to deliver digital preservation

Image: Rudyard Kipling in a boat from the Rudyard Kipling Archive, University of Sussex


The University of Sussex has been an Arkivum customer for some years now. Recently, they have been working with us to build digital preservation into their long-term data workflows.


The University of Sussex is a research intensive university renowned for its culture of disruptive creativity and innovation. It is home to a world-class collection that contains manuscripts and first editions by Virginia Woolf, Rudyard Kipling and Jane Austen and the culturally important Mass Observation Archive. It is critical that the data they hold is made available for generations to come and its integrity is maintained at all times.


Digital preservation is still a relatively new field, and so there is a lot of work to do to inform people of its importance, to build excitement and get people on-board with the initiative from different areas of the university. This initiative has been driven by the university library, particularly by Adam Harwood, Research Data and Digital Preservation Technologist, who is leading the project.


The library had noticed an increase in the number of researchers who were coming to the Special Collections area of the library for help in creating a resource to showcase their research. Although the library maintains the important archives of the university, there was no suitable infrastructure in place to support the researchers’ requirements, particularly the ability to search and access the data.


Adam has been working with Arkivum on building the case for digital preservation across the university and raising awareness with different departments to make them aware of how it could improve their workflows and processes that involve their digital collections and long-term data. Digital back up is not enough. Particularly when such important data is at stake. Their web team, for example, are looking to build a web archive and they are also members of the DPC (Digital Preservation Coalition) so digital preservation is increasing in importance across the university. Arkivum Perpetua is a sustainable solution as it safeguards, preserves the data and makes it usable for the long term. Perpetua can also work beyond Special Collections to include other departments and has the capacity to grow with the university as their data requirements grow in the future.


Community is an important focus for the University of Sussex and forms a key part of their new strategy of engaging with the community more. One of their academics, Dr. Sharon Webb, is already working extensively with local communities on building digital archives with a key focus on long term preservation. This is something that the university is considering using Arkivum Perpetua for, to provide local community archives and public access over time.

May 12th Diaries, Mass Observation Day

May 12th Diaries, Mass Observation Day

Some of the call out collections include the Mass Observation Archive, which includes their May 12th Diaries initiative. This involves asking the public every year to provide a diary entry for the 12th May, helping to chart progress and change over the years and documenting today’s history for the future. They also have a collection of films within their University of Sussex collection, which they are looking to make publicly available in the future. This includes a filmed interview from the 1960s of Sir Basil Spence, the Scottish architect who designed the award-winning architecture of the university.

“It’s still early stages of the digital preservation project, though we now have an end to end process in place, which I’m happy about. We have a great relationship with Arkivum and they have been very good at providing guidance and dealing with any questions we have raised”, said Adam Harwood, Research Data and Digital Preservation Technologist at the University of Sussex.



Digital preservation is growing in importance as organisations recognise the need to not only protect their data long term but to move toward providing wider access to it for future generations to observe and learn from.

To find out how you can move from just safeguarding your data to digitally preserving it so you always have access to your data and it is always readable, click here to register for our webinar, “Eat, Sleep, Preserve, Repeat”.

Emma Davenport

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