Meet the team: Colin Armstrong Digitisation and Digital Preservation Trainee

Howdy everyone, I’m Colin Armstrong and I’m part of the last ‘Cohort 3’ group of Transforming Archives trainees, working with The National Archives and based at the Norfolk Record Office. Following on fae Lizzie and Pawel’s wee blogs about their traineeship adventures last 2015-2016, I guess I’ll be doing the same!

My specialism is in digitisation and digital preservation; focusing on maintaining born-digital material for future use, as well as preserving and opening up access to traditional collections through digitisation. For the most part I’m finding ways to ensure that all those digital images, sound files, videos, and documents that folk have on their hard-drives stay preserved and usable in an appropriate format, and don’t degrade over the coming years given the pace of technology. I’m afraid to say if you still have a 15-year old box of dusty floppy discs and CDs sitting in yer leaky loft then the outlook might be a little grim….

Currently, I’m working on a trial run of ‘Archivematica‘ as an application to help preserve digital material, as well as learning the day-to-day activities of archive services. I also recently finished the ‘base camp’ week at The National Archives in Kew, along with the other 18 trainees (from The National Archives & Scottish Council on Archives). This was a pretty informative and busy week, involving workshops and seminars, site visits and discussion, as well as a wee bit of ‘archival swagger show-and-tell’ looking at some of the more interesting collections. We also saw behind-the-scenes at the National Theatre Archives and the Guildhall Library, as well as The National Archives itself.


Transforming Archives and Opening Up Scotland’s Archives Trainees at ‘Base Camp’ at The National Archives

So whit aboot me? Well, I’m fae Ayrshire in Scotland, recently moved to lovely Norwich for the year. My academic background is in computing science, however I also meandered into earth science and the tourism & heritage sector (exploring fossils, geology, and the heritage industry), gaining a further BSc and MSc. Ah’ve also engaged in a number of citizen science and community projects throughout the years (including seaweed logging, climate change modelling, fossil recording and strangely enough zombie walks), so have a strong sense of incorporating sustainable ideals with technology, and promoting these to communities. Although I’ve no previous experience of archives or record office work, I’ve found that having this mixed background in academia and project work, and having an interest in the source material, has been pretty handy so far. I’m certainly enjoying the projects at NRO, and am looking forward to learning and contributing more within archives as I progress throughout the traineeship. In the coming few months this will principally involve helping to deliver the ‘Archivematica’ project (from testing format policies and investigating how the digital material should be structured, to finally writing a learning outcome or draft policy). I will also be attending some workshops early next year, including a sound archival & copyright workshop in January and a digitisation workshop in February.

With all that in mind, if you’re interested in digital preservation and born digital content, keep an eye on the Norfolk Record Office blog where I’ll be sharing my experiences throughout my traineeship.

And oh aye, the ratio of pubs-to-people in Norwich is none too shabby either.

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