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Digital Preservation Lab

Digital Preservation Lab, Apple and Windows computers

Computers in the Digital Preservation Lab.

Digital Preservation Lab, sign saying Attention, ESD protected area. Observer precautions for handling electrostatic discharge sensitive devices

Digital Preservation Lab entrance with ESD protection label.

The Library recently established the Digital Preservation Lab as a dedicated room for processing born-digital collections. The room has restricted access and ensures privacy, security and uninterrupted processing time for at-risk digital material during appraisal and processing. It is utilised by staff working with born-digital collections and contains technology for working with digital material in various forms.

The main digital acquisitions computer runs Windows and contains software such as Forensic Toolkit (FTK), BitCurator (through a virtual machine) and Bagger. We also have an Apple Mac Pro, iBook and PowerBook for working with collections that require Apple operating systems and software. We have forensic write blockers and external disk drives for working with digital physical carriers (eg CD, DVD, USB) and in the process of acquiring more technology to work with formats such as 5.25” floppy disks in the future. (We are currently on the lookout for a Jaz disk drive, please get in touch if you can help!)

Most importantly, the lab acts as an Electrostatic Discharge (ESD) protected area. ESD is the sudden flow of electricity between two electrically charged objects, can be caused by contact and can damage electronic equipment. To prevent this, the room utilises grounding techniques including ESD tiles and working surfaces that are all connected to a common electrical ground for the entire room. An ESD Protected Area (EPA) workstation is available for working with electronic components, which includes an antistatic bench mat with grounding points and wrist straps. A wall-mounted wrist strap tester is also available to ensure the grounding connection is working properly.

Digital Preservation Lab, handling electronics in the electrostatic discharge protected area

The lab not only provides a secure space for digital collection material, the dedicated space allows our librarians and analysts to focus on quite detailed selection and processing work uninterrupted. 

Written by Matthew Burgess, Digital Collections Analyst, for World Digital Preservation Day 2019.