Giving thanks to PREMIS!

I greeted my co-worker Robin Dale with a big smile today and told her I have some really good news. She proceeded to ask me whether I’m getting married, which almost got us sidetracked from the real news at hand: the joint OCLC-RLG working group PREMIS just won the Digital Preservation Coalition’s award (for the RLG press release, look here). As the RLG liaison to this effort, Robin had been one of the folks instrumental in seeing this 18 month effort through. And once she got over the fact that I am not getting married, she seemed enormously pleased about the fact that PREMIS had been chosen in the final round over the stiff competition from four other shortlisted projects.

As somebody who had been on the PREMIS conference calls for the first 6 months, I can attest to the enormous challenges this working group took on. I vividly remember the first discussions around what constitutes the “core” in “core preservation metadata,” and scoping the data dictionary to cover any conceivable file-format. This last decision also means that the PREMIS data dictionary [pdf link] doesn’t include much technical metadata – the job of specifying those file-format specific elements is left to other standards, such as NISO Z39.87 (if you’re interested in preserving a digital image.) A wise choice, and since Robin also co-chairs the NISO Z39.87 standardization effort, both specifications now consciously build on each other, while the few overlapping elements share the same name to minimize confusion.

I had to stop participating in the calls after those first 6 months since other work projects really started coming into their own, but I continued to watch Robin trek into a conference room for what became the weekly PREMIS call. The tenacity and collective intelligence of this international group of dedicated professionals culminated in the publication of the Data Dictionary for Preservation Metadata: Final Report of the PREMIS Working Group [pdf link], which includes the working group’s final report, the data dictionary, and implementation examples. Congratulations to all of those who kept up the good work! It’s good to see this truly collaborative and truly intense effort rewarded.