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The Magazine of Digital Library Research

D-Lib Magazine

May/June 2017
Volume 23, Number 5/6
Table of Contents


The Software Preservation Network (SPN): A Community Effort to Ensure Long Term Access to Digital Cultural Heritage

Jessica Meyerson, Briscoe Center for American History, UT-Austin
j.meyerson [at]

Zach Vowell, California Polytechnic State University
zvowell [at]

Wendy Hagenmaier, Georgia Institute of Technology
wendy.hagenmaier [at]

Aliza Leventhal, Sasaki Associates
aleventhal [at]

Fernando Rios, Johns Hopkins University
rios [at]

Elizabeth Russey Roke, Emory University
erussey [at]

Tim Walsh, Canadian Centre for Architecture
twalsh [at]



The Software Preservation Network (SPN) is a National Forum grant project funded by IMLS which seeks to gather cultural heritage community input and develop a roadmap for actionable steps towards a national software preservation strategy. To achieve this, the project team conducted a needs assessment, partnered with legal experts, and convened a Forum, all focused on software preservation for cultural heritage. After the Forum produced a Community Roadmap, several Forum attendees gathered around the Roadmap's areas of focus, and coalesced into functioning working groups. The authors wish to acknowledge everyone who has contributed to the project, whether they were study participants, email correspondents, Forum attendees, blog post authors, or working group members. At its heart, the SPN project was a community building effort to address a community-wide challenge.

Keywords: Software Preservation Network, SPN, Cultural Heritage, Digital Preservation, Partnerships, Fair Use, Copyright


1 Background: 'Do We Need a Network to Preserve Software?'

Emulation and virtualization solutions are maturing, as evidenced in the progress made from Jeffrey Rothenberg's report (1999) on digital preservation to David Rosenthal's Mellon-funded report on emulation (2015), more recent reports from the field (Dietrich et al, 2016), and more resources dedicated to emulation work (Rhizome, 2016). At the same time, archival materials, scholarly research, and creative works have become increasingly dependent on their native software. As these factors converge, libraries, archives and museums have increasingly emphasized a mode of preservation that requires 1) broader and deeper technical competencies by librarians and archivists that enable them to engage with creators of complex digital objects, 2) a more inclusive notion of the digital preservation community, and a willingness, an eagerness, even, to partner with cognate communities of practice outside of the cultural heritage sector, such as information and communication technology specialists, and 3) a stronger alignment among libraries, archives and museums that allows cultural heritage practitioners to address scale and to partner more effectively with colleagues in cognate communities of practice. In an effort to address scale and broad distribution of services, the Software Preservation Network (SPN) advocates for a coordinated preservation strategy that would avoid duplication of effort, and potentially result in resources available to all organizations.

Participants in the SPN project represent a spectrum of software preservation use cases, however, the participants' alignment across these use cases is based on the shared acknowledgment that software preservation is a critical digital preservation task. This acknowledgment is reinforced by a thirty year long software preservation discourse in information science literature, marked by several discrete efforts to collect and preserve software.

But what can we do to move past debate and step into concrete action? The initial SPN team submitted a preliminary proposal to IMLS in February 2015 in hopes of addressing this question. Framed as a National Forum Grant project, the proposal fit well within IMLS' National Digital Platform. It aimed to address what the SPN team recognized as a gap within the cultural heritage profession's digital services, and in addition, the team aspired to build a radical collaboration across the public/private divide. When the project was awarded in October 2015, the SPN team set out to accomplish three goals: 1) conduct a needs assessment for software preservation in cultural heritage, 2) partner with legal experts to articulate strategies for cultural heritage professionals to provide access to software to use in a variety of use cases, from rendering 90s-era CAD drawings for archival processing, to reading room emulations of born-digital collections, to replicating computational scientific data, and 3) convene a Forum of cultural heritage professionals interested in advancing software preservation.


2 Needs Assessment

"So, I mean I really see in the [Institution] where if we want to create — save the culture and the output of what's going on now, it just requires software preservation. That we have to really deal with it that you can't say you're preserving a history of the latter part of the 20th century, and the early part of the 21st century without actually looking at software." ('SPN Study — Semi-Structured Interview Excerpts,' Meyerson and Vowell, 2016)

The Software Preservation in Cultural Heritage needs assessment was designed as an exploratory study to document current born-digital appraisal, processing, and description practices in cultural heritage organizations whose collections include material stored in proprietary file formats. The study ultimately proposed to assess the need for a national software preservation network. Since the 1990s, the historicity of software as a particular kind of digital record has begun to reveal itself in terms of the growing volume of artifacts created using software applications (Hedstrom & Bearman, 1990; Hedstrom, 1995; Mitchell, 1996; Rothenberg, 1999; Bearman, 1999; Besser, 2000; Manovich, 2013); the development of academic disciplines dedicated to software history (Hashagen, Keil-Slawik & Norberg (Eds.), 2002; Cortada, 2002); and the critical treatment of computer code as text (Montfort, 2013). However, this emphasis on software as collection material or information in itself, has overshadowed software's role in accessing of every other category of digital record.

Planning for the needs assessment commenced in September 2015. The initial SPN team (Jessica Meyerson, Carlos Ovalle, Zach Vowell, and Shauntey Walker) employed a mixed methods approach combining a survey with a series of semi-structured interviews. The survey questions were designed specifically for this project — as of the date of IRB submission (September 2015), there was no empirical research on this topic. The semi-structured interview questions were based on the survey questions and created an opportunity for individual participants to elaborate on their survey responses. This mixed methods approach strengthened the reliability of any findings by comparing qualitative and quantitative data.

Participants were contacted via email using professional listservs including the SAA Electronic Records Section and Metadata Roundtable Listservs. There were four sections in the survey: Background Information, Staffing & Training, Activities, and Future Data Collection. The purpose of the Background Information section was to gather data that would allow the SPN team to test for any correlations between software preservation needs, and the type of institution, job title, or country of origin. The purpose of the Staffing & Training section is to look for relationships between the number of staff working with born-digital materials, the relationship of archives staff to information technology staff and the institutional capacity to participate in a national software preservation network. The purpose of the Activities section was to identify methods used by archival repositories to access collection material stored in proprietary file formats and to determine how and whether those methods are informed by responses to questions in the other sections. The purpose of the Future Data Collection section is to ask survey participants if they are interested in being contacted to participate in a semi-structured interview.

On October 22, 2015, the team began distributing the survey to 24 email listservs, and over the course of November received 182 total responses, though the actual number of responses varied from question to question because there were no required questions. During the survey, 43 respondents indicated their willingness to participate in more in-depth interviews with the research team. By the end of January 2016, the SPN team had conducted a total of eight semi-structured interviews, and generated transcripts from the interviews to serve as data supplementary to the survey results.

In one interesting finding related to the respondents' backgrounds, the team found that though 46% percent of respondents reported 10 or more years of experience with digital materials, only 30% reported being "well prepared" for the task of working with legacy software. Efforts to understand which types of digital files presented the greatest challenge in terms of access resulted in participants' listing of additional file types not represented in the multiple choice options (Meyerson, Vowell, and Walker, 2016) including: "binary scientific data formats," "AV project files including and other than .avid," and "obsolete/legacy dependencies, like Shockwave or other obsolete plugins." Other frequent responses were CAD files (14 responses, 16%), Software and custom scripts (13 responses, 15%), and database files (12 responses, 13%). Overall, the survey seemed to suggest that there is a professional awareness of the importance of software preservation, but very few organizations have been prepared to embark on software preservation projects of their own.

Analysis of the semi-structured interview transcripts supported this conclusion and helped to fill gaps in understanding around the perceived obstacles to implementing local software preservation and emulation projects and workflows. Key themes that emerged from semi-structured interviews included: Internal Policies, Collection Development, Metadata, Administrative Buy-in, Partnerships with Information-Communication Technology Industry and Legal/Rights Issues.


3 Cyberlaw Clinic Collaboration

In fall 2015, the SPN team reached out to Harvard Law School's Cyberlaw Clinic, based at Harvard's Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society. Based on their previous work with projects situated at the intersection of information communication technology industry and cultural heritage and the Clinic's state role of providing "high-quality, pro-Bono legal services to appropriate clients on issues relating to the Internet, new technology, and intellectual property," the team felt that the SPN project might be a good fit for the Clinic. Given the early stage of the project, the SPN team focused on defining the problem and providing use cases and scenarios to Christopher Bavitz, Clinical Professor of Law at Harvard Law School and Managing Director of the Cyberlaw Clinic. The Clinic has provided a broad overview of legal issues that might affect a software preservation initiative or organization. The Clinic has also helped to map the software preservation ecosystem and liaise with cultural heritage stakeholders including members of the Olive Project Advisory Committee, members of the Policy Subcommittee within UNESCO's PERSIST program, and Euan Cochrane at Yale University, currently working on deploying enterprise emulation services for the Yale campus. This Spring (2017), the SPN team is working with the Clinic to develop public-facing information sheets directed towards a practitioner audience, that provide overviews of legal topics relevant to software preservation.


4 Software Preservation Forum

In Spring 2016, the SPN team began planning the program for the SPN Forum. The goal of the forum was to bring cultural heritage practitioners together to identify actionable next steps towards implementing a national software preservation strategy. In an effort to lower the barrier to participation, the team identified conferences for cultural heritage practitioners scheduled in Fall 2016. The team ultimately chose to host the Forum in Atlanta, Georgia in conjunction with The Society of American Archivists 2016 Annual Meeting. The forum was hosted at Georgia State University Student Center in downtown Atlanta.

The team issued an open Call for Proposals on February 23, 2016 through many of the same listservs that were targeted for the survey distribution, and posted the CFP on the Software Preservation Network. The SPN 2016 Forum theme, "Action Research: Empowering the Cultural Heritage Community and Mapping Out Next Steps for Software Preservation" reflected the overarching goals of the Software Preservation Network (SPN) to solicit community input and build consensus around next steps for preserving software at scale — in the larger effort to ensure long-term access to digital objects. Registration was free, however, attendance was limited to the first 75 people to register in order to ensure that there was enough food and space for everyone to participate fully. Reflecting on forum attendance, the SPN team was very grateful to have participants representing digital preservation consortial program managers, legal specialists, library administration, data curation specialists, metadata coordinators, museum curators, archivists and librarians. At the same time the discussions could have benefited from participation from Information and Communications Technology (ICT) industry professionals.

Nine proposals were submitted and 45 people registered to attend. After reviewing the proposals, the SPN team found clear overlap and asked participants to reorganize into panel sessions: Legal Issues, Research, Collections, and Partnerships. The SPN team facilitated a series of conversations between the panelists for each group to help them identify overlaps and abstract away overarching lessons learned. The activity we asked panelists to design for attendees could only be done once each panel articulated key areas of overlap among themselves. Through meetings with the presenters and discussions with experienced facilitators, the SPN team designed a program whose overarching goal was to produce actionable next steps for a national software preservation strategy (Meyerson and Vowell, 2016b).

Brandon Butler, Director of Information Policy at the University of Virginia Library, was one of the attendees who documented his experience at the Forum on bloggERS, the SAA's Electronic Records Section blog. Butler's account (2016) neatly summarizes both presentations from Zach Vowell and Henry Lowood, including Lowood's reflections on the difficulty of locating software rights owners and soliciting actionable responses regarding reuse. Butler also recounted the highlights of the discussion that followed the presentations, which included several approaches to preserving and providing access to software, given the current legal landscape.

Tim Walsh (2016) from the Canadian Centre for Architecture discussed his impressions of Session Two on "Current Collecting, Processing of and Access to Legacy Software," which featured the experiences of three organizations who have curated large software collections: Stanford, the National Software Reference Library, and the Computer History Museum. One theme that emerged from Session Two was the importance of identifying the current variations in descriptive practices for software across repositories and discovery systems.

Micah Altman and Jessica Meyerson presented two studies related to software preservation during Session Three. Altman presented findings from an environmental scan of repositories that collect research software and Meyerson reported on preliminary results from the SPN Software for Cultural Heritage Study. After Session Three, the Forum attendees engaged in a brainstorming activity on the ideas generated during the icebreaker activity that kicked off the program. Specifically, attendees were asked to pair up with someone other than their ice breaking interlocutor to explore and discuss goals that might address the challenges identified in the icebreaker session. With a fresh set of index cards, the attendees worked with their partner, sketched out goals, and then placed them on a large, butcher paper timeline spanning 2016-2020 that lay across the floor underneath the projection screen.

Forum attendees made a final push to engage with one another on the day's activities and how to move forward. Karl-Rainer Blumenthal (2016) of the Internet Archive provided a recap for each of Session Four's presentations on software preservation partnerships and partnership models, as well as the breakout Desired Future States session that followed.


Figure 1: SPN Forum attendees compose matrices of software preservation needs, challenges, strategies, and outcomes during the Desired Future States activity. Photo by Karl-Rainer Blumenthal, CC BY-NC 2.0.

The day's work was synthesized into actionable next steps during the Session Five Community Roadmapping Exercise. Susan Malsbury (2016), Digital Archivist at the New York Public Library, recounted the entire trajectory of interactive activities, from the morning icebreaker to the brainstorming activity to the community roadmapping. The latter exercise was an opportunity for the group to start integrating the various strands of thought into some concrete next steps. As Malsbury points out, there was an encouraging sense of alignment across the different roadmapping groups. Alignment around priorities for a national software preservation strategy was the basis for post-forum engagement.


5 The Community Roadmap

The SPN team started the work of iterating over the input from the Forum's roadmapping activity (Software Preservation Network, 2016a) to produce a Community Roadmap document that reflected the day's work. Community priorities and sense of scope for each area of work identified. A recurring theme for near-term work (the next one to two years) was the need for a richer empirical understanding of the software preservation and curation landscape. There were also several immediate tasks that involved initiating a relationship with the software publishing industry (e.g., "actively solicit software that is being phased out by vendors"). Attendees envisioned distributed software preservation infrastructure, such as "need to create industry & others coalition (like CLOCKSS)," and "software registry hooked into PRONOM + National Software Reference Library" in years three through six. For most of August, the SPN team categorized tasks, combined duplicate input, negotiated between differing timelines offered for similar tasks, and going through a few versions in the process. On September 2 (almost a year to the date after the project launched), the team distributed the Community Roadmap Timeline V3 (Software Preservation Network, 2016b) to the Forum attendees, and added a "sign-up" tab to facilitate participation in roadmap's work.


Figure 2: More work from the SPN attendees which fed into the Community Roadmapping activity. Photo by Kari Smith (@karirene69), CC BY-NC 2.0.


6 SPN Working Groups and Governance

In the weeks following the Forum and the dissemination of the community roadmap, the SPN "team" expanded to include Forum attendees and others willing to commit their time and expertise on software preservation tasks identified in the roadmap. Furthermore, the initial SPN team formed working groups for each category of the roadmap, and invited any of the new volunteers to act as working group coordinators for these tasks. And by mid-November, each of the following working groups had a designated coordinator:

The Communications Working Group supports the Software Preservation Network's goal of coordinating strategies for software preservation across industries and within the cultural heritage community. This working group servesas a resource in identifying organizations and companies for SPN to engage with. Communication WG supports the communication efforts of the other working groups within SPN with those of organizations the SPN will be partnering with. Through coordination, the working group aims to develop consistent messaging within the SPN and between SPN and its partners to present a united and cooperative community.

The Curation-Readiness Working Group began participating in SPN as one of several complementary efforts to address software produced during the course of scholarship. Typically, such software could be improved to better its chances of others being able to access, reproduce, and reuse the scholarly work. Since August 2016, the scope of the working group has since expanded to ask the same question for cases outside of computationally-supported research as well. The Curation Readiness working group aims to provide guidance, framed by use cases, for making software repositories or catalogs more usable by improving software's "curation readiness" (i.e., improving the quality of preserved software for a given purpose, given available resources). Efforts in research communities such as the Geoscience Paper of the Future initiative (Gil et al., 2016), and work on best practices for software development by the Software Sustainability Institute and many others (e.g., see Vol. 23, Issue 1/2 of D-Lib Magazine focusing on reproducible science) all aim to improve scholarly research by making software available, citable, preservable, and reusable. Combining with efforts in the cultural domain such as ongoing preservation activities by the Computer History Museum and the National Library of Medicine (Contaxis, 2016) will inform the group's output. The curation-readiness group will build on efforts in both domains to identify underlying commonalities of use cases, as demonstrated in Dr. Rios' (2017) recent blog post on the Software Preservation Network website. This will potentially provide common ground for organizations to be able to identify preservation needs and address them based on existing best practice. In the next 6 months, the group will explore the kinds of questions a curator of a (research) software repository could use to elicit information to improve the quality of a software deposit. SPN could serve as a coordinating entity for those looking to explore solutions in the same way RDA does for data.

The Documentation Working Group recognizes the need to support the individual and collaborative work of the other working groups so that SPN is able to effectively share its thinking and work with those already involved, those who are interested in SPN, and those who will find our work helpful in their task of preserving our shared digital heritage. Documentation working group has created and maintains an Open Science Framework (OSF) repository (Software Preservation Network, 2017) for the project. The OSF repository provides the Software Preservation Network with a central platform for making accessible documents from the Software Preservation Network forum, working documents from each Working Group's Google drive folder, and research outputs from the SPN project. It also features a wiki that will increasingly over time highlight the central research and publication outputs of the project.

The Governance Working Group scaffolds governance for the maturing SPN, establishing procedures to coordinate ongoing decision-making in anticipation and support of a more formal governance framework. Activities of the GWG include: ongoing research and design of appropriate organizational and funding models; creation of processes to continually solicit community priorities and reflect those priorities in the evolving SPN roadmap; and identification of strategic partnerships. GWG works alongside other working groups to ensure that SPN is internally and externally accountable.

The Metadata Working Group recognized the need for developing, promoting and advocating for common metadata frameworks and related metadata standards, vocabularies, and ontologies that support software preservation and access. As such, the group is looking at national and international projects and standards such as Software Heritage, the Library of Congress, Wikidata, Premis, and Pronom as well as more local implementations such as GAMECIP from Stanford University. The membership of this working group is composed of metadata practitioners from research institutions and computer history museums in the United States and Canada who are already starting to work with software preservation, especially in the context of digital library preservation repositories. As the members of this group are primarily affiliated with large research institutions, they are aware of possible bias and are consciously exploring how to include all perspectives in their work and develop tools that are universally accessible to a wide variety of communities beyond our own. The end goal is to create metadata best practices useful to as broad an audience as possible, from repositories with significant resources using complex, specialized metadata profiles to smaller institutions that may rely on metadata recorded in all-purpose standards such as MARC, Dublin Core, or MODS. The Metadata working group plans to finish cross walking activities in Spring 2017 and produce a white paper with our findings and a gap analysis of what they feel is missing from the metadata that is being collected. Future directions include the development of a best practices document for software metadata.

The Research Working Group identifies SPN as a potential hub for coordinating and distributing the results of research activities that will inform the software curation/preservation space. The Software Preservation in Cultural Heritage study highlighted many areas of software preservation and curation that have not been thoroughly explored and researched. The Research working group is beginning its work by creating an ontology of research questions in the software preservation and curation space, along with data that might be used to answer the questions and research methods that might be used to obtain those data. The Research working group aims to define a model of how members of the Research Working Group could serve as advisers to other SPN Working Groups who would like to do research (e.g. the Metadata Working Group's proposed survey). Further out, the group hopes to identify possibilities for longitudinal research on software preservation, in collaboration with the Council on Library and Information Resources, and to assemble templates that would empower other SPN and community members to conduct their own research, which our working group could help compile and analyze. Overall, we aim to synthesize existing research in the software preservation sphere, to illuminate new research questions that could be explored, and to define a sustainable model of bringing academics and practitioners together to conduct research that will advance the field of digital preservation.

The Technical Infrastructure Working Group is concerned with ensuring that technology solutions that may be proposed or taken on by SPN or its affiliate members are as technically feasible as possible. This may include specification of computing configurations needed to run common packages used in the preservation environment, or the creation of documentation necessary to make existing software packages more usable. This group is interested in engaging members of the digital preservation ecosystem, both institutions and consorita, in experimentation with existing tools for access and preservation of software in an effort to establish a community-driven documentation and development roadmap that serves the broadest spectrum of users.


7 Conclusion and Ongoing Work

The structure of the needs assessment and Forum programming both attempted to push the thirty year discourse surrounding software preservation towards actionable next steps. Taking into consideration critical shifts in institutional capacity, technological maturity, increased volume of software dependent cultural resources and funding priorities, SPN has successfully leveraged an important moment in the history of digital stewardship to bring together a community of professionals who support each other as we pursue those steps.

While SPN working groups and partnerships are actively pursuing work prioritized in the community roadmap, the SPN team has pursued several additional tracks in the wake of the Forum to support and amplify the impact of the working groups. This Governance Working Group, facilitated by Katherine Skinner, Executive Director of Educopia, has examined questions that speak to the long-term viability of SPN, including:

By investigating these and other questions, the Governance WG has identified SPN's core services, and is in the process of developing a prospectus that will serve as the basis for discussion with future members, partners, funders, and to serve as a foundational document on the road to organizational formality. Guiding the organizational modeling is an agreed upon need for a center of gravity to coordinate the work identified in the roadmap, and consequently lower costs (in fees and staff time) associated with incorporating software preservation and emulation into existing digital stewardship activities; and to determine how SPN will continue to contribute to the overall health of the digital preservation ecosystem through strategic partnerships with existing networks, consortia and project efforts.

Additionally, SPN members recognize that more research-in-practice is needed to understand what training cultural heritage practitioners need to have to make use of emulation technologies and software preservation workflows in local settings. To this end, the SPN team (Jessica Meyerson and Zach Vowell) were awarded an IMLA Laura Bush 21st Century Librarian grant for their proposal to IMLS in April 2017 entitled "Fostering a Community of Practice: Software Preservationists and Emulation Experts in Libraries and Archives" (Meyerson and Vowell, 2017). The idea behind the proposal is to contribute to field level understanding of pilot software preservation and emulation experiences in different organization types such as public libraries, university special collections, historical societies and museums. The activities and documentation produced by the cohort of six pilot participants will also serve in parallel efforts to bring software preservation and emulation into mainstream digital preservation practice (addressing specific legal, metadata and technical preservation and access). An RFP will be issued, and the grant project managers will select the cohort of six professionals to pilot a software preservation and emulation project in their local organization. By the end of the project, the SPN team intends to produce a fully developed training and education model to draw from in the future.

The SPN team wants to take this opportunity to explicitly acknowledge and credit all of the curators, researchers, librarians, archivists, developers, funders, advisers, upstarts and trailblazers that laid the groundwork for the contributions that SPN has made and will continue to make in the software preservation and curation space. Looking forward, the team will focus greater attention towards expanding the network to include like-minded initiatives like UNESCO PERSIST and Software Heritage Foundation, software publishers, platform providers and cognate communities beyond cultural heritage that would benefit from a coordinated software preservation effort. Because providing long-term meaningful access to digital cultural heritage requires a vast support system of people, processes and machines that exist upstream and downstream of any one organization (Software Preservation Network, 2016c).



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About the Authors

Wendy Hagenmaier is Coordinator of the SPN Research Working Group. She is the Digital Collections Archivist at Georgia Tech, where she develops policies and workflows for digital preservation and access and manages the retroTECH program. She is currently President of the Society of Georgia Archivists and received her M.S.I.S. from the University of Texas at Austin School of Information. She is also the resident troublemaking archivist for Lost in the Stacks, the original research library rock 'n' roll radio show.


Aliza Leventhal is the corporate librarian and archivist for Sasaki, an interdisciplinary design firm. She is the co-chair of the Society of American Archivist's Architectural Records Section, as well as the chair and co-founder of that group's CAD/BIM Taskforce. Her current work engages designers and archivists to identify key functionality, workflows, and information stored within digital design files and how the integrity of that information can be preserved for long-term access.


Jessica Meyerson is Digital Archivist at the Briscoe Center for American History at the University of Texas in Austin, where she is responsible for building infrastructure to support digital preservation and access. Jessica earned her M.S.I.S. from the University of Texas at Austin with specializations in digital archives and preservation. She is Co-PI on the IMLS-funded Software Preservation Network – a role that allows her to promote the essential role of software preservation in responsible and effective digital stewardship.


Fernando Rios received his Ph.D. in Geography from the University of Buffalo, SUNY. As Research Data Management Fellow in the CLIR Postdoctoral Fellowship Program, Fernando plays an integral role in the development of practices for archiving research software and code within the Data Management Services unit. He has surveyed the landscape of data curation to establish existing best practices in managing software, identified key questions that need to be considered in archiving research software and code, and worked collaboratively with data management services to manage and prioritize further research efforts and outcomes, among other responsibilities.


Elizabeth Russey Roke is the Digital Archivist and Metadata Specialist in the Rose Library at Emory University. Primarily focused on preservation, discovery, and access to digitized and born digital assets from special collections, Elizabeth works on a variety of technology projects and initiatives related to repository development, metadata standards, and archival description. Elizabeth is particularly interested in linked data approaches to description.


Zach Vowell is the Digital Archivist at the Robert E. Kennedy Library, California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo. Since receiving his M.S.I.S. from the University of Texas at Austin in 2006, he has worked on a variety of digital projects, all of which have emphasized the close relationship between digital objects and the software that creates them. Besides his work as Software Preservation Network Co-PI, or with digitization and born-digital archiving, Zach's professional interests include digital repository infrastructure development, alternative description and access methods for archives, and archives as data.


Tim Walsh is the Digital Archivist at the Canadian Centre for Architecture (CCA), a research museum in Montréal dedicated to the notion that architecture is a public concern. Among his other tasks at CCA, Tim develops and manages workflows and software tools for processing born-digital archives, oversees development and use of CCA's Archivematica-based digital preservation repository, and facilitates end user access to digital archives in the CCA Study Room. He holds an MS in Library and Information Science from Simmons College.