Oates receives digital preservation award

Laura Molloy (University of Oxford), Anna Oates, and Laura Mitchell (National Records of Scotland)
Laura Molloy (University of Oxford), Anna Oates, and Laura Mitchell (National Records of Scotland)

Anna Oates (MS '18) won the National Records of Scotland Award for the Most Outstanding Student Work in Digital Preservation for her master's thesis work on the PDF/A standard. She received the award on November 29 at a ceremony at the Amsterdam Museum, as part of an international conference hosted by the Dutch Digital Heritage Network and the Amsterdam Museum on World Digital Preservation Day. According to the Digital Preservation Coalition (DPC), who sponsored the awards, this year marked the greatest number of nominations the organization has received to date, and those selected as finalists faced tough competition from entries across the world.

Oates' work originated from her research as a student in the Oxford-Illinois Digital Library Placement Program. In her summer 2017 placement, she spent six weeks at Oxford's Bodleian Libraries. Her project focused on student theses in Oxford's Institutional Repository and the challenges faced in meeting the ISO 19005 Standard, which specifies how to use the Portable Document Format (PDF) for long-term preservation of electronic documents. When she returned from England, Oates extended her research project into a master’s thesis and submitted the abstract to and presented at iConference.

"Although embedded in theoretical points of inquiry, my student work applies directly to current practices of institutional repositories that store and give access to theses and dissertations," Oates said. "But the work isn't just adding to an already existing conversation; it's engaging in a topic that has been a bit overlooked. Some institutions have blindly accepted PDF/A as an optimal file format without consideration of what normalization—the process to make a PDF/A—is doing to the original file. This is really problematic for digital preservation, long-term sustainability, and authenticity of student research."

She hopes that her work will raise institutional awareness of these issues as well as of the importance of the topic and that managers will be encouraged to make more informed decisions for their workflows and file format policies.

Oates is currently employed as a scholarly communication and discovery services librarian for the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.

Watch the awards ceremony (The National Records of Scotland Award for the Most Distinguished Work in Digital Preservation are presented from 26:54-32:00 in the video.)

Research Areas:
Updated on
Backto the news archive

Related News

Student award recipients announced

Each year, the School of Information Sciences recognizes a group of outstanding students for their achievement in academics as well as a number of attributes that contribute to professional success. Congratulations to this year's honorees!

Alma with cap

New project to help identify and predict insider threats

Insider threats are one of the top security concerns facing large organizations. Current and former employees, business partners, contractors—anyone with the right level of access to a company’s data—can pose a threat. The incidence of insider threats has increased in recent years, at a significant cost to companies. Associate Professor Jingrui He is addressing this problem in a new project that seeks to detect and predict insider threats. She has been awarded a three-year, $200,000 grant from the C3.ai Digital Transformation Institute for her project, "Multi-Facet Rare Event Modeling of Adaptive Insider Threats."

Jingrui He

Yen supports student success through annual fund

Julie Yen (MS/LIS '07) wants students to receive the same quality educational experience that she enjoyed during her time at the iSchool. For this reason, she is a loyal donor to the iSchool Annual Fund, which provides dollars for scholarships, annual student awards, new technology, and conference travel.

Julie Yen

Lee selected for leadership institute

MS/LIS student Kyra Lee had the opportunity to network with leaders in the LIS field at the 2022 Black Caucus American Library Association (BCALA) Leadership Institute. At the inaugural event, which took place from April 12-14 in Durham, North Carolina, LIS students and early career library professionals gathered for workshops, panels, facilitated discussions, and presentations. Lee was one of eighteen students selected to participate in the institute.

Kyra Lee

2021 Downs Intellectual Freedom Awards given to #FReadom Fighters and ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom staff

For libraries and librarians, 2021 was an especially challenging year in terms of the increase in attempts at censorship. According to the American Library Association (ALA) Office for Intellectual Freedom, the number of challenges to library materials more than tripled from 2020 to 2021. In addition, current estimates show that 82 to 97 percent of challenges go unreported, suggesting that the total number of challenges are significantly greater.

#FReadom Fighter logo