N E W S 
03. April 2007
Workshop Presentations.
The slides for the workshop presentations are now availabe online on the program web page.
18. March 2007
Workshop Program.
The final workshop program has been released. See Program for more details.
16. March 2007
Workshop Statement by Dr Malcolm Read (JISC).
As with all areas of digital preservation, the preservation of databases presents a wide range of highly complex challenges. We are pleased that this timely event is taking place so that these challenges can be addressed at international level. Through its Research and Development programmes, JISC is willing to contribute to research in this important area and we hope this workshop will stimulate new ideas and result in a set of commonly agreed issues and future areas of work.
A B O U T    T H E    W O R K S H O P 

Most of scientific research is now based on digital data resources, and databases are playing an increasingly important role. Much of the data is either impossible (e.g. climate and demographic data) to reproduce or can only be recovered at enormous costs (e.g. data from high energy physics experiments or space flight missions). Nearly every reference manual, dictionary and gazetteer benefits from some form of database management support, and there has been an explosion in the number of curated databases in biology. These databases represent a huge investment of human effort. The need for preservation is self-evident.

While considerable thought has been given to the preservation of fixed "digital objects" studied in the past, the preservation of databases, which have an internal structure and which may change over time, poses new challenges. Typically databases are centrally managed, and their survival depends on the viability of commercial organisations or the continued public funding of data centres. Libraries, the traditional curators of scientific and scholarly reference material, have largely abrogated their archival responsibility to databases. Database preservation raises new technical, economic and legal issues. For example:

  • What are the salient features of a database that should be preserved?
  • What are the different stages in the database preservation's life cycle?
  • How do we keep archived databases readable and usable in the long term (at acceptable cost)?
  • How do we separate the data from a specific database management environment?
  • How can we preserve the original data semantics and structure?
  • How can we preserve data while it continues to evolve?
  • How can we have efficient preservation frameworks, while retaining the ability to query different database versions?
  • How can multi-user online access be provided to hundreds of archived databases containing terabytes of data?
  • Can we move from a centralised model to a distributed, redundant model of database preservation?
  • What documentation is preserved together with a database, and in what format?
  • What are the legal encumbrances on database preservation?
  • What can be learned from traditional archival appraisal for the selection of databases for preservation?
  • To what extent can the preservation strategies, and procedural policies developed by archivists be adapted for databases?

The workshop aims to bring together an interdisciplinary group of researchers and practitioners who will address archival issues associated with databases. All participants’ presentations will be hosted by the workshop site and a short report with the final conclusions of the workshop discussions will be published.

O R G A N I S A T I O N 
PresDB is an informal workshop organized by a small executive committee. The one-day program of the workshop will consist of oral presentations and brainstorming sessions. Attendance will be mainly by invitation from the executive committee. To stimulate interaction and discussion, participants are also invited to submit short position papers until 09 March 2007. Papers in PDF format can be uploaded on the submission web site or send via e-mail to Heiko Mueller:
T I M I N G    A N D    V E N U E 
The workshop will be take place the 23 of March at the National e-Science Centre (NeSC), e-Science Institute (eSI) in the city of Edinburgh, UK. The eSI is located close to the center of Edinburgh on 15 South College Street, Edinburgh, EH8 9AA. Please visit the NeSC web page for further information.
E X E C U T I V E    C O M M I T T E E 

Peter Buneman, University of Edinburgh, UK

Vassilis Christophides, University of Crete and FORTH-ICS, Greece (Chair)

Bertram Ludaescher, University of California, Davis, USA

Chris Rusbridge, Digital Curation Center (DCC), UK

Wang-Chiew Tan, University of California, Santa Cruz, USA

Ken Thibodeau, National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), USA