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Archives of the Future

Man standing at lecternDr Robin Darwall-Smith (1982, Classics), FSA, FRHistS, Univ’s Archivist, spoke at an event exploring the future of archives at Jesus College’s new Digital Hub on Friday 4 November.

The event brought together three Oxford archivists – Dr Robin Darwall-Smith, Emma Goodrum (Worcester College) and Lindsay McCormack (Lincoln) – who use Digisafe, a bespoke programme that allows archivists to collect and preserve digital objects and records. Robin presented a digital version of a video prepared by Univ in the 1980s for encouraging schoolchildren to apply to Univ.

Robin has been Univ’s archivist since 1993 and is also the archivist of Jesus College, Oxford. He has written three books about Univ including A History of University College, Oxford and Early Records of University College. He has also been Archivist of Magdalen College. He read Classics as an undergraduate and postgraduate at Oxford before training as an archivist at Liverpool. Robin has published extensively on many aspects of the history of Oxford. Most recently he has co-edited The Unloved Century: Georgian Oxford Reassessed, a volume of essays. He is Joint General Editor of the Oxford Historical Society and Editor of History of Universities, the leading English-language journal on the history of university education.

Dr Robin Darwall-Smith commented, “The transition to paperless working in recent decades means that increasing quantities of records are created digitally. This poses a great challenge to information professionals trying to preserve archives, who have to contend with issues such as obsolete hardware or unreadable software, to say nothing of keeping records safe from such dangers as ‘bit rot’, in their efforts to avoid what has been called the ‘digital dark age’.”

“The three of us aimed to tell our audience about our initial adventures with Digisafe, the different kinds of digital records which we have to process, and the opportunities and challenges which we archivists now face. About 50 people came to hear us – the largest attendance yet for an event at the Digital Hub – and, to judge from the questions and informal conversations afterwards, they found our presentation interesting and enjoyable.”

Find out more about Dr Robin Darwall-Smith in this profile.

Published: 10 November 2022

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