World Digital Preservation Day 2019

Lance Stuchell, Head of the Digital Preservation Unit, points at a screen display of 3.5-inch floppy disks during a World Digital Preservation Day event.

Lance Stuchell, Head of the Digital Preservation Unit, expounds on the differences between 3.5-inch floppy disks.

When I woke up on November 7, events for World Digital Preservation Day (WDPD) were already underway in other timezones. Organized by the Digital Preservation Coalition, an international network based in England, WDPD is an annual opportunity for practitioners to celebrate and promote their work and engage in outreach. Baking digital preservation-themed cakes and cookies also seems to be a big part of the festivities. Using the #WDPD2019 hashtag on Twitter, participants can learn about the many events and projects happening around the world.

To celebrate WDPD at U-M Library's Digital Preservation Lab, we planned a special event in coordination with the Sharing Across One Library committee: A Space Share tour of the Lab and demonstration of how to recover data from 3.5-inch floppy disks. For last year's event, we travelled to the Library for a pop-up clinic and vintage disk display. This year, we invited the Library into our Lab space in the mildly off-campus Buhr Building. 

As an additional lure to visit the Lab, I created a new edition of the Personal Digital Archiving zine. I expanded last year's edition from 12 to 20 pages, including new sections on file formats and digitization. All of the copies that were printed for the event are now gone, but soon more will arrive in the Shapiro Library Design Lab's Design-o-Matic 4000 vending machine.

Multiple copies of the Personal Digital Archiving Zine on display.

Around a dozen people showed up for the Space Share event in the afternoon. Lance Stuchell, Head of the Digital Preservation Unit, kicked it off with a brief history of the Lab and general overview of our role in the Library. He then delved into the details of dealing with 3.5-inch floppy disks, such as how to recognize them in the wild, and what technology you would need to access old disks at home. In a stirring climax to the proceedings, Lance revealed how to access 3.5-inch disks using FTK Imager and migrate an outdated WordPerfect file into a modern Word document, to the delight and joy of all in attendance.

Lance Stuchell demonstrates the FTK Imager software on a large screen.

And, of course, because this was World Digital Preservation Day, we dined on floppy disk cookies.

A box of sugar cookies decorated to look like 3.5-inch floppy disks