I have been working at the IFI Irish Film Archive as Archive Technical Officer for a number of years and I often find it hard to explain what my job entails in a clear way. If someone asks me, I will just let them know what I’ve been doing recently and end with “and some other things …” without going into detail as it can be difficult for people to understand how my work helps in digital preservation. This blog for World Digital Preservation Day has given me an opportunity to really consider what I do. As a technical officer, my goal is to help provide support to help overcome any technical barriers within the Archive preservation workflow. The main knowledge I use to do this, apart from archive and preservation standards (like OAIS, Spectrum and PREMIS), is coding and computer technology related. From my point of view, an archive is made of a number of building blocks including staff knowledge, archive materials, preservation systems and storage; my job is to provide the efficient labour-saving tools in every aspect of the building the archive.  

I take care of the digital infrastructure from storage, workstations and software to our valuable digital preservation system, to make sure the system can serve us 9 to 5 and  24/7. I also run a support line for any technical questions and demands. I am responsible for updating IFIScripts , a suite of bespoke software that were created in house but are open  source and available publicly. These scripts  automate all core functions in our digital preservation workflow. In addition to maintaining the scripts I also focus on updating our core policies and workflows as well as addressing any additional demands that may arise from specific projects and their workflows. 

In order to effectively create and maintain the tools we need to manage our assets, while following recognised standards, I need to keep up to date with archival and technical knowledge. I do this by taking courses, joining seminars, etc. I’m happy to have met a couple of mentors from the field who have  guided me in my digital archiving and software development skills. I find this combination of developing and discovering very rewarding, especially as it allows me to contribute to the long-term preservation of Ireland’s moving image heritage in a practical way. 

Yazhou He, 

Archive Technical Officer

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