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Data rescue archive weather (DRAW): Preserving the complexity of historical climate data

Eun G. Park (School of Information Studies, McGill University, Montreal, Canada)
Gordon Burr (School of Information Studies, McGill University, Montreal, Canada)
Victoria Slonosky (Department of Geography, McGill University, Montreal, Canada)
Renee Sieber (Department of Geography and School of Environment, McGill University, Montreal, Canada)
Lori Podolsky (McGill University Archives, McGill University, Montreal, Canada)

Journal of Documentation

ISSN: 0022-0418

Article publication date: 25 April 2018

Issue publication date: 8 May 2018




To rescue at-risk historical scientific data stored at the McGill Observatory, the objectives of the Data Rescue Archive Weather (DRAW) project are: to build a repository; to develop a protocol to preserve the data in weather registers; and to make the data available to research communities and the public. The paper aims to discuss these issues.


The DRAW project adopts an open archive information system compliant model as a conceptual framework for building a digital repository. The model consists of data collection, conversion, data capture, transcription, arrangement, description, data extraction, database design and repository setup.


A climate data repository, as the final product, is set up for digital images of registers and a database is designed for data storage. The repository provides dissemination of and access to the data for researchers, information professionals and the public.

Research limitations/implications

Doing a quality check is the most important aspect of rescuing historical scientific data to ensure the accuracy, reliability and consistency of data.

Practical implications

The DRAW project shows how the use of historical scientific data has become a key element in research analysis on scientific fields, such as climatology and environmental protection.


The historical climate data set of the McGill Observatory is by nature unique and complex for preservation and research purposes. The management of historical scientific data is a challenge to rescue and describe as a result of its heterogeneous and non-standardized form.



Park, E.G., Burr, G., Slonosky, V., Sieber, R. and Podolsky, L. (2018), "Data rescue archive weather (DRAW): Preserving the complexity of historical climate data", Journal of Documentation, Vol. 74 No. 4, pp. 763-780.



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