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Digital Preservation-technical strategies Digital Preservation- additional reading

8. Digital Preservation

Key Concepts

technical strategies

additional reading



Technical solutions alone are insufficient to ensure the longevity of digital resources. A holistic approach is called for that recognizes the interdependencies between technical and organizational components. Among issues to be addressed in such a strategy are staffing and training needs, financial requirements, criteria for re-selection, and preservation metadata needs.

Although it is useful to examine each issue in detail, successful solutions require the integration of administrative and technical considerations. For example, an institution may have a well-developed strategy for day-to-day maintenance of image collections that codifies how to monitor, test, and refresh files. However, unless there is a concomitant financial and administrative plan that outlines how to staff and finance these activities over time, the maintenance plan may not succeed in the long-term. Likewise, having dedicated and qualified staff will not suffice unless there is a technical appreciation for the lifecycle management of digital assets. Effective management of digital collections will require institutions to develop and follow a business plan for evaluating long-term preservation and access requirements, identifying costs and benefits, and assessing risks.

Examples of initiatives that support such an approach include:

  • Arts and Humanities Data Service (AHDS) in the UK is developing a decision-making tree to be used in cost-benefit analysis of digital preservation options (Administrative and Managerial Frameworks Preservation Management of Digital Materials).
  • Cornell's Risk Management of Digital Information project examined the risks involved in file format migration (e.g., TIFF 4.0 to TIFF 6.0) and developed an assessment tool to evaluate the risks involved in migration. This tool also helps to assess institutional readiness for any digital preservation action.

The following initiatives are examples of promising, practical approaches to digital preservation:

OAIS (Open Archival Information System) reference model provides a framework for long-term digital preservation and access, including terminology and concepts for describing and comparing archival architectures. Both the NEDLIB and Cedars 1 projects have adopted the OAIS reference model as a basis for their explorations.

Cedars 1 (CURL Exemplars in Digital Archives) project aims to produce strategic frameworks for digital collection management policies, and to promote methods appropriate for long-term preservation of different classes of digital resources, including the creation of appropriate metadata.

Networked European Deposit Library (NEDLIB) is a collaborative project of European national libraries to build a framework for a networked deposit library. Among the key issues it explores are archival maintenance procedures and the link between metadata requirements and preservation strategies.

PANDORA (Preserving and Accessing Networked Documentary Resources of Australia) project has successfully established an archive of selected Australian online publications, developed several digital preservation policies and procedures, drafted a logical data model for preservation metadata, and outlined a proposal for a national approach to the long-term preservation of these publications.

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