Digital Preservation Basics


Digital preservation can often seem like a process that requires skills, resources, and infrastructure far beyond the means of many smaller institutions. One need only to look at the Digital Curation Centre's Curation Lifecycle Model below and its complex thicket of circles and arrows to get a sense of the varied, ongoing practices involved in the fundamental responsibility to preserve digital materials.




While high-level frameworks like ISO 16363 provide guidance on the characteristics of trustworthy digital repositories, information on digital preservation practices for smaller institutions is often lacking.
Recent conference sessions and projects, however, have begun to explore how many of the core components or digital preservation can be implemented by organizations with limited staff and resources. At the recent NDIIPP/NDSA Digital Preservation 2012 Conference, there was a session on "Planning Digital Preservation at Different Scales for Smaller Institutions." The session notes are posted online. As well, the National Digital Stewardship Alliance has been working to define a "Levels of Digital Preservation" chart that provides guidance for developing digital preservation plans for organizations of all sizes. The chart was recently made available for public comment.


METRO has also been working to provide training and workshops focused on digital preservation and digital asset management for all organizations. Next week, Bill LeFurgy from Library of Congress will present a webinar on digital preservation workflows:


Webinar: Steps in a Digital Preservation Workflow

Description: This presentation will outline generic considerations and processes for building and managing a digital preservation workflow.  We will consider the workflow within the larger context of a digital content life cycle, which runs from information creation through to ongoing discovery and access.  We will focus upon generalized steps institutions can use to acquire, preserve, and serve content.  The presentation will describe distinct workflow stages in conjunction with sample procedures, policies, tools, and services, stressing the dynamic nature of workflows over time, including the use of modular components and ongoing work to enhance automation and cope with issues of scale.  Participants will learn about the life cycle approach to digital stewardship and how that concept relates to conceptualizing a workflow for the puposes of institutional preservation and access.  The presentation will identify model workflow stages, generalized procedures and policies, and commonly used tools and services.  It will also include a discussion of various preservation options, including localized repositories and cloud services.

Who should attend:
Librarians and archivists involved with preservation of digital materials.  Participants should have a basic understanding of the types of digital information subject to preservation, as well as acquaintance with concepts discussed in the Open Archival Information System (OAIS).

Also, on October 12, Kara Van Malssen from AudioVisual Preservation Solutions, will be leading the below workshop on managing digital collections: 


Managing Digital Preservation Basics for Smaller Institutions

In smaller institutions with less IT support, archivists need to take a more active role in the care and management of digital materials. Though digital collections are presenting new challenges to traditional approaches of asset management and preservation, there are some simple steps that institutions can take to describe, manage, and preserve their digital collection.This workshop introduces digital collection caretakers to utilities and processes that will help them perform routine archival tasks in the file-based domain. Activities will include creating and validating checksums; entering, editing, reviewing, parsing and using embedded metadata; identifying file characteristics and attributes; discussion of wrappers and codecs; and discussion of obsolescence monitoring and normalization.

Who should attend:
Archivists, librarians, and collection managers who work in small institutions with file-based collections. This workshop will primarily focus on audiovisual materials. Attendees should have a basic understanding of running applications, managing files, and differences between file formats.