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Preservation Management of Digital Materials: A Handbook, 2001

By Maggie Jones and Neil Beagrie


  • Purpose of book
    • This handbook is aimed at a broad audience
    • Intended to provide guidance to institutions who are involved in creation and/or acquisition of digital materials
    • Aimed at administrators, practitioners, service providers, funding agencies, and data creators
    • supports lifecycle approach to digital preservation
  • Designed as a handbook for broad audience so different chapters important to different constituents
  • Intro ends with several definitions
    • life-cycle management: pro-active concept of preservation; “at each phase of the cycle, electronic records need to be actively managed, according to established procedures, to ensure that they retain qualities of integrity, authenticity, and reliability.”

Digital Preservation

  • Strategic Overview
    • What is it necessary to take action?
      • To assure continued access to materials
    • How are digital materials different [from paper documents]?
      • Digital materials require specific hardware and software to access them.
      • Rapid changes in technology requires more speedy action.
      • Digital media is more fragile than paper and deterioration isn’t always outwardly visible.
      • Digital materials are easily changed.
      • Nature of technology requires life-cycle management
    • What digital materials are being produced?
      • Digital materials range from text-based files to web-based resources
      • Increasingly born-digital materials are being created that have no analog equivalent
    • Who needs to be involved?
      • Wide range of stakeholders (digital content creators, repositories, public institutions whose employees are skilled in preservation)
    • How much does it cost?
      • Difficult to measure – while concerns about cost of preservation are understandable, it is equally important to consider the costs of not preserving digital materials
  • Preservation Issues
    • Technological Issues
      • Digital materials are vulnerable to loss and destruction b/c they are stored on fragile magnetic and optical media – to reduce danger of loss, store media in stable, controlled environment, implement regular refreshment cycles, make preservation copies, implement appropriate handling procedures, transfer to “standard” storage media
    • Organizational Issues
      • Challenges relating to ability of organizations to integrate management of digital materials into organization structure include costs, expertise of staff, organizational structures, and selection of materials
  • Legal Issues
    • Copyright
    • Other statutory requirements (retention of electronic records subject to requirements of laws such as the Public Records Act)
    • Privacy and confidentiality

Institutional Strategies

  • This chapter is intended for senior administrators and managers
  • Outlines strategies used by institutions in developing approaches to digital preservation
  • Types of strategies discussed include collaboration, outreach, outsourcing, rights management, staff training and development, and best practices guidelines

Organizational Activities

  • This chapter is intended for creators and publishers of digital resources, management and staff with responsibility for implementing institutional activities of relevance to digital preservation
  • Provides advice for achieving and maintaining good practice in creating and managing digital materials
  • Focuses on creation of digital surrogates through digitization and also on the creation of electronic records
    • Creating Digital Surrogates
    • Creating Electronic Records checklist (this section provides an overview of things to keep in mind when creating electronic records; most useful is the references and examples provided about
      • Should have formal corporate policies including information about the status of electronic records and broad definitions of what they constitute; broad definition of records; who will undertake long-term mangement of the records (in-house v. third party service); roles and responsibilities within the organization
      • Define corporate strategies that address authenticity, appraisal and retention periods, migrating records, selection of media and formats, metadata, training, compliance
      • Corporate procedures to be defined by records manager and IT manager include design of recordkeeping system, types of electronic records to be captured, naming conventions to be used, metadata to be kept with records
  • Acquisition and appraisal, retention and review
  • Storage and preservation
  • Metadata and documentation
  • Access
    • decisions on how to provide access to and how to preserve digital materials should be made simultaneously
    • but, generally access copies and preservation copies of digital materials should be separated to protect against loss

Media Formats

  • Magnetic media
    • Magnetic tapes
    • Disks
  • Optical media
    • CD-ROM, CD-R, DVD-ROM, etc.
  • Media life
    • Media should be refreshed regularly
    • Life of media will vary within various formats depending on quality, i.e. "gold" CDs will have longer life than standard CDs
  • File formats and standards
    • institutions should identify preferred formats for archival storage, narrowing the range of formats helps reduce preservation costs
    • may be necessary to use different formats for storage versus access, i.e. TIFF master file, and JPEG for access purposes
  • Compression and encryption
    • compression can help reduce file sizes but usually leads to loss of information (amt. depends on lossy v. lossless compression)
    • both compression and encrytion should be avoided where possible since these factors lead to more complexity of the preservation process
  • Technology watch
    • keep list of hardware/software available within the instituition and keep an eye on changing technologies so that hardware/sofware might be replaced when necessary

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