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Digital Preservation Process

"Scanning is easy. Building a website is relatively easy. However, once you start to consider a digitization project of hundreds or thousands of items, you quickly discover that you are playing an entirely different ballgame. 'Digitization' refers to all of the steps involved in the process of making collections of historical materials available online" (Digital Library of Georgia, 2004).

greylitDigitization is the process of making collections available to users, while preservation focuses on ensuring long-term access to digital materials. While these two activities complement each other, they also connect to the traditional roles of librarians vs. archivists.

When working through the digital preservation process, it's important to consider these two different perspectives.

Librarians will likely be most interested getting as many materials available to the public as soon as possible. They're also interested in making every item easier discoverable by end users.

However, archivists will encourage librarians to slow down and think about the long-term implications of every step in the process. They're most concerned that every item will be available in both physical and digital form for a long time into the future.

Digital Preservation

"Digital preservation is a series of managed activities necessary to ensure continued access to digital materials for as long as they are needed." (North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources, 2015)

Harvey (2011, 15) has described the changing paradigm of preservation. Although many of the old principles still apply, they have been transformed for the digital information environment. He states

“longevity has altered from a focus on extending the life of physical media to one on ‘the life expectancy of the access system’. Choice (selection of material to be preserved) is no longer a decision made later in the life cycle of an item, but has become, for digital materials, ‘an ongoing process intimately connected to the active use of the digital files’. Integrity, based ‘the authenticity, or truthfulness, of the information content of an item’, no longer has maintaining the physical medium as its primary emphasis, but now is about developing procedures that allow us to ensure and be assured that no changes have been made. In the digital world, access to the artifact is clearly no longer sufficient; what is required, suggests Conway, is access to ‘a high quality, high value, well-protected, and fully integrated digital product’”.

readRead!
Read Abbey, Heidi N. (2013). Preserving Digital Content. In, J. Monson, LITA Guide: Jump-Start Your Career as a Digital Librarian, 197-214. American Library Association. Available as an ebook through IUPUI.

Read Brown, H. (2013). The Interconnected Web: A Paradigm for Managing Digital Preservation. World Digital Libraries, 6(1), 1-12.

Becker, C. and Rauber, A. (2011). Decision criteria in digital preservation: What to measure and how. Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology, 62: 1009–1028. 

try itTry It!
Go to the Media Digitization & Preservation Initiative.
Explore their process, collections, and blog.

The Process

glassesFrom books to DVDs, libraries are accustomed to doing inventories of physical materials. However, it's equally important to inventory digital assets. The Digital Preservation section of the Library of Congress website contains useful resources for digital preservation projects. Their National Digital Information Infrastructure and Preservation Program "is implementing a national strategy to collect, preserve and make available significant digital content, especially information that is created in digital form only, for current and future generations". Part of this strategy was the development of an easy-to-use process for digital preservation.

The process includes six stages (Miller & Rhodes, 2012):

videoWatch!
The following short videos are from the Library of Congress:
Identify . . . the types of digital content you have.
Select . . . what portion of your digital content will be preserved.
Store . . . your selected content for the long term.
Protect . . . your content from everyday threats and emergency contingencies.
Manage . . . and implement requirements for long term management.
Provide . . . access to digital content over time.

OR

Browse the Digital Preservation Webinar Series (University of Illinois, CARLI). These videos provide an excellent introduction to the process of digital preservation. Each video is around an hour long, so you wish to scan those of interest. If you don't have time to watch each one in detail, be sure to read this page very carefully, so you don't miss the key points.

Step 1: Identify

Every organization creates content. What content do you have? You can't preserve everything and not everything needs to be preserved. You also can't preserve things you don't know exist. However, you need to start by exploring the possibilities.

There’s endless content that could be preserved. Start by exploring all the possibilities, then focus in on what will actually be preserved. It’s essential to begin with an explicit inventory to identify content.

The Possibilities

Libraries around the world are building digital collections for their digital libraries. What does your library have to share with the world?

readRead!
Read Marquis, Kathy & Waggener, Leslie (July 29, 2015). What to collect? Building a local history reference collection at your library. American Libraries.

Collection Size. Keep in mind that a digital collection doesn't need to be large. For instance, the San Francisco (CA) Earthquake Snapshots (MWDL, Utah State University - Merrill-Cazier Library) digital collection only contains 26 photographs. However, each photo tells a story. John Lorin Taylor was traveling in San Francisco during the famous earthquake of April 18, 1906. This images show the devastating toll of this natural disaster.

The Experience. Think of a digital collection as an experience. Seek out representative objects that reflect the theme of the collection. How do they reflect the people, place, or event? For example, San Luis Takes its Place in Arizona's History: The Migrant Worker Experience (MWDL, Yuma County (AZ) Library District) is a digital collection that contains oral histories and photographs that provide insight into the lives of Mexicans and Anglo-Americans in the southern towns of Yuma County.

Locally-Produced Content. Think about the types of locally produced content that would be useful for your library:

readBrowse!
Browse the Digital Preservation Management Survey. This is a good place to start thinking about digital preservation issues in a specific setting.

The Inventory

Create a spreadsheet with the following columns: category (e.g, digitized archive, born digital), title/description (department newsletters), dates (e.g., 1960-1964), location (e.g., thumb drive, DVD, Internet Archive), extent (e.g., 48 journal issues, 106 photos, 1.5G, 205MB), and format (e.g., pdf, jpg). Other columns can also be added. The style and format of the inventory doesn’t matter. The key is to get organized and identify content.

It's important to inventory content across formats including text, images, audio, video, and others. It's also essential to look at both online and offline digital assets. Miller and Rhodes (2012) suggest asking yourself:

readBrowse!
Browse Preservation Planning for Digital Information from the University of Kansas. Notice how they define digital assets and their guidelines for inventory.

The Library of Congress identified five considerations for inventory known as the SCADS model:

Ask the following questions (Miller & Rhodes, 2012):

When seeking out digital content to inventory, be sure to check the following locations:

When planning your inventory process, the Library of Congress recommends asking the following questions:

Then, consider factors for choosing the level of detail (Miller & Rhodes, 2012):

Keep in mind that the purpose of the inventory is to assist in the planning process. Focus on the broad range of content and worry about the depth of detail later.

Finally, the Library of Congress recommends the following steps:

try itTry It!
Read NDSA Levels of Digital Preservation from the Library of Congress. Think about a library situation and what levels might apply.

Step 2: Select

It's easy to get overwhelmed by the digital projects, so it's important to keep projects realistic using the tools and technology available.

Once you have a handle on what you have available to preserve, it's time to select what will be preserved. Librarians call it selection, archivists use the term appraisal and museum personnel call it acquisition.

To ensure long-term preservation, it's important to establish and follow standards for accepting items.

Selection can be difficult. Policies are essential. Only those items that are relevant to the institution's mission should be considered. If the content doesn't meet the needs of the institution, it should not be selected. A clear set of policies will help ensure a focused, high quality collection.

Of course it would be nice to keep everything. However, it's important to be realistic in terms of storage, maintenance and value to users.

It's important to consider discovery and dissemination tools as part of the process. Think in terms of scale, scope, performance, and sustainability. When content isn't accessible, it's not useful. To be worthwhile, items need to be preserved long-term in sustainable formats.

Miller and Rhodes (2012) suggest the following steps in selection of digital content:

  1. Review inventory and establish priorities
  2. Define and apply selection criteria
  3. Document (and preserve) selection decisions
  4. Implement your decisions

They suggest prioritizing your inventory the following ways (Miller & Rhodes, 2012):

Consider the following selection criteria (Miller & Rhodes, 2012):

When making a final decision, it's important to be sure that the answer to the following questions is "yes" (Miller & Rhodes, 2012):

It’s useful to have a plan for working with content creators. The Library of Congress suggests the following:

readRead!
Read at least ONE of the following articles focusing on selection.

Havenwood, Clare, Matthews, Graham, Muir, Adrienne (2012). Selection of digital material for preservation in libraries. Journal of Librarianship and Information Science, 45(4), 294-308.

Summerlin, Donnie (September/October 2014). Selecting newspaper titles for digitization at the Digital Library of Georgia. D-Lib Magazine, 20(9/10). Available online.

Webb, Colin, Pearson, David, Koerbin, Paul (January/February 2013). ’Oh, you want us to preserve that?!’ statements of preservation intent for the National Library of Australia’s digital collections. D-Lib Magazine, 19(1/2). Available online.

Digital Library Spotlight
Harvard University Library’s Open Collections Program includes subject-specific digital collections that support teaching and learning. These thematically linked collections contain carefully selected materials to meet the needs of students, teachers, and other explorers.

Rather than including every available on the topic, criteria for selecting the themes and object were:
• The subject should utilize and represent a number of Harvard collections.
• The subject should have a broad appeal for teaching not just at Harvard, but at schools and colleges across the country and around the world.
• The subject should utilize a wide range of materials—books, pamphlets, manuscripts, images—that represent global perspectives.
• The subject should not be too general.
• The subject should complement, not duplicate, the work of other digitization initiatives.

Try It!
Examine the Digital Projects Plan (Claremont) and Dartmouth College. Develop your own list of criteria for digitization.

Step 3: Store

Just because an item is stored that doesn't mean it's "preserved". It's necessary to think about long-term preservation.

readRead!
Read NARA’s Technical Guidelines for Digitizing Archival Materials for Electronic Access.

Read LOC's Sustainability of Digital Formats Planning for Library of Congress Collections

Laura Osterhout and Erin Rhodes (2012) note that "archival storage manages content as objects". Digital objects are composed of files (i.e., text, images, audio, video) plus metadata (i.e., identification, description). They suggest:

Laura Osterhout and Erin Rhodes (2012) suggest asking the following questions:

A digital object consists of a file plus metadata. Metadata is an essential element of long-term preservation. Metadata uniquely identifies digital objects, makes objects understandable, and allows objects to be traced over time (Osterhout & Rhodes, 2012).

Preservation metadata includes:

There’s also administrative metadata related to management, structural metadata related to understanding and use, and descriptive metadata related to finding and using the item.

readRead!
Read Reilly, Bernard (2007). Planning for Digital Preservation: 20 Questions for Providers of Digital Storage Services. Northeast Document Conservation Center.

Good storage practices are important:

There are three options:

To learn more about storage, go to CCSDS (2012). Reference Model for an Open Archival Information System (OAIS) or check the DPC Technology Watch Reports.

Step 4: Protect

The next step of the Library of Congress' digital preservation process is to protect digital assets.

Benn Joseph (2014) asks: What are we protecting content from?

Forensic tools include hardware write-blockers and FTK imager.

Keys to preservation include (Strohm, 2014):

Proper planning should allow you to (Strohm, 2014):

Steps to protect your content (Strohm, 2012):

Engage in ongoing disaster planning (Strohm, 2014):

Identify possible outcomes and prepare (Strohm, 2014):

What needs to be available soonest? (Strohm, 2014):

Step 5: Manage

“The need to actively maintain digital information over time from the moment of its creation. Interruptions in the management of a digital collection will mean that there is no collection left to manage" (Harvey, 2011, 12).

It's important to have a digital preservation policy for the following reasons:

Your digital preservation plan should include the following elements:

When investing in technology, consider the following factors:

Characteristics of sound software include:

Planning should involve:

Useful Digital Project Guides and Best Practices

Policies and Guidelines

Digitization Best Practices

Digital Preservation Policies

Digital Services Pricing

Repository Policies

Other Resources. Many organizations have creating resources to assist in planning for digital collections. Many of these include lots of examples, templates, and suggestions.

For many more help with policies, go to the Library of Congress blog.

readRead!
Read Noonan, Daniel W. (July 28, 2014). Digital preservation policy framework: a case study. EDUCAUSE Review.

readSkim!
Choose ONE of the following to skim:

Skim Hooper, Lisa & Force, Donald C. (2014). Keeping Time: An Introduction to Archival Best Practices for Music Librarians. MLA Basic Manual Series, Volume BM9. Available through IUPUI

Skim Cohen, Daniel J. & Rosenzweig (2005). Digital History: A Guide to Gathering, Preserving, and Presenting the Past on the Web. University of Pennsylvania Press.

Skim Witten, Ian H., Bainbridge, David, & Nicholas, David (2003, 2010). How to Build a Digital Library. Morgan Kaufmann: Elsevier. Google Preview Available: https://books.google.com/books?id=HiJNbEy5f70C. Available as an ebook through IUPUI.

Perrin, Joy M., Winkler, Heidi M. & Yang, Le (January 2015). Digital preservation challenges with an ETD collection - a case study at Teas Tech University. The Journal of Academic Librarianship, 41(1), 98-104.

try itTry It!
Explore NEDCC Digital Preservation Policy Template. Examine some of the sample policies above. Then, build your own.

Step 6: Provide

Now that you're managing some great digital objects, how do you provide access to end-users?

Consider how content can be delivered over time:

Organizational responsibilities include:

Access policies are important. Consider who will have access to what and what are the exceptions. Also consider how access can be requested. There need to be specific policies.

It’s also important the think about future users and access.

try itTry It!
Work your way through the Library Preservation and Conservation Tutorial from Cornell University.

Digital Content Life Cycle

A number of researchers have developed digital content life cycles. They all include the following components: creating (receiving), describing, ingesting, storing, managing, accessing and discovering, using and reusing, transforming.

The POWRR project suggestions that in the real world it may not be possible to follow all the strict guidelines set out by very large organizations. They suggestion the following approach:

Pre-Ingestion:

Ingest: Getting it, understanding it, and documenting it

Processing: Understanding it and documenting it

Access: Letting people use it… or not

Storage: Taking care of it

Maintenance: Taking care of it

Anne R. Kenney and Nancy McGovern in their Digital Preservation Management Workshop note that digital preservation is like a three-legged stool. You need all three of the following legs for a sturdy program.

It's important to look at your SWOTs including strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. You also need to look for the gaps between where you are now and where you want to be.

readRead!
Read Schumacher, Jaime, Thomas, Lynne M. & VandeCreek, Drew (August 2014). From Theory to Action: “Good Enough” Digital Preservation Solutions for Under-Resourced Cultural Heritage Institutions. A Digital POWRR White Page.

The Planning Process

Of course there are many other approaches to the digitization process. However, they all contains similar components.

readRead!
Read Starting a Digitization Project from University of Michigan. Pay particular attention to their workflow visuals.

There are also different approaches depending on the type of collection being developed.

readSkim!
Skim Creating an Institutional Repository: LEADIRS Workbook (2004). This report takes readers through the process of defining, then creating an institutional repository.

Standards

Regardless of the model you choose to follow during the digitization process, it's essential to consider standards.

Key Standards

You should be familiar with all three of these standards.

An Open Archival Information System (or OAIS) is an archive that consists of a community of people and systems working to preserve information and make it accessible. The term also refers to the ISO OAIS Reference Model for an OAIS. The reference model shown in the graphic below provides a framework for long term digital information preservation and access. It consists of three elements:

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/d/de/OAIS-.gif

OAIS has become the standard model for digital preservation systems at many institutions and organizations including the Library of Congress, British Library, and OCLC. According to TRAC Criteria & Checklist,

“The [OAIS] reference model (ISO 14721) provides a common conceptual framework describing the environment, functional components, and information objects within a system responsible for the long-term preservation of digital materials. Long before it became an approved standard in 2002, many in the cultural heritage community had adopted OAIS as a model to better understand what would be needed from digital preservation systems.

“Institutions began to declare themselves ‘OAIS-compliant’ to underscore the trustworthiness of their digital repositories, but there was no established understanding of ‘OAIS-compliance’ beyond meeting the high-level responsibilities defined by the standard. There were certainly no criteria for measuring compliance.”

readSkim!
Skim Lavoie, Brian (2014). Technology Watch Report 14-02: The Open Archival Information System (OAIS) Reference Model: Introductory Guide (2nd Edition). Digital Preservation Coalition.

try itTry It!
From security and access to trustworthiness, you might be asked whether you digital collection meets the standards. You should be able to address standards-related issues associated with OAIS, TRAC Certification, and TDR ISO 16363. Could you declare your digital collection to be "OAIS-compliant"?

You should also be familiar with NISO. The NISO Best Practices focus on a wide range of topics from journal content to metadata indicators. According to the NISO website,

"NISO is where content publishers, libraries, and software developers turn for information industry standards that allow them to work together. Through NISO, all of these communities are able to collaborate on mutually accepted standards — solutions that enhance their operations today and form a foundation for the future." 

try itTry It!
Browse the NISO Best Practices. Notice that many guidelines related to digital libraries.

Beyond professional standards, there are a growing number of consumer standards related to digital objects and collections.

readRead!
Read Jacobs, James A. & Jacobs, James R. (March/April 2013). The digital-surrogate seal of approval: a consumer-oriented standards. D-Lib Magazine, 19(3/4). Available online.

Resources

4C Project (2015). Investing in Curation: A Shared Path to Sustainability. Available online.

Abbey, Heidi N. (2013). Preserving Digital Content. In, J. Monson, LITA Guide: Jump-Start Your Career as a Digital Librarian, 127-144. American Library Association. Available as an ebook through IUPUI.

Abrams, Stephen (2015). A Foundation Framework for Digital Curation: The Sept Domain Model. Presented at iPRES 2015, The 12th International Conference on Preservation of Digital Objects, Chapel Hill, November 2-6, 2015.

ACRL (March 2015). Environmental Scan 2015. Available online.

ALA (April 2015). The State of America’s Libraries: A Report from the American Library Association 2015. American Libraries. Special Issue.

Babeu, Alison (August 2011). ‘Rome Wasn’t Digitized in a Day’: Building a Cyberinfrastructure for Digital Classics. Council on Library and Information Resources. Available online.

Cataldo, Tara Tobin & Leonard, Michelle (Spring 2015). E-STEM: Comparing aggregator and publisher e-book platforms. Issues in Science and Technology Librarianship. Available online.

CCSDS (2012). Reference Model for an Open Archival Information System (OAIS).

Combs, Michele, Matienzo, Mark A., Proffitt, Merrilee, & Spiro, Lisa (2015). Over, under, around, and through: getting around barriers to EAD implementation. In OCLC Research, Making Archival and Special Collections More Accessible, 39-62. Available online.

Conway, Martha O’Hara & Proffitt, Merrilee (2015). Taking stock and making hay: archival collections assessment. In OCLC Research, Making Archival and Special Collections More Accessible, 17-38. Available online.

DeCesare, Julie A. (2014). Streaming Video Resources for Teaching, Learning, and Research. ALA TechSource.

Dempsey, Lorcan (2015). A new information management landscape: from outside-in to inside-out. In N. Allen (ed.), New Roles for the Road Ahead: Essays Commissioned for ARCL’s 75th Anniversary. ACRL.

Digital Library of Georgia (2004). Digital Library of Georgia Digitization Guide.

Digital Preservation Coalition (2008). Preservation Management of Digital Materials: The Handbook. Available: http://www.dpconline.org/advice/preservationhandbook

Downey, Kay, Zhang, Yin, Urbano, Cristóbal, & Klingler, Tom (January 1, 2014). KSUL: An evaluation of patron-driven acquisitions for ebooks. Computers in Libraries, 34(1), 10-14.

Fox, Edward A., Yang, Seungwon, Ewers, John, Wildemuth, Barbara, Pomerantz, Jeffrey P., Oh, Sanghee (2011). 1-a (10-c): Digital Library Curriculum Development Module. Collaborative Research: Curriculum Development: Digital Libraries. Available: http://curric.dlib.vt.edu/modDev/modules/DL_1-a_2011-05-11.pdf

Havenwood, Clare, Matthews, Graham, Muir, Adrienne (2012). Selection of digital material for preservation in libraries. Journal of Librarianship and Information Science, 45(4), 294-308.

Hooper, Lisa & Force, Donald C. (2014). Keeping Time: An Introduction to Archival Best Practices for Music Librarians. MLA Basic Manual Series, Volume BM9. Available through IUPUI.

Huwe, Terence (May/June 2015). Data administration: an opportunities to collaborate. Computers in Libraries, 35(5), 15-17.

Huwe, Terence K. (November 1, 2014). The value of data-driven special collections. Computers in Libraries, 34(9), 23-25.

Joseph, Benn (2014) Protect Part 1.

Kaplan, Richard (ed.) (2012). Building and Managing E-Book Collections: A How-To-Do-It Manual for Librarians. ALA Neal-Schuman.

Korn, Naomi & Oppenheim, Charles (2016). The Non-Nonsense Guide to Licensing Digital Resources. Facet Publishing, UK.

Marquis, Kathy & Waggener (July 29, 2015). What to collect? Building a local history reference collection at your library. American Libraries Magazine. Available online.

Marquis, Kathy & Waggener, Leslie (2015). Local History Reference Collections for Public Libraries. ALA Editions.

Miller, Brenda & Rhodes, Sarah (2012). From the Digital Dark Ages to a Digital Renaissance: The Art of Selecting Digital Content to Preserve. Library of Congress Presentation. Available online.

Noonan, Daniel W. (July 28, 2014). Digital preservation policy framework: a case study. EDUCAUSE Review.

Osterhout, Laura & Rhodes, Erin (2012). From the Digital Dark Ages to a Digital Renaissance: The Role of Long Term Storage in Digital Curation. An ALCTS Webinar. Library of Congress. Available online.

Perrin, Joy M., Winkler, Heidi M. & Yang, Le (January 2015). Digital preservation challenges with an ETD collection - a case study at Teas Tech University. The Journal of Academic Librarianship, 41(1), 98-104.

Redwine, Gabriela, Barnard, Megan, Donovan, Kate, Farr, Erika, Forstrom, Michael, Hansen, Will, John, Jeremy Leighton, Kühl, Nancy, Shaw, Seth, & Thomas, Susan (October 2013). Born Digital: Guidance for Donors, Dealers, and Archival Repositories. Council on Library and Information Resources. Available online.

Schonfeld, Roger C. (2013). Stop the Presses: Is the Monograph Headed Toward an E-Only Future? Ithaka S+R. Available online.

Schull, Diantha Dow (2015). Archives Alive: Expanding Engagement with Public Library Archives and Special Collections. ALA Editions.

Strohm, Adam (2014). Protect, Part 2.

Tarver, Hannah, Waugh, Laura, Alemneh, Gelaw, Daniel, & Phillips, Mark (2015). Managing serials in a large digital library: case study of the UNT libraries digital collections, 68(1-4), 353-360.

Tobar, Cynthia (July/August 2011). Music to my ears: the New York Philharmonic Digital Archive. D-Lib Magazine, 17(7/8). Available online.

Watson, Andrea (1998). CSS Alabama digital collection: a special collections digitization project. The American Archivist, 61, 124-134.

Webb, Colin, Pearson, David, Koerbin, Paul (January/February 2013). ’Oh, you want us to preserve that?!’ statements of preservation intent for the National Library of Australia’s digital collections. D-Lib Magazine, 19(1/2). Available online.

Witten, Ian H., Bainbridge, David, & Nicholas, David (2003, 2010). How to Build a Digital Library. Morgan Kaufmann: Elsevier. Google Preview Available: https://books.google.com/books?id=HiJNbEy5f70C. Available as an ebook through IUPUI.

Woodward, Jeannette (2013). The Transformed Library: E-books, Expertise, and Evolution. ALA Editions.

Younglove, April (July/August 2013). Rethinking the digital media library for RIT’s The Wallace Center. D-Lib Magazine, 19(7/8). Available online.

Zastrow, Jan (May 1, 2014). Taking the long view: surveying collections for preservation and digitization priorities. Computers in Libraries, 34(4), 22-24.

Zickuhr, Kathryn & Rainie, Lee (January 16, 2014). E-reading Rises as Device Ownership Jumps. PewResearchCenter. Available online.


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