The British Library collects and must preserve an increasing amount of digital material for future users. The diversity of digital material and frequent changes in computer technology present ongoing challenges for long term preservation and access. The Library is at the cutting edge of international research in this area and our digital preservation team works closely with colleagues across the Library to improve the longevity of our digital collections.
The challenge of digital preservation
The British Library is committed to preserving digital content for the long term, safeguarding our intellectual heritage so that it can be used by future researchers. The rapid rate at which technology is evolving and the relative transience of digital content make this a significant challenge.
Our British Library's Digital Preservation Team undertakes the R&D necessary to ensure the Library is able to implement the right technology to support digital preservation, at the right time.
A strategy for digital preservation
In 2006, the Digital Preservation Team produced a ten year strategy to ensure perpetual access to the digital material held in our collections. The mission, goal and principles of that strategy remain broadly valid.
Our understanding of digital preservation has evolved since 2006. A new strategy has therefore been produced to bring our activities in line with the Library’s more recent 2020 vision and corporate strategic priorities for 2011 - 2015.
You can read more about our current strategy here.
What we do
Our R&D programme combines technical development with curatorial research to deliver policies, best practice and recommendations for operational units across the Library, disseminated via the Digital Preservation Centre of Excellence.
The R&D programme is directly linked to our strategy and strategic priorities. Activities include collection profiles, risk assessments, repository audits, quality assurance, tool and file format assessments, workflows, and a preservation watch. We work closely with colleagues across the Library to ensure these activities meet core business needs and we monitor operational activities across the Library to ensure recommendations are appropriately implemented.
Read more about our current programme of work.
National and international collaboration
Digital preservation is a global challenge. We have participated in several national and international initiatives since 2004 to advance the state of the art and state of the practice in digital preservation. Details of our major past and current collaborative activities can be found here.