Digital preservation: what we do
Our research and development programme is informed by the requirements of our strategy. The current programme combines a range of technical development and curatorial assessments with activities involving external partners and projects, the outputs of which are delivered through the Digital Preservation Centre of Excellence.
The Digital Preservation Team is currently working to a three year R&D programme that aligns with the strategic priorities of our Digital Preservation Strategy. Activities target the entire lifecycle of digital content, from thinking about acquiring digital content to appropriate management prior to ingest in our long term repository and long term preservation in the repository. Our digital preservation staff lead these activities in conjunction with colleagues in other areas of the Library.
We work with curatorial staff across the Library to generate Collection Profiles. These are policy documents that detail the preservation principles associated with each high level content type (e.g. e-theses, e-books, web archives, e-manuscripts, geospatial data etc) and the variations in content type that may require particular attention. These Collection Profiles identify the content specific and general preservation requirements associated with a collection and provide benchmarks against which particular tools or actions can be assessed.
Tests and assessments
We run independent tests of preservation tools (eg for migration, quality assurance and file integrity) on our internal Digital Preservation Testbed, assessing outcomes against the requirements laid down in the collection profiles and comparing tools that perform similar functions in order to make recommendations the most appropriate tools for operational deployment. Alongside this, we run independent file format assessment exercises, profiling formats against a set of high level preservation principles to determine which are most suitable for long term preservation and are recommended for use as preservation master formats. This work informs content management activities throughout the lifecycle but in particular for our long term repository.
Risk management is an important aspect of preservation, whether analogue or digital. The Digital Preservation Team, in conjunction with our risk management colleagues, runs regular assessments of locally stored collections to make recommendations on changes to their management that will facilitate preservation in the short term. We also run a bi-annual assessment of our long term repository and maintain a preservation watch to alert the Library of impending obsolescence or other risks that are likely to manifest unless action is taken imminently.
The Digital Preservation Centre of Excellence
The output of our efforts typically takes the form of recommendations, guidelines, requirements or policies. These are disseminated to our operational colleagues through our internal online Digital Preservation Centre of Excellence, a ‘one-stop-shop’ for digital preservation expertise.
Working with the community
In addition to these internal activities, we participate in a number of externally funded, collaborative projects and feed the results of that research through into our internal activities. We also belong to a small number of expert digital preservation organisations. More details about external collaboration.