Preserving Other Content
Digital Preservation is not a simple issue; it's complex, costly, and ongoing. Software and hardware keep changing; media become obsolete, and so do file formats. A file you used to open and use regularly may no longer be accessible with your current computer, for example. The focus for digital preservation is support for long-term access. Best practices require that we limit the types of file formats we try to preserve, to archival formats with which we have developed expertise and tools, and that we monitor that content closely, and migrate it as needed to newer formats.
Digital preservation incorporates a ton of metadata, such as:
- technical metadata, so that the content stored can be effectively migrated to newer forms later.
- administrative metadata, such as:
- original file dates and organization,
- tracking the checksum verifications over time (to ensure the original is still unchanged)
- tracking filename changes,
- provenance (the hands it has passed through, the media it has traveled through) and other information such as
- where it's stored,
- its size,
- how many files it contains,
- what kind of content it is,
- when it was last checked, etc.
- structural metadata: how do these files all fit together and inter-relate? Do they need to be stored in a certain configuration?
- descriptive metadata, to describe what this is, why it's important, who the target audience is, and information to make it searchable and findable
- rights information. This is complex, for the owner of a thing may not have copyright or intellectual property rights over it; the content may have information that needs to be redacted (think social security numbers, etc.) and more. We need rights to copy it, make backups and derivatives, describe it, provide open access to it, preserve it, etc. See the Digital_Services_Permission_Agreement.
If the content is in a form with which we're not familiar, and for which we do not currently have procedures, hardware, software, and workflow in place, intense research needs to take place before we can proceed.
In addition, backups and fees to our LOCKSS partnership are based on size; so the more content, or the larger the files (such as video), the greater the costs for us not only now, but from here on. Digital preservation is a commitment of time, money, expertise, and effort. Do not take it lightly.
Please refer all such requests to the Head of Metadata & Digital Services, who will consult with the Technical Lead and Associate Dean of Library Technology Planning and Policy to determine how to respond to the request. Current policies on born digital content management can be found in Born_Digital.