Digital Preservation Framework

Purpose

This document formalizes the commitment of the BGSU University Libraries ("UL") to the long-term preservation of and access to its varied and unique digital assets, including stewardship of BGSU's institutional record and the diverse cultural and intellectual heritage materials maintained by the UL's Special Collections units. This document also provides the broad framework for the digital preservation program through which the UL will enact its commitment to the preservation and accessibility of its digital assets.

The UL requires a formal digital preservation framework in order to carry out its mission of supporting teaching, learning, and research by "providing access to resources, services, collections, and expertise." [1] Further, in formalizing the UL's commitment to the long-term preservation of and access to the intellectual and cultural heritage important to BGSU, this framework supports BGSU's larger mission of providing "holistic and comprehensive educational experiences that enhance the lives of our students, stakeholders, and the many publics we serve." [2]

This framework works in concert with the UL's Collection Development Policy, as well as the collection development and accession policies of its Special Collections units, which guide selection, management, and preservation of and provision of access to UL collections.

Objectives

This framework endeavors to ensure that the UL's digital assets, which document not only BGSU's institutional record but also the intellectual and cultural heritage important to BGSU and its stakeholder communities, are preserved and accessible for future use. The objectives of this framework are to:

  • Establish a formal commitment to proactively protect the UL's digital assets;
  • Explain why a digital preservation framework is necessary;
  • Explain the scope of the UL's digital preservation activities, including the sources and types of digital assets that will be preserved;
  • Describe the challenges associated with digital preservation;
  • Outline guiding principles on which digital preservation actions will be based;
  • Identify stakeholders responsible for components of digital preservation strategies and activities;
  • Define a regular schedule for framework review; and
  • Define terms, identify standards, and outline resources that will inform digital preservation activities.

These objectives will enable the UL to:

  • Identify, through systematic selection, digital assets to be preserved across new generations of technologies;
  • Protect the digital investments and institutional record of BGSU and the UL through a sustainable and scalable digital preservation program;
  • Include in the scope of the program born-digital and digitized materials that the UL can reasonably manage and to which it can provide access;
  • Develop, implement, and review strategies, methods, and procedures that adhere as closely as possible to established industry standards for digital preservation and access;
  • Develop a cost-effective digital preservation program through means such as system-wide integration, shared responsibilities, and automating human-intensive efforts when possible;
  • Seek and promote collaboration with other BGSU units and institutions; and
  • Cultivate UL staff expertise in digital preservation and support professional development and training as needed.

Mandate

A well-defined digital preservation framework is essential for the UL to enact its vision of advancing teaching, learning, research, collaboration, and discovery for a diverse community of users and contributing to the public good.

The mandate for digital preservation at BGSU is multi-faceted and includes scholarly commitment, institutional responsibilities, legal obligations, organizational commitment, and contractual obligations.

  • Scholarly commitment: As a public university for the public good, BGSU strives for excellence in teaching, learning, research, scholarship, and outreach for the benefit of our region, the state of Ohio, the nation, and the world. In addition, BGSU faculty regularly deposit copies of their published research in the UL's ScholarWorks@BGSU institutional repository. As more resources and services associated with these functions become digital, the UL must expand its responsibilities to include the identification, stewardship, and preservation of designated digital assets campus-wide.
  • Institutional responsibilities: Through the administration of BGSU's Records Management Program, the UL serves as the repository for all official records of BGSU that have historical or administrative value. Increasingly, such records exist only in electronic format.
  • Organizational commitment: The UL's commitment to digital preservation is explicitly cited among the UL's current strategic initiatives, in alignment with the objective to "investigate, understand, and respond to the needs of users and stakeholders to improve teaching, resources, services, collections, and processes."
  • Legal obligations: BGSU has mandated responsibilities to preserve and maintain access to certain digital assets, as well as responsibilities as a public university. Some legal obligations derived from Federal and State laws require BGSU to maintain files in an archival fashion.
  • Consortia and contractual obligations: The UL has commitments to consortia (such as OhioLINK) and contractual agreements to assume or share in the responsibility for preserving designated digital content. In addition, grants received by the UL may include contractual obligations regarding the long-term preservation and accessibility of digital assets created or obtained under grant funding.

Scope

This framework only addresses the preservation of digital assets for which the UL is the primary custodian. However, the UL has a responsibility to inform, consult, and (as appropriate) coordinate with other units of BGSU to assure that BGSU's faculty, staff, students, and other stakeholder communities will have adequate ongoing access to administrative, scholarly, and other digital resources created at BGSU outside the UL. Furthermore, the UL will work through consortia, licensing agreements, etc. to assure that the BGSU community has adequate ongoing access to currently available licensed digital resources, as well as to previously subscribed or purchased resources where the license provides for perpetual access to subscribed or purchased content. The UL cannot guarantee preservation of materials that it does not directly own and manage; however, through subscription to services from preservation service vendors such as Portico, LOCKSS, CLOCKSS, or a comparable alternative, the UL can provide strong assurance that preservation of and access to licensed materials (where perpetual access is a licensed right) will continue beyond the license period.

Tiers of Commitment

Given the considerable extent of its digital stewardship responsibilities, the UL has designated the following tiers of commitment for preserving digital assets in order to ensure that digital preservation activities are implemented both strategically and sustainably.

  • Tier 1: Born-digital materials: Special effort will be made to ensure preservation in perpetuity of born-digital materials selected for preservation.
  • Tier 2: Digitized materials (analog unavailable or unstable): All reasonable steps will be taken to preserve digitized materials for which the UL does not own analog originals, or for which originals exist on unstable media, when re-digitization is not possible or if re-digitization would pose further harm to the originals.
  • Tier 3: Licensed digital resources: The UL is committed to working within our consortia, licensing agreements, etc. to assure that one party or parties provides the necessary infrastructure to provide for preservation activities, so that BGSU's faculty, staff, students, and other stakeholder communities will have adequate ongoing access to licensed digital resources (e.g. e-books, subscription databases, etc.). Whenever possible, the UL advocates for services that have preservation infrastructure and/or articulated exit strategies for licensed resources in the event of the cessation of the consortia or licensing agreements.
  • Tier 4: Digitized materials (stable analog available): Reasonable measures will be taken to extend the life of digitized materials with readily available analog originals. The cost of re-digitizing will need to be weighed against the cost of preserving such digitized materials in perpetuity.
  • Tier 5: Other materials: Materials for short-term use (such as those scanned for reference requests) or other content deemed unessential will not be preserved.

Content Types

The above-described digital assets may present content in various content types, which may require different preservation strategies due to their varying attributes. The UL is committed to preserving digital assets presented in the following content types (including examples of possible manifestations and file formats):

  • Textual materials (articles, records, documents: PDF, DOCX, ASCII, UTF-8, Unicode)
  • Images (scanned books or photographs, digital photographs, digital art: TIFF, JPEG, JPEG2000)
  • Audio/video materials (videos produced on campus, oral histories: MPEG, AVI, MOV, WAV)
  • Web pages (HTML, CSS, WARC)
  • Numerical data/datasets (research data: XML, XLS, CSV, database formats)

It is likely that the UL will acquire materials in additional formats that will require other preservation strategies.

Challenges

The American Library Association defines digital preservation as combining "policies, strategies, and actions to ensure access to reformatted and born digital content regardless of the challenges of media failure and technological change." [3]

This implies more than simply making an object available in a digital format and differs from analog preservation in several key ways. Analog materials like books or paper documents can survive for many years in a climate-controlled environment without intervention, while digital materials that are left alone for relatively short periods of time are subject to degradation and obsolescence of storage media, formats, and compatible hardware. This situation requires active management and ongoing planning to ensure long-term preservation of and access to an institution's digital assets.

The UL recognizes that the challenges of implementing an effective digital preservation framework and program are manifold:

  • Change: Technology changes frequently, and with it, formats and dissemination mechanisms. As the UL's digital collections diversify over time, staff will be required to monitor the changing needs of materials and update policies and procedures based on these needs.
  • Rapid growth: BGSU's official record is increasingly available only in digital format. The UL's digitized collections grow each year. Stewarding these materials requires a concerted investment in technological equipment, resources, and staff expertise that must scale with increasing demands and obligations.
  • Sustainability: The UL must develop a sustainable digital preservation program that responds to technological and staffing changes as needed, and procure and allocate sufficient funding to sustain ongoing digital preservation efforts. The UL's digital preservation framework should reflect reasonable expectations of requisite resources, and the UL must refrain from promising more than it can deliver. It is widely acknowledged in the field that good cost models and affordable programs are needed but difficult to come by; however, noteworthy advancements are being made. UL staff will monitor the output of initiatives such as the 4C Project for possible sustainability models and other advice in this area.
  • Selection: Realistically, the UL cannot preserve everything. It is vital that sensible selection processes and criteria be developed.
  • Management: Additional thought must be given to the coordination and oversight of digital assets that are to be preserved. To balance the sometimes competing goals of access and preservation, the UL will focus on the role preservation plays in access.
  • Partnerships: The UL is committed to working with content providers, including creators, donors, and others to preserve their content.
  • Communication: To implement a digital preservation framework and program, the UL must commit to transparent, honest, and frequent communication among all relevant stakeholders.
  • Expertise: The UL must commit to continually updating staff expertise, where appropriate, as technologies change.
  • Rights: The changing landscape surrounding intellectual property rights impact the ability to provide access to digital assets and can impact digital preservation efforts. In addition, the UL must function as a steward for materials that are in-copyright and have access restrictions.

Guiding Principles

Selection

The UL will use consistent criteria when selecting digital materials for stewardship and preservation. Selection criteria will be informed by the UL Collection Development Policy and the collection development policies of Special Collections units. The UL is committed to preserving digital materials selected for preservation for as long as needed.

Digital objects will also be reviewed and disposed of as appropriate, in accordance with broader collection development policies. To be considered for disposition, a digital object must meet at least one of the following criteria:

  • Relevance: The object no longer supports the UL's mission or fits within the UL's collection development policies;
  • Care of the object: The object has special preservation requirements that the UL can no longer fulfill; or
  • Duplication: the object is an exact duplicate of or unnecessarily duplicates the content of another digital object maintained within the UL's digital preservation infrastructure.

Operation

For digital assets selected for long-term preservation, the UL will strive to:

  • Develop a scalable, reliable, sustainable, and auditable digital preservation program;
  • Comply with the Curation Lifecycle Model to implement appropriate preservation actions throughout all assets' lifecycle stages (including, but not limited to, ingest, metadata creation, storage, preservation management, migration, access and use, and transformation);
  • Comply with the Open Archival Information System (OAIS Reference Model);
  • Comply with other appropriate digital preservation standards and practices;
  • Manage hardware, software, and storage media components in accordance with industry standards and security requirements;
  • Ensure its digital preservation program is as interoperable and sustainable as possible;
  • Ensure the integrity of data by guaranteeing that it is the same as it was when it was originally recorded;
  • Comply with copyright, intellectual property rights, and/or other legal rights related to copying, storage, modification, and use of digital assets.

Access and Use

The UL acquires, manages, and preserves digital assets so that they may remain accessible to its constituents over the long term. Certain limitations may be placed on access due to legal obligations, donor agreements, and other reasons, but, in so far, as possible, the UL endeavors to make its digital assets openly available to all users.

Levels of Preservation

The UL recognizes that the development of a mature digital preservation program is an aspirational endeavor. As such, we will consult the National Digital Stewardship Alliance's Levels of Preservation model to assess our progress over time.

Roles and Responsibilities

The UL has primary responsibility for digital preservation at BGSU, but digital preservation is a shared responsibility across campus. All responsible BGSU officers, content creators, and disseminators with a custodial role for digital content of enduring value have a responsibility to actively contribute to the fulfillment of this framework.

The UL has identified the following stakeholder categories for this framework. These roles and responsibilities may change.

  • Producers: Producers are those who provide digital content to be preserved by the UL. They may include faculty, students, staff, alumni, collectors, content creators, publishers, and the general public. Producers will be responsible for complying with established UL deposit requirements and working with Management and Administrators to ensure successful transfer of digital content to the UL.
  • Management: Management in this context refers to UL offices and units who set and implement the digital preservation framework, specifically the Digital Initiatives and Standards Committee's Digital Preservation Subcommittee, Special Collections Department, Library Information Technology Services Department, and Administrative Office.
  • Administrators: Administrators are defined as those UL personnel responsible for the day-to-day operations necessary to preserve digital content. These stewards include personnel associated with the Digital Initiatives and Standards Committee's Digital Preservation Subcommittee, Special Collections Department, Collections and Technical Services Department, and Library Information Technology Services Department. (See Appendix 1 for the UL's Organizational Chart).
  • Consumers: Consumers are those who access and use digital assets that the UL has identified for preservation or already maintains within its digital preservation infrastructure. Consumers may include faculty, students, alumni, researchers, staff, and the general public. They are responsible for honoring applicable copyright restrictions and licensing agreements.
  • Collaborators: Collaborators may include corporate partners, non-profit organizations, academic researchers, cultural heritage organizations, government agencies, and all other relevant partners.

Stakeholders

Stakeholders in digital preservation at BGSU include UL staff, patrons, donors, and partners, as well as BGSU faculty, staff, and students, all of whom create and/or use digital content preserved by the UL.

Primary UL stakeholders and their responsibilities are listed below (in alphabetical order):

  • Administrative Office: Commits to supporting an environment in which digital preservation is regarded as a critically necessary endeavor. Such support includes providing adequate managerial and financial commitment to develop a digital preservation program. Resource allocation in support of digital preservation is crucial to the future of valuable digital assets created, owned, or managed by the UL.
  • Collections and Technical Services: Acquires, manages, and provides access to licensed digital resources in the UL’s general collection, as well as digital objects in the ScholarWorks@BGSU institutional repository. Facilitates the UL's participation in the OhioLINK consortium for shared electronic resources.
  • Digital Initiatives and Standards Committee: Oversees the Digital Preservation Subcommittee.
  • Digital Preservation Subcommittee: Guides the acquisition, processing, management, storage, access, and long-term stewardship of the UL’s unique digital assets through the development and review of the digital preservation framework and implementation strategies, methods, and workflows.
  • Library Information Technology Services: Supports other UL stakeholders through the creation, installation, and/or maintenance of hardware and software on which certain digital access and/or preservation activities depend. Provides project management and vendor management support for same hardware and software as necessary.
  • Special Collections: In association with the Digital Initiatives and Standards Committee and the Digital Preservation Subcommittee, Special Collections units manage the acquisition, management of, and access to born-digital materials relevant to their respective collections, as well as digital assets created through the digitization of analog materials.
  • University Archives: As part of the Center for Archival Collections (a unit of the Special Collections), serves as the repository for all official BGSU records that have historical and administrative value.

Implementation

Implementation of this framework is contingent upon the infrastructure (including technological and human resources) provided by BGSU and the UL, the availability of cost-effective solutions, the adoption of standards, and the development of best practices and procedures.

Review Cycle

This framework will be reviewed annually at minimum to assure timely revisions as technology progresses and preservation strategies and experience mature.

Notes

Appendices