What is Digital Preservation?
“Digital preservation can be defined as:
The coordinated and ongoing set of processes and activities that ensure long-term, error-free storage of digital information, with means for retrieval and interpretation, for the entire time span the information is required.
Born digital assets (digital originals with no analogue counterparts) are particularly vulnerable to potential loss from our cultural and heritage landscape. While we still have physical documents from many hundreds of years ago, we are in danger of losing electronic documents and digital images created in the last decade. Digital content is pervasive and powerful. It is easy to create and to update but these characteristics also contribute to the challenge of preserving it for the future.
Digital preservation can appear a daunting challenge to collection managers, more so as the size, complexity and history of the collections increase. This section is intended to identify the problem and provide a brief background to the principles that underpin the currently accepted strategies. Links at the end of this section direct the reader to comprehensive information about Digital Preservation, both at an introductory and advanced level.
Digital Dark Age ?
The term ‘Digital Dark Age’ is often used to describe a scenario where vast amounts of digital information is lost or rendered permanently irretrievable.
Though the potential severity of this is open to debate, it is clear that the global library of knowledge and cultural heritage in digital forms is at risk.
There are two critical reasons for developing and implementing digital preservation practices:
- Physical deterioration of carrier media;
- Technological obsolescence of hardware/software.”
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The post includes a brilliant list of Digital Preservation links reproduced here
PRONOM from the National Archives, UK is a resource for anyone requiring impartial and definitive information about the file formats, software products and other technical components required to support long-term access to electronic records and other digital objects of cultural, historical or business value.
DROID (Digital Record Object Identification) is an automatic file format identification tool. It is the first in a planned series of tools developed by The National Archives (UK) under the umbrella of its PRONOM technical registry service.
The National Archives UK, Guidance notes produced by the Digital Preservation Department, give advice and guidance on general issues which should be considered by the creators and managers of electronic records when selecting file formats for use.
The National Library of Australia (NLA) has been researching issues and undertaking activities relating to digital preservation for a number of years. NLA: Recommended Practices for Digital Preservation provides advice for those with a long term responsibility for management and preservation of digital materials.
NLA: Digital preservation Policy Statement outlines the directions the National Library of Australia takes in preserving its digital collections, and in collaborating with others to enable the preservation of other digital information resources.
The NLA: Preserving Access to Digital Information (PADI) initiative aims to provide mechanisms that will help to ensure that information in digital form is managed with appropriate consideration for preservation and future access.
JISC Beginner’s Guide to Digital Preservation guide is aimed at those who are new to digital preservation but can also serve as a resource for those who have specific requirements or wish to find further resources in certain areas.
DigitalPreservationEurope (DPE) fosters collaboration and synergies between many existing national initiatives across the European Research Area. DPE addresses the need to improve coordination, cooperation and consistency in current activities to secure effective preservation of digital materials.
The Technical Guidelines for Digitizing Cultural Heritage Materials shares best practices followed by agencies participating in the US Federal Agencies Digitization Guidelines Initiative (FADGI) Still Image Working Group for digitizing cultural heritage materials.
The Library of Congress Digital Formats Web site provides information about digital content formats.