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Digital Preservation Policy


The Digital Preservation Working Group (DPWG) was initiated in summer 2015 with the goal of developing a standards-based digital preservation system for the University Library. Its main goal is to establish a fully functioning, administratively supported, and sustainable Open Archival Information System (OAIS) for managing, preserving, and providing ongoing access to the University Library’s digital assets within a timeframe of five years.

As technology changes at an ever-increasing rate, and as we increase the numbers and kinds of digital assets we acquire and create, it is becoming clear that maintaining access to our digital content will require careful attention to several factors: file formats, hardware requirements, software changes, etc. Because technology changes, we need to make sure our files will remain accessible and useable as hardware and software systems change and evolve.

A digital preservation system is designed to keep files and assets alive and viable for as long as necessary or desirable. Such a system will have people-centric and technology-centric components. People will keep watch over the technology and will implement policies to determine selection criteria for what will be included in our system and for how long, while technology components of the system will include hardware and software to hold the files and manipulate and manage them.

Several key standards already exist that support digital preservation. Chief among them is the ISO standard Open Archival Information System (OAIS), which contains a reference model for building such a system. In the coming years we’ll be relying on this document as we design and implement the Library’s preservation system. We will also continue to work our way through the “Action Plan for Developing a Digital Preservation Program” created by Cornell University and ICPSR, and maintained by MIT. These documents will lead us to develop plans, policies, and software and hardware systems to implement our system.


The following Digital Preservation Policy document constitutes Part 1 of “Action Plan for Developing a Digital Preservation Program,” adopted from the Digital Preservation Management: Implementing Short-Term Strategies for Long-Term Problems workshops. The workshops, partially funded by grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities, were initially developed at Cornell University beginning in 2003 under the direction of Anne Kenney and Nancy McGovern, and have been further developed under the direction of Nancy McGovern at ICPSR from 2008 - 2011 and at MIT Libraries since 2012.

The Action Plan consists of three parts, which can be thought of as the three legs of a digital preservation ‘stool.’ The digital preservation program is strong only if all three legs are complete, strong, and maintained. The three parts are organizational infrastructure, technological infrastructure, and resources.

The Digital Preservation Policy outlines the organizational infrastructure that supports the digital preservation program. Contents include an overarching Policy Framework, more specific Policies and Procedures, and Plans and Strategies for implementing the policies, as outlined below.