Dean of Libraries and Associate Professor
University of North Texas
The digital preservation field is still emerging, but is a critical challenge for libraries, archives, and other cultural memory organizations today. The apparatuses, policies, and procedures for preserving digital information are still in the early stages of formation, and new collaborative strategies for such endeavors are emerging. This session will present new findings from collaborative preservation projects now being undertaken by the MetaArchive Cooperative and the University of North Texas (UNT).
Cultural memory organizations are now experimenting with a variety of approaches to both the technical and organizational frameworks that will enable them to succeed in offering the perfect continuity of digital data that is sought. However, most cultural memory organizations today are underprepared for the technical challenges incurred as they acquire, create, and preserve digital collections. As a result, troubling trends are already developing within this community that may be counterproductive to its overall aims. Some institutions are willingly giving up some of their curatorial responsibilities for their digital collections to third parties, precisely when these digital collections arguably are becoming their most important assets.
Most of the community’s current roadblocks are not technical, but organizational, and they pivot on policy development and maintenance. This briefing will review the work that UNT and the MetaArchive Cooperative are engaged in to encourage and enable cultural memory organizations to work together to maintain their responsibility for managing their own digital collections.
Institutions need practical examples of how to accomplish digital preservation in manageable, low-cost ways. The successes that MetaArchive has achieved in recent years as a cooperative association indicate that well-managed collaborative efforts of cultural memory organizations may provide an effective organizational framework for preservation activities, and that different technical frameworks may be paired with this model to serve the needs of different communities. Such solutions as Lots of Copies Keep Stuff Safe (LOCKSS) and Integrated Rule-Oriented Data System (iRODS), packaging specifications such as BagIt, and emerging curation microservices and tools can be combined in different ways to effectively assist institutions in managing preservation using cooperative models and “hub and spoke” models. This session will examine several such models of digital preservation that are currently under consideration for statewide digitization efforts (such as the Texas Heritage Digitization Initiative).