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UMD’s Digital Preservation Policy, updates

In early 2014, the UMD Libraries published its first Digital Preservation Policy.  In the policy, we specify that it must be reviewed on an annual basis, and so this summer, a small task force consisting of myself, Robin Pike, and Joanne Archer reviewed the document, and made a few minor changes. The most significant change was to add an entire section about “Financial Commitment.”  The other change was to modify how we approach actual implementation of the plan. More on that below, but first, what have we accomplished in the past year?

In the past year, various players at the UMD Libraries have embarked on projects or development that ultimately ties into our Digital Preservation Policy. These activities include:

  • A repository research team (Jennie Knies, Ben Wallberg, Babak Hamidzadeh) developed a high-level requirements document for a Bit-Level Preservation System. Ben Wallberg presented on these requirements at Open Repositories 2014 in Helsinki, Finland
  • Software Systems Development and Research (SSDR) installed the ACE Audit Manager tool on our Digital Repository at the University of Maryland (DRUM) DSpace system
  • A task force consisting of Jennie Knies (DSS), and Joanne Archer and Cassie Schmitt (Special Collections) continued the work of the UMD’s Born-Digital Working Group to finalize workflows for processing born-digital archival and manuscript materials.  While not complete, we have developed a plan to complete the first stage of workflows by the end of 2014
  • Over 120,000 files created and archived to UMD’s Division of Information Technology and subsequently to Iron Mountain and enhanced workflow for documenting said files
  • Robin Pike and Jennie Knies published “Catching Up: Creating a Digital Preservation Policy,” in Archival Practice 1, no. 1 (2014)
  • Began plans for upgrading Fedora repository from Fedora 2.2.2 to Fedora 4.0

Much of the work involving documentation and policy development, however, remains abstract and somewhat elusive.  In the past year, we have attempted to pull together all documentation of policies and procedures relating to digital preservation activities.  We have also begun the process of researching real costs of digital preservation (storage costs, human resources, etc.)  In addition, I have written something that I informally call “Policies of Where to Put Stuff,” and formally something like “Digital Preservation Networks Policy,” a document for which I have had writer’s block for the last four months, but hope to finish soon, as it is integral to how we manage digital content moving forward.

The Digital Preservation Policy, intended to be a high-level document to guide the creation and implementation of additional policies and procedures related to digital preservation, contained an appendix intended to outline the documentation necessary to implement the plan.  The appendix in the original plan was based on the Center for Research Libraries, Metrics for Repository Assessment, which were based on the ISO 14721:2012 standard. This standard is commonly referred to as the OAIS  reference model and was developed through the Consultative Committee for Space Data Systems (CCSDS.)  The appendix was very detailed and while it was broken into easily-understandable categories and clearly defined the types of policies and procedures we needed to establish, we have found it difficult to map those requirements and categories to the policies and procedures currently in place.

In July, I was fortunate enough to attend Digital Preservation 2014, the annual meeting of the National Digital Information Infrastructure and Preservation Program and the National Digital Stewardship Alliance.  There I heard a wonderful presentation by Bert Lyons from AVPreserve entitled, Mapping Standards for Richer Assessments: NDSA Levels of Digital Preservation and ISO 16363:2012.  That was my “A-ha!” moment.  As Bert pointed out in his presentation, ISO 16363:2012 is very long and there is a lot of overlap between individual components. AVPreserve have created a wonderful document that maps the NSDA levels of digital preservation and the ISO requirements.

The NDSA Levels for Digital Preservation for those who are not familiar, are incredibly straightforward.  They are in a table and broken into five primary sections: Storage and Geographic Location, File Fixity and Data Integrity, Information Security, Metadata, and File Formats. Associated with each category are four increasingly more rigid levels of digital preservation. For example, to fit into Level 1 under Storage and Geographic Location, the requirement is to have two copies that are not collocated, and to move files from things like hard drives or DVDs onto your own storage media ASAP.  Done! We have achieved Level 1.

As I write, my graduate student is creating a version of the NDSA Levels that we can annotate. I loved the simple suggestion by Bret that we use the NDSA Levels as a sort of bar graph to visualize our progress.  We then plan to then use the AVPreserve mapping document to do a more detailed analysis of where we currently stand, and where we need to go with our digital preservation program.

Initially, we wondered if annual review of the Digital Preservation Policy was excessive. However, in these early stages of our program, I realize now how important it is to take stock at regular, and frequent intervals. The UMD Libraries are currently also revising our strategic plan, and the results of that activity will most likely make for interesting revisions in 2015, when we sit down to review the policy again.

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About Jennie Levine Knies

Jennie Levine Knies is the Manager, Digital Programs and Initiatives, University of Maryland Libraries.

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