OK, in reality profit is the last thing on my mind when it comes to digital preservation (or anything really, hence why I’m a librarian and *not* a businessperson), but as I’ve been working on a presentation of my initial digital collections assessment findings this meme popped into my head. This is largely because one of my final slides presents the next steps of my research and work, which are basically building blocks with each leading easily into the next step.
Digital Preservation Collections Assessment
Preservation Profiles of Assessed Content
Preservation Strategies for Each Profile
Digital Policies at the Departmental and Institutional Level
Institutional Digital Preservation Strategy
So what is the point of each step? First, a collections assessment helps to provide a snapshot view of what is currently happening around the institution. In my recent meetings, I’ve discovered a lot of information just by talking to collections managers – a lot of this is tacit within the institution, usually knowledge held by specific staff members. So on top of the snapshot, a collections assessment also begins the process of better documentation, which is the cornerstone of institutionalizing digital preservation.
The next step I’ll be undertaking (though slowly, since October is filled with meetings and travel) is the creation of preservation profiles for the content currently held by IU Libraries. So this basically means that I’ll be working to group content by shared characteristics (e.g., Image, A/V, e-Text, Book/Serial) in order to develop specific strategies to preserve them. When I think about this work, the DPLA Challenge Grant, Getting It Right on Rights, always pops into my head. Where DPLA currently has A LOT of rights statements defined by individual institutions and collections, the aim of the grant (a collaboration with Europeana and Creative Commons) is to simplify and create a dozen rights statement profiles that will suit the needs of all of their content and content providers. Likewise, at IU our current digital collections are defined only individually, and so there is an overabundance of unique content needs. By defining the most important characteristics of a specific content profile, we can start to group things together in meaningful ways. And then, once that’s been done, the creation of specific strategies for each profile (e.g., migration, emulation) will be much easier.
The final pieces of the puzzle are the overall institutional policies and strategy that will define how we move into digital preservation. Where currently there are a lot of resources for digital preservation – the technical infrastructure is mega, there are a lot of staff and faculty with knowledge of the issues, etc – there is no mindful push into the future. So this will be the big picture of the next year of my work, and will be directly based on the collections assessment that I’m finalizing now.
All of this is a push towards building capacity for the institution. Where currently our digital collections are relatively safe and well-managed, we have the potential to receive a lot of unique and interesting collections and content that we currently have no way of handling. So the definition of preservation profiles and strategies will create opportunities for the collection of new content, and our digital policies and overall institutional strategy will be our guide to whether or not we end up collecting that content. As a large public institution with the resources for digital preservation, we have a great responsibility to steward scholarship into the future, and my hope in all of this is that our digital preservation capacity-building will ultimately allow IU to say YES more often. That would be a great thing.