The Northeast Document Conservation Center conducted an online survey to develop a way to assess institutions’ digital preservation readiness. While digitization efforts are increasing, there are a lack of policies to deal with these materials once they are created. While a majority of institutions had policies dealing with goals, collection development, and emergency preparedness, few of them address the digital holdings specifically. IT staff are key to the success of digitization projects. A majority of institutions are involved in digital imaging projects, and over half provide online searching to the public.
· 29% of respondents had a policy on the creation of digital resources
· 63% said that 5% of their budget or less was devoted to any type of preservation activities.
· 9% had no funds whatsoever allocated for preservation activities.
· 31.1% did not have an IT department
· 92% had created digital assets from physical source materials, mostly from flat paper or images, also books, and AV
· 39% said the majority of the items they consider to belong to digital collections are unique, single-copy works
· 66.9% provide access to digital collections through an institutional website
· 83% had created descriptive metadata for the digital assets to help find and use of digital collections
· 50% at least also created technical and administrative metadata
· 25% do not assign any portion of their budget to create digital collections
· 42% do not have budget lines for acquiring digital collections
· 60% do not have a specific person assigned responsibility/primary activity for digital preservation
· 84% supported staff development and professional education/training for digital preservation, but it does not seem to translate into policy development
· 30% of collections are not adequately protected by a backup strategy.
· 52.8% said they do not insure their digital holdings, while 36.5% did not know
· 29% of the institutions responding to the survey have policy, planning, or procedure documents on the creation of digital resources
Responses to the means of digital preservation included regular data backup, migration, and refreshing the data; maintaining legacy equipment and disks, outsourcing to an externally-managed repository, and emulation. Storage media include network hard drives (78%), or removable magnetic media (65%). Digital collections are most often stored in-house in systems managed by the institution. A preservation study concluded that “small and medium-sized institutions will need the assistance of experts to assess the preservation status and needs of their expanding digital collections.”
Information Lifecycle Management (ILM) is still causing major confusion for many people because there is a question as to what it is. It is being promoted as something new. Some vendors who push their version of ILM may use scare tactics and mis-information to say that the best way to accomplish this is to save everything. While it may be easier right now, it is not the cheapest or best way. The best way is to evaluate exactly what you need to keep and how long you need to retain it. Use this knowledge to create a policy and train your organization to manage the information effectively. It also requires a classification system, and the ability to assign record series to the information. If the information has a long retention period, you will also need to choose appropriate formats and media. This method will minimize the information being kept, which will mean shorter indexing times, faster searches, smaller repositories, quicker backups, lower risks during e-discovery, and a uniform method of managing the information. Until the practices and responsibilities are defined, “throwing a ‘canned solution’ at an improperly analyzed problem is foolish.”
Some of Microsoft’s rivals have charged that it is shutting out competitors. One of the issues raised is Microsoft's refusal to disclose interoperability information for its Office suite. They are refusing to provide data such as the file formats for .doc, .xls, and .ppt documents, which prevents rival application suites from achieving full compatibility. This has crucial implications Linux systems.
In commenting on the Open Document Format discussion, the author cites the Wall Street Journal article: “The data belongs to the people, not to the software vendor that created the file format.” The most important observation is that a standard controlled by a single company is not a standard.
As alliance of software vendors plan to promote use of the OpenDocument Format, a set of software technologies for storing and creating documents. The Open Document Alliance includes IBM, Sun, Oracle, ALA, and 30 others. This heightens the debate over whether governments should adopt software that supports the OpenDocument Format. Microsoft doesn’t support the format. Backers argue that the format is more trustworthy for storing documents because it isn't owned by a single company. Microsoft is using a new format called OpenXML in its Office 12 software, which is also supported by Apple and Intel. This is a result of the actions in Massachusetts last year when the state's information-technology division decided to standardize its programs on the OpenDocument Format.