Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Digital Preservation Matters - March 2, 2010

A Guide to Distributed Digital Preservation. Katherine Skinner, Matt Schultz. Educopia Institute. February 2010. [156 p. PDF]

Excellent guide created by MetaArchive, who developed the first private LOCKSS network in 2004. This work examines distributed digital preservation, successful strategies and new models . It will help others to join or establish a private LOCKSS network. It discusses the network architecture, technical and organization considerations, content selection and ingest, administration and copyright practices in the network. A distributed digital preservation system must preserve, not just back-up. The preservation process of contributing, preserving, and retrieving content depends upon the institution’s diligence. Ingested content is preserved not just through replication, but by the caches through a set of polling, voting, and repairing processes. Distributed digital preservation, by definition, requires communication and collaboration across multiple locations and between numerous staff.

The software provides bit-level preservation for digital objects of any file type or format, but it can also provide a set of services to make the preserved files usable in the future, such as normalizing and migrating. The MetaArchive network is a dark archive with no public interface; communication between caches is secure. Organizations collaborating on preserving digital content must examine the roles and responsibilities of members, address essential management, policy, and staffing questions, develop standards, and define the network’s sphere of activity. Ingest, monitoring, and recovery of content are critical steps for preserving the content.

Some interesting quotes from the guide:

  • Paradoxically, there is simultaneously far greater potential risk and far greater potential security for digital collections
  • many cultural memory organizations are today seeking third parties to take on the responsibility for acquiring and managing their digital collections. The same institutions would never consider outsourcing management and custodianship of their print and artifact collections;
  • A great deal of content is in fact routinely lost by cultural memory organizations as they struggle with the enormous spectrum of issues required to preserve digital collections,
  • A true digital preservation program will require multi-institutional collaboration and at least some ongoing investment to realistically address the issues involved in preserving information over time.
  • One of the greatest risks we run in not preserving our own digital assets for ourselves is that we simultaneously cease to preserve our own viability as institutions.


Encouraging Open Access. Steve Kolowich. Inside Higher Ed. March 2, 2010.

Conversations about open access to journal articles currently revolve around policy, not technology; about if the content should be made available, not how. “Without content, an IR is just a set of empty shelves.” A new model of repository focuses on giving researchers an online “workspace” within the repository where they can upload and preserve different versions of an article they are working on. The idea is to make publishing articles to the open repository a natural extension of the creative process. This is based on a survey where professors wanted:

  • to be able to work with co-authors easily,
  • to keep track of different versions of the same document, and
  • to make their work more visible
  • all while doing as little extra work as possible.


In the digital age, librarians are pioneers. Judy Bolton-Fasman. The Boston Globe. February 10, 2010.

Book review of This Book Is Overdue: How Librarians and Cybrarians Can Save Us All By Marilyn Johnson.

  • Among information professionals, Johnson notes there are librarians and archivists: “Librarians were finders [of information]. Archivists were keepers.’’ But the information revolution is affecting both.
  • The digital age is making possible the creation of searchable databases of archives, but it’s also making information, especially on the Internet, more ephemeral and harder to collect.
  • Information archivists “capturing history before it disappears because of a broken link or outdated software.”
  • in a world where technology moves life at a breathtaking pace, “where information itself is a free-for-all, with traditional news sources going bankrupt and publishers in trouble, we need librarians more than ever’’ to help point the way to the best, most reliable sources.


Installing OAIS Software: Archivematica. Chris Prom. Practical E-Records. February 1, 2010.

One of several reports on open source tools the blog author is evaluating to help with ingest, storage, and access processes in archives. This post looks at Archivematica, and he likes the supportable model for facilitating archival work with electronic records. It is a Ubuntu-based virtual appliance which can exist alongside preservation tools on other systems. It can be installed locally and in a variety of ways. Worth looking in to.


IBM announces massive NAS array for the cloud. Lucas Mearian. Computerworld. February 11, 2010.

IBM has announced SONAS, an enterprise-class network-attached storage array capable of scaling from 27TB to 14 petabytes under a single name space. It is designed to provide access to data anywhere any time. The policy-driven automation storage software allows an institution to predefine where data is placed, when it is created, where and when it moves to in the storage hierarchy, where it's copied for disaster recovery, and when it will be eventually deleted.

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