Tuesday, January 24, 2017

The UNESCO/PERSIST Guidelines for the selection of digital heritage for long-term preservation

The UNESCO/PERSIST Guidelines for the selection of digital heritage for long-term preservation. Sarah CC Choy, et al. UNESCO/PERSIST Content Task Force. March 2016.
     The survival of digital heritage is much less assured than its traditional counterparts. “Identification of significant digital heritage and early intervention are essential to ensuring its long-term preservation.” This project was created to help preserve our cultural heritage, and to provide a starting point for institutions creating their policies. Preserving and ensuring access to its digital information is also a challenge for the private sector. Acquiring and collecting digital heritage requires significant effort and resources. It is vital that organizations accept digital stewardship roles and responsibilities.Some thoughts and quotes from the document.
  • There is a strong risk that the restrictive legal environment will negatively impact the long-term survival of important digital heritage.
  • The challenge of long-term preservation in the digital age requires a rethinking of how heritage institutions identify significance and assess value.
  • new forms of digital expression blur boundaries and lines of responsibility and challenge past approaches to collecting.
  • libraries, archives, and museums have common interests to each preserve heritage
  • heritage institutions must be proactive to identify digital heritage and information for long-term preservation before it is lost.
  • Selection is as essential, as it is economically and technically impossible, and often legally prohibited, to collect all current digital heritage. Selecting for long-term preservation will thus be a critical function of heritage institutions in the digital age.
  • Selecting digital heritage for long-term preservation may focus primarily on evaluating publications already in their collection, originally acquired for short-term use, rather than assessing new publications for acquisition. 
  • Rapid obsolescence in digital formats, storage media, and systems is collapsing the window of opportunity of selection, and increase the risk that records are lost that might not have yet “proved” their significance over time.
Address strategies for collecting digital heritage and develop selection criteria for an institution. Four possible steps to use:
  1. Identify the material to be acquired or evaluated
  2. Determine the legal obligation to preserve the material
  3. Assess the material using three selection criteria: significance, sustainability, and availability
  4. Compile the above information and make a decision based on the results
Management of long-term digital preservation and metadata is important. There are five basic functional requirements for digital metadata:
  1. Identification of each digital object
  2. Location of each digital object so that it can be located and retrieved.
  3. Description of digital object is needed for recall and interpretation, both content and context
  4. Readability and encoding, in order to remain legible over time.
  5. Rights management, including conditions of use and restrictions of each digital item
“The long-term preservation of digital heritage is perhaps the most daunting challenge facing heritage institutions today.”

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