Thursday, October 12, 2017

Five Organizational Stages for Digital Preservation

The Five Organizational Stages of Digital Preservation. Anne R. Kenney & Nancy Y. McGovern. "Digital Libraries: A Vision for the 21st Century..." 2003.
     I have been re-reading this interesting paper in preparation for an upcoming presentation, and realize the great information in it and the opportunity to reflect on where we are and where we are going. Some notes and quotes that I really like:
  • The world is becoming increasingly dependent on digital information.... Despite the increasing evidence documenting the fragility and ubiquity of digital content, cultural repositories have been slow to respond to the need to safeguard digital heritage materials.
  • Of all the preservation challenges facing us, none is more pressing than developing workable solutions to digital preservation.
  • The reason for the lag in institutional response to the problem "lies in the fact that most of the attention given to digital preservation has focused on technology as both the root of the problem and the basis for the solution."
  • The technological methods "that reduce things to on or off status— either you have a solution or you do not. This either/or assessment gives little consideration to the effort required to reach the on stage, to a phased approach for reaching the on stage, or to differences in institutional settings. Nor does it take into account that a partial program at one institution may represent a fully mature program at another."
  • The goal of digital preservation is to maintain the ability to display, retrieve, and use digital material in the face of rapidly changing technological and organizational infrastructures. Unfortunately, there is no single best way to do just that, nor is there agreement on long-term solutions.
  • In this paper, we describe five definable stages that cultural repositories will pass through on their way to developing a fully mature digital preservation program. 
  • Each of these stages is clearly delineated, characterized by key attributes and organizational responses. Some of the stages may be shortened, and an institution may be further advanced in one aspect over another, but they must all be passed through and in the same sequence.
  • The Five Organizational Stages:  The five stages of organizational response to digital preservation are:
    1. Acknowledge: Understanding that digital preservation is a local concern;
    2. Act: Initiating digital preservation projects;
    3. Consolidate: Seguing from projects to programs;
    4. Institutionalize: Incorporating the larger environment; and
    5. Externalize: Embracing inter-institutional collaboration and dependency.
  • Perhaps the most immediately valuable contribution of the Trusted Digital Repository report is the framework of TDR attributes. The six attributes of the TDR framework are: administrative responsibility, organizational viability, financial sustainability, technological and procedural suitability, system security, and procedural accountability. 
  • The report defines the characteristics of each attribute that together address core legal, economic, technical, and other organizational issues, and break what is often presented as the monolithic digital preservation problem into manageable parts. 
  • A notable feature is that technology is not the central focus or first consideration in the framework.
  • Organizational stages for digital preservation have the potential to provide a more effective communication tool, to define a metric for quantifying progress towards a comprehensive digital preservation program, and to establish benchmarks for setting organizational goals.

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