Thursday, February 19, 2015

From Theory to Action: Good Enough Digital Preservation for Under-Resourced Cultural Heritage Institutions

From Theory to Action: Good Enough Digital Preservation for Under-Resourced Cultural Heritage Institutions. Jaime Schumacher, et al. Digital POWRR White Paper for the Institute of Museum and Library Services. 27 August 2014.
The Digital POWRR team is comprised of archivists, curators, librarians, and a digital humanist, from small and mid-sized Illinois institutions who know that digital content is vulnerable, but are  lacking significant financial resources and have been unable to come up with programmatic and technical solutions to mitigate the risk. Each institution produced a case study and a gap analysis, with a plan to address the obstacles.  Some institutions have created and implemented digital preservation programs; however, medium-sized and smaller organizations with fewer resources like those of the POWRR institutions are in a vulnerable position.Some statements of interest:
  • "Common elements emerged from our gap analyses: a lack of available financial resources; limited or nonexistent dedicated staff time for digital preservation activities; and inadequate levels of appropriate technical expertise. Some of the case studies also mentioned a lack of institutional awareness of the fragility of digital content and a lack of cohesive policies and practices across departments as a contributing factor towards the absence of real progress." 
  • Digital preservation is best thought of as an incremental, ongoing, and ever-shifting set of actions, reactions, workflows, and policies.
  • the notion that it is necessary to research all available tools and services exhaustively before taking any basic steps to secure digital content is yet another misconception that often prevents any progress from occurring.
  • Fortunately, practitioners can get started with simple, freely available triage tools while researching which of the more robust solutions will best suit their needs.
The group developed the POWRR tool for evaluating solutions and tools. The appendix also has recommendations for the Developer Community.

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