Digital preservation in a webinar, part one

Last week, as part of my career development strategy I began a series of webinars hosted by ASERL (Association of Southeastern Research Libraries) titled: Introduction to Digital Preservation.

[For more details and to register for the remaining two webinars, see the project webpage]

Firstly, I want to say that I love webinars. They’re hosted by many different types of organizations, such as research libraries (as in this case), professional associations, and vendors (as in the case of the Wikispaces webinar I attended recently), although this does not complete the list. They are often free, or cheap. And I always find them practically educational. Meaning, they provide practical tips and tricks for information professionals (and others).

Secondly, I took some notes during the first webinar in the series, and what follows are the highlights. In future posts, I’ll do the same for the subsequent webinars.

The first webinar is titled “Preservation Planning and Overview of PREMIS for Beginners.” Lisa Gregory of the State Library of North Carolina presented, with Jodi DeRidder and John Berger.

There was quite a lot of information to digest in this session, and I think I’m still digesting the second half, about PREMIS. But it started with a quick definition of preservation and the essential, interwoven, steps for planning digital preservation initiatives.

Preservation is the active management of digital content over time.

  1. Assessment
  2. Documentation
  3. Communication
  4. Implementation
  5. Reconnoitering


  • Manage technology that keeps content accessible
  • Problem: developing strategies in isolation


  • The Signal
  • Twitter (search for “digital preservation” and follow industry innovators)
  • D-Lib Magazine


  • Empty the institution’s “pockets”: Where is all the institution content shared/saved/kept?


  • Preservation statements: see
  • SCORE  – log in as a guest; will need knowledge of digital preservation language; statement for individual/institution
  • TRAC – measures repositories against OAIS standards; assesses “trustworthiness,” areas: organizational infrastructure, digital object management, technologies and technical infrastructure and security


  • Planning, best practices
  • Write down the proposal for stakeholders
  • Write down the results of the assessment
  • Write down workflows articulation
  • Be transparent
  • Bring in as many of the involved parties as is feasible.
  • Review it!


  • Preservation Policy Template (MetaArchive)
  • Digital Preservation Management workshop for management aspects of digital preservation, including administrators, policies, procedures


  • Keep an open dialog
  • It is less risky to bring people in on the front end, than it is to bring them in at the end.


Key areas:

  • Storage
  • Metadata
  • Workflows
  • Organization
  • Obsolete media


  • Is what you take in – does it match your resources?
  • Is it organized according to a system you’ve defined?
  • Do you have enough resources to manage all content?
  • Consider security, access, permissions.

Obsolete media:

  • Do you have the staff expertise and equipment to extract or work with the data?
  • Can you determine if the content is relevant to the institutional/organizational scope?

Organizational infrastructure:

  • How do you position yourself for the administrative buy-in?
  • What could reasonably be improved within 3-5 weeks?
  • Are there other stakeholders headed your way?


  • What small improvements can be made?


  • What can be done to start recording and improving preservation metadata?
  • Is there a data dictionary or guidance document for that metadata?

OAIS Reference model

  • Is ubiquitous in digital preservation language
  • Is a way to describe in a non-software-specific way the best functions of a digital preservation management system
  • Is a hefty, dense document
  • Can be studied in scholarly and professional articles about digital preservation


One attendee asked how does one know when one has enough information? Lisa Gregory and Jodi DeRidder both suggested doing some research and then getting started. Talk to similar institutions. It’s not feasible to wait until one has all the answers. Start by inventorying assets, defining the scope, and doing bit-level storage, making copies. Get buy-in at every step, one step at a time.


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