Little Compton Historical Society Policy

Little Compton Historical Society: Digital Preservation Policy


Defined by the American Library Association, digital preservation “combines policies, strategies and actions that ensure access to digital content over time.” In prioritizing digital preservation, the Little Compton Historical Society (LCHS) is taking steps to ensure continued access to its digital collections; not only for the present, but for future users as well. Digital preservation is an ongoing process, one that both custodians and users of collections must strive to maintain.

Incorporating language from the institution’s mission statement, this Digital Preservation Policy reinforces its institutional mission in the following ways:

  • Conserving digital objects of historical significance for the Little Compton community
  • Providing digital content for educational purposes and outreach programs
  • Promoting greater access by sharing information and stimulating interest in area history

Incorporating a digital preservation policy into the core mission of the LCHS ensures that preservation will continue beyond any one individual’s scope or time at the institution. The LCHS Digital Preservation Policy is meant to guide future handling of digital holdings, aiding the staff and community in determining the how, what, when, and why of institution-wide digital preservation efforts.


The LCHS digital holdings include both digitized versions of physical holdings and born-digital materials, such as items donated by members of the public and institutional records. Also affected are files currently stored in third party systems, like the PastPerfect Collections Management System.

Selection and Acquisition

The LCHS will continue to accept donated digital materials from the public. Such donations enrich the institutional collections by incorporating the experiences, personal histories, and perspectives of the greater Little Compton community and are invaluable to future users. In-house and contracted digitization of collections will also continue as needed. In accepting and creating new digital materials, the LCHS encourages the use of common, supported formats. Formats that are widely considered to be a low-risk for long term preservation are prioritized.

Preservation Strategies

Digital preservation efforts at the LCHS take form through the following initiatives:

  • Thorough and cohesive archival organization of digital materials
  • Creating and maintaining an inventory of all digital materials
  • Implementation of a set naming system and accessioning procedure for new materials
  • Timely and thorough backups and protection of institute-wide assets
  • Monitoring and controlling access to digital materials, both online and in-house
  • Providing widespread access to digital materials through a public interface


The LCHS will make efforts to provide access to as many of the digital holdings as possible through its public interface on PastPerfect. Online materials are maintained in widely-used formats and are of an acceptable quality for online viewing, with a watermark protecting LCHS ownership of the materials. Permission for personal or professional use of digital materials is granted at the discretion of the LCHS staff. Requests for high-quality images may be subject to a fee.


The LCHS faces several challenges in establishing digital preservation practices that will stand the test of time. This policy seeks to combat these challenges by codifying digital preservation into the organization’s workflow.

  • Sustainability: All digital preservation policies and efforts must be recorded and appropriately communicated to ensure the continuity of preservation through staff and volunteer turnover.
  • Prioritization: Much of digital preservation involves planning for future use and users and can be neglected for other, more pressing matters. Preservation must be considered a priority if its effects are to be reflected in the long term.
  • Monitoring Materials: Responsibility for overseeing the incorporation and maintenance of digital materials must be continual as they are created, added, or donated. Designated staff, docents, or volunteers should be trained in following this procedure.
  • Changes in Digital Preservation Practices: Digital tools change and fall out of use quickly. Ensuring that standards are continually met, and practices kept up-to-date, is vital to combating the obsolescence of digital formats and tools.


Much can be gained by incorporating digital preservation into LCHS policy. The risks that come with neglecting digital preservation are far outweighed by the benefits to collection safety, resource growth and support, and ensured future access.

  • Research: Ease of access to digital materials facilitates the response to research and use requests from users. Spending less time searching for materials opens up time and resources to other tasks and enables the user to discover previously obscured connections and historical significance.
  • Fewer At-Risk Holdings: When digital materials are unorganized and unmonitored, they are at higher risk for loss. Developing an arrangement system and process for accessing files ensures the future availability of materials that may otherwise become unusable due to neglect or oversight.
  • Resources: Creating and maintaining an up-to-date list of digital holdings is an important resource for applying for grants and other assistance for ongoing collections projects. Demonstrable evidence of what is currently held, what actions are pressing, and what could be done in the future is a valuable tool for cultural institutions seeking community and outside support.

WheatonArts and Cultural Center’s Digital Preservation Project: Policy


WheatonArts and Cultural Center (WACC) doesn’t have a digital preservation policy apart from its general collections policy. Collecting, creating and preserving digital objects is intrinsic to the Center’s mission to “engage artists and audiences in an evolving exploration of creativity.” Patrons’ rising expectations of institutions’ digital presence mean that even well-established, and beloved, institutions must take digital collections and preservation seriously, in order to maintain, much less expand their reputations. Here’s a policy option for how WheatonArts might translate staff enthusiasm and commitment into consistent preservation action.

1) Responsibilities

The curatorial staff have expressed their commitment to and knowledge of digital preservation. This should be written into the formal job description of the Curatorial Assistant who has been digitizing the WACC archives. This change should include a time commitment of at least 4 hours per week, with flexibility to account for the current arrearage. Furthermore, the Curatorial Assistant should be entrusted with training and supervising interns and volunteers in digitization.

Administration should also guarantee technical support to the curatorial team. Information Technology staff (IT) should be responsible for reporting on backup schedules and details from the WheatonArts server to the NAS and cloud. Furthermore, IT must establish and maintain fixity information for all stored data on the server and the cloud and determine that all data is backed up and what files can subsequently be safely deleted from the server, while assuring that PastPerfect remains fully functional.* Curatorial staff should assist IT by regularly exporting and spot-checking files from the server, NAS, and if possible, cloud storage, for integrity.

*There is approximately 250 GB of potentially redundant data on the server at present. This must be addressed if digitization efforts are to continue in the near term.

2) Storage

The curatorial staff will be responsible for saving one copy of all preservation and access files to a portable hard drive and partnering with another institution (in a different geographic area with different disaster risks) for a data “swap,” wherein each institution agrees to secure the other’s hard drive against catastrophe at home. This would ideally be a reciprocal arrangement, but it needn’t be. Drives should be replaced, and files transferred to new drives, at least every two years.

If this is accomplished, along with maintaining copies on the server (for PastPerfect), the NAS and cloud backup, WheatonArts will have a minimum of four copies; not all collocated and not all in the same geographic area. If the registrar continues to maintain copies on her office desktop hard drive and on a portable hard drive that she takes home, that’s six copies and more than enough. Two sets of copies could safely be eliminated; perhaps the NAS copies and the registrar’s portable drive.

3) Integrity

IT will be responsible for running checksums and reporting on file fixity (or ensuring that this is done) on a schedule, on the server and in the cloud (see Responsibilities above). This information will be available to curatorial staff who will be responsible for establishing and maintaining file fixity information for the copies in their care (e.g., the registrar’s desktop hard drive and the portable drive to be swapped). In order to do this, staff will download and run AVP’s Fixity Utility.

4) Security

Curatorial staff and IT will limit personnel with edit/delete access to files as much as possible. Actions on files will be tracked and logged from creation (or ingest).

5) Metadata

Staff will continue to maintain inventories of digital objects and storage locations along with metadata not captured in PastPerfect. This will include fixity information and actions on files (see Integrity and Security above). These inventories should be backed up like the files they describe, with one copy included on the swapped hard drive.

6) Digitization and Formats

While WheatonArts cannot dictate file formats to artists, staff will stay educated about best practices and obsolescence risks. Object inventories will include file formats.

Currently, staff creates scans of archival materials at 300 PPI. Preservation and access files are TIFFs and JPEGs, respectively, sustainable practice for the foreseeable future.


A policy like the one outlined here could be implemented rather quickly without expanded resources. In fact, it calls for some contraction (at least in the case of backup copies). Efforts are well under way at WheatonArts to collect and preserve digital objects. What is required of any institution is a paradigm shift from viewing organized digital preservation as a wishlist item to viewing it as a necessity. This policy draft, beginning with Responsibilities, suggests a way to codify that shift.

Draft of Digital Preservation Policy for Putnam County Museum


This policy aims to implement and maintain digital preservation practices for the Putnam County Museum in Greencastle, Indiana. While this policy focuses on digital files and formats, it may also apply to digitization practices. This policy is expressly for the use of staff and volunteers at the Putnam County Museum, and does not apply broadly to all county institutions. Policy should be revisited every 3-5 years, with input from the board, to address any new concerns or new opportunities. This policy is not meant to discourage grant applications, but to provide practices to work towards full preservation using any current resources.


Mandate and Scope

According to the museum website, the organization’s mission is to “collect, preserve, and interpret the natural, historical and cultural heritage of the county” ( The organization has been a proactive collector in the county, and must focus on preserving the material, both physically and digitally. This policy addresses digital preservation issues by:

  1. Creating a file naming system to make files more accessible to researchers, the public, and staff.
  2. Ensure file fixity over time to preserve digital files.
  3. Create systems for removing environmental risks of files and drives.
  4. Ensure that a-c are manageable and affordable for an organization of its size.



This policy will refer to current modes of digital preservation, including National Digital Stewardship Alliance (NDSA)’s “Levels of Digital Preservation and prioritizations of physical and digital copies of similar/the same material.


Policy Practices

Oral Histories

Standard practice when dealing with oral histories is to treat the original format as the artifact. Recordings should be checked regularly for listen-ability, and transferred to new – and different – formats. Different formats have different life cycles, and therefore having content saved on different formats will increase the likelihood that the file survives.

Existing oral histories that can be accessed digitally will be uploaded to the Internet Archive for longer-term preservation. Future oral histories will be taken via the StoryCorps app, which automatically archives the audio with the Library of Congress.


Scanned Images

Scanned images need to be as (or more) findable than the original document. Immediately upon scanning images on-site, staff/volunteers will:

  1. Locate and rename file with identifying information (i.e. “Red Cross Group Photo 1974”)
  2. Digitally placed in file hierarchy mimicking makeup of existing systems (i.e. “Scanned Photos/Newspapers/1950-1970).
  3. Be added to a “master list” of scanned images kept in multiple locations, per NDSA Levels of Preservation (i.e. printed copy on site replaced every quarter, digitally on the hard drive, saved digitally on a cloud-based system).
  4. Uploaded to an external, free service to preserve images (i.e. Internet Archive or Wikimedia Commons).


File Fixity

At least twice a year, staff/volunteers will create and maintain a “master list” of digital files, both digitized files and born-digital. As long as Putnam County Museum uses PastPerfect software, this can be completed (for collections data) via reports within the system. Otherwise, there should be a list created of non-collections digital files. Moving forward, file fixity checks will be completed at least once a year, at the end or beginning of the fiscal year, via AVPreserve. After the checks, staff will search for the locations of discrepancies between the two versions.


Roles and Responsibilities

Because staff is low at Putnam County Museum, much of the work will need to be done by volunteers. Staff will be responsible for recognizing volunteers most suited to this type of work and train them on the systems and practices above. Staff will also make this policy readily available to any volunteer who may interact with or manipulate digital files. Volunteers untrained in these practices should be discouraged from working with digital materials until training to ensure both security and consistency.

Baltimore Community Museum Policy Draft


The Baltimore Community Museum is responsible for documenting the history of the town of Baltimore, Ohio and the surrounding areas. Because the museum is currently undertaking digitization projects, digital preservation is becoming increasingly important for the organization. Staff need to be able to maintain the valuable digital files they are creating and hope to be able to make the scanned items available on the museum’s website in the future. The Baltimore Community Museum recognizes that digital preservation can be challenging because the policies and methods developed for analog preservation may not always be applicable. Because of the rate of technological change, digital objects require more active management. This digital preservation policy will help the museum to gain better control over its digital content today so the organization is better equipped to tackle new challenges (such as new media formats) in the future. This policy outlines procedures and responsibilities for the Baltimore Community Museum in order to ensure sustainable access to the museum’s digital content. In the long run, these guidelines should help to clarify workflows for staff and prevent unnecessary stress. The actions listed in this policy are intended to help the museum reach higher levels of the National Digital Stewardship Alliance Levels of Digital Preservation.


This policy applies to the digital content created by museum employees during digitization projects. Currently, staff are working to scan documents and photos from the Baltimore Community Museum’s collections. Issues of a local newspaper, the Twin City News, have also been digitized. Going forward, the museum will continue to select items to be scanned. The Baltimore Community Museum will prioritize documents and photos that are damaged and items that are of great importance to the history of the community. The organization also hopes to select and preserve items that would potentially assist members of the community working on genealogy projects. This includes family genealogies that have been donated to the museum, cemetery records, and township records.


The Baltimore Community Museum currently uses Google Cloud for photographs and Dropbox for documents. Going forward, the museum will maintain at least three copies of its files to prevent loss due to bit rot or storage system failure. At least one copy of the files will be stored in a different geographic location to protect against a regional disaster. The museum will continue to use cloud storage providers but will also store one copy of the scans on an external hard drive that will be kept in a secure location.

File Fixity

The museum will monitor the fixity of its files to ensure that digital files have not changed or degraded over time. The simplest way to monitor fixity is to keep track of the number of files being created and their expected file size. Each month, staff will update the total file count and file size figures. As part of this monthly check-in, staff will verify that fixity information has not changed unexpectedly. Staff should also double check fixity information after transferring any files to a new storage system. For additional peace of mind, staff can use AVP’s free Fixity tool to scan folders or directories and check for fixity issues, but this does not need to occur on a monthly basis.


Museum staff will create an inventory of its scans that is updated at fixed intervals. The inventory will at least include the file names, file locations, a description of each object, and any available fixity information. If time permits, staff will also begin upload information about scanned items into PastPerfect like they would for physical artifacts.

Information Security

Access to the Baltimore Community Museum’s digital content should be restricted to the museum’s director, interns, and other staff. Members of the community may view the files on a staff laptop with supervision, but passwords should only be entrusted to museum staff members. The museum will also maintain a log that employees update whenever they delete or move files. This log should be audited on a quarterly basis.

File Formats

The museum typically uses common file formats like JPEGs and PDFs for its scans. New staff members should be instructed to continue using these formats. If the museum decides to expand its digital collections in the future, staff will create an inventory of all of the file formats that are in use and monitor file formats for obsolescence.

Roles and Responsibilities

The museum’s director will be responsible for leading digitization projects, securing funding for resources like external hard drives, and training other staff members on digital preservation tasks. Other staff members will assist with tasks like making backup copies of files, checking fixity information, and updating inventories.

Policy Review

Best practices in digital preservation continue to evolve, so this digital preservation policy may also need to be revised in the future. The policy will be reviewed annually to ensure that the document still meets the organization’s needs. The policy should also be updated whenever there is a substantial change to the scope of the Baltimore Community Museum’s digital collections (for example, if the museum begins digitizing audiovisual materials). As part of the review process, the museum’s director should consult with interns and volunteers to identify any workflows that need be modified.

Related Resources

National Digital Stewardship Alliance. (2014). What is Fixity, and When Should I be Checking It? Washington, D.C. Retrieved from

Owens, T. (2018). The Theory and Craft of Digital Preservation. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.

Phillips, M., Bailey,  J., Goethals,  A., & Owens, T. (2013). The NDSA Levels of Digital Preservation: An Explanation and Uses.  IS&T Archiving, Washington, USA. Retrieved from

Schumacher, J., Thomas, L.M., VandeCreek, D., Erdman, S.,            Hancks, J., Haykal, A.,…Spalenka, D. (2014). From Theory to Action: Good Enough Digital Preservation for Under-Resourced Cultural Heritage Institutions (Working Paper). Retrieved from


Geneva Historical Society Digital Preservation Policy


The purpose of this policy is to set rules and guidelines for the management and preservation of digital objects in the Geneva Historical Society. This policy aims to address the following concerns and risks:

  1. Duplication of digital items
  2. Difficulty locating digital items
  3. Deletion and corruption of files

The procedures discussed in this policy intended to mitigate these risks and concerns as much as possible.


The scope of this policy covers born-digital items and digitized objects in the Society’s collection.

Born-digital refers to items originally created in digital form, such as podcasts or the Society’s promotional or educational materials.

Digitized objects refer to the scanned copies the Society makes of their physical materials.


This policy is written to conform to the National Digital Stewardship Alliance’s Levels of Digital Preservation. Due to this, increasing the quality of metadata, storage maintenance, file fixity procedures, file formats, and information security are the focus of this policy.


An inventory of the collection will be created and maintained in a Microsoft Excel workbook. Headers for the spreadsheet may include directory location, file format, file size, resolution, physical location of the item if digitized, or any other headings the Society finds useful. A back-up inventory will be created and used on an external website such as Dropbox or Google. The back-up will be updated daily. Having a regularly updated back-up copy of the inventory will minimize damages in case the workbook is accidentally deleted or tampered with. To ensure this inventory contains every item in the collection, employees will add object information immediately after digitization.

A file plan document will be created. This file plan will assert file naming and directory location policies. The file naming policy will be dictated by the Society. General guidelines for the naming policy include using underscores instead of spaces and only using lowercase letters. Legacy holdings must be renamed in order to fit the naming policy. Legacy holdings refer to digitized and born-digital objects created before the implementation of this policy. A tutorial for batch renaming files in Windows 10 is included in the Related Documents section.

Digital objects should be placed on a shared drive in the proper location following the Society’s directory location policy. Directories will be based on physical locations of objects, unless the Society finds a more suitable method. Legacy items should be relocated to fit the proper place in the directory.

Employees will refer to the file plan when naming and storing digital objects.

For quality control, the Society will practice “file clean-up days” twice a year, so that every employee can dedicate time to ensuring the metadata protocol is followed.

Storage Management

The Society currently uses a Synology NAS system. This server will be located in a cool temperature-controlled environment to prevent heat damage. The server should require administrative access so that a limited number of people are able to alter files.

Two additional copies of the Society’s collection will be created to meet the standards of NDSA’s Levels of Digital Preservation. For the first copy, the Society will use Preservica to store their collection. A second copy will be given to a partnering institution. The Society will document all storage systems in use and the information needed to access and use them.

Changes to a file must be replicated on all storage copies.

File Fixity

Using AVP’s Fixity application, the Society will perform fixity checks annually. These fixity checks must be performed on all three copies of the Society’s collection in order to be considered complete. Fixity information, such as hashtags, should be recorded in a spreadsheet with a high level of authorization.

File fixity refers to digital objects remaining as intended through time and transfer, meaning that details such as content and file size do not change.

File Formats

All the file formats in use will be documented in the Excel inventory. The Society will limit the formats in use, so that only known, open, and widely-used formats are chosen for preservation. At risk-formats will be migrated to safer formats when needed.

At-risk formats refer to formats that are becoming obsolete or inaccessible.

Information Security

The Society will identify who has read, write, move, and delete authorization to individual files. These authorizations and access restrictions will be documented.

To protect the data recorded in the Excel inventory and reduce risk of deletion, only one person at a time will have permission to edit the workbook. When the inventory is open and in-use, others will be able read it but not edit. Since the workbook will also be backed up daily, this will reduce any damage caused by accidental deletion.

If possible, unauthorized attempts to access files will be logged and reviewed daily.

Every computer will be upgraded to the same operating system. The Society will schedule days to manually update the operating systems and run virus scans. It is important to manually update operating systems in case an automatic update does not occur.


This digital preservation policy will be reviewed annually to check on the effectiveness of the policy and whether it meets the needs of the Society.

Related Documents

NDSA Levels of Digital Preservation

How to batch rename files in Windows 10

Digital Formats: Factors for Sustainability, Functionality, and Quality