Geneva Historical Society Digital Preservation Policy

Purpose

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.

Scope

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.

Standards

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.

Metadata

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.

Review

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

4 Replies to “Geneva Historical Society Digital Preservation Policy”

  1. Hi Maya,

    Nice job on your preservation policy. I like that you spend time trying to standardizing naming files for your institution and that you suggest that they rename their legacy files. This seems like the sort of thing that’s superfluous to preservation, but I think you demonstrate its utility in ensuring physical and intellectual control over the holdings. Did your institution give you any push back on this or were they on board for a renaming scheme?

    1. Hi Gwen,

      Thankfully my organization has been on board with my suggestions! Although it seems like a lot of work, so far the staff have still found everything doable, which is great.

  2. Maya, I liked how you began your policy by listing some of the specific concerns that your organization has. It helps the policy to feel more grounded in reality. By framing the document in this way, you’ve indicated that the policy will help solve specific problems that staff members are facing instead of merely dictating a list of rules that they should follow.

  3. Hi Maya,

    You’ve got a nice mix of specifics and general guidance in your policy. I’ll echo Gwen on her comments on file naming. That’s so important for obvious reasons, but also for adding a level of organization to objects that most staff still probably consider less “real” than their “physical” collection. And, another nuance of your policy is the way you use the word “physical” in the context of digital objects. They do have a physical aspect but that can be lost in all the specialized language.

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