Apologies for my late blogging!
The four policies I chose to review are the Dartmouth College Library’s Digital Preservation Policy, the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland (PRONI)’s Digital Preservation Strategy, Illinois Digital Environment for Access to Learning and Scholarship (IDEALS)’s Digital Preservation Policy, and Rhizome at the New Museum’s Digital Preservation Practices and the Rhizome Artbase. Although these policies come from a range of archives/institutional repositories, libraries, and museums, there were definitely a lot of commonalities.
Digital preservation policies should align with institutional collection policies and mission – identify the types of items most important to the institution. These policies need to establish what types of material the institution will collect and preserve, but also be flexible enough to for appropriate on-the-ground decision-making between policy review periods. Stanford’s web archiving policy focuses on at-risk content while also making sure that the policy supports other collection policies and strengths, and prioritizes what is likely to be useful to Stanford’s researcher base.
So, a good digital preservation policy would establish what the institution’s mission or responsibility for digital collections is (such as in PRONI’s policy, which reads an original remit about paper-based collections to also apply to born-digital and digitized material); explain challenges to preservation and/or risks (such as Dartmouth and Rhizome’s policies); define audiences/users for digital materials being selected and preserved; establish collecting and preserving priorities (all five policies I looked at do this); delineate principles behind preservation (Dartmouth’s policy explains life cycle management and lists several resources they have access to, like Portico, LOCKSS, and HathiTrust); and sets a regular schedule or deadline for the policy to be reviewed.
There were some interesting differences I noted in these policy documents as well: IDEALS’s policy does not list specific formats, PRONI’s mentions that they have a list of accepted file formats but that is not included in the policy, and Dartmouth’s lists their preferred formats within the policy itself. Rhizome’s policy reads more like a whitepaper than a policy document, and goes into more depth on the multiple different directions future actions could take.
- Stanford’s web archiving policy is for an institution with high staffing levels and adequate funding. While all of the major points still apply to smaller institutions, how do you scale this type of robust, well-defined collections policy to understaffed or all volunteer-run organizations, such as the ones many of us in class are working with?
- Rimkus, Padilla, Popp, & Martin’s analysis of file format policies across ARL institutions brought up that repository managers place more trust in file formats that originate from library reformatting programs. Is some of this built-in trust because many librarians come from humanities backgrounds? Could increasing diversity in library staff’s backgrounds (i.e. more people with media production, art, design, or programming backgrounds) change the level of confidence repository managers and policy creators have in other formats?