Wentzville Community Historical Society’s Digital Preservation Policy

Purpose

This policy is to guide current and future society members and volunteers in protecting their digital materials and upholding their mission of collecting and preserving materials pertaining to Wentzville, Missouri and its surrounding areas.  All portions are directed toward reaching the highest levels of digital preservation as defined by the National Digital Stewardship Alliance Levels of Digital Preservation.

Objectives

Reinforce the society’s mission:  To collect and preserve information pertaining to historical events of Wentzville and surrounding areas; to assume responsibility for proper recognition and preservation of various historical landmarks, relics, souvenirs, and Missouriana, to do suitable honor to those hardy pioneers of this area who laid the foundation of our present happiness by arranging celebrations and meetings in their memory; to engender rightful pride in our rich history; and to establish and maintain a museum, library, and archives.

Protect current and future digital materials from destruction or obsolescence

Establish a hierarchy for digital care and guidelines to ensure continuity of preservation across presidencies and time

Introduce and educate future members and volunteers on basic digital preservation practices

Nature of the Collections

At the time of this policy’s creation, the Wentzville Community Historical Society digital collections consisted of scanned photographs from within their collections and from outside donors. Many of the materials are stored on single laptop computers or a jump drive. Future collections could include additional digitized photographs, oral histories, and digital imaging of the society’s material objects.

Strategies

Storage

The Wentzville Community Historical Society will create and maintain a centralized location for all of their digital materials.  This central location will be in addition to their Past Perfect collection management system.

The Society will create a comprehensive copy of all digital materials and store this copy on an external hard drive.  The hard drive will be located to an off-site secure location such as a safety deposit box, the President’s personal safe, or the local library.

If the budget allows, the Society will create and maintain a Google One account and create another copy of their digital materials for internet storage.

Subsequent copies of the collections should be made quarterly or biannually, depending on the volume of new materials, to all copy locations.

Fixity and File Integrity

The Society will create an inventory spreadsheet or document to track their digital materials.

The President or a responsible volunteer will refer to the inventory and perform an audit of the digital materials biannually to ensure that files were not accidentally or maliciously removed.  If files were lost or corrupted, replacements should be obtained from one of the other copies.

Every two years, if volunteer time allows, the Society will upload their digital files to www.weareavp.com to check file fixity.  Hashes should be recorded within the prepared inventory to ensure the integrity of the files.   If files were lost or corrupted, replacements should be obtained from one of the other copies.

Security and Permissions

All volunteers will be trained on how to appropriately name and copy files before they gain access to the materials. They will also be trained on how to accurately input the materials into Past Perfect before they begin working with those materials and software.

Volunteers will log any changes, additions, copies, or deletions and the date in which the actions occurred in an accompanying spreadsheet or within Past Perfect.

All work performed by volunteers shall be checked by another volunteer for quality assurance.

Metadata

Inventories for each record type (i.e. photographs, audio files, born digital documents, scanned documents, objects)  will be created for existing and future digital materials.  Copies of the inventory will reside within the folder containing the collection materials.  The inventory will include information including, but not limited to, file title, location of file, creation location, donor, collection, people, dates, and events.  Technical metadata can also be represented in the spreadsheet and include information such as file format, picture size, and picture resolution.  

All appropriate metadata will be uploaded to the Past Perfect instance of the digital materials.

Metadata on donor transactions will be maintained either digitally or on paper within authority files. Authority files should be kept in a seperate folder within the Society’s system.

Using a spreadsheet or Past Perfect, volunteers will note any changes made to files.

Backups of all metadata will be made quarterly.

File Format

The society will strive to save their files in a singular format.  They will also encourage donors to format their materials to conform to their predetermined formats.

Suggested formats:

  • JPG or TIFF for photographs
  • MOV for videos
  • DOCX or PDF for documents
  • MP3 or WAV for audio

Digital photographs will be named in the following format: yyyy-mm-dd-subject-of-photo.jpg and will be saved in folders based on year, event then donor. The date should indicate the date of the event. (Example: 2018\ 2018-10-31-Fall-Festival\ Jane Doe\2018-10-31-Queen-Float (slashes indicate cascading folders.)

Photographs of objects will be named in the following format: yyyy-mm-dd-object-position. The date should indicate the date the photograph was taken. (Example: 2018-05-23-sewing-machine-front).

If formats become obsolete, the Society will take financially minimal measures to migrate files to useable formats.  Formats should be checked annually if there are more than three formats for each record type (i.e. .doc, .pdf, and .txt).

Roles and Responsibilities

The elected President of the Wentzville Community Historical Society will oversee that this policy is enforced.  Changes can be suggested to the President. All changes must be approved by the President, or if s/he deems necessary, the board and/or general membership.

Economics/Sustainability

Due to the donation-based nature of the Society’s income, it is up to the elected president and the society members to decide on initial and future expenditures relating to digital preservation. However, they should make every attempt to create and maintain a stable environment for and practice of digital preservation.

Glossary

Born digital Information created in electronic format (SAA Glossary

Fixity – The quality of being stable and resisting change. (SAA Glossary)

Hashes – Numerical and alphabetical strings created by a fixity program used to compare files and check for corrupt bits

Date and Author

This policy was created in November 2018 by a MLIS candidate at the University of Maryland College Park.

Related Resources

Library of Congress. (n.d.). Scanning Your Personal Collections. Retrieved from http://www.digitalpreservation.gov/personalarchiving/documents/scanning_collections.pdf.

Meta Archive Cooperative. (2010). Preservation Policy Template. Retrieved from https://metaarchive.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/ma_dp_policy_template.pdf.

National Digital Stewardship Alliance. (n.d.). Levels of Digital Preservation. Retrived from https://ndsa.org/activities/levels-of-digital-preservation/.

National Library of Australia. (2013). Digital Preservation Policy 4th Edition. Retrieved from https://www.nla.gov.au/policy-and-planning/digital-preservation-policy.

Society of American Archivists (n.d.). A Glossary of Archival and Records Terminology. Retrieved from https://www2.archivists.org/glossary.

 

*NOTE: Sorry for the weird formatting. The blog site doesn’t make it look as pretty as a PDF or word doc.

 

12 Replies to “Wentzville Community Historical Society’s Digital Preservation Policy”

  1. Jen, really great work! I particularly like the detailed & practical steps you lay out – like under Security & Permissions. It makes things much clearer for the average layperson who might start volunteering there or is just interested in what digital preservation means for your org.

  2. Hi Jen,

    I too took notice of the Security and Permissions section. I particularly liked the bit about training staff how to NOT destroy things. I think I may have mentioned it in class before, but I’ve seen this happen at my own organization. Our “IT guy” (that’s in quotes because it’s a self-assigned title) let all of the graphic designers have read/write access to the server where all the photos are kept. Without realizing it one of them moved an entire folder of images to some unknown location and then forgot where that new location was. It broke the link that Lightroom had to the assets and effectively deleted them forever.

    So, yeah… training!

    1. Tricia and Andy,
      Looking back, I probably should have included how they would be trained and by who, but that can be explained in the next iteration of the policy. Thanks for the feedback though!

  3. Nice write-up Jen. I like that you addressed sustainability of the program in a couple of different sections – using quality assurance for volunteers and economic sustainability at the end. I think a lot of these efforts can start out with the best intentions, but the continuity is important to make sure those efforts aren’t wasted.

    1. Thanks, Tina! I really wanted to highlight continuity because they are just starting to digitize their collections or have born-digital materials, so I really wanted to emphasize that initial planning and sticking to the same technique is critical.

  4. Echoing others sentiments at this point but great job on your policy, Jen! I’m impressed with the level of detail you have particularly in your file formats section. I think having those naming standards in a document will really help your institution avoid future headaches.

    Also, “… do suitable honor to those hardy pioneers of this area who laid the foundation of our present happiness by arranging celebrations and meetings in their memory” might be one of the most colorful mission statements I’ve read from a local historical society. Makes me wonder how they interact with Native history, though.

    1. Gwen,
      You bring up an interesting point about their mission! I didn’t particularly think about that since I more or less copy and pasted the mission rather than thoroughly thought through it. (Despite that being a VERY important part of digital preservation with “why do you want to preserve this” and all that.) I didn’t really hear any mention of Native history, so that might be interesting to talk to them about, especially in the ethical sphere. Thanks for bringing that up!

  5. This is a great policy, Jen! I like that you provided name formats. I am curious about how you came up with the descriptors? I don’t know anything about photography, but naming object photographs based on their position seems like a creative idea to me.

    I also like that you included how often each storage copy should be updated. It can seem a little complicated to keep multiple copies all up-to-date, but having a timeline makes that process seem easier.

    Like everyone else has said, this is really well-done. My only suggestion would be to possibly include naming standards for audio, video, and text formats as well. Overall, great job!

    1. Maya,
      I mentioned this a lot over the semester, that I’m trying to better organize and centralize my own family photographs. I used the date then event because I found in my own experiences that the date, event and the location are important identifiers. In theory, they could definitely choose other descriptors, and I think I am still hashing out my own system, but I was trying to emphasize that they may want that key metadata in their file name, without the name being crazy long and confusing, so that researchers can immediately know what they are looking at.

      I realized later that I focused mainly on photographs and I probably should have added more for the other formats, my mind was just so focused on what they already had (photos) and not really on what they would have in the future (oral histories, documents, etc.). I will definitely think about that in the future though! Thanks!!

  6. Looking at your digital preservation policy was really helpful! I appreciate that you provide broad guidance, but also a little specificity about how something is actually supposed to get done. I really appreciate your description of why checking fixity is important, and the inclusion of a section that requires QA for any work done with the collection!

  7. Jen, great job on this assignment! I appreciated the level of detail, and the fact that you included a glossary and related resources. Moreover, I like that you discussed naming conventions and included specific examples of how files should be named. That such a simple, low-tech thing for organizations to do moving forward, and yet it makes such a big difference in helping to identify and locate files. In saying this, I am mindful of the fact that I *really* need to work on naming conventions for my own collection of digital files.

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