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Katherine Skinner - Collaborative Distributed Digital Preservation: The MetaArchive Cooperative
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Katherine Skinner - Collaborative Distributed Digital Preservation: The MetaArchive Cooperative


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A presentation delivered at the University of North Texas by Dr. Katherine Skinner on December 11, 2009, on organizational and technical considerations regarding collaborative distributed digital …

A presentation delivered at the University of North Texas by Dr. Katherine Skinner on December 11, 2009, on organizational and technical considerations regarding collaborative distributed digital preservation. The MetaArchive Cooperative, a distributed digital preservation network, is covered as a case study.

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  • Building, disseminating, and preserving collections used to be a single institution’s work “ Digital age” defies those institutional boundaries Competition vs. collaboration conundrum Academia—highest stakes are reputation How do we incentivize?
  • Transcript

    • 1. Katherine Skinner Executive Director, Educopia Institute Program Manager, MetaArchive Cooperative University of North Texas December 11, 2009
    • 2.
      • What is distributed digital preservation?
      • Why do we need to collaborate?
      • What are some basic principles of collaborative networking?
      • What do they look like in practice?
        • MetaArchive Cooperative
      Skinner 12/11/09
    • 3.
      • Digital preservation:
      • Managed activities necessary for ensuring both the long-term maintenance of a byte stream and continued accessibility of its contents.
      • Aims to ensure that future users will be able to discover, retrieve, render, manipulate, interpret and use digital information in face of constantly changing technology
      Skinner 12/11/09
    • 4.
      • “ Disaster recovery strategies and backup systems are not sufficient to ensure survival and access to authentic digital resources over time. A backup is short-term data recovery solution following loss or corruption and is fundamentally different to an electronic preservation archive.”
      • JISC. Digital Preservation: Continued Access to authentic digital assets. (November, 2006)
      Skinner 12/11/09
    • 5.
      • Internal policies
      • Internal strategies/procedures
      • Implementation
      • Monitoring
      Skinner 12/11/09
    • 6.
      • Policy should
        • Explain how digital preservation can serve major needs of the institution
        • State some of the principles/rules that form the basis of implementation
        • Provide guidance and authorization on preservation of digital materials (selection, rights info, formatting, etc)
        • Ensure the authenticity, reliability and long term accessibility of the digital materials
        • Be date stamped and marked for next review
      Skinner 12/11/09
    • 7.
      • Document preservation practices
      • The “what”—what content is preserved and where is it preserved
      • The “how”—what service(s), how process for ingest/harvest, how retrieve if necessary, how monitor
      Skinner 12/11/09
    • 8.
      • Maximizing survivability through adapting long-known preservation conventions
        • Multiple copies
        • Distribution
        • Security
      Skinner 12/11/09
    • 9.
      • How do you do preservation?
          • Rule 1: you don’t do it alone!
      Skinner 12/11/09
    • 10. Skinner 12/11/09
    • 11.
      • Collections
        • Books, journals, newspapers, unique items, etc.
      • Services
        • Building, disseminating, and preserving collections
          • Once solitary; now defies such boundaries
          • Competition vs. collaboration issue
          • Viability at stake
      Skinner 12/11/09
    • 12.
      • Adjust to a more collaborative mindset to accomplish two preservation goals:
        • To preserve the digital collections we create
          • Maintain integrity so that we can continue to access both “born digital” and digitized materials
        • To preserve our own institutional missions
          • Outsourcing a core mission is a dangerous proposition
          • Danger of becoming a broker rather than a do-er
      Skinner 12/11/09
    • 13.
      • Collaborative Network: An association of autonomous entities collaborating to achieve common or compatible goals.
      • Source:
      Skinner 12/11/09 FLEXIBILITY FRAGILITY
    • 14.
      • Enables communities to work together on a common solution to a common problem
      • Demands attention to organizational structure in order to work
      • Requires three key elements:
        • A common cause
        • Solid institutional buy-in
        • Attention to the organizational arrangement that governs the partnerships
      Skinner 12/11/09
    • 15. Skinner 12/11/09
    • 16.
      • Founded on the premise that cultural memory organizations should maintain their historical role as cultural stewards
        • Preservation of digital assets as corollary to preserving physical ones
        • Need in house expertise and knowledge
        • Value of curators and librarians and archivists
      • Chose technical and organizational infrastructure that capitalizes on cultural memory organization’s proven methodologies
        • Distributed preservation
        • Partnership to keep costing affordable
      Skinner 12/11/09
    • 17.
      • A distributed digital preservation cooperative for digital archives, based on LOCKSS
      • Founded in 2003; supported by combination of sponsored funding (NDIIPP, NHPRC), consulting fees, and membership fees
      • Provides digital preservation infrastructure and training and models to enable other groups to establish similar networks
      Skinner 12/11/09
    • 18.
      • MetaArchive is a cooperative, not a vendor:
        • A cooperative (or co-op) is an organization that consists of a group of individuals who have joined together to perform a function more efficiently than each individual could do alone. The purpose of a cooperative is not to make profits, but to improve each member's situation and the situation of the surrounding society.
      • collaborative association of cultural memory organizations with a nonprofit administration
        • All hardware and software assets are owned by members
        • Membership fees go to a central pool of support for members’ co-op activities
      Skinner 12/11/09
    • 19. Skinner 12/11/09 14 US Members + Lib. of Congress 2 Overseas Members
    • 20.
      • Auburn University
      • Boston College
      • Clemson University
      • Emory University
      • Florida State Univ.
      • Folger Shakespeare Lib.
      • Georgia Tech
      • Pontifícia Universidade Católica (Rio)
      • Rice University
      • Univ. of Hull
      • Univ. of Louisville
      • Univ. of North Texas
      • Univ. of South Carolina
      • Virginia Tech
      • Library of Congress
      • NDLTD
      • SDSC
      Skinner 12/11/09
    • 21.
      • Works with any repository system
      • Collections must be available via http for initial harvest (it can be a highly secure pathway)
      • Tiered membership: $5K or $1K per year
      • Server cost: $4,600/3 years (currently)
      • Space is at cost : $0.67/GB/year for six replications
      Skinner 12/11/09
    • 22.
      • Collections
      • Technical Infrastructure
      • Organizational Infrastructure
      Skinner 12/11/09
    • 23.
      • Format-agnostic solution
      • Subject- and genre-based archives
        • Southern Digital Culture
        • Electronic Theses and Dissertations
        • TransAtlantic Slave Trade
        • Early Modern Literature
        • Newspapers (coming soon)
      Skinner 12/11/09
    • 24.
      • MetaArchive provides a cost-effective cooperative structure:
        • secure distributed digital preservation of archives
        • based on re-use of LOCKSS for archives
      • Network participation as a MetaArchive-LOCKSS cache is simple and inexpensive
      Skinner 12/11/09
    • 25.
      • Preservation solution needed a long-term, sustainable infrastructure
        • Question arose: Who’s in charge of a Cooperative of peer institutions?
      • Sought guidance
        • legal team, librarians, archivists, and IP specialists
      • Created core structure in 2006:
        • charter, membership agreement, papers of incorporation, business plans, etc.
      Skinner 12/11/09
    • 26.
      • Separated the administrative apparatus and member institutions
        • provides a clear line of leadership and responsibility
        • helps to keep any one member’s goals from unduly influencing the cooperative’s direction
        • gives leverage for external partnerships
      Skinner 12/11/09
    • 27.
      • reducing our short- and long-term costs
        • Investing in a commonly-owned solution, not purchasing a service
        • Sharing technological development and organizational tasks
      • decentralizing our activities
        • Safety in this “brave new world” of digital preservation may well reside in shared knowledge and shared commitment
      • decreasing dependence on third-party solutions
        • There is room for various types of solutions
        • Increased capacity for acting as a community of cultural stewards
      Skinner 12/11/09
    • 28.
      • Outsourcing core services = risky proposition
      • Core missions:
        • Building collections
        • Disseminating collections
        • Preserving collections
      • Cannot focus on the collections at the expense of the services … need both in order to carry our missions and memory forward
      Skinner 12/11/09
    • 29.
      • Dr. Katherine Skinner
      • 404 783 2534
      • [email_address]
      Skinner 12/11/09