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Collaboration on appraisal and collection development for the long-term preservation of digital content

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Slides from a presentation given at: Appraisal in the Digital World, Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei, Rome, Italy, 15-16 November 2007

Slides from a presentation given at: Appraisal in the Digital World, Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei, Rome, Italy, 15-16 November 2007

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  • 1. Collaboration on appraisal and collection development for the long-term preservation of digital content Michael Day DCC Research Team UKOLN, University of Bath Bath BA2 7AY, United Kingdom [email_address]
  • 2. Presentation outline
    • Different approaches to selection and appraisal
    • Collection development
    • The importance of collaboration for:
      • Digital preservation
      • Institutional repositories
    • General principles for selection and appraisal
  • 3. Approaches to selection (1)
    • Fully comprehensive
      • “Storage is cheap. Why select?” (topic of ASIST student chapter panel discussion, UNC, 2007)
      • May seem to provide a way of avoiding the cultural bias evident in most selection regimes
      • But, ad hoc decisions on retention may still be made, but maybe on pragmatic grounds (e.g., available technology, security, privacy) with little in the way of accountability
      • It also does not resolve the practical question of who should be responsible for preservation
  • 4. Approaches to selection (2)
    • Different professional approaches to selection
      • Archivists focus on “appraisal”
        • Based on well-established theoretical principles
        • An important part of archival practice
      • Other cultural heritage organisations focus on the development and management of collections
        • Based on a different set of assumptions
  • 5. Example: Web archives (1)
    • Highlights differences between the archival and collection development approaches
      • Archivists and records managers approach Web operations as a potential source or generator of records
        • Identify best practice for managing Web records, e.g. TNA
        • Mitigating organisational risk
        • Enhancing accountability
  • 6. Example: Web archives (2)
      • International Internet Preservation Consortium
        • Internet Archive and national libraries
        • View Web as a source of “published” content that can be harvested to enhance existing collections
        • Whether highly selective (e.g. UK Web Archiving Consortium, National Library of Australia’s PANDORA archive) or broader in scope (domain capture), national library led-initiatives tend to focus on traditional collection development criteria
  • 7. Collection development (1)
    • Typically focuses both on institutional objectives (e.g. “supporting the research and teaching needs of the university”) and subject needs
    • Traditionally includes a range of activities:
      • Selection, acquisition, deselection (weeding), disposal, preservation
      • Part of collection management (also includes policies, budget allocation, collection evaluation
    • Most collections will change over time, e.g. responding to changes to institutional objectives and the resources available (money and space)
  • 8. Collection development (2)
      • Specific selection factors might include:
        • The overall purpose of the collection (e.g. supporting education and research)
        • Existing subject strengths
        • The information needs of users
        • Quality, accuracy, authoritativeness, currency, …
        • Value for money
        • Statutory requirements (e.g. for national libraries)
  • 9. Collection development (3)
      • Collection development policies
        • These help guide ongoing collecting activities and form the basis for evaluation
        • In the library sector, these can be “highly charged political documents and … the province of the most senior library management” (Derek Law)
        • Helps to define organisational goals
        • “ Deaccessioning” can lead to controversy (e.g. Nicholson Baker’s Double Fold )
  • 10. Collection development (4)
    • Digital resources raise new kinds of selection issues:
      • Defining content, e.g. understanding the “significant properties” of resources (vitally important for making preservation decisions)
      • The need for various types of metadata
      • Access
        • The longer-term implications of licenses
        • User support and training needs
  • 11. Collection development (5)
      • The principle that it is important to select resources early in their lifecycle
        • Obsolescence leads to loss
        • Implicit knowledge gets lost
        • Metadata and documentation is hard to (re)create retrospectively
  • 12. Collaboration on preservation (1)
    • Collaborative infrastructures have long been identified as necessary for digital preservation and curation, e.g.:
        • Preservation is "an ongoing, long-term commitment, often shared, and cooperatively met, by many stakeholders" (Lavoie & Dempsey, 2004)
  • 13. Collaboration on preservation (2)
    • Examples:
      • Shared services (e.g. registries of representation information, third-party services for bit-level preservation)
      • Networks of "trust" (audit and certification)
      • Collaboration on policy level, e.g. on collection development and access
  • 14. Institutional repositories (1)
    • Institutional repositories require collaborative infrastructures:
      • Distributed services linked (for access) by metadata harvesting
        • Open Archives Initiative Protocol for Metadata Harvesting (OAI-PMH)
        • Data Providers (repositories) and Service Providers (aggregators)
      • Potential for the development of shared services to support repositories (Swan & Awre, Linking UK Repositories (JISC, 2006)
  • 15. Institutional repositories (2)
    • Potential shared services identified by Swan & Awre (2006):
      • Resource discovery
      • Building or hosting repositories
      • Advisory services (e.g. on IPR, preservation)
      • Content creation, digitisation
      • Metadata capture and enhancement
      • Name authorities
      • Citation analysis and research assessment
      • Preservation services
  • 16. IRs and preservation (1)
    • Shared services for preservation:
      • Assumption that not all institutions with repositories will be able to manage long-term preservation challenges, e.g.:
        • Lack of local expertise and resources
        • Existing availability of third party services, e.g. provided by subject-based data centres, national libraries
        • Preservation is a logical area for collaboration
  • 17. IRs and preservation (2)
    • Examples:
      • DARE (Digital Academic Repositories) initiative (Netherlands)
        • National Library of the Netherlands (KB) has responsibility for content deposited in participating repositories
      • Repository Bridge project (UK)
        • Demonstration of harvesting e-theses (using OAI-PMH and METS) by the National Library of Wales
  • 18. IRs and preservation (3)
    • Examples (continued):
      • SHERPA DP project (UK) - JISC funded
        • Developed disaggregated framework for outsourcing preservation, based on the OAIS model
        • Explored the packaging and transfer of content (using METS)
  • 19. IRs and preservation (4)
    • Examples (continued):
      • Preserv project (UK) - JISC funded
        • Simple model of modular services, e.g. for:
          • Bit-level preservation
          • Object characterisation and validation (e.g. using registries like PRONOM-DROID)
          • Preservation Planning (risk assessments, technology watch, etc.)
          • Preservation strategies (e.g. migration)
  • 20. IRs and preservation (5) Preserv service provider model (Hichcock, et al ., 2007)
  • 21. IRs and collection development (1)
    • Collection development issues for :
      • Content types
        • Peer-reviewed research outputs, scientific datasets, administrative records, ...
        • Will have different preservation priorities
      • Object types (file formats)
        • Policies will have direct influence on risks (and costs) of long-term preservation, e.g.:
          • Accepting anything vs. defining the specific standards to be used
  • 22. IRs and collection development (2)
      • Ongoing review (and weeding) of collections
        • Withdrawal of content (contentious issue)
        • Superseded or duplicate material
      • Defining preservation service levels
        • Different policies needed for different types of material
  • 23. IRs and collection development (3)
    • Potential areas for collaboration:
      • Ingest workflows
        • Checking conformance with submission rules
        • Automated tools for format characterisation and validation, maybe conversion (normalisation)
        • Metadata enhancement, e.g. consistent forms of name
  • 24. Shared collection development (1)
    • Collection development has been a traditional focus of library co-operation, e.g.:
      • Farmington Plan (1940s)
      • University of London Depository Library
    • The concept of "virtual collections"
      • IFLA Universal Availability of Publications (UAP) core programme
    • Also applies to digital collections
      • OhioLINK
      • California Digital Library
  • 25. Shared collection development (2)
    • Collaborative collection development and digital preservation
      • Potentially reducing unnecessary duplication of effort
      • Enabling co-ordinated decisions to be made about the redundancy and geographical distribution of content
      • Also supporting the application of different preservation strategies to the same class of content
  • 26. Shared collection development (3)
      • Identifying collections at risk and supporting their rescue
    • In order to do these things, it may be useful to have some common understanding of what collection development and appraisal should mean in the digital era
      • The main appraisal activities identified by the InterPARES Appraisal Task Force may be useful here
  • 27. InterPARES appraisal framework (1)
    • 1. Compiling information
      • Identifying the form and contexts of records
      • Identifying the particular components that need preservation
      • Based on solid research (not just collecting it together in a haphazard fashion)
      • This information could become part of the record’s metadata
  • 28. InterPARES appraisal framework (2)
    • 2. Assessing value
      • Judgement based on creator’s needs and societal needs
      • May be context dependent (institution specific)
        • Assessing continuing value
        • Authenticity
        • Determining value
  • 29. InterPARES appraisal framework (3)
    • 3. Determining the feasibility of preservation
      • Determining value is not enough in itself
      • Need also to consider whether the records are able to be preserved as authentic records
      • Takes into account the organisational ability to undertake preservation
      • Gathers technical information
    • 4. Making the appraisal decision
      • Based on value and feasibility
      • All decisions made must be documented
  • 30. InterPARES appraisal framework (4)
    • A generic framework: as developed has a focus on records, but the general principles, broadly interpreted, could be applied to other forms of content, e.g. scientific datasets, Web content
    • Does not presuppose a particular preservation approach
    • Encourages a focus on organisational objectives, object contexts, object value, the technical feasibility of preservation, and the determination of “significant properties”
    • Helps to document the selection process
  • 31. Conclusions
    • The use of a consistent set of principles might help to encourage:
      • More consistency in documenting selection and appraisal decisions across domains, with benefits for collaboration
      • May provide insight into assessing value and preservation feasibility in specific contexts (like Web archives)