Digital Preservation Policy Framework: A Case Study by Daniel W. Noonan. Educause Review Online, July 28, 2014.
“Digital preservation can be defined as the combination of policies, strategies and actions to ensure access to and accurate rendering of authenticated reformatted and born digital content over time regardless of the challenges of media failure and technological change. Graham suggests that for “…the scholarly community to give serious weight to electronic information depends upon its trust in such information being dependably available, with authenticity and integrity maintained.” To effectively accomplish the activities of digital preservation, an institution or organization should have a digital preservation policy that articulates and institutionalizes its commitment to their preservation strategies and actions. Historically, archives and libraries have articulated — in policies and procedures — the process for the preservation of the paper-based documents and analog objects within their institutions. As Marcum noted in 1996, “Preservation is a fundamental responsibility of libraries and archives of record. To be sure, the preservation imperative has been imperfectly carried out in the print environment, but the problem grows even more complicated in the digital world.” Just because the process of digital preservation might be more complicated, does anyone really need a policy for digital preservation separate from their institution’s preservation policy for books, manuscripts, and/or physical objects? There is a fundamental difference in trying to preserve paper-based and/or analog objects and digital objects; the Society of American Archivists’ definition for preservation states:
- The professional discipline of protecting materials by minimizing chemical and physical deterioration and damage to minimize the loss of information and to extend the life of cultural property.
- The act of keeping from harm, injury, decay, or destruction, especially through noninvasive treatment.
This definition infers the preservation of the original artifact or object, whereas the previously defined objective of digital preservation “…is the accurate rendering of authenticated…content over time.” By definition, digital preservation does not necessarily guarantee “preservation” of the actual digital artifact or object, but its informational value and how it is rendered and accessed. Consequently, digital preservation is significantly different enough from traditional preservation to warrant a dedicated policy.”