Broad directions for preserving the Library’s digital collections

It is the Library’s general intention to preserve the accessibility and usability of the majority of digital materials in its collections. The specific preservation intentions and responsibility for these digital materials has been expressed at a high level in various Collection Preservation Intent Statements. Preservation Intent can be described as the expectations for preservation for content: whether content is to be preserved; who is responsible for preservation of the content; the period over which content must be preserved; and the required level of support for access to the content over time. However, because of resource pressures, the Library may have to allocate priorities for action. These will be decided based on the relative significance of particular materials and on the technical complexity of preserving access to them.

Preserving accessibility

Preservation of the Library's digital collections involves three main goals:

  • Maintaining access to reliable data at bit-stream level;
  • Maintaining access to content encoded in the bit streams; and
  • Maintaining access to the intended and available meaning of the content.

While specific preservation activities may focus on one or more of these goals, the Library’s preservation responsibility is only fulfilled when all three goals have been adequately addressed. This responsibility applies across all digital collections, subject to curatorial and policy decisions for specific groups of digital objects.

The decision about what digital material is accepted into the collection will be the responsibility of the collection areas. Although the Library's collection development policy underpins this decision-making, collections staff will need to consider the Library's ability to provide access to this material over time.

Although there are no predetermined restrictions on the formats that will be accepted into the Library's repository, collections staff will need to make informed decisions about whether or not to accept the material. They will need to be able to understand the current level of support that can be provided for the known formats contained in the collection item or items.

Formats that cannot be identified are not supported by the Library (unless subsequently identified in a later process). However, they will still be preserved in the repository with the standard integrity checks and backup support such that they can be reproduced at the bit-level at any time.

Collection staff will analyse the contents of any submission against the Library's ability to provide access to it. They must decide, based on the available level of support, whether it is worth keeping this material, and will discuss with the depositor possible alternative formats for the content with a higher level of support. For example, where the level of support is zero, it means only bit‐level preservation can be provided. Hence there is no guarantee that at any time in the future access to the content can be provided, even though an exact copy of the original deposited files is still held in our repository.