Spring Digital Preservation Unit Update

Computer monitor planter

It's cold here, but at least spring has sprung in this monitor for some reason. Photo by Kristina D.C. Hoeppner via Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0). 

We thought some folks (mostly our moms) would be interested in an update on what the Library’s Digital Preservation Unit has been up to these past few months. In way of an overview, the Digital Preservation Unit works with stakeholders across the Library and campus to ensure the responsible stewardship and preservation of our important digital assets. This effort breaks down to several areas of work, consultation, and research. Much of our recent efforts have focused on the following:

Digital Preservation Lab We have discussed the DPL in several previous posts, including one outlining the early version of the lab, then called the Born-Digital Lab (were were so naive back in early 2017), and a two parter outlining our workflow for 3.5 inch floppy media (parts 1 and 2). Since our initial update, the lab moved to a dedicated space and has grown to include several pieces of specialized new and vintage equipment. To date we have increased electrical and networking capability and acquired new furniture to better adapt the space to our needs. We plan on several subsequent posts outlining specific equipment setups and renovation details.

Large monitor with a Darth Vader clip playing
The DPL's new presentation and demo monitor is Vader tested, Vader approved. 

File Formats Existing policy for certain repositories managed by the Library assigns digital preservation services based on a limited list of digital file formats. This policy needs to adapt to reflect new digital formats that scholars now use to produce and record their work. The Digital Preservation Unit is conducting research on a prioritized list of file formats to create risk-assessment profiles. These profiles will help guide us and stakeholders from across the Library in developing preservation policy and determining the levels of support for born-digital materials held in the Deep Blue Documents, Deep Blue Data, and other Library managed repositories.

Outreach Engaging the Library, campus, and academic library communities are important facets of the Digital Preservation Unit’s mission. In February, the Digital Preservation team hosted a meeting of digital preservation practitioners from the Big Ten Academic Alliance. This meeting established the BTAA Digital Preservation Group to collaborate and share information about policy and practice across BTAA institutions. In May, we join staff from the Bentley Library to present an Enriching Scholarship workshop on Personal Digital Archiving (more info on that session to come). We are developing several additional campus and community events that we will update here so be sure to add this blog to your RSS reader (if those are still a thing) so you don’t miss an update!

The Digital Preservation team consists of Digital Preservation Librarian Lance Stuchell, Digital Preservation Specialist Scott Witmer, and DPL graduate student assistants Andrea Kang and Christina Min. We are always interested in pursuing partnerships and collaborations with departments and organizations whose work depends on the long-term preservation and access of digital materials. Shoot us an email for more information!