My philosophy on digital preservation is two-fold. First, good stewardship is fiduciarily responsible, regardless of an organization’s resources. Without sustainable strategies, resources required for digital preservation can easily escalate and eventually put the organization’s mission at risk. Second, a successful digital preservation program is an embedded culture. Digital preservation requires all stakeholders to have the shared understanding that nearly every aspect of the creation and management of digital content has preservation implications. As a collaborative leader, I engage stakeholders to develop this understanding.
I am the Digital Preservation Librarian at the Penn State University Libraries. I coordinate policies, workflows and practices to ensure the long-term preservation and accessibility of the Libraries’ born-digital and digitized collections. I advise on equipment, infrastructure, and vendors for Penn State digital content.
As modern commercial developments in storage infrastructure mature and become increasingly available through popular open-source projects, there are important opportunities for digital preservation communities to leverage the increased efficiency and flexibility that these technologies offer. Not only do these developments offer a way to “modernize” the digital preservation technology stack and make it more efficient, but they also may allow digital preservation communities to seek increased sustainability per the triple bottom line: reduce the costs of operations, reduce required labor to maintain, and reduce the environmental impact. The twin values of affordability and sustainability are core to the mission of digital preservation, and the MetaArchive Cooperative is pursuing the research and development of a modern distributed digital preservation system to better practice these values.
Digital preservation systems and practices are rooted in research and development efforts from the late 1990s and early 2000s when the cultural heritage sector started to tackle these challenges in isolation. Since then, the commercial sector has sought to solve similar challenges, using different technical strategies such as software defined storage and function-as-a-service. While commercial sector solutions are not necessarily created with long-term preservation in mind, they are well aligned with the digital preservation use case. The cultural heritage sector can benefit from adapting these modern approaches to increase sustainability and leverage technological advancements widely in use across Fortune 500 companies.