Digital Preservation

What is Digital Preservation?

Digital preservation is the active management of digital content over time. It combines policies, strategies and actions to ensure access to reformatted and born digital content regardless of the challenges of media failure and technological change. The goal of digital preservation is the accurate rendering of authenticated content.  [from American Library Association and Library of Congress]

Who is working on Digital Preservation at Smith?

The College Libraries, in partnership with Information Technology Services, is developing strategies for the long-term management and access of digital materials owned by the libraries, college records, and other digital content that is owned or created by or about Smith College faculty, staff, and students that might require preservation. Individual faculty, students, and staff are responsible for preserving their own personal digital materials.

What steps are we taking to adopt Digital Preservation strategies at Smith?

  • Ensuring long-term access to E-Journals and E-Books

The Smith College Libraries is a member of Portico, an international digital archive that provides electronic archiving of select e-journals and e-books in our Smith collection. Trigger events such as catastrophic and sustained failure of a publisher’s delivery platform are covered.

  • Archiving College Websites

The college subscribes to the Web Archiving Service (WAS), hosted by the California Digital Libraries. The service archives Smith College websites, including at-risk ephemeral sites created by and about the Smith community.

  • Developing a Digital Preservation Policy

The Libraries are forming a Digital Preservation Policy Working Group to draft a policy. Representative faculty, staff, and students will participate in the Working Group.  The policy documents Smith's commitment to preserve digital content for future use. It will specify file formats to be preserved and the level of preservation to be provided by ensuring compliance with standards and best practices for responsible stewardship of digital content. The new policy will complement the College Archive's Records Management Policy. Here is an example of a digital preservation policy, from UMass Amherst.

  • Preserving unique audio and video archives

The Sophia Smith Collection and College Archives are digitizing video and audio tapes at risk for deterioration. The materials are selected based on research value and format obsolescence. These materials, previously inaccessible, are now available for in-house viewing or online streaming, for example this original footage from filmmaker Nancy Hamilton's (Smith '30) documentary on Helen Keller. The Special Collections also are adopting best practices for preserving born-digital content that they collect.

  • Participating in Five College collaborative opportunities

A Five College Digital Preservation Task Force (reporting to the Five College Librarians Council) is charged with exploring collaborative opportunties for digital preservation. Smith librarian Elisa Lanzi, is a member of the Task Force. A recent project is a set of Guidelines for Preservation Readiness (forthcoming).

In June 2014, the Task Force is hosting the nationally acclaimed Digital Preservation Management Workshop at Smith College. Librarians and IT staff from the Five Colleges will have an opportuntiy to participate in the five-day institute. Details forthcoming in April 2014. 

  • Staying informed and up-to-date in the community

The Smith College Libraries is a member of the National Digital Stewardship Association (NDSA). Smith staff attend regional and national educational events.