Repositories are entrusted by their institutions to manage their digital outputs, so data management is clearly a core activity, but extending that to longer term requirements – ‘digital preservation’ – has not happened yet on a wide scale.
Who will be responsible for preserving this content: repositories and their institutions, or preservation service providers? In many cases the answer is: both. There is no services-only solution.
There are various preservation tools and services but little awareness or uptake by repositories, perhaps because these are too complex and potentially costly. These activities have typically been presented to repositories as additional tasks rather than as integral to their current activities. The tools and the documentation have not usually been designed for these repositories.
The JISC KeepIt project is about closing that gap between repositories and emerging preservation tools and services. It will do this by enhancing a series of distinctive exemplar repositories, and will involve the managers of each liaising with specialists on the development of preservation strategy, policy and services for repositories.
These repositories will aim to become leading exemplars of preservation-aware repositories, but more will be done. The repository managers, based on this practical experience of specifying their preservation needs and overseeing the implementation, will become evangelists within their peer community of repository managers. Those best able to help repositories understand and achieve their preservation requirements will be other repository managers.
This blog will be one of the forums used to inform repository peers by creating a contemporaneous record of the processes, thoughts and ideas behind the project’s efforts to train, assist and support four exemplar digital repositories to become preservation-aware
The types of outputs being produced across institutions that might be managed in an institutional repository (IR) include research papers, theses, science data, arts, and teaching materials. Each presents a different challenge to digital preservation practices if these materials are to be effectively managed for longer-term access and use. An ideal exemplar of preservation practices would have within its scope this range of materials. There are few, if any, IRs yet that offer a critical mass of content in all of these areas, but by working with a number of repositories, including institutional, subject-based and focused repositories, we have assembled a multi-institutional IR exemplar that is fully representative all of these types of output, and will provide a fascinating basis on which to develop preservation planning and implementation strategies.
The repositories that will be reporting progress towards are
- Kultur (University of the Arts London)
- NECTAR (Northampton University’s institutional repository)
All use EPrints repository software, and are based at the University of Southampton (UoS), home of EPrints, have been incubated in joint past projects with UoS, or are supported by services based at UoS.