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NECTAR – repository preservation objectives

NECTAR logoFollowing our last project group meeting we were all asked to come up with a set of objectives as preservation exemplar repositories. Mine are listed below.


NECTAR is a repository of research outputs; content comprises a range of item types (e.g. journal articles, book chapters, performances, conference papers, compositions etc) and formats (text based, multimedia, images etc). Items may be simple or complex. Some NECTAR content may not be preserved elsewhere.

NECTAR is typical of an IR in a smaller institution. The IR team is small (at least in terms of staff time dedicated to the IR) and NECTAR responsibilities are slotted in around other roles. The research community is diverse, and NECTAR is competing with other calls on researcher time. Researchers are often sympathetic to the idea of NECTAR but fail to come up with the goods.

NECTAR still doesn’t have a critical mass of full content – but guaranteed preservation could be a valuable service and therefore a further selling point for the repository.


Objective 1: to define the preservation needs of all file types and formats held in NECTAR (now and in the foreseeable future).

Both repository staff and the research community need to be aware of what needs to be done to preserve digital items. This requires an understanding of both technical and procedural requirements – throughout the digital lifecycle.

Objective 2: to have procedures and tools to support the preservation needs identified in objective 1.

Ideally the procedures will be embedded into the ‘normal’ research workflow, so that preservation awareness is an everyday part of research output creation. Similarly, the tools to support preservation will be accommodated in the repository software – this may require an extra step in the IR workflow, but it will be central to the repository, not something that has to be thought about as an optional extra.

Objective 3: to have documentation to inform and support NECTAR stakeholders.

Useful documentation would include the following:

  • The need for preservation – to support the business case
  • How to do it – technical and non-technical documentation for different audiences (content creators, repository administrators, library staff, technical staff, IR manager etc). This should include advice for new stakeholders on preservation-readiness.
  • Advocacy materials – for promoting the value of preservation to stakeholders (as above, but also institutional senior management and research managers)

Ideally, there will be two versions of documentation – brief guides and more comprehensive documents. Short guides will give summaries of advice and good practice, comprehensive versions will justify and explain the reasoning behind the summaries.

Objective 4: repository staff and others with collection management responsibility for the IR to receive training and ongoing support.

Face to face training should focus on the practical elements of preservation in the context of repositories. Although theoretical and contextual matters are important, the most useful training will be that which can immediately be translated into action. Thus, training should cover the need for preservation, practical steps and advocacy (selling the preservation message to managers and colleagues as well as content creators). It should not be overly technical (ideally, technical elements will be catered for within repository software and will be largely invisible to IR managers). Training should be available to anyone involved in repository maintenance.

Ongoing support should be provided virtually so that users can dip in and out as their needs arise – a ‘discussion forum’ may be a suitable format. (In my view this would be a good end of project output because it would have ongoing value to the wider repository community.)

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