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Prior project reveals state of repository preservation

The KeepIt project builds on substantial prior experience in the areas of digital repositories, through its partners, and digital preservation. In particular, the approach to preservation is informed by an earlier project, Preserv (spanning two phases from 2005). There are two ways of looking at this, as I said in an opening address to project partners:

  1. We bring great authority and expertise
  2. Haven’t you solved that problem (preserving digital repositories) yet?

Although progress has been made, the second point has a serious side too. Both repositories and preservation, even separately, present tricky issues to resolve that can be intractable to instant solutions.

The final report from the Preserv 2 project recently became available and shines some light on the reasons. According to the JISC programme manager responsible for funding the project, Neil Grindley, the report “is candid and realistic about the current state of preservation thinking vis-a-vis repositories but also points to some ways forward in terms of how we (the preservation community) might more productively push what we do.”

Project reports such as this are intended to be both a record of the work of a project, providing a legacy and hopefully providing a step-off point for others to build on. Grindley says: “The section on outputs and results contains useful practical illustrative information. The recommendations seem sensible; there is evidence the project has had impact, especially the creation of the storage controller and its implementation into EPrints version 3.2.”

This promising development work is now moving forward in KeepIt so it can be applied to the exemplar repositories. To complement the format management and storage tools due in the next version of EPrints software, we are already developing new services with major national and international partners:

  • an open format risk registry
  • a means of integrating the Plato formats planning tools from the PLANETS project
  • a resilient storage approach, adapted from a Sun Honeycomb server, that can be applied in a new ‘institutional’ cloud service

These approaches go beyond format identification to risk assessment based on the most up-to-date registry data, applying actions based on generalised inputs through the planning tools when linked to the format risk results, and selection of storage services based on ongoing preservation managagement, cost and judgements on content value.

These new services have been the subject of recent tutorial workshops and presentations, and will be explored in a subsequent blog.

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