The University of Louisville’s Archives and Special Collections (ASC) has a primary responsibility for preservation of digital content in their possession, including content donated by community members. ASC is committed to performing preservation actions that will increase the life of its digital assets and to provide ongoing access.
ASC's mandate to preserve digital content (born-digital and digitized) has the following legal and ethical bases:
ASC is responsible for identifying strategies to provide long-term preservation of and access to select digital objects. Both born-digital and digitized objects are identified for long term-preservation based on ASC's collecting policies, professional appraisal standards, and state retention requirements. ASC is committed to the following priority areas, depending on sufficient financial and human resources:
Conversely, materials that are already commercially available elsewhere or that have short-term or temporary value are beyond the scope of this policy. This includes, for example, faculty preprints (for which a published version exists) and undergraduate posters.
ASC preserves and provides access to primary resources for research, study, and teaching within the University’s instructional programs, and offers distinctive and unique resources for the region and the scholarly community worldwide. The units of ASC: University Archives and Records Center, which also administers the University’s Oral History Center; Digital Initiatives; Photographic Archives; and Rare Books, may accept gifts, in any format, which support this mission. Some digital objects may be technically challenging and thus expensive to preserve and ASC cannot be expected to commit to preserving these objects without a clear understanding of what that entails and how it will be funded. Conversely, ASC should not limit its commitment to preserve technically challenging content just because it is technically challenging as in many cases the content’s value may justify additional expense. Therefore, ASC will commit to one of the following levels of preservation at point of deposit:
Content is saved on working servers which are backed up.
Content is saved on working servers and monitored to preserve its integrity. Preservation actions include:
Content is saved on working servers and monitored to preserve its integrity and understandability. Preservation actions include:
Content is saved on working servers and monitored to preserve its integrity and understandability in diverse and distributed preservation storage. Preservation actions include:
Derivative digital files may be made available in accordance with any relevant state and federal laws, institutional regulations, licenses, and donor agreements. Lower-resolution versions of many born-digital and digitized files may be publicly accessible from the web-based institutional repository or digital collections.
Digital preservation is defined as "the series of management policies and activities necessary to ensure the enduring usability, authenticity, discoverability and accessibility of content over the very long term." (JISC, 2006) Digital preservation differs from analog preservation in several ways. The primary difference is that digital preservation requires active management. While many analog materials, such as books, can survive for years when simply stored in a climate-controlled environment, digital materials that are left alone for long periods of time are much more likely to degrade beyond repair, and this degradation is generally not discovered until there is an attempt to use the data. Additionally, the preservation needs of analog materials, such as books, journals, film, and tape, are well understood and have not greatly changed over time. Digital preservation, however, is a developing field with best practices that are always evolving. New tools and technologies will require that digital preservation activities be responsive and adaptable. Specific challenges include:
ASC will provide open access to this policy by including it with related policies and forms available online and will engage in training opportunities surrounding the policy and its implementation as needed. ASC is dedicated to providing appropriate training and staff development in areas related to digital preservation while maintaining its ongoing commitment to education in managing public records.
This document was created by a working group consisting of Carrie Daniels, Heather Fox, Kyna Herzinger, Rachel Howard, and Elizabeth Reilly, in December 2016. This revision was produced by the same authors in January 2022.
This document will be reviewed in 2027 or as personnel or technology change.