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What are the most essential technical/how-to guides that anyone getting started in digital preservation should read?

+4 votes
Given that digital preservation is still an emerging field of practice, I would be curious to know what folks think are the most essential books, articles, and reports to read to get a handle on the field. In this vein, I would be interested in things that are accessable enough for someone without extensive experience in digital preservation in particular to be able to wrap their heads around.
asked Mar 6, 2014 by tjowens (2,350 points)

6 Answers

+2 votes

It's not easy going, but in some ways I think the first thing to start with is OAIS.  It's essential to have to have some understanding of what you want to do before you start thinking about the tools to do it. 

Also consider

JoAnne Yates. Control Through Communication (Johns Hopkins, 1989). A look at the evolution of technology and recordkeeping puts things in context.

Ciaran Trace, “Beyond the Magic to the Mechanism: Computers, Materiality, and What It Means for Records to Be ‘Born Digital’,” Archivaria 72 (Fall 2011), p. 5-27.

Anne R. Kenney and Nancy Y. McGovern, "The Five Organizational Stages of Digital Preservation," in Digital Libraries: A Vision for the 21st Century

answered May 28, 2014 by rpearcemoses (180 points)
+1 vote

I agree that having a fundamental understanding of the OAIS reference model is essential, but starting with the standard document itself could be overwhelming and discouraging, especially for someone without extensive experience in digital preservation.

For a concise, yet thorough, and accessible introduction to the field of digital preservation , I would begin with Adrian Brown's Practical Digital Preservation: A How-To Guide for Organizations of Any Size (Chicago: ALA Neal-Schuman, 2013).

answered Jun 27, 2014 by bpieczko (180 points)
I agree -- Brown's book is a nice mix of technical information and theory. It also shows how digital preservation can be implemented in degrees, which is nice for the beginner.
+1 vote
A very long list, indeed. Here are a couple of suggestions.

Still horrifyingly a-propos "Preserving Digital Information - Report of the Task Force on Archiving of Digital Information" commissioned by The Commission on Preservation and Access and The Research Libraries Group (1996). "Horrifyingly" because so little has really been done, in spite of the intervening decades.

And "The Digital Dilemma" ©2007, Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences

Best regards.
answered Jul 15, 2014 by FredGrevin (200 points)
+1 vote

The Northeast Document Conservation Center has recently published an excellent reading list designed to introduce people to "the challenges associated with developing a digital preservation plan and repository, and successful strategies for overcoming those challenges." The bibliography is available free and so are many of the readings.

answered Jul 16, 2014 by RDeCandido (180 points)
+1 vote

It is sorely outdated in many ways, but for a true beginner just trying to get a handle on the major concepts of digital preservation, the tutorial Digital Preservation Management: Implementing Short-term Strategies for Long-term Problems is a solid yet accessible one-shot introduction. Topics it covers include:

  • OAIS model
  • Preservation metadata
  • Types of threats (formats, hardware, physical degredation, etc.)
  • The "three legged stool" of a preservation program (organization, technology and resources)
  • Different preservation strategies
  • Attributes of a TDR



answered Jul 16, 2014 by ChristiePeterson (530 points)
Second this. It is much nicer than just reading a document.
0 votes
The Digital Preservation Coalition's handbook, which is currently being updated. Here's a link to the current version: http://www.dpconline.org/advice/preservationhandbook

Specifically for audio, I've found IASA's Guidelines on the Production and Preservation of Digital Audio Objects really helpful: http://www.iasa-web.org/tc04/audio-preservation
answered Jul 24, 2014 by caylinsmith (150 points)