Digital preservation is a complex process that can be carried out in a variety of ways. While each institution should develop its own policies and procedures for exactly how to carry out digital preservation projects, Heather Moulaison Sandy and Edward M. Corrado (2018) have proposed using a three part model. The three prongs of this model are (1) management, (2) technology, and (3) content.
Moulaison Sandy and Corrado note that management comes first in the triad due to its necessity within the model. Without the proper management to guide them, any content-related or technological factors will not remain functional over time. Management decisions will most often be used to address “1) workflow and procedural obstacles, 2) resource limitations, and 3) lack of buy-in” (Moulaison Sandy and Corrado 2018, 5). One way to address these issues is through proper documentation and well planned policies about your institutions digital preservation efforts. Another important piece is using human resources to meet the technological, description (through metadata), and content (via appraisal and selection of items for the collection) needs of digital preservation projects.
Technology makes up the second part of this model. This part can often be the most intimidating to those practitioners who are new to the digital aspect of digital preservation. One issue that can arise when it comes to the technological side of digital preservation is what type and format to use when preserving items digitally. This becomes important as time passes because digital items must be updated so that they can be accessed by whatever computer programs are in use at the time. Additionally, many (if not most) file types are somewhat unstable and can decay over time, just as physical materials can. If a file type is no longer accessible via available programs, an emulator may be needed. An emulator is a special program that allows older file types and formats to be viewed even if the traditional programs used to open such files are no longer available.
The final part of Moulaison Sandy and Corrado’s model is content. This part is what the authors view as “the linchpen” as the believe that content is what “motivates the digital preservation project’s documentation and personnel, drives outreach, is the basis of securing funding, and influences the technology on a variety of levels, from file format to digital preservation repository” (Moulaison Sandy and Corrado 2018, 8-9). Appraisal and selection policies are key in determining exactly which content should be included in digital preservation. These decisions will vary based on many factors and the policies must be flexible enough to encompass many types of content. Additionally, the selected content then feeds into the technology part of the model as the best format and type of digital preservation must then be decided. All of these decisions are guided by the policies and procedures put in place by the management portion of the model.
The three branch model proposed by Moulaison Sandy and Corrado seems to touch on the three biggest factors of digital preservation. If you take away any one part of the model, then digital preservation becomes much more difficult (if not totally impossible) to successfully complete. This model appears to be in line with much the information covered in this course. I believe that a tri-partite model that focuses on management, technology, and content is structured in a way that promotes successful and efficient digital preservation while still allowing for the varied needs of different institutions.
Moulaison Sandy, Heather and Edward M. Corrado. “Bringing Content into the Picture: Proposing a Tri-Partite Model for Digital Preservation.” Journal of Library Administration 58, no. 1 (2018): 1-17. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.1080/01930826.2017.1385988