By Luis Corujo, from Portugal, Archivist at the General Head Office of Archives (DGARQ), Portugal.
(Portuguese version available by clicking “Keep reading” ; Versão Portuguesa disponível em “Keep reading”)
Before the implementation of any strategy to preserve their DOs, it is necessary to take into account the best practices for document management and the contributions of the entire agency workforce related to the prodution of information.
Due to this, the development of a Digital Preservation Plan is divided into three main stages, namely:
1) Organizational Appraisal, in terms of the:
- Organizations Intermediate System (hardware and software used);
- Rules and standards by which the institution is governed and must comply;
- Administrative practices of the organization;
- Business and Document Management System of the institution;
2) Identification of the requirements of the electronic record documents and information available in the electronic information system of the organization. These include only those that are produced in the institution, considered as institutional ownership, have a retention period of more than 5 / 7 years, according to the disposal and retention schedule, and are of recognized (vital) importance to the organization.
3) Planning the strategy of preservation, which includes:
- Definition of preservation strategies, which should take into account:
- The characteristics of the DOs, in term of appearance, content, structure and behaviour.
- The technical characteristics of electronic record documents and information systems, as the context, the storage medium, inter-relationships between different records, files, and metadata;
- The characteristics of the process of preservation, related to usability, scalability and complexity;
- The costs, which have a high importance on the choice of preservation solutions, and can be divided into technical and personnel costs.
- Definition of formats for preservation, before the creation of the digital object to be preserved, in order to avoid additional costs in its conversion to the final format. The use of standard formats and applications with open specifications ensures a continuity of use and support when compared with proprietary formats and applications.
- Choice of software, where, due to the choices defined in the Plan of Digital Preservation is necessary to adapt, change or replace the software. It is advisable to use, where possible, software with open specifications, non-proprietary and well documented, and should allow to execute all the necessary operations defined within the Digital Preservation Plan, be robust, easy to use and include an intuitive interface.
- Choice of storage solutions, you should consider the costs and available infrastructure support. This choice has to be designed for long term use, where an option that can prove to be less accurate, may require a shift of the entire plan devised.
- Definition of metadata (MI), which allows better management of DOs, intermediate systems, users and the features available. It is advisable to use different MI schemas, to be used in various layers, such as Descriptive MI, Structural MI, Preservation MI, Technical MI …
Before the implementation of the Digital Preservation Plan, the workforce of the agency should test the technical procedures. These tests must be performed on duplicates of electronic record documents and the relevant electronic information systems. The integrity, functionality, structure, content and metadata associated with the preserved digital information, should be periodically monitored after the implementation of the preservation strategy, to ensure its stability and to identify schedules for subsequent applications of preservation measures. Must be taken into account and specify the elements, such as human resources, calendar, etc.., which will be part of the monitoring effort of the entire Plan of Digital Preservation project implementation (manage, implement, test, evaluate, redesign , etc.).