By Lori Ashley
CoSA’s Digital Preservation Capability Self-Assessment survey is a high-level framework of requirements from ISO 14721 and ISO 16363. This is the fourth in a series of five (5) blog posts in the BACKER series to explore how specific components in the CoSA DPC survey relate to the systematic assessment of a digital preservation program and repository.
We are using categories from ISO 16363, Audit and certification of trustworthy digital repositories, to frame the key issues and help CoSA members prepare for a positive and useful experience with the January 2022 survey. This week we will look at the first part of the second category, Digital Object Management, and map their criteria and metrics to the 15 DPC survey questions and response statements.
A Note about the Survey
There are two significant challenges associated with keeping electronic records available, accessible and usable far into the future: 1) the ever-changing technology infrastructure upon which electronic information depends, and 2) maintaining adequate information properties about the preserved digital objects to ensure they are understandable and trustworthy when they are needed. This is a formidable task that has only increased over time as the volume of born-digital content has grown and the speed of technology change has accelerated. The DPCMM and associated CoSA self-assessment survey offer a way for records producers, practitioners, and digital repository operators to explore interdependencies across the chain of custody for valued digital information assets.
Ingest: Acquisition of Content
The criteria and metrics in this subsection relate to the responsibility of the repository to identify the content information and the information properties that the repository will save. It is critical to make clear to stakeholders – producers, consumers and resource allocators – what responsibilities the repository is taking on and which aspects are excluded. It is also key to defining the information that is needed from producers and donors.
The repository must have ingest processes that verify each Submission Information Package (SIP) for completeness and maintain control over all ingested digital objects. Verification of errors or loss related to SIPs must be managed as well as communication with producers and donors at agreed points during content acquisition and ingest.
Digital preservation infrastructure and services components of the DPC Self-Assessment that relate to ingest and the acquisition of content include:
- Digital Preservation Policy – written policy defining the including the purpose, scope and scope of trustworthy digital repositories
- Governance – articulated approaches and practices sufficient to meet stakeholder needs
- Collaborative Engagement – promote and maintain collaboration among internal and external stakeholders
- Technical Expertise - in-depth understanding of critical digital preservation actions and their associated recommended practices.
- Designated Community – written procedures and formal agreements with records producing units that document the content, rights, and conditions under which the digital repository will ingest, preserve, and provide access to electronic records
- Ingest – systematic capabilities to ingest and verify the integrity and completeness of SIPs, extract metadata and write to Preservation Description Information (PDI)
- Integrity – fixity and integrity validations captured in PDIs
- Preservation Metadata - capture, transfer and secure storage of metadata in the PDI component of compliant AIPs
Ingest: Creation of the AIP
The criteria and metrics in this subsection relate to the repository’s precise and documented definitions for each Archival Information Package (AIP) or class of AIPs. The definitions must be adequate for parsing the AIP and fit for long-term preservation needs. This includes a convention for how each AIP will be assigned a unique, persistent identifier so that it can always be found in the future and distinguished from all other AIPs. This subsection also requires documentation on how AIPs are constructed from Submission Information Packages (SIPs).
Digital preservation infrastructure and services components of the DPC Self-Assessment that relate to these requirements include:
- Technical Expertise – infrastructure and key functions of an ISO 14721 conforming digital repository requires professional expertise in archival storage processes and controls
- Ingest – create Archival Information Packages (AIPs) and transfer the AIPs to the repository’s storage function
- Archival Storage – systematic automated storage services that support receipt and validation of successful transfer of AIPs from ingest
- Integrity – ensure the integrity of the records in its custody
- Security - data transfer integrity validations and logs for all preservation activities
- Preservation Metadata – store all metadata in the Preservation Description Information (PDI) component of compliant AIPs
Many organizations with a mandate to preserve and provide access to long-term and permanent electronic records do not yet have the expertise and resources to implement a preservation repository that conforms to the ISO 14721 specifications and best practices. Many have not yet fully adapted their traditional records management and archival practices to address all of the demands of the digital information age and thus have significant gaps between their authority to preserve and manage the lifecycle of permanent electronic records and their capabilities to fulfill these duties. As organizations consider the implementation of trustworthy and sustainable preservation environments, they would do well to recognize the need for automated workflows and actions to keep up with the scope and scale of expanding volumes of digital content.
In the final blog of this series, we will examine the remaining metrics in the Digital Object Management section of the ISO 16363 standard. Subsections include Preservation Planning and Access Management functions.
A Note about Post-Survey Activities
By providing a snapshot of capabilities among the state and territorial archives, the 2022 self-assessments will provide these institutions and CoSA with a powerful tool for growth and capacity building. The individual results will be leveraged to refine customized actions for each institution and the cumulative results will support CoSA’s education, advocacy, and resource development efforts.
In particular, the State Electronic Records Preservation (SERP) Framework will be revised and updated to provide current information and guidance on moving forward in the 15 areas associated with digital preservation covered by the survey. These updates are anticipated in spring 2022 and will enhance the searchable database of standards, policies/guidelines, and other informational guides found in the CoSA Resource Center.
CoSA members are cordially invited to submit materials to share as well as to make requests for resources they feel would be most beneficial to supporting their electronic records management and digital preservation initiatives.
Image credit: Jørgen Stamp, CC BY 2.5 DK <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.5/dk/deed.en>, via Wikimedia Commons