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Tag: policies

Policy-based assessment of EPUB with Epubcheck

Back in 2012 the KB conducted a first investigation of the suitability of the EPUB format for long-term preservation. The KB will soon start receiving publications in this format, and in anticipation of this, our Collection Care department has formulated a policy on the minimum requirements an EPUB must meet to ensure long-term accessibility. The policy largely follows the recommendations from the 2012 report. This blog explores to what extent it is possible to automatically assess the EPUBs that we receive against our policy using a combination of the Epubcheck tool and Schematron rules.

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Crystal clear digital preservation: a management issue

Author: Barbara Sierman
Originally posted on:

Digital Preservation of Libraries.final.final.inddRaising awareness for digital preservation was a frequently used phrase when I started in this field ten years ago (never regretted it, hurray!). We preservationists have made progress. But the story is still not explaining itself. So I like reading how others persuade and convince people. Recently I found a book that really does the job. In crystal clear language, without beating about the bush and based on extensive up to date (until 2014) literature, digital preservation is explained and almost every aspect of it is touched upon. Edward M. Corrado and Heather Lea Moulaison have done a great job with their Digital Preservation for Libraries, Archives and Museums , Rowman and Littlefield, 2014. ISBN 978-0-8108-8712-1 (pbk.) — ISBN 978-0-8108-8713-8 (ebook).

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“Materials contain the seeds of their own destruction”. A preservation handbook.

Author: Barbara Sierman
Originally posted on: http://digitalpreservation.nl/seeds/materials-contain-the-seeds-of-their-own-destruction-a-preservation-handbook/

harvey-204x300Regularly I have discussions whether digital material and analogue material can be treated the same way or whether the digital aspect requires special treatments, sometimes even resulting in different working processes, staffing and policies. Quite too often this discussion takes place with participants that are either representatives of the digital or of the analogue view. The polite way of trying to understand each other by finding analogies often lead to simplified views and unsatisfying outcomes and nobody gets the wiser. Therefore I was triggered when a new digital preservation handbook exactly raised this issue by stating “This book is based on the philosophy that there are preservation principles that apply to all kinds of materials, whether digital or not.” For a preservation handbook this is a realistic perspective, as organisations have both kinds of materials. The authors present this book as the first example of ” the essential tools and principles of a preservation management programme in the 21st century – one that addresses the realities of diverse collections and materials and embraces the challenges of working with both analogue and digital collections.”

This being stated, the authors start addressing the different issues related to digital versus analogue and refer to the fact that digitization in the past led to destruction of the related physical objects by assuming that “the information” was saved in the new digital object, a debatable point of view nowadays (see Nicholson Baker’s Double Fold. Libraries and the assault on paper. 2001) . They come with a set of shared preservation principles, for both analogue and digital material.


Four principles describe the context and aims of preservation, amongst which the needs of the user is mentioned (a point of view we also see in the OAIS model) as well as “Preservation is the responsibility of all, from the creators of objects to the users of objects“. A set of 8 general principles focus on “collaboration”, “advocacy, “active, managed care” and the preference for actions “that address large quantities of material over actions that focus on individual objects” [ although this is highly dependent on the value of these objects I would say] . The following principle describes the key of preservation: “Understanding the structure of material is the key to understanding what preservation actions to take, as materials contain the seeds of their own destruction (inherent vice)”.

This set of Preservation principles and practices is the red line for the rest of the book, which contains a wealth of information. I can recommend this book to both the digital and the analogue preservationists, as it will contribute to mutual understanding so desperately needed! And don’t complain about the price (90 dollars) : this book might be expensive, but a one day course is more expensive and almost all the rest you want to know about digital preservation is freely available on the internet!

The preservation management handbook: a 21st-century guide for libraries, archives and museums. [Edited by] Ross Harvey and Martha R. Mahard. Rowman and Littlefield, 2014. ISBN 978-0-7591-2315-1 (also available as e-book)

National Library of the Netherlands participates in Digitisation Days, Madrid, 19-20 May

On 19 and 20 May, the National Library of the Netherlands (KB) visited the Digitisation Days which were held at the Biblioteca Nacional in Madrid. The conference was supported by the European Commission, and organised by the Support Action Centre of Competence in Digitisation (Succeed) project  and the IMPACT Centre of Competence (IMPACT CoC) with the cooperation of Biblioteca Nacional de España.

For the National Library, being a collection holder, the Succeed awards ceremony was one of the highlights of the conference, because it showed the application of technology to actual collections. The Succeed awards aim to recognise successful digitisation programmes in the field of historical texts, especially those using the latest technology.

Two prizes went to the Hill Museum and Manuscript Library and the Centre d’Études Supérieures de la Renaissance, while two Commendations of Merit were awarded to the London Metropolitan Archives/ University College London  and to Tecnilógica.

In her role of member of the IMPACT CoC executive board, the KB’s Head of Research, Hildelies Balk, took part in the ceremony and awarded the Commendation of Merit to the London Metropolitan Archives/ University College London for their Great Parchment Book project. You will find a short video about the project here.[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WDD2cVT7PeU]

Moreover, the KB hosted an interesting and fruitful Round table workshop on the future of research and funding in digitisation and the possible roles of Centres of Competence on 20 May. Some 30 librarians and researchers joined this workshop, and discussed the below topics:

  • What research is needed to further the development of the Digital Library?
  • How can Centres of Competence assist your research or development?
  • In digitisation, are we ready to move the focus from quantity to quality?
  • What enrichments, e.g. in Named Entity Recognition, Linked Data services, or crowdsourcing for OCR correction, would be most beneficial for digitisation?
  • What’s your take on Labs and Virtual Research Environments?
  • What would you like to do in these types of research settings?
  • What do you expect to get out of them?

The preliminary outcomes of the workshop show that the main goal for institutions is to give users unrestricted access to data. During the workshop, the participants discussed the many layered aspects of these three topics, i.e. ‘users’, ‘access’, and ‘data’. Moreover, the participants gave their view on the following questions in relation to these topics:

  • What stops us from making progress?
  • What helps us to make progress?
  • And what role could CoCs play in this?

The outcomes of the workshop have been documented and will be used as a starting point for the roadmap to further development of digitisation and the digital library, which will be produced within the Succeed project. This roadmap will serve to support the European Commission in preparing the 2014–2020 Work Programme for Research and Innovation.


Too early for audits?

Author: Barbara Sierman
Originally posted on: http://digitalpreservation.nl/seeds/too-early-for-audits/

I never realized that the procedure of getting to an ISO standard could take several years, but this is true for two standards related to audit and certification of trustworthy digital repositories.  Although we have the ISO 16363 standard on Audit and Certification since 2012, official audits cannot take place against this standard until the related standard Requirements for bodies providing Audit and Certification (ISO 16919) is approved, regulating the appointment of auditors. This standard, similar to the ISO 16363 compiled by the PTAB group in which I participate, was already finished a few years ago, but the ISO review procedure, especially when revisions need to be made, takes long. The latest prediction is that this summer (2014) the ISO 16919 will be approved, after which national standardization bodies can train the future (official) auditors.  How many organizations will then apply for an official certification against the ISO standard is not yet clear, but if you’re planning to do so, it might be worthwhile to have a look at the recent report of the European 4C project  Quality and trustworthiness as economic determinants in digital curation.

The 4C project (Collaboration to Clarify the Cost of Curation) is looking at the costs and benefits of digital curation. Trustworthiness is one of the “economic determinants” of the 15 they distinguish. As quality is seen as a precondition for trustworthiness, the 4C project focusses in this report on the costs and benefits of “standards based quality assurance” and looks at the 5 current standards related to audit and certification: DSA, Drambora, DIN 31644 of the German nestor group, TRAC and TDR. The first part of the report gives an overview of the current status of these standards. Woven in this overview are some interesting thoughts about audit and certification. It all starts with the Open Archival Information System (OAIS) Reference Model. The report suggests that the OAIS model is there to help organisations to create processes and workflows (page 18), but I think this does not right to the OAIS model. If one really reads the OAIS standard from cover to cover (and should not we all do that regularly?) one will recognize that the OAIS model expects a repository to do more than designing workflows and processes. Instead, a repository needs to develop a vision on how to do digital preservation and the OAIS model gives directions. But the OAIS model is not a book of recipes and we all are trying to find the best way to translate OAIS into practice. It is this lack of evidence which approach will offer the best preserved digital objects, that made the authors in the report wonder whether an audit that will take place now might lead to a risky outcome (either too much confidence in the repository or too little). They use the phrase “dispositional trust” . “It is the trustor’s belief that it will have a certain goal B in the future and, whenever it will have such a goal and certain conditions obtain, the trustee will perform A and thereby will ensure B.”(p. 22). We expect that our actions will lead to a good result in the future, but this is uncertain as we don’t have an agreed common approach with evidence that this approach will be successful.  This is a good point to keep in mind I think as well as the fact that there are many more standards applicable for digital preservation then only the above mentioned. Security standards, record management standards and standards related to the creation of the digital object, to name just a few.

Based on publicly available audit reports (mainly TRAC and DSA, and test audits on TDR) the report describes the main benefits of audits for organisations as

  • to improve the work processes,
  • to meet a contractual obligation and
  • to provide a publicly understandable statement of quality and reliability (p. 29).

These benefits are rather vague but one could argue that these vague notions might lead to more tangible benefits in the future like more (paying) depositors, more funding, etc. By the way, one of the benefits recognized in the test audits was the process of peer review in itself and the ability for the repository management to discuss the daily practices with knowledgeable people.

The authors also tried to get more information about costs related to audit and certification, but had to admit in the end that currently there is hardly any information about the actual costs of an audit and/or get certified (why they mention on page 23 financial figures of 2 specific audits without any context is unclear to me) and base themselves mainly on information that was collected during the test audits that the APARSEN project performed and the taxonomy of costs that was created. For costs we need to wait for more audits and for repositories that are willing to publish all their costs in relation to this exercise.

Reading between the lines,  one could easily conclude that it is not recommended to perform audits yet. But especially now the DP community is working hard to discover the best way to protect digital material, it is important for any repository to protect their investments and to avoid that current funding organizations (often tax payers) will back off because of costly mistakes. The APARSEN trial audits were performed by experts in the field and the audited organizations (and these experts) found the discussions and recommendations valuable. As standards are evolving and best practices and tools are developed, a regular audit by experts in the field can certainly safeguard organizations to minimize the risk for the material. These expert auditors need to be aware of the current state of digital preservation, the uncertainties, the risks, the lack of tools and the best practices that are there. The audit results  will help the community to understand the issues encountered by the audited organizations, as audit results will be published.

As I noticed while reading a lot of preservation policies for SCAPE, many organisations want to get certified and put this aim in their policies. Publishers want to have their data and publications in trustworthy, certified repositories. But all stakeholders (funders, auditors, repository management) should realise that the outcomes of an audit should be seen in the light of the current state of digital preservation: that of pioneering.

Sustainability is more than saving the bits

Author: Barbara Sierman
Originally posted on: http://digitalpreservation.nl/seeds/uncategorized/sustainability-is-more-then-saving-the-bits/


The subject of the JISC/SCA report Sustaining our digital Future. Institutional strategies for digital content. By Nancy L. Maron, Jason Yun and Sarah Pickle (2013),  is the sustainability of digitised collections in general, illustrated with experiences of three different organisations: University College London, The Imperial War Museum and the National Library of Wales. I was especially interested by the fact that the report mentions digital preservation, but not as a goal in itself (“saving the bits”). Instead, the authors broaden the scope of digital preservation with activities that are beyond bit preservation or even beyond “functional preservation”.

Nowadays a lot of digitisation projects are undertaken and interesting material comes to life for a large audience, often with a fancy website, a press release, a blog (and a big investment)  and attracts immediately  interested public. But the problematic phase starts when the project is finished. In organizations like universities, with a variety of digitisation projects, lack of central coordination of these projects could cause “disappearance” of project results, simple because hardly anyone knew about it. We all know these stories, and this report describes the ways these 3 organizations try to avoid that risk.

Internal coordination seems to be a key factor in this process. One organisation integrated more than a hundred databases in a central catalogue, another draw together several teaching collections. Both efforts resulted in visibility of the collections. But this is not enough to achieve permanent (long term) access.  The data will be stored safely, but who is taking care of all the related products, that support the visibility of the data? In other (digital preservation jargon) words, who is monitoring the Designated Community and their changing environment?

The report describes interesting activities.  Take for example this one: the intended public need to be reminded constantly of the existence of the digitized material by promotion actions, otherwise the collections will not be used at all. Who is planning this activity as part of digital preservation? That the changing environment needs to be updated sounds familiar. But there is more reason to do this apart from technical reasons. Websites need to be redesigned to be attractive, to adapt to changing user experiences. And who is monitoring whether there might be a new group of interested  visitors?

Or, as Lyn Lewis Dafgis of the National Library of Wales said, there is an assumption that

once digitised, the content is sustainable just by virtue of living in the digital asset management system and by living in the central catalogue.

And this needs to change.

Not seldom digital preservation is seen as something that deals with access to the digital collections somewhere in the future. Permanent access, which is the goal of digital preservation, is often seen as solved by “bit preservation” and if you do a really good job “functional preservation”. This report illustrates with some good examples what more needs to be done and is coloring the not always well understood OAIS phrase “monitoring the Designated Community”.

BVIM and digital preservation policies

Author: Barbara Sierman
Originally posted on: http://digitalpreservation.nl/seeds/policies/bvim-and-digital-preservation-policies 


Toy clock Digital 350 computer

Organizations must evaluate their activities and show the relevancy of them to their funders. It  is no exception that organizations like libraries and archives are facing severe budget cuts, which will affect their current activities like their digitization projects. Simon Tanner of the Department of Digital Humanities, King’s College London, wrote an interesting report, in which he explains the Balanced Value Impact Model. This model will support organizations (especially memory institutions) to do an Impact Analyses of their digital resources in order to show how the use of digital resources will benefit  and change people. Not with vague notions, but in an evidence based approach. The results can be valuable input for further plans and can support decision makers at various levels. Decisons could be made not only on economical grounds, but also by taking the impact values into account.

Tanner distinguishes the following impact areas:

  • Social and Audience impacts : “the audience, the beneficial stakeholders and wider society has been affected and changes in a beneficial fashion”
  • Economic impacts “the activitiy is demonstrating economic benefits to the organisation or to society”
  • Innovation impacts: “that the digital resource is enabling innovation which is supporting the social and economic benefits accrued”
  • Internal process impacts: ”that the organisation creating/delivering the digital resources have been benefitted within its internal processes by the innovation demonstrated”. (p.45)

The model consists of 5 stages, of which the first two are “Context” and “Analysis and Design”. In these steps the digital environment in which the organization operates ( “the digital ecosystem”), are described, as well as the stakeholders who either benefit from or at least are affected by the digital resources.

It is not my intention to explain the model here and I would advise you to read the report. But it occurred to me that this exercise could benefit the case of digital preservation in an organisation as well. Part of the digital resources will be preserved for the long term after all.

As digital preservation is a costly activity, it is important to show the value of it. Why are we keeping all this digital material for an undefined amount of years? The Balanced Value Impact Model could be very helpful as this exercise will lead to an overview of the current ecosystem, and the current stakeholders for the digital resources. It will also show the value the stakeholders relate to the digital collections. Values for society and for individuals, economic values and values for the organization itself.

The  information collected for the Balanced Value Impact Model can help the organization to identify the areas they need to monitor in their Preservation Watch to safeguard that this ecosystem and the identified stakeholders will be served over the years. The Designated community, –  for many memory institutions quite a vague notion -, will be  described better, as well as the value this Designated Community experiences with the digital resources. These values could be an ingredient for the organization in establishing their preservation policies, in which they will describe whether and how  they will keep these values in the digital collection present.

Creating a Balanced Value Impact model will not be an easy task for an organization. But it could be a very useful exercise to support the preservation policies too.

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