Developments in Preservation Policies

Often it is unclear whether results from European projects have any follow-up after the project is finished. If so, how can one monitor this? With regard to our work in SCAPE, including the Catalogue of Policy Elements and the list of Published Preservation Policies, however I am under the impression that these tools are still supporting organisations in creating preservation policies. People sometimes tell me this directly and sometimes I see references in articles and presentations.


One initiatives I’m involved in myself is a Dutch working group under the flag of the Network Digital Heritage, that will use the SCAPE Catalogue to create Dutch Guidelines for creating preservation policies, with a focus on smaller organisations in various domains. Not only libraries and data centres – which were involved in the creation of the SCAPE version – but also archives, museums and organisations collecting digital art and architectural materials. These Guidelines should support these organisations and also help them to not only write the preservation policies, but to also implement them in their organisations (often it is the other way around: policies are not written down but actions are based on implicit “policies” ).

The Institute for Sound and Vision is partner in this working group.. Annemieke de Jong, whom I mentioned earlier in a blogpost about their work to become a TDR , created Preservation Policies for their institute. I’ve read all the preservation policies collected here, but this policy is exemplary and should be high on the list of Best Preservation Policies. This is the first preservation policy that looks good, reads well and covers all main topics mentioned in the SCAPE catalogue. The design of this policy shows that this document is not seen as an obligatory task, but as way of communicating with the Producers and Consumers of the content of the digital archive. From what I’ve seen of policies so far is that they are seldom attractively designed. In this case, the text itself is understandable and clear, without too much jargon, but instead explaining the concepts and approaches in a clear language. And as said it covers all topics we identified as Guidance Policies in the SCAPE Preservation Policy model and added much information to it that is part of the Procedure Policies, the middle level in which you translate the high level policies into practical approaches. Based on this policy you will get a good overview of what the Institute is collecting and how this is preserved. With additional internal guidelines, referred to in the text, it should be clear to the employers of the Institute what is expected from them and as I mentioned earlier at iPRES 2014, this is one of the goals of a good policy. A new item on your reading list!

Interactive born-digital artworks and authenticity

Digital art objects are often presented as a very difficult category of digital objects to preserve. Recently a report of Cornell University Library documents their efforts to set up the “Preservation and Access Frameworks for Digital Art Objects (PAFDAO)”. Even if you preserve other kinds of digital objects, the report contains some interesting remarks of which I took two topics “authenticity” and web archiving.


Cultural Authenticity

In order to find out what the users expected of the Rose Goldsen Archive of New Media Art at Cornell, the project group did a survey amongst the users of their interactive born-digital artworks. Cornell University Library had already chosen a preservation strategy for this material, namely emulation. It came as a surprise to find out that their potential users had other opinions about emulation. “Emulation was controversial for many, in large part for its propensity to mask the material historical context (for example, the hardware environments) in which and for which digital artworks had been created”. This historical context was seen as part of its authenticity, in the report called “cultural authenticity” , present outside the digital object. Perhaps not quite the same but at least related to the concept of  “the original look and feel”.

Harvesting web art

Another interesting aspect of the report is that they witnessed an “increasing prominence of video and web art.” But the currently available technologies for web harvesting are in their opinion not mature enough and too costly. I wonder whether they thought the International Internet Preservation Consortium (IIPC) could play a role there? At the IIPC there is a lot of experience in web harvesting, also of difficult material. The IIPC could at least help them with the Environments Database. In finding the right emulation system, requirements of the original environment are needed. But what if that is not available? Then “it is recommended to consider which operating systems and web browsers (and versions) were contemporary with the work, and configuring an emulator or virtual machine to closely match that environment”. (p. 28) And that is exactly why the Preservation Working Group of the IIPC started their Environments Database, in which IIPC organisations regularly give an overview of the equipment in the reading rooms where the public can look at the web collection.

We preservationists have more in common than we sometimes think of. Perhaps you’ll find other interesting topics in this document!

iPRES 2015 in Chapel Hill

Afbeelding1Audit, CD-ROMS, Emulatie, Ingest, OAIS en Web, dat waren in alfabetische volgorde de meest besproken onderwerpen tijdens de jaarlijkse conferentie iPRES 2016, die vorige week plaatsvond in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Dit is mijn persoonlijke indruk, want natuurlijk kwamen in de lezingen, posters en workshops nog veel meer onderwerpen aan bod. Het is tenslotte een jaarlijkse reünie waarbij iedereen probeert zijn resultaten en toekomstplannen te presenteren. Lees verder

Let’s discuss OAIS!

Today our “gold standard” in preservation will have its own place on the Internet: the OAIS wiki


Since its first publication the OAIS standard has become a crucial guidance in our digital preservation community. It is in our own interest to keep this standard up to date and to monitor its connection with our daily practices. We are now better informed how to preserve our digital collections. But we need to be alert to keep the OAIS standard connected to our daily practices.

A wiki for OAIS
The idea to create a wiki for OAIS was raised last year at the 4C/DPC Conference and was realised in close cooperation by William Kilbride (DPC), Hervé L’Hours (UKDA), Paul Wheatley (DPC) en me (KB).

What are we heading for? A place to discuss OAIS and to share experiences. For everyone working in digital preservation, in our “community of practice”. Despite the advantage of using a shared OAIS terminology, translating the OAIS concepts into daily practice often raises questions. Implementing these concepts can lead to different interpretations of the standard and to confusion. Sharing examples and real life practices can help everyone in their situation. This wiki is intended to become a central place where everyone can start to discuss OAIS aspects. This way we can keep the OAIS standard relevant in our daily work.

ISO 5- year review in 2017
There is another reason to discuss the OAIS standard. In 2017 the ISO process will be started to review the standard, which happens every 5 years. This review will offer us a chance to propose changes to the standard. Changes we think are necessary to keep the standard relevant.

Therefore we put the integral text of the standard on-line with an opportunity to add your commentary and annotations and the possibility to discuss this. Based on this feedback we will draft an official proposal for the review. Apart from that we will investigate what will be the best way to take part in this official review process.

Join us and help to keep the OAIS standard relevant. Go to the OAIS wiki, register and contribute your bit!


Praat mee over OAIS!

Vandaag krijgt de duurzaamheidsstandaard OAIS ISO 14721) een eigen plek op internet: de OAIS wiki


De OAIS standaard  is in de loop der jaren een cruciale leidraad in onze “digital preservation community” geworden.  Het is in ons belang dat deze standaard blijft aansluiten bij onze dagelijkse praktijk. Inmiddels weten we steeds beter hoe we duurzame toegankelijkheid tot onze digitale collecties moeten organiseren. Sluit de OAIS standaard nog wel aan bij deze ontwikkelingen?

Een wiki voor OAIS
Het idee voor deze wiki ontstond vorig jaar op de 4C/DPC Conference en is verder uitgewerkt door William Kilbride (DPC), Hervé L’Hours (UKDA), Paul Wheatley (DPC) en mijzelf (KB). Wat staat ons voor ogen?
Een plek voor discussie over OAIS en voor het delen van ervaringen. Voor iedereen die bezig is met digitale duurzaamheid in onze “community of practice”. De OAIS standaard mag dan algemeen bekend zijn, de toepassing ervan roept nogal eens vragen op en interpretatieverschillen leiden soms tot verwarring. Het delen van visies kan helpen de praktische invulling te realiseren. Voorbeelden en oplossingen van collega’s kunnen inspirerend werken in de eigen omgeving. Deze wiki wil een centrale plek worden waar iedereen terecht kan om OAIS gerelateerde kwesties te bediscussiëren. Op deze manier kunnen we de OAIS standaard levend houden en blijvend laten aansluiten op onze dagelijkse werkzaamheden.

ISO 5-jaar review in 2017
Er is nog een reden om nu over de relevantie van de OAIS standaard te discussiëren. In 2017 start het proces van de reguliere 5-jaarlijkse ISO review van de OAIS standaard. Dit geeft ons de kans wijzigingen op de standaard voor te stellen. Daarom hebben we de volledige OAIS standaard tekst op de wiki gezet, met een mogelijkheid om commentaar te geven en hierover onderling te discussiëren.
Wij willen deze bijdragen gebruiken om goed beslagen ten ijs te komen voor deze review. Op basis van het commentaar op OAIS, zal een commissie voorstellen voor aanpassingen in de ISO standaard doen. Daarnaast zullen we goed uitzoeken welke officiële kanalen bewandeld moeten worden om deze voorstellen bij ISO in te brengen.

Doe mee en help de OAIS standaard blijvend actueel te houden. Wat let je nog? Ga naar de wiki, registreer je en draag je steentje bij!

New colleagues in DP?

Lately one of our newspapers De Correspondent published an article by Marian Cousijn  about people collecting art ‘that you cannot touch’ . Born digital art, like websites. They buy the website from the artist and put it on the web with their own URL (and name) so that everyone will know it  is their art collection and they are the owner of this piece of art. correspondentOne of them, the Swedisch artist is Hampus Lindwall, see for example his collection . What I found interesting, is that they are not only collecting, but also feel it as their responsibility to take care of the continuous accessibility of their collection. Not only paying the hosting costs, but Lindwall had his artwork adapted so that it can be shown on smartphones and tablets. Maintenance is not a problem in his view “a programmer from China will fix it for you for 50 dollars”. Uhh?

What a different point of view! Instinctively I would scream: What about authenticity? How about your original look and feel? But on the other hand: these are interesting developments in personal archiving. We can learn from these people. What do they think is important to preserve? And we can assist them with our knowledge. At least in the Netherlands, preservation of born digital art is in its infancy, as a recent report (sorry only in Dutch, but Google translate and Bing translator might help) shows, see

By the way, the maintenance is not always correctly done. One piece of art gives the error message


And the collectors own website is temporarily out of order…


Preparations for getting the certificate


In my last blog post I talked about the NCDD work package on Certification, a Dutch initiative in which 5 major memory institutions will get certified according to either DSA, or DIN (and in the future ISO 16363).  One of the organizations participating is the Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision.  The NISV is the production archive for the Dutch public broadcasters  (without a legal deposit law in The Netherlands this material is not collected in the National Library but  we have shared responsibilities for collecting our national heritage).

The NISV officially started the DSA certification procedure last June, but preparing the organization is an activity that already started a while ago. Read for example their white paper OAIS compliant Preservation Workflows in an AV Archive from 2013, in which they show how they plan to organize their workflows according to the OAIS model.

My colleague Annemieke de Jong , Preservation Officer at NISV, had an interesting interview in AV Insider about the efforts her team made to involve and to prepare the organization before they stepped into the process to get the Data Seal of Approval certification. The article describes for example their approach to guarantee authenticity and integrity and to make audit trails possible.  Valuable recommendations (from a practitioner!)  at the end of the article makes it a must read for everyone thinking about  getting certified.


It’s getting serious: audit and certification


Last May the 3rd PTAB training for repository managers and potential auditors was given at the KB in the Hague in the Netherlands. The event was organized in collaboration with the National Coalition for Digital Preservation (NCDD). Two trainers, David Giaretta and me, instructed an audience of around 15 people about the interpretation, finer details and consequences for organisations of the ISO 16363 standard Audit and Certification of Trustworthy Digital Repositories. Currently there are no official auditors to perform a certification process according to this standard. But the PTAB group is contacting National Standard Bodies in different countries to stimulate this to happen.

It will be a matter of time and now there are organizations thinking seriously to prepare themselves being audited. Representatives from 5 organisations in the Netherlands were invited to tell the course attendees about their plans. Them being the National Archive, DANS, 3TU, the KB National Library and the Institute for Sound and Vision. They are all participating in the Certification Work package of the NCDD, which aims a collaboration in the certification process, exchange of experiences and setting up training for other Dutch organisations. (Earlier I blogged about this nin Dutch however). The 5 organisations all represent a different stage in the European Framework of Certification.


European Framework of Certification Levels


The KB National Library, the National Archive and the Institute for Sound and Vision are preparing themselves for a DSA seal, but have different time schedules. DANS is preparing for the nestor/DIN certification this year and 3TU is renewing their DSA seal, which occurs every 3 years. The preparations for the auditing process will be different for every organisation. But there will be a lot that can be shared. And we will do so, as we are planning certification activities in the Network Cultural Heritage, starting after the summer. I’ll keep you posted!

International collaboration in the IIPC Preservation Working Group

323px-Dou,_Gerard_-_Astronomer_by_Candlelight_-_c._1665Web archiving is often about collecting the web. But part of the work is also related to preserving the web. One of the working groups in the International Internet Preservation Consortium (IIPC) is focused on this aspect. Recently we published an article in the D-Lib magazine, called Facing the Challenge of Web Archives Preservation Collaboratively: The Role and Work of the IIPC Preservation Working Group. The article was written by Andrea Goethals, Clément Oury, David Pearson, Tobias Steinke and me. In this article we inform you about our goals, activities and results in the Preservation Working Group. We also report the findings of a survey we did amongst the (around 50) members of the IIPC in 2013 and their approaches to preserving the web. And we want to point you to a set of databases we are maintaining, with crucial information for web archiving, like the Environments Database and the Risks Database. Happy reading!

Dutch digital developments

Some interesting developments are taking place in the Netherlands with regard to (preservation of) the digital heritage. Initiated by the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science the Network Digital Heritage (NDE) was set up. The participants in this network are national organizations with large digital collections, like the National Library (Koninklijke Bibliotheek) , the Institute of Sound and Vision, the Cultural Heritage Agency, the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the National Archives, together with other partners like for example the knowledge center DEN.


This Network organized the Week of Cultural Heritage ( 9-12 March 2015) and presented the National Strategy for digital Heritage as well as a short animation . Sadly this is all in Dutch, hence this update.

The national strategy plans to streamline and intensify initiatives with regard to the digital heritage in the Netherlands . The strategy is focused on collaboration between all “cultural heritage organizations’ in the Netherlands. This phrase is perhaps a bit too limited, as for example the scientific community does not feel represented under the term “cultural heritage”, but they are included as well (via the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences).

This national collaboration should take place in two ways: vertically, within certain domains (archives and museums for example) where the big organisations in the domain could offer services and assist their colleagues from smaller organisations. And horizontally, by tearing down the traditional barriers between the domains and to look for shared initiatives to make a variety of collected material more visible to the public.


Three working groups are initiated to realize this in 2015-2016. Their goals are summarized in the slogan “Zichtbaar, Bruikbaar, Houdbaar”, translated as:

  1. Making digital heritage visible (Zichtbaar) This working group will identify what “the public” expects from digital heritage and how they want to use it, how to promote the visibility of the range of digital collections and how to support organisations to make their collections visible.
  2. Making digital heritage usable (Bruikbaar) This working group will deal with connections in all sorts: to aggregate and contextualize collections, to improve findability by making better use of existing thesauri and to work together with researchers to improve search facilities
  3. Preserve digital heritage for the long term (Houdbaar). For a preservationist this is the interesting part, although highly connected with the other working groups! In this working group the infrastructure in the Netherlands for digital preservation need to be developed. Thereby making use of already existing experience and facilities.

One could wonder, how is this related to the already existing National Coalition for Digital Preservation, the NCDD? Well, the NCDD plays a big role in knowledge dissemination about all aspects of digital preservation. This work will be continued, but the NCDD will also be leading working group 3.

These are interesting developments and it looks like many initiatives and plans are finally coming together and will hopefully lead to (a start of) an integrated approach for access to and preservation of our digital heritage. A memorisable moment for me was last February. For the first time it happened in the Netherlands that over 80 Dutch preservationists (and some Belgian colleagues) came together and discussed the national plans, sharing approaches, plans and doubts. Let’s see what we can achieve together!