Thursday, September 29, 2005

NEDCC Study reveals need for planning to sustain digital collections

This press release below is a status report on efforts of the NEDCC to understand the preservation needs of institutions in regards to digital assets. The major conclusion is no surprise. Smaller institutions will need help from others in understanding their preservation needs.

The Northeast Document Conservation Center (NEDCC) is conducting a study of the preservation needs of digital assets in museums and other cultural institutions, supported by a National Museum Leadership Grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS). Cooperating partners for this project are the Museum Computer Network (MCN), Heritage Preservation (HP), the American Institute for Conservation (AIC), and the Center for Research Libraries (CRL).

THE GOAL IS to develop a methodology for surveying the preservation needs of an institution's digital holdings.

AS AN INITIAL STEP, the project advisory committee developed a prototype e-mail questionnaire to gather data on the status of digital collections from a sampling of cultural heritage institutions. The data suggested that institutions need to be more concerned about the fragility of digital assets:
  • 92% of the institutions responding noted that they are creating digital materials.
  • Only 29% of the responding institutions reported that they have written policies to address the management of presentation of digital assets.
NEDCC CONVENED A COLLOQUIUM of experts in Boston on July 11-12, 2005 to examine data from the questionnaire responses and preliminary information. The event began with presentations of existing survey models, especially the Conservation Assessment Program and the Heritage Health Index. Participants engaged in moderated discussion on digital preservation needs and possible solutions.

  • Steve Chapman, Harvard University
  • Tom Clareson, OCLC
  • Paul Conway, Duke University
  • Steve Dalton, Boston College
  • Kevin Glick, Yale University
  • David Green, Knowledge Culture
  • Ken Hamma, J. Paul Getty Trust
  • Peter Hirtle, Cornell University
  • Kristen Laise, Heritage Preservation
  • Paul Messier, Conservator
  • Sam Quigley, Harvard University, MCN
  • Bernard Reilly, CRL
  • Rebecca Hatcher, NEDCC
  • Ann Russell, NEDCC
THE MAJOR CONCLUSION was that small and medium-sized institutions will need help from specialists in surveying the preservation needs of their growing digital collections. The group took significant first steps toward developing practical planning tools for assessing the preservation needs of digital collections and envisioning a national survey program.

THE NEXT STEPS of the project include refining a new assessment instrument and testing it through expert-conducted site visits to gather information on an institution's digital assets. Information will be released as it is available.

For more information on NEDCC's programs and services
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