The study reported on here has its origins in the Lord Chancellor’s 2002 request that regional solutions for digital preservation should be investigated. Here, in the East of England, we have a head start, since the University of Essex at Colchester has over thirty years experience in this area and we knew – through Professor Kevin Schürer, Director of the UK Data Archive (UKDA) – that they were keen to help us pick up the Lord Chancellor’s challenge. So, in 2004, we three partners called together representatives of all the county councils in the region to discuss future options and to identify who else might be able to come on board to test the water. In the event, it was agreed that Hertfordshire County Council and Bedfordshire County Council were best placed for a pilot investigation, which began in earnest in the winter of 2004/5.The 55-page report is available here.
Throughout 2005, the UKDA processed a range of obsolete or near obsolete electronic media selected from Hertfordshire’s council records, to try to determine how much time and money it would take to process these records into a form in which they would remain readable and accessible for the foreseeable future. This exercise proved far more challenging than originally expected, but has, we believe, resulted in some robust cost estimates upon which we have been able to build a credible comparison, to which local authorities and other large organizations can refer to when deciding whether to ‘go it alone’ or to buy in their digital preservation from a third party.
So we present here a first stab at what it costs either to set up one’s own repository, or to pay some other expert organization, such as the UKDA, to do it for you. We have been forced during this project to grapple with (and we hope resolve) many extraordinarily difficult issues, not least in finding a common language through which local government and higher education can understand each other in this ever-changing area, and we believe we have evolved the basis for a workable process model which will guide the next stage of our work.
Technorati tag: Digital Preservation