Saturday, September 15, 2007

White Paper: Towards an Open Source Repository and Preservation

UNESCO recently published a white-paper entitled Towards an Open Source Repository and Preservation System: Recommendations on the Implementation of an Open Source Digital Archival and Preservation System and on Related Software Development, written by Kevin Bradley, Junran Lei, and Chris Blackall.

This 38-page "report defines the requirements for a digital archival and preservation system using standard hardware and describes a set of open source software which could used to implement it. There are two aspects of this report that distinguish it from other approaches. One is the complete or holistic approach to digital preservation. The report recognises that a functioning preservation system must consider all aspects of a digital repositories; Ingest, Access, Administration, Data Management, Preservation Planning and Archival Storage, including storage media and management software. Secondly, the report argues that, for simple digital objects, the solution to digital preservation is relatively well understood, and that what is needed are affordable tools, technology and training in using those systems." (p. 3)

The nine recommendations made in this report are:
  1. UNESCO establish a steering committee based in the MoW Sub Committee on Technology to support the development of a single package open source digital preservation and access repository
  2. Support and resource a pilot project with a number of communities or institutions who can articulate their requirements and act as beta testers of such a system
  3. Through that and other committees and projects, influence and support the development of specific software, as discussed in this report
  4. Investigate the development of solutions to the system gaps noted in this report, particularly in the area of preservation planning and archival storage systems
  5. Support the integration of a number of open source tools to develop a single package open source repository system based on existing open source platforms as described in this report
  6. Encourage the development of federated and cooperative approaches through the adoption of standard data packages
  7. Ensure that, low cost notwithstanding, the solution is based in international standards and best practice.
  8. Support and expand existing training and education to include technical training in the envisaged system in parallel with work on intellectual property and cultural rights.
  9. Liaise with existing open source distributors such as Ubuntu, or with development communities, such as the Australian Partnership for Sustainable Repositories (or other suitable) to support these aims.
There is much detail in this report, including information on assumptions, issues and constraints. It also includes comparisons of Greenstone, Fedora and DSpace, which some may find useful. It notes that "DSpace and Fedora are currently the best supported repository systems."

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