Understand your collection

From wiki.dpconline.org
Revision as of 13:05, 19 August 2013 by PWheatley (talk | contribs)
(diff) ← Older revision | Latest revision (diff) | Newer revision → (diff)
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Analyse web.png

Understanding your Collection

Understanding your digital assets is a critical process for the production of a digital preservation business case, regardless of whether the focus is on addressing preservation of particular digital assets or on broader needs such as additional staffing, establishing a new repository or bringing in other new technology. In the former case, convincing business cases must be able to demonstrate a thorough understanding of the digital assets and the context in which they will be preserved. In the latter case, this detail may not be as critical but it's still essential to think through the implications of the preservation and the impact they will have on the main focus of your case. As a consequence, not all information generated in the process outlined below may need to make it into the final business case. Careful thought about the audience that the case is targeted at will help to inform how much detail is required.


This is the process that a practitioner should follow to build this section of the business case.

For the sake of simplicity this section considers the process of understanding a group of digital assets, what some practitioners would call a "collection" of digital assets. Depending on your circumstances it may be necessary to examine a wider array of digital assets.

  1. Consider or assess the origins & value of the digital assets
    • Examine the provenance of the assets
    1. Purpose: demonstrating the provenance of the collection, fit to the organisational content development strategy, value of the collection to the organisation
  2. Collection profiling
    1. Purpose: identifying what types of content are in the collection, possible sub-collections, preservation intent associated with the collection, retention periods for the collection
  3. Organisational context
    1. Purpose: illustrating how the proposal fits into the wider organisational policy framework, mandate, strategy, departmental structures...
  4. Legal context
    1. Purpose: makes a clear case for preserving the collection - we must, rather than we may.
  5. Wider Landscape
    1. Purpose: Is this collection unique? How does it compare to other collecting institutions? How does the proposed approach compare to what other collecting institutions are doing for similar types of content?
  6. Value
  7. User expectations for the collection
    1. Purpose: Provides the context in which the collection will be used and justifies the investment to be made in preserving the collection - preservation & access two sides of the same coin.


This should describe the contents or structure of the business case, resulting from following the Process above

Describe the change you want to see in the organisation

The Context

  • where are we now
  • where we are going

The digital assets

  • Collection profile (what are they?)
  • Origins, importance and constraints (why do we have it?)
    • Provenance (why do we have the them?)
    • Value (what are they worth?)
    • Legal requirements (what are we allowed to do with them? / what do we have to do with them?)
  • Preservation Intent or Vision for preserving the collection - should this also include 'Access intent' & tie-in with user expectations? (what will we do with it?)
  • Challenges facing the collection that this business case will solve (how will this proposal help us achieve our vision/mandate?) (also see Risks)

Move these to Inst Readiness:?

  • How business case supports organisational mandate
  • How proposal fits with wider organisational policy framework/strategies


Scenario 1: HE institution business case for a new repository system

  • Where are we now: size and complexity of collection
  • Where we are going: predictions for growth of collection over next 5, 10, 20, 50 years
  • Contents of the collection - high level overview of the different content types (web, AV, e-theses...), origins of collection
  • Preservation intent & vision - breakdown of different preservation intents for diff content types...
  • Problem and solution statement - collection currently stored in an aging repositry system that is no longer supported with minimal preservation functionality -> collection will be migrated to a new repository system with integrated preservation functionality
  • Organisational mandate - supporing research by ensuring content is preserved and made accessible
  • Organisational policy framework - Collection development policy, other Library policies, Institutional strategy.

Scenario 2: Local archive business case for a digital preservation officer

  • Where are we now: size and complexity of collections | low organisational understanding of digital collection & preservation requirements | no designated digital collections/preservation officer | lack of technical support | lack of information about collections
  • Where are we going: predictions for growth of collections over next 5, 10, 20, 50 years | improved organisational understanding | clearly designated staff posts and roles
  • Contents of the collections: high level overviews identifying different content types emails, spreadsheets, digital surrogates etc
  • Provenance of collection: depositors information, ownership etc
  • Some analysis of preservation strategies likely to be used for different collections
  • Organisational mandate: identify who makes decisions about access, retention, preservation etc.
  • Organisational policy framework: understand organisational priorities and strategies.

Scenario 3: Large CH institution moving to third pary service provider

  • Where are we now:
  • Where are we going:
  • Contents of the collection:
  • Preservation intent and vision:
  • Problem & solution statement:
  • Organisational mandate:
  • Organisational policy framework:


These are external resources of relevance to this section. Links can be incorporated into the text above if that is more useful

BL's Collection Profiling template (forthcoming)

Assessing Institutional Digital Assets (AIDA)