Understand your collection

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Understanding your Collection

Preservation of the collection is a fundamental purpose behind any digital preservation business case, regardless of the type of business case being drafted. Convincing business cases must therefore be able to demonstrate a thorough understanding of the collection and the context in which it is being preserved. Not all information generated in the process outlined below will make it into the final business case, which should only include the most essential information to convince funders of the need for the proposal.


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

  1. Origins & value of the collection
    1. Purpose: demonstrating the provenance of the collection, fit to the organsiational 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?


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

  • where are we now
  • where do we want to be
  • timetable
    • staged progression over time? long-term vision and/or small term component of that?
    • continuous improvement? capacity of the organisation to adapt to change?

The Collection

  • Contents of collection (what is it?)
  • Origins & importance of collection to organisation (incl legal requirements) (why do we have it?)
  • Preservation Intent or Vision for preserving the collection (what will we do with it?)
  • Fundamental problem facing the collection that this business case will adress (how will this help?)
  • How business case supports organisational mandate
  • How proposal fits with wider organisational policy framework/strategies


  • Content owners
  • Roles and responsibilities of all stakeholders


Thoughts on how to adapt the content of this section to particular scenarios that the business case is focused on. Eg: Risks to consider/prioritise in a business case for a repository system, or Risks to consider/prioritise in a business case for new DP staff, orRisks to consider/prioritise in a business case for a digital preservation service


Notes relevant to tailoring this section to the appropriate audience and communicating the the business case to that audience


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