What resources are we focussing on?

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What resources do you have available?

  • Money and people/time. Find out whether you can make the case for one or the other more easily.
  • Know whether this is entirely new, or an extension of something you are doing already in part or in whole.
  • Think about: staffing/skills, technical infrastructure (storage, processing), processes (e.g. cataloguing)
  • Distinguish reccurent costs from capital investment costs.

Where does the stuff come from?

  • Know your mandate, collecting policy, retention schedule.
  • Know your producers and the nature of the relationship. Develop working understandings where possible.
  • Understand the amount of influence you have and the guidance and support you can provide to control what you receive.
  • Make sure you receive enough contextual information, or can create it during acquistion.
  • Define an exit plan where possible.
  • Try to plan and project for the types and quantities of content you are likely to receive based on your collections policy.

Have you got a skills gap?

  • Map existing roles and responsibilities.
  • Identify gaps or unrealistic expectations by consulting staff, community team profiles and job descriptions.
  • Decide whether the gaps or bottlenecks can be addressed by training for existing people or hiring new posts.
  • Understand willingness to change - whether you can stop doing things you do now and change job roles.
  • Define a skills roadmap showing development over time. Include succession planning.

Have you got the infrastructure you need?

  • Accessioning workstation - capacity to process various media types.
  • Ingest - tools for characterisation, fixity, etc.
  • Store - capacity, understanding growth, redundancy/backups.
  • Access - user requirements, interfaces for discovery/rendering, accessibility.
  • Consult with other stakeholding departments to determine who has responsibility for supporting infrastructure.
  • Are there existing resources within the wider organisation that could provide infrastructure.
  • Prioritise your implementation with a clear roadmap. Don't try to do everything at once!

What are the legal constraints on your digital assets?

  • Determine IPR, data protection and potential liability issues. Are they known or do they need to be reviewed?
  • Ensure that depositor conditions are clear (closure periods or embargos, reproduction rights, etc.)
  • Define use cases. Define user requirements (as far as they can be anticipated). For example authenticity - will material be available remotely?.

What is the condition of your digital assets?

  • Know what you need to know - how much detail?
  • Know what you don't need to know. What is enough information?
  • Think about complexity/diversity, volume/growth.
  • What is the integrity of the content? Is it sanitised? Can you safely ingest it?
  • Are the assets organised or catalogued in anyway?
  • Is there any supporting material that provides wider context?

What are the bit-level problems?

  • Save the bits!
  • Find fragile media (e.g. floppy disk, CDs/DVDs, flash drives)
  • Volume/complexity/quantity: Large files, complex technology or large numbers of files can be problematic for data management.
  • Derive fixity information and check it regularly.

What are the low level digital preservation challenges?

  • Identify the variety of formats, and number of files in each format.
    • use format identification tools.
  • Determine the problems that these formats might cause:
    • decide the level of analysis you can realistically achieve
    • pro-active (checking all files and formats)
    • approaches: consult the community format registries
    • does a file validate against it's file format specification? Does this matter? Can you identify long term risks? Can you check if the file renders correctly, now?
    • reactive (provide files as-is and wait for problems to be reported)
  • What metadata (descriptive and preservation) do you have? Do you need to create any more?
    • Just in case metadata can be costly. Each field should have a clear use case.
  • Identify your needs for documentation and the needs of your depositors and users.