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Digital preservation at MIT

About the Digital Preservation (DP) Program

The DP Program is responsible for developing effective strategies for ensuring the long-term preservation of digital collections of MIT Libraries collaborating with content curators and others across the Libraries and beyond. As part of its leadership role in the digital preservation community, MIT Libraries is committed to:

  • Ensuring long-term access to digital content in any format, selected because it enables, extends, and documents scholarship and practice for current and future researchers at MIT and beyond.
  • Continuing to demonstrate leadership and to model good practice in digital preservation.
  • Aligning with prevailing standards and practice for digital preservation as the technology, tools, and approaches for effective long-term use and re-use emerge and evolve.

Resources for digital preservation

The DP Program has developed several resources for digital preservation – a workflow for managing digital content, and a set of ten digital preservation principles:

Workflow for managing digital content

Six-stage Workflow for Managing Digital Content developed by MIT Libraries

For more information, see Workflow for Managing Digital Content (jpg) for a detailed version of the above graphic and the Digital Content Management (DCM) Workflows section of the Digital Preservation Management (DPM) Workshop website.

Digital preservation infrastructure

Infrastructure for digital preservation includes the people, the technologies, the resources, and collaborative connections across the Libraries and beyond to support sustained access to our digital collections. Comprehensive Digital Preservation Services (CDPS), the core of our infrastructure for digital preservation, launched in June 2020.

CDPS currently includes Archivematica, a digital preservation system hosted for MIT Libraries by Artefactual to help preserve our digital content, and DP Storage, two managed digital storage locations that contain our accumulating preservation copies.

Our Levels of Digital Preservation Commitment guide our CDPS implementation. Our DP Storage service addresses the DP Storage Criteria, a digital preservation community guideline that is being iteratively developed by a working group on which MIT serves. We will continue to implement and enhance our CDPS services.

Digital preservation principles

All organizations with long-term responsibility for digital content are expected to demonstrate good practice in accordance with digital preservation standards and requirements.

In 2011, Nancy McGovern developed Digital Preservation Principles (pdf) for the Digital Preservation Outreach and Education (DPOE) program, sponsored by the Library of Congress. The MIT libraries adopted these principles in August 2013, updated them in 2015, and are using them as a frame for developing and maintaining a sustainable program for digital preservation.

These ten principles provide a high-level means for the MIT Libraries to demonstrate increasing alignment with good practice and encapsulate the fundamentals of prevailing community standards and practice for digital preservation.

Digital Sustainability Lab

The Digital Sustainability Lab is a space for investigations and experiments to develop practical solutions in response to challenges of managing digital content at MIT across generations of technology.

The initial development of the Lab has been funded by a donor who hopes to attract additional funding for ongoing investigations into strategies for ensuring the longevity of digital content. Solutions developed will address local needs at MIT, be shared with broader community, and comply with digital curation and preservation standards and practice.

Experiments conducted in the Lab will focus on improvements to the acquisition, processing, preservation, accessibility, and audit of digital content of all kinds in support of instruction, scholarship, research, and administration at MIT. Topics for studies completed in the Lab may address topics such as, optimal file formats for preservation, storage media issues, object packaging, authentication, integrity of digital content, life cycle metadata, and the effective delivery of digital content on various platforms.