Comprehensive Digital Preservation Services (CDPS): Levels of Preservation Commitment
Developed by: Nancy McGovern, Director, Digital Preservation with Kari R. Smith, Institute Archivist; updated July 2020 (first draft, November 2017)
Assigning levels of commitment to types of information allows digital preservation programs to maximize resources by right-sizing the combination of services and actions needed. Each level has requirements to meet to ensure long-term preservation of the content. Factors like uniqueness, purpose, reproducibility, and investment inform the definition of the levels.
Digital Content Examples by Level of Preservation Commitment
- Level 1: open access articles, locally-stored licensed content, etc.
- Level 2: digitized content with only IP Restrictions (not confidential), large video files, etc.
- Level 3: open Institute records, special collections content that may have IP restrictions, etc.
- Level 4: controlled Institute records, confidential data, and other content that requires special restrictions
- Level 5: regulated Institute records (high-risk content dictated by policy or law)
Figure 1. Characteristics of preservation actions and services by level of preservation commitment
Note: shading in Figure 1 indicates increased requirements to meet
|Preservation Services/Actions||Level 1||Level 2||Level 3||Level 4||Level 5|
|Preservation Copies (multiple locations)||B + 1X + Offline||B + 1-2X + Offline||B + >=4X + Offline||A+B + >=4X + Offline||A+B + >=4X + Offline|
|Preservation Action Level||Low||Low||Medium||High||High|
|Born Digital (BD)/Digitized||Both/Often PDF||More Digitized||More BD||More BD||More BD|
Notes about Service/Actions in Figure 1
- Preservation Metadata: minimal to full (more and better quality) preservation metadata (see PREMIS)
- Preservation Formats: Levels 3 – 5 must be able to create preservation formats. Levels 1 & 2 not required.
- Copies: A = 1 copy in Location A, B = 1 copy in Location B, X = number of external copies, 1 offline safekept copy
- Preservation Approach: full means ongoing access to content; bit means retaining a copy of original bitstream.
- Independence: copies function independently. Different locations, Different environments (e.g. operating systems).
- Preservation Action Level: Frequency of fixity checking, updates to preservation objects (metadata, formats).
- Level 2: More of the content will be digitized. If content is digitized it requires 2 copies, one external.
- Level 3: This content is open so has more possible options for preservation including external service providers.
- Level 4 & 5: This content requires the highest and most frequent level of ongoing preservation actions.
Figure 2. Relative quantity of digital content per level of preservation commitment
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