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Digital Preservation Policy

Introduction  

Digital information relies on a combination of data, software and hardware that together allow users access to a complete information object. Digital preservation planning recognizes the vulnerability of these digital information objects and the need for proactive stewardship of these materials to mitigate loss of access to content due to software obsolescence and loss or alteration of digital objects due to hardware or transfer failure. The purpose of this digital preservation policy is to outline the strategy used by York University Libraries (YUL) to ensure the continued preservation of and access to its digital holdings for its Designated Community.

Mandate

The management of YUL digital holdings builds on the expertise that YUL brings to collections development, metadata creation and reference services. YUL librarians, archivists and IT specialists together are responsible for the curation, management and preservation of the library’s digital assets.

  • The mission of York University is the pursuit, preservation, and dissemination of knowledge.” (York University Mission and Vision)
  • “York’s research librarians and archivists are active stewards of the University’s research assets…This work includes curating and digitizing existing archival holdings to better raise the visibility and profile of these materials as well as supporting exhibits, communications and digitization with a variety of cultural community partners.” (p. 11, York University Strategic Research Plan: 2018-2023)
  • “YUL increases research impact and knowledge application, builds and curates rich and diverse collections, advocates open research practices, and supports our users in the creation and preservation of scholarly and creative works.” (p. 2, York University Libraries 2021-2026 Strategic Plan)
  • “Record and preserve cultural heritage: Deliver projects to record and preserve intangible cultural heritage such as local folklore, traditions, language, and knowledge. This can include the heritage of displaced communities." UN Sustainable Development Goal, Indicator 11.2.6 

Principles

The primary purpose of this digital preservation policy and other related documentation is to facilitate the long-term preservation of digital information resources selected and managed by YUL. This work is informed by YUL’s commitment to the following underlying principles: 

  • Standards-based 
  • Robust metadata  
    • Capture, create and maintain high-quality metadata (descriptive, technical, preservation). 
  • Authenticity 
    • Adopt procedures to document provenance, chain of custody, authenticity, integrity of content and fixity. 
  • Legal compliance 
    • Identify intellectual and privacy rights and control access accordingly. 
  • Sustained technical capacity  
    • Invest in the procurement and maintenance of relevant software, hardware and storage over time with secure backup, recovery, and quality control requirements. 
  • Transparency  
    • Document, regularly update and make available digital preservation policies, procedures and practices. 

Scope 

YUL is responsible for preserving the intellectual content of digital materials acquired and/or created by the library, including archival records (digitized and born digital), materials deposited in YorkSpace and York University Digital Library, multimedia objects associated with York University Digital Journals, and web archives. 

Roles and responsibilities 

Digital preservation at YUL requires collaboration and partnership between library workers, external vendors and content creators. Currently, YUL departments with digital preservation responsibilities include Digital Scholarship Infrastructure (DSI), Archives and Special Collections (ASC), and Library Digital Systems & Initiatives (LDSI). 

Financial commitment 

The provisions of this policy and related digital preservation policies are predicated on an ongoing financial commitment by York University Libraries to provide sustainable and scalable resources to support current and future digital preservation requirements. Digital preservation cannot be done without investment in human resources (people to do the work) and technical infrastructure (hardware, software, storage, and backup). 

Skills and training 

The ever-changing nature of digital technologies requires that YUL workers responsible for the ongoing preservation of digital objects have access to adequate support and training to maintain and develop their knowledge and professional competencies. Due to the organizational structure of YUL, some staff working in this area have multiple responsibilities outside of digital preservation. Therefore, providing skill development opportunities and training for all who work with digital records at YUL is a priority when allocating resources to digital preservation maintenance activities and other related initiatives. 

Review and revision 

YUL commits to the review and revision of its preservation practices and the corresponding documentation, as outlined in the Review Cycle for Documentation Policy. 


Reviewed: February 28, 2022