Special Resources in Context

Special Resources image

At the heart of digital preservation is the digital content. Special resources must be considered for identifying, capturing, and managing digital content and associated metadata. Some specific resources to consider are: equipment, software, staff, and space.


Equipment requirements will likely include—but also extend beyond—the specialized computer workstations needed to create and capture digital content, and manage digital preservation projects. Other equipment important to digital preservation projects include:

>> Peripherals
>> Servers
>> Networking devices
>> Backup solutions
>> Storage solutions

Although the cost of digital storage has steadily decreased even while the density of storage media and devices has increased, storage solutions will be a major consideration for most digitial content, especially images, video, and audio. Storage provisions can be a double-edge sword as a digital object will often be stored in more than place; one copy accessible for delivery or further refinements, and additional copies protected from accidental data loss, computer viruses, and physical harm. (See also Tutorial Section 3: Physical Threats.)

Access copies of the digital content are often delivered to users in a digital format, over the Internet for example. In these cases, the digital information will need to be handled with specialized file servers and networking devices and housed on “online” storage media, such as an internal hard drive or RAID (Redundant Array of Independent Disks) system of networked drives. This type of storage media can be the most expensive and most vulnerable storage options, but provide the access speed necessary for automated retrieval through file serving or over the Web. Lower-cost, removable “offline” options such as DVD, CD, and tape, while less suitable for ready access, are good long term storage and backup options so long as durability, reliability, and obsolescence threats are assessed, acknowledged, and considered in planning. “Nearline” storage solutions can offer a compromise, for example devices that combine disk drives and automated tape retrieval.


Like equipment and hardware, resources will need to be allocated for specialized software for the many aspects of digital preservation, such as: digital content and metadata capture and creation, digital object access, backup purposes, project management, quality assurance, workstation and network support. One class of software, repository software, deserves special mention for its potential impact on digital preservation. A variety of repository software solutions have been developed in response to the challenge of managing, disseminating, and safeguarding an institution’s digital assets. Both commercial and open source license solutions are available; digital preservation planners have a variety of options to best suit their program's scope and requirements. Some examples follow:

>> Fedora
>> DSpace
>> DuraSpace
>> Greenstone


Provisions must be made for the amount of and characteristics of the physical space needed to house the staff, equipment, and project materials, such as storage media and printed documentation. As is often a part of disaster planning, considerations must be made to assess and reduce potential security and environmental threats. For example, backup media should ideally be stored off-site in an environmentally controlled facility.


Unfortunately, an out-of-the-box, plug-n-play digital preservation solution does not exist. The key element for digital preservation program planning and implementation lies in the people who have the skills to formulate and enforce policy; to assemble and maintain equipment and the IT infrastructure; uphold the business end of the program; to create and capture digital content. Assembling a team and developing their skills may be the most important component of any successful preservation program. Due to the complex and evolving nature of digital preservation strategies, the “Dream Team” will include a diverse mix of professionals and specialists, such as information scientists, librarians, archivists, programmers, IT support personnel, business managers, and website developers.