Policy Planning from iPres

I’m writing to you from the 12th International Conference on Digital Preservation (iPres) in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.  It’s been heartening to talk to other digital preservationists and see that we are all facing the same problems. It was also great meeting all my #digipres Twitter icons in person.

Lanyard with USB

The lanyards came with a hidden USB drive containing all the papers and session abstracts.

My favorite session so far was the Policy and Practice Documentation Clinic organized by Maureen Pennock and NDSR’s own Nancy McGovern.  Recently at the JFK Library I have been creating a framework for our digital preservation policy.  It has mostly consisted of reading other institution’s policies and stealing all the best stuff – with a plan for attribution of course.  If you want to follow in my thieving footsteps SCAPE put together a collection of published preservation policies and is continuing to collect policies as they are submitted.

The Policy and Practice Clinic taught me the importance of taking your time and not trying to create every policy and procedure in one go.  And with this new knowledge, a new plan!

  • Create a Digital Preservation Principles – What are we dedicated to?  What are the principles that stand behind our digital preservation program?
  • Run the principle statements by key stakeholders  – These are the administrators that provide funding, the IT team that will implement technology, and the archivists who will perform the preservation actions.  I need their help if this policy will be implemented past my 9 months.  It’s important to include key stakeholders early and often.
  • Write what digital preservation actions are happening now – It’s vital to understand what is happening to preserve digital content now in order to address gaps.  It’s much easier to say what you plan to do once you know what you are currently doing.  And speaking of plans…
  • Start writing a Digital Preservation Plan – Nancy McGovern made a great point about the difference between a policy and a plan.  A policy is ‘what we do’ and a plan is ‘what we will do.’  Since my focus is to improve digital preservation at the library, the plan is my first priority.
  • Go back to those key stakeholders- remember when I said ‘early and often’?
  • Create Procedure Documents – We need to figure out how we are going to live up the principles I’ve laid down.
  • Make sure the procedures are realistic – Who can tell me if it’s realistic? You guessed it, the key stakeholders!  

I’m sure this plan will require tweaks and updates as I go, and that is why I want stakeholders input at every level.  I’m only here for nine months (two of which are already behind me) so it’s incredibly important that they are invested in carrying the digital preservation torch after I’ve left.

After the presentations by Nancy and Maureen we split into groups and commiserated over our digital preservation woes. I learned that if your institution doesn’t like the word ‘preservation’ call it ‘long term access.’  Whatever it takes to get the buy-in.  My favorite idea was to make the technology enforce the digital preservation policy for you.  People are much more likely to perform these preservation tasks if the system doesn’t give them a choice.

Maureen Pennock was also kind enough to tell us about a new development in the digital preservation world.  The Digital Preservation Handbook is getting an update!  Keep an eye out because the new handbook is coming in April 2016.

If this post was not enough iPres for you, you’re in luck!  Community notes were taken through Google Docs and they are available here.  And you can always read the iPres twitterverse by searching #ipres2015.

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