Ensuring Accessibility and Security: The Importance of Digital Preservation in Libraries


What Is Digital Preservation in Library Digital Content?

Digital preservation is the process of ensuring that library digital content will be accessible in the future. It involves strategies, policies, and technologies to preserve digital materials for long-term access.

It is a vital component of libraries’ collection stewardship responsibilities. Learn more about digital preservation through the University Libraries’ new online repository and a webinar on Nov. 3 hosted by Tallman.


Digital preservation is a critical function that safeguards library collections and supports the sustainability of the global knowledge and cultural heritage. It involves strategies and technologies to mitigate risks such as data loss, file format obsolescence, and hardware or software obsolescence. It also involves the use of a wide range of tools and approaches to manage preservation activities.

Libraries can cost-effectively preserve their digital collections through an integrated approach that includes assessment, selection, conversion, metadata creation, storage, and access provision. This enables expanded reach, preservation of fragile materials, cost-effective storage, enhanced discoverability, and collaboration opportunities. It also helps ensure that future intellectual access to these resources is not lost.

Enhanced discoverability

The digital preservation of cultural heritage materials enables access to that material over time. Libraries use a range of tools and systems to preserve digitized materials, including data migration, emulation, replication, and metadata attachment. They also create policies and procedures for preserving and accessing their collection.

Digital preservation also enhances discoverability. Digitized materials can be searched and retrieved by users from any location with an internet connection, regardless of the location of the original physical copy. This makes the collections accessible to a global audience and enables new discoveries.

Interviews with GLAM [Galleries, Libraries, Archives and Museums] institutions indicate that selecting and implementing digital preservation and curation systems can be challenging. These organizations often have competing priorities, technological frameworks, and staffing configurations. Some are still trying to determine which system is right for them, and many are struggling to build support for their digital preservation activities. The long sales cycles for commercial preservation services can also be a challenge for these institutions.


Digital preservation includes all of the policies, strategies and actions aimed at ensuring the continued accessibility of digital heritage materials. It encompasses digitization, reformatting and other preservation actions that may be necessary in the future. It also involves creating a strategy for ongoing management, monitoring, and assessment.

The success of digital preservation depends on the makeup of a repository’s collections and its storage media. It is important to use sustainable file formats that are patent free, have a wide acceptance, and support metadata standards. Additionally, it is vital to create a workflow that integrates preservation with access services. This way, preservation activities do not impede on the overall mission of the repository.

Libraries can enhance the discoverability of their digital collection by implementing robust metadata and search capabilities. This allows them to reach a wider audience and increase usage and engagement with their resources. In addition, they can store digital collections more cost-effectively than physical materials.


Digital preservation allows libraries to back up and store their collections more efficiently and safely. This reduces the risk of data loss and provides an extra layer of protection in case of disasters or unforeseen emergencies. In addition, it helps to protect sensitive information and the intent of content creators.

The Libraries will abide by well-established standards and good practice within the digital preservation community. These include alignment with the Open Archival Information System Reference Model (OAIS) and Trustworthy Repositories Audit & Certification (TRAC) standards. Staff will also keep up-to-date on evolving technology and actions and contribute to the development of emerging digital preservation standards.

The Libraries will provide a basic level of preservation support for all content identified as Level 2. This stewardship level pledges best effort to maintain viability and understandability for digital files, based on widely available preservation treatment strategies such as fixity, validation, geographic replication and others as developed.

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