Administrative and Management Structure

For the Support of Digital Preservation at Yale University Library

Digital Preservation Committee

21 September 2006




The Digital Preservation Committee (DPC) proposes an organizational structure for the coordination and management of digital preservation at Yale University Library that recognizes that the responsibility for the creation and administration of digital preservation services at Yale is shared by the following services:

·        Metadata services

·        Repository services

·        Preservation services


The DPC recommends establishing a digital preservation core team with staff with expertise in these areas. This model acknowledges the following realities at Yale University Library:


·        Metadata will play a key role throughout the life-cycle of our digital assets and particularly over the long term throughout the preservation state. Metadata is tightly bound to successful preservation. 


·        Digital preservation is not an isolated event. Rather it is a selection of services throughout the life of a resource. The transition from collection management to preservation management will occur as the result of the utilization of additional repository services.     


·        The expectation is that as the Vital/Fedora repository matures through the integration of additional services developed specifically to support preservation functions, it will support preservation repository services in addition to collection repository services.


·        The development of preservation repository services will require substantial technical resources for the foreseeable future. Preservation services will be developed as part of and outside of core Fedora. Most of the work needed to create these services is technical in nature and has yet to be addressed by VTLS, the Fedora community or users of this framework.  (Examples are alerting services for failed checksum validations and format obsolescence and integration with services such as format registries and handle servers.)

The DPC recommends that this core team comprised of staff with expertise in metadata, repository and preservation services be conceived as a virtual Digital Curation Center. Digital curation in this sense is a pro-active concept of preservation management as defined in the Yale University Library’s Digital Preservation Policy. It encompasses all of the actions needed to maintain digitized and born-digital resources through their entire life-cycle and over time. Digital curation is a medium to long term process where resources are managed in repositories, cleaned and corrected, associated with metadata that shows their context, meaning and value, and where appropriate preserved or reliably disposed of. Digital curation is the key to the sustainability, reproducibility, and re-use of reliable and trusted digital resources. (Wikipedia, 

The DPC further recommends that the Digital Curation Center core team be staffed initially with 2 FTE and report to the AUL for Integrated Library Systems and Technical Services.

Special collections and library departments (e.g., BRBL, MSS/A, Maps, Medical, Law, Divinity), DPIP, RaMP, galleries, museums and special projects are significant production units for the creation of digital resources through reformatting. Special collections and e-collections are significant acquisition units for born digital and acquired digital resources. These groups are major consumers of digital curation services at all levels. As major consumers they are key stakeholders in the development of the Digital Curation Center and the implementation of individual digital curation projects.  The DPC recommends that an initial, term-limited, DCC Working Group be formed to participate in the establishment of the Center. Furthermore, on a recurring, work-driven basis, project groups will be created to address individual curation and preservation endeavors.


The following diagram illustrates the proposed structure of a term-limited Digital Curation Center working group teamed with the virtual Digital Curation Center core to support individual projects.


Oval: DCC Working Group (1 yr?)


















As background to this recommendation, the DPC surveyed peer institutions (Cornell, Harvard, Stanford and the University of Michigan). The most striking finding that emerged from this survey is that no single organizational model for the support of digital preservation services exists although a common characteristic across these institutions is a strong synergistic relationship between digital and technology units in the support of digital preservation services. The administrative and management structure for the support of digital preservation in peer institutions recognizes:

·        The heavy technical requirements of digital preservation by placing these services within the library’s technology departments, or

·        The digital nature of the problem space by anchoring the services within digital initiative units, or

·        The preservation function by locating these services along with traditional preservation within preservation units, or

·        The cross-functional nature of digital preservation with a hybrid approach like this proposal.


Survey Summaries:

At Cornell, the Digital Preservation Officer coordinates the development and implementation of preservation policy for Cornell University Library (CUL) and serves as a liaison to the Library’s, as well as external, digital preservation projects and initiatives. The main objective of the DPO position is to develop a conceptual framework for the establishment of a cohesive digital preservation program at Cornell. As the head of the Research and Assessment Services unit of the Instruction, Research and Information Services (IRIS) division the DPO is a member of digital preservation research projects teams. The DPO heads the Research Department under the auspices of IRIS. Preservation services are also supported within the Digital Library and Information Technology division. The Library Systems unit of that division includes a Preservation Programmer/Analyst, and the Digital Consulting and Production Services (DCAPS) offers services necessary to ensure cost-effective planning, creation, management, use, and preservation for digital collections.

At Harvard, the Digital Initiatives program in the Weissman Preservation Center supports the creation and preservation of digital collections of permanent research value. This program administers the development of specialized tools to support conservation and preservation activities in the Weissman Preservation Center and the HCL Preservation & Imaging Department.  Program staff works with colleagues throughout the preservation programs, as well as members of the Library Digital Initiative team in the library’s technology unit, the Office for Information Systems, providing advisory services to librarians, archivists, faculty and other members of the Harvard community seeking to improve access to research materials.

The Preservation Librarian for Digital Initiatives works closely with four constituencies:

·         collections managers and managers of digitization projects

·         providers of products and services (at Harvard and beyond) to digitize library, archives and museum collections

·         members of the Library Digital Initiative (LDI) project team charged with developing and administering the Harvard University Library Digital Repository Service

·         technical experts developing standards and best practices for digitization and digital preservation

And provides the following services:

·         reformatting advice and training:

o        analysis of reformatting requirements, identification of vendors, development of project specifications, workflows, RFPs and contracts for image and text digitization initiatives

·         co-development of procedures and guidelines for quality control

·         co-development of preservation metadata guidelines and digital preservation policies for Harvard's Digital Repository Service

·         development of customized tools to support conservation and preservation activities

At Stanford, digital preservation and the overall management of digital resources is a responsibility among many of the library’s technology unit, the Digital Library Systems and Services group.  DLSS works collaboratively to:

·         plan, design, implement and operate technology services, systems and infrastructure for the Stanford University Libraries, including the library management system (Unicorn) and component parts; web and access systems, digitization lab software (labware); and the core server, database, storage, backup and web infrastructure.

·         provision and manage digital resources for the Libraries through their complete lifecycle, including project management and digitization/preservation consulting; acquisition; digitization; metadata design, specification and generation; digital preservation; online access; and overall management of digital materials.

·         research, evaluate, design, and implement emerging technology, standards and methodologies for digital collection development and management, digital preservation (including the Stanford Digital Repository), and online access to Library resources, and the related library infrastructure to support all of the above.

At the University of Michigan digital preservation services are offered through Deep Blue, the library managed institutional repository, and the Digital Library Production Service unit within Library Information Technology program, which provides digital preservation reformatting services. Deep Blue, a DSpace implementation, provides long-term access to all deposited content, by applying best practices for data management and digital preservation. The Repository commits to preserving the content in the form it is originally deposited and, for some formats, will preserve the content, structure and functionality of the files through migration or other preservation strategies. In addition, the Repository provides basic services including secure storage, backup, management, fixity-checks, and periodic refreshment by copying the data to new storage. (See:


Digital Preservation Committee

Rebekah Irwin

David Gewirtz

Kevin Glick

Audrey Novak

Bobbie Pilette