New preservation policy

Article dated: 2 April 2008

The UKDA has recently published the third edition of its preservation policy. This edition has been comprehensively re-written to take account of important developments in the digital preservation world since 2005 when the second public version appeared. The policy also represents the codification of long-standing good archival practice at the UKDA. image of computer systems

The scope of the document remains the same as its predecessors outlining the the principles which underpin the central activity of the UKDA – the preservation of digital resources for continued re-use by its core user community – but has been drastically reduced in detail from its earlier incarnations, which will make it a more straightfoward read for those not interested in the technical details of the active preservation of digital objects. These details will be published later in an updated form in a preservation strategy document. The UKDA is committed to making this key documentation available to the widest audience.

The general focus of the policy has also changed. The UKDA is increasing its responsibility to the authenticity, reliability and integrity of resources lodged with it, without reducing the usability of any downloadable resource. Accepting these principles will mean making changes in the workflow of the UKDA, but most end-users will not notice any difference. By documenting the principles behind preservation activities, this policy will demonstrate why those who offer data and other digital resources to the UKDA can rest assured that what the UKDA disseminates will be logically integral versions of what has been given.

The policy outlines the theoretical, practical and legal requirements for the preservation of digital materials which rest within its collection, and the primary methods by which those requirements are met by the day-to-day workflow in the UKDA. The policy outlines the Open Archival Information Systems (OAIS) model (BS ISO 14721: 2003) and how the UKDA follows its broad guidance in its activities. A detailed glossary is provided to explain terms which non-specialists may find confusing.