2014 SGA Annual Meeting Breakout Sessions Recap: Let’s talk about digital preservation!

In an effort to engage the rich discussions that were had as part of the “Everyday Digital Archives” breakout sessions at the 2014 SGA Annual Meeting, here is the final post, highlighting topics that arose during the fourth breakout session, in which the always exciting topic of digital preservation was discussed!  Hopefully this post (and the previous three!) will be thought provoking to the SGA membership and will help to contribute to the ongoing conversation about the many issues that come part and parcel with managing digital archives.
Breakout Session 4: Preservation of Digital Records
This breakout session explored the current state of digital preservation among SGA members, discussed first steps toward establishing digital preservation policy and practice, identified significant challenges among member institutions and developed suggestions for ways in which SGA could better support digital preservation for archival professionals in Georgia.  Here are some highlights of topics that were discussed:
  • Insufficient resources (both financial and staffing)
  • Problems with sustainability because it can be difficult to get necessary commitments for ongoing support of digital preservation
  • Slow implementation at some organizations because of the “tyranny of perfection”; administration and/or upper management waiting for perfect solutions instead of simply getting started
  • Difficulty of selling the idea that something is better than nothing (again moving out from under the tyranny of perfection)
  • Steep learning curve (for example some institutions/professionals paralyzed when faced with engaging with digital preservation elements like the OAIS reference model)
  • Archives professionals need to be able to plan and implement digital preservation solutions that are realistic and feasible without getting burdened with the need for perfect solutions
  • Even with institutional support, we need to develop feasible, realistic digital preservation plans that can be implemented with success
  • There is a need for advocacy, both externally and internally, as part of digital preservation planning (demand from users, support from within institutions)
  • Getting technical systems and policy in place is hard but “cultural policy” is hard too
  • When developing digital preservation policy, remember to refer to existing relevant documentation like preservation policy for physical collection or collection management policy; don’t reinvent the wheel.
  • Exploring the role (and practice) of appraisal with digital preservation and policy development
What can SGA do to help? (Ideas)
  • Program in digital preservation (create committee to organize this, set objectives, decide issues and report from across state/region)
  • Create a list or index of policy statements on digital preservation and/or digital collection management
    • Must have variety, peer-to-peer institutions
      • Small institutions, large institutions
      • From institutions with “established” digital programs and “emerging” digital programs
    • Maybe closed to SGA members only, not open on web, to encourage sharing
    • Not just digital preservation policies need to be shared, but also the goals for creating a policy, and how much of that goal institutions are accomplishing
  • Create model similar to SAA best practices and processes by which institutions come to digital preservation strategies
  • Dedicate issue of Provenance to digital preservation
  • Digital preservation “Match.com” for mentoring
  • List of SGA Annual Meeting attendees for networking

Hopefully the ideas/issues/thoughts shared here have been useful.  Feel free to leave your thoughts in a comment!