I’m a member of the Blue Ribbon Task Force on Sustainable Digital Preservation and Access (hereafter BRTF). At our monthly teleconference last week, we were talking about preservation scenarios, and I suggested the Institutional Repository system, adding that my investigations had shown that repository managers did not (generally) feel they had long term preservation in their brief. There was some consternation at this, and a question as to whether this was based on UK repositories, as there was an expressed feeling that US repositories generally would have preservation as an aim.
My comment was based on a number of ad hoc observations and discussions over the years. But more recently I reported in an analysis of commentary on my Research Repository System ideas on discussions that had taken place on Ideascale last year, during preparatory work for a revision of the JISC Repositories Roadmap.
In this Ideascale discussion, I put forward an Idea relating to Long Term preservation: “The repository should be a full OAIS preservation system”, with the text:
“We should at least have this on the table. I think repositories are good for preservation, but the question here is whether they should go much further than they currently do in attempting to invest now to combat the effects of later technology and designated community knowledge base change...”See http://jiscrepository.ideascale.com/akira/dtd/2276-784. This Idea turned out to be the most unpopular Idea in the entire discussion, now having gathered only 3 votes for and 16 votes against (net -13).
Rather shocked at this, I formulated another Idea, see http://jiscrepository.ideascale.com/akira/dtd/2643-784: “Repository should aspire to make contents accessible and usable over the medium term”, with the text:
“A repository should be for content which is required and expected to be useful over a significant period. It may host more transient content, but by and large the point of a repository is persistence. While suggesting a repository should be a "full OAIS" has not proved acceptable to this group so far, investment in a repository and this need for persistence suggest that repository managers should aim to make their content both accessible and usable over the medium (rather than short) term. For the purposes of this exercise, let's suggest factors of around 3: short term 3 years, medium term around 10 years, long term around 30 years plus. Ten years is a reasonable period to aspire to; it justifies investment, but is unlikely to cover too many major content migrations.This Idea was much more successful, with 13 votes for and only one vote against, for a net positive 12 votes. (For comparison, the most popular Idea, “Define repository as part of the user’s (author/researcher/learner) workflow” received 31 votes for and 3 against, net 28.)
“To achieve this, I think repository management should assess their repository and its policies. Using OAIS at a high level as a yard stick would be appropriate. Full compliance would not be required, but thought to each major concept and element would be good practice.”
Now it may be that the way the first Idea was phrased was the cause of its unpopularity. It appears that the 4 letters OAIS turn a lot of people off!
So, here are 3 possible statements:
1) My repository does not aim for accessibility and/or usability of its contents beyond the short term (say 3 years)
2) My repository aims for accessibility and/or usability of its contents for the medium term (say 4 to 10 years)
3) My repository aims for accessibility and/or usability of its contents for the long term (say greater than 10 years).
Could repository managers tell me which they feel is the appropriate answer for them? Just click on the appropriate URI and vote it up (you may have to register, I’m not sure).
(ermmm, I hope JISC doesn’t mind my using the site like that… I think it’s within the original spirit!)
(This was also a post to the JISC-Repositories list)