Digital Preservation at the University of Minnesota Libraries


The need to develop strategy and take action in the area of digital preservation and data archiving has grown significantly in the Libraries and at the University in recent years. In response, the Libraries aspire to take a campus leadership role in digital preservation and data archiving. The Digital Preservation and Repository Technologies (DPRT) department is in the Data & Technology Division of the University of Minnesota Libraries. The department’s mission is to provide contemporary and enduring access to digital objects under the collection stewardship of the University Libraries, through the application of professional digital preservation methodologies, standards, and technologies. This work is accomplished through the delivery and support of robust high quality discovery, access, management, and preservation systems, achieved in coordination with relevant Libraries’ departments, the Office of Information Technology (OIT), and other University and external partners and collaborators.

What is Digital Preservation?

Digital preservation encompasses a broad range of activities designed to extend the usable life of machine-readable computer files and protect them from media failure, physical loss, and obsolescence.


Planning and Development

The department researches and develops a digital preservation and data archiving plan for University Libraries, designed with potential extensibility for broader campus participation. In this process, they review all relevant existing Libraries practices, assess needs, researches best practices, standards, reference models, and state-of-the-art technologies, and closely collaborate with Libraries staff and other stakeholders to establish policies and best practices for long-term digital preservation and archiving. Data types of concern include, but are not limited to, images, audio, video, text, and scientific datasets. They assist in ongoing policy development concerning format specifications for preservation purposes. Over time, the department will play a role in the selection and/or development of a certified trustworthy repository of digital resources for the Libraries and, potentially, the campus and beyond.

Collaboration and Education

The department assists in the ongoing development of requirements and specifications, including formats, for digital material accepted through the University Digital Conservancy (UDC). It informs members of the UDC Management and Working groups on strategies and best practices to preserve digital objects deposited in the institutional repository. Similar interactions with the Data Management and Curation Initiative and efforts to establish a media repository are expected. Through these exchanges and others, the department works to increase staff awareness about and knowledge on the issues related to digital archiving and preservation. In addition, general digital preservation trainings (often based on the Library of Congress' Digital Preservation Outreach & Education program) are given online or in person in partnership with Minitex.

Campus Partnerships & Services

The department fosters collaboration and exchange with departments, labs, and centers across the University in identifying, storing, and preserving digital resources; identifies assets in need of Libraries services; develops relationships with those responsible for managing such assets; shares expertise in digital preservation management with the campus; and builds strong working relationships towards these ends.

External Connections

The department identifies external funding opportunities for digital preservation projects. They prepare specifications for vended services that support the digital preservation program, evaluate responses to proposals for such services, and makes recommendations for selecting vendors. The department acts on behalf of the Libraries as a technical liaison on digital preservation issues to vendors providing services. They also represent the University Libraries in external projects or programs in the area of digital preservation.

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