Academic institutions are already losing information and may not realise it

Oct 11, 2022
Education Industry
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Every organisation collects masses of content, none more so than academic institutions.  For example, academic institutions must comply with strict guidelines for the retention of research data for anywhere from ten to thirty years.  Academic libraries too must ensure the longevity of digitised and born-digital special collections and archive materials. With decades or even centuries of information to steward, how can academic institutions preserve this content for future generations?  Many are already losing some of their most valuable assets and may not realise it.

Information is often considered to be indestructible, but the reality is that data is fragile and has a finite lifespan. Data, the format it uses, and the physical hardware needed to read information are in constant evolution. Unfortunately, the past shows us that a popular data format can quickly become obsolete. Witness the demise of the CD and DVD over recent years, as cloud storage and streaming services have become commonplace. Institutions may have data in siloes that are not integrated and information stored in inaccessible legacy formats. Information may be degrading because of how it is stored. And data with unclear ownership can’t be easily accessed.

Preserving what is often irreplaceable information has become a challenge for educational institutions. Organisations must have a comprehensive strategy to archive and preserve the masses of content they create. Moreover, these archives must integrate with other systems across their digital ecosystem, including Current Research Information Systems (CRIS), library discovery systems, and more, to remain accessible over the long term and maintain a tangible heritage.

Data longevity

Academic institutions have clear imperatives to ensure the longevity of their data as information is their lifeblood and must be preserved. Digital preservation removes the key issues facing academic institutions struggling to manage the data they create every day and brings their inaccessible content back into practical use for future users.

The key components of a digital preservation strategy for academic institutions should include integrating data siloes, decoupling data from its hardware medium, identifying ownership, creating complete metadata to identify each record, and preventing data from becoming corrupted and inaccessible.

Simply put, digital preservation is different from archival methods that just store the data safely.  Active digital preservation brings information forward over time, moving files from old formats to current formats, ensuring it remains readable. Digital preservation systems ensure nothing is lost during transitions through fidelity and fixity of data conversion and keeps all the original files alongside a full audit trail of preservation actions. 

Preserved for tomorrow, discoverable today

The digital preservation of content requires an integrated approach that is active and dynamic.  With digital preservation, academic institutions can:

  • Proactively capture and upload new content and metadata to a digital preservation system in the cloud
  • Flexibly rearrange collections and enrich metadata, in bulk if needed
  • Easily provide online access and discovery while also addressing any information security guidelines
  • Integrate with catalogues (such as CALM, ArchivesSpace, Adlib, or other archive management software regularly used by libraries and CRIS for research departments) through both pre-built integrations or the use of APIs
  • Actively preserve information through file format migrations when necessary.

As a partner of Amazon Web Services (AWS), Preservica leverages the flexibility, agility, and security that AWS offers. For academic institutions in particular, the robust environment that AWS delivers is ideal for their digital preservation initiatives. Today, Preservica and AWS are supporting over one hundred academic institutions around the world in preserving their critical content. This includes the University of Manchester, University of Bath, and the University of the Arts London.

Begin your digital preservation journey with Preservica Starter. For newcomers to digital preservation, the Starter approach is ideal as it enables academic institutions to test how Preservica’s services operate and how they can initially build and evolve their digital preservation needs.

Learn more about how Preservica can help you begin your journey to future-proofed data preservation and find out about Preservica’s partnership with the University of Bristol here. Click here to start for free today.