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UCSC Library Digital Collections

Digital Collection Preservation

The UCSC Library holds substantial digital collections consisting of digitized materials, collections received from external donors and depositors, scholarly publications, research data, digital projects, and purchased materials. The Library's digital collections are a vital historical resource and a valuable asset to UC Santa Cruz. Because digital collections are more vulnerable to loss or damage than their paper counterparts, the Library has developed a clear policy and action plan for digital preservation. This includes priorities, levels of preservation, and workflows that follow recognized standards.

Definition of Digital Preservation

“Digital preservation combines policies, strategies, and actions to ensure access to reformatted and born-digital content regardless of the challenges of media failure and technological change. The goal of digital preservation is the accurate rendering of authenticated content over time.”  ALCTS Preservation and Reformatting Section, 2007.

The library's digital archive program is an ongoing, managed service that focuses on preserving the library's digital collections data. It goes beyond creating a backup copy and focuses on the accessibility and re-use of our digital collections long into the future.

Principles for Digital Preservation

  • We ensure that equitable access to the library’s digital resources is maintained throughout their planned lifecycle, preserving information of permanent historical value for future users.

  • The library makes collection preservation decisions that are driven by policies.

  • There are many intellectual property and other rights-based constraints on providing access that impact digital preservation efforts. Our objective is to meet the library’s legal and regulatory requirements for both data protection and freedom of information.

  • The library collaborates with the CDL, UC Libraries, and other partners to preserve our shared collections.

  • The library preserves unique and high-value research collections.

  • Security: Digital preservation systems and tools must be secure to avoid unwanted network intrusions. We safeguard digital content from unauthorized access and use in compliance with laws and contractual and donor agreements.

  • The library preserves collections that add to the historical record of under-documented communities.

  • Digital preservation and curatorial practices include opportunities for inclusive processes, collections, and descriptions.

  • UCSC is committed to continually updating staff digital preservation expertise, where appropriate, as technologies change.

  • Sustainability: The Library implements preservation strategies that pragmatically balance effectiveness, cost, and environmental impact.  Sustainable approaches to preservation will contribute to UCSCs financial health with predictable costs for staffing and support, and reduce our use of fossil fuels while ensuring that collections are well cared for and available for use in education and research. 

Levels of Preservation

The following are categories of commitment to preserving digital collections, with the understanding that digital preservation is a complex, ongoing, and resource-intensive task.

Level 4:

  • Born digital materials: Rigorous effort will be made to ensure long term preservation of material selected for preservation, both library resources and institutional records.

Level 3:

  • Digitized materials with no available analog: Every reasonable step will be taken to preserve materials without an analog counterpart, when re-digitizing is impossible or analog versions are unavailable. 

Level 2:

  • Digitized materials (available analog): Reasonable measures will be taken to extend the life of the digital objects with a readily available analog counterpart. However, the cost of re- digitizing as needed will be weighed against the cost of preserving the existing digital objects.

Level 1:

  • Access derivatives: Access derivatives of primary versions of digital content are of low value as they can be recreated from the primary files. They do need to be accessed relatively frequently for reproduction requests, instructional uses, and exhibits so should be stored on easily accessible but secure storage servers. 

  • Commercially available digital resources: The library is responsible for securely storing and managing the resources for the life of the file, but long-term preservation is unnecessary.

  • Other items and materials: No preservation steps will be taken for materials requested for short-term use, such as materials scanned for interlibrary loan or for content deemed out of scope.

Criteria for Preservation

  • Research Value

  • Uniqueness

  • Representation and Agency

  • Cost

  • Legal and Fiduciary Requirements

  • Consortial Agreements

  • Restrictions

  • Preservability